E3 2013: The Phone is Mightier than the Sword in Watch Dogs

The PlayStation 4 demo of Watch Dogs showcased at Sony’s E3 press conference gave everyone an idea of just how high-end hacker and vigilante Aiden Pierce uses his skills during the main arch of the story. While pleasantly treated to Pierce’s capabilities when running from cops and his arsenal of offensive effects used to reinforce his scene escape, the developers at Ubisoft has yet to give us any of the sandbox aspect of the game. However, we caught up with Ubisoft for a special look at the game, different from the demos we’ve seen so far.

In addition to the main storyline, Aiden Pierce can pretty much roam around and do whatever he wants to unsuspecting civilians and criminals, however, Ubisoft notes that players have to keep in mind of how they’re performing these tasks and how it’ll effect his overall standing with citizens, authorities and others within the city. A certain meter for this mechanism wasn’t explained in full detail, but there seems to be a “do good or do bad—your choice” kind of thing going on, which is exciting since it gives players a chance to help or break the law.

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However, the main concern here is the hacking. During the exclusive demo shown to us, we’re thrown into another ward of Chicago. The preconceived notion of Pierce’s omnipotence seemed to have been slightly washed away as the electronic devices, cameras and in-depth profiles were unable to be hacked into because of the ctOS program that is locked into the entire city. However, this is nothing for Pierce, as finding the system base and installing a backdoor will allow Pierce to take full advantage of the vulnerabilities.

Of course, this is no easy feat. Players will be greeted by guardsmen and other security alerting snitches when trying to infiltrate the compound. Luckily for Pierce, distraction is key and with some limit to his hacking abilities, there are various ways to get past them.


Once you’ve digitally penetrated the ctOS firewall, Pierce will not only have instant access to literally every electronic device and camera within walking distance, but through the Crime Prediction system, Pierce will be able to put his good guy vigilante work to good use. The prediction system does a background check on virtually anyone and provided with history records of a certain person, the system can give Pierce a probability of a crime occurrences or whether or such track record would merit taking them down for an arrest. For example, players can roam around and tail on certain criminals by sneakily keeping track of them and anyone they may come in contact with. Much like some of the demos that have been shown so far, players will often find themselves eavesdropping on a tradeoff gone wrong, in which you’ll likely be able to corner or chase down the criminal in order to put him away.

Ubisoft also made a note that Aiden has enemies who think they can do better and arrogantly so as they try to hack his repertoire. The fun part about that is finding out exactly who. With an online drop in and drop out system, other players can join someone else’s game without you knowing and hack your phone at anytime. Of course, you’ll be prompted to find the location of the hacker, but it’ll be a surprise for you in the end when you find out if it’s either another player or the AI in the game itself. Finding a player will trigger a showdown, so be on your toes.

Pawn shops and gun stores in the game are completely accessible for buying more weaponry and upgrading your arsenal and while there are other various other establishments that Pierce can walk into, the demo that was played for us reinforced the idea that players should be weary that Pierce is still a wanted man and that his face is plastered all over the news. This gives an incentive that players will have to be quick on their pit stops if they take any or deal with the struggle of having to run from the law.


So far, Watch Dogs looks like an instant win for casual fun roaming play, especially if players grows tired of tackling main story missions. Sporting a Batman like-persona, Aiden Pierce seems to ring true with the saying that a hero is as good as his tools. The demo playthrough definitely gave a plenty of perspective of how the game will play, but as far as the one man army himself, the November 19 release date holds the information that we can’t break into just yet. All we do know is that at the behest of his fingertips, Pierce literally has the world in his grasp.