Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft

Watch Dogs is an action-adventure third person shooter with strong stealth elements and taking place in an open world. It was published and developed by Ubisoft and the game was released internationally in late May 2014 on PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One as well as PCs powered by Microsoft Windows. Players can freely roam the city of Chicago, as they complete quests and follow the exciting story of a hacker on a path to revenge.

Key facts about Watch Dogs

  • Watch Dogs is an open world action videogame, characterized by excellent mission variety and huge maps to explore.
  • Car chases and stealth missions were expected to be the highlight of the game, but they ended up being the most criticized stages of the game.
  • Hacking is at the cornerstone of Watch Dogs, with most scenarios being easier to complete by players who use brains run than muscles.
  • A maximum of eight players can participate in the online multiplayer game and all the missions can be played in co-op.
  • Watch Dogs was a huge commercial success, selling more than 10 million copies and setting a record for Ubisoft in terms of first day sales.

The Watch Dogs games

There is more than one way to complete most of the Watch Dogs missions, with a subtle approach usually delivering better results than brute force. Hacking works like a charm, but sometimes stealth mechanics fail miserably and players have to restart the scenarios. With a huge world to explore, the lasting appeal of the game is greatly enhanced and players are expected to return after completing the main quests.

The game was so successful that developers contemplate the possibility of producing a sequel, with rumors indicating that a new installment is already in development. The new game could address some of the Watch Dogs flaws, while introducing new features, to make the gaming experience more enjoyable. The best case scenario is for the new game to hit the stores in April 2017.

What is Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs is an action-adventure videogame that players explore from a third person perspective. The main quest follows the adventures of Aiden Pearce, a hacker vigilante who wants to avenge the killing of his niece. Players have the option of sticking to the main storyline, or roam the city of Chicago and make the most of the open world design. Ubisoft is both the developer and publisher of the game and it allowed players to enjoy an unprecedented level of freedom and play the game as they see fit.

Gameplay of Watch Dogs

Aiden Pearce is the main character in Watch Dogs, a highly capable hacker, but someone comfortable wielding various weapons. As a result, the gameplay is more complex than in most third person shooters, as players have different ways of solving the various objectives. The hacking mechanic is the most popular one and the protagonist uses a smart phone to access various files and active city systems.

Players can access the profiler and the crime prevention system, to identify threats and to learn more about the potential targets. They can also interact with the environment and influence it, by hacking into the phones of computer-controlled characters. Players can use this power to do good things, or to steal funds and personal information, so they enjoy a great freedom of choice. A lot of data is at your fingertips including details about health and demographics which players can use to complete missions.

Screenshot of Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft
Screenshot of Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft

Interacting with the environment is the most exciting part of the Watch Dogs gameplay, as players can erect security barriers, stop trains and cause blackouts. Moving around the city can be done on foot and the protagonist is capable of performing limited parkour movements. To move quickly, players can hop aboard the bus, hijack a car or ride a train to their destination, all of them being hackable.

Stealth goes a long way

Combat follows the basic principles of third person shooters, with players shooting at opponents and taking cover when under fire. When players sustain significant damage, their health meter will decrease, but staying out of danger will cause it to regenerate. Watch Dogs also has a Wanted system, which is triggered by the criminal activities performed and it can be reset by escaping the officers line of sight.

In the latter stages of the game, players unlock additional skills and can perform more complex actions while improving their hacking techniques. The gameplay shines brightly in the online multiplayer mode, where players can participate in car races, hacking competitions and other challenges. It is even possible for them to hack into the smartphone application of players enjoying the single player experience and install a virus.

Plot of Watch Dogs

The narrative of Watch Dogs begins in 2012 when Aiden Pearce and his partner use their hacking skills to steal funds from a bank. When he realizes that he’s in danger, he attempts to flee the city with his sister Nicole and her two children but they get ambushed by hitmen. In the ensuing firefight, the girl is hit and dies a couple of months later, which sends Aiden on his way to exact revenge on the killers.

His main target is Maurice, and with the help of Jordi Chin, a fellow criminal, they manage to corner him at a baseball match. Meanwhile, his sister is kidnapped in an attempt to convince Aiden to give up the fellow hacker that participated in the bank heist. Forced to cooperate, he enlists the help of Clara Lille and eventually finds out that the person of interest has connections at the highest level.

Screenshot of Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft
Screenshot of Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft

The plot thickens

This quest will take the players to a new lead, as they unlock the identity of Raymond "T-Bone" Kenney the hacker that caused a major blackout in 2003. This was the event that triggered the implementation of the ctOS system that Aiden is now frequently hacking. Pearce eventually discovers that Clara had betrayed him and this is how the hitmen were able to find the location of his sister. His former associate Damien also stabs him in the back by disclosing his identity as a vigilante to the authorities.

Aiden doesn’t give up and with the help of T-bone, manages to find the location of his sister and frees her. He also learns more about the crime lord who ordered the hit and he proceeds to locate him and upon finding the villain kills him by shutting off the pacemaker. In the final missions, the plot thickens, with details about blackmail video footage of Chicago Mayor surfacing and one by one, Aiden’s former partners are killed. The game ends with the Mayor these being exposed, while the ctOS is deemed as a major success and implemented nationwide.

Development of Watch Dogs

Ubisoft started to work on Watch Dogs in 2009 and teamed up with Kaspersky Lab to make sure the game is as genuine as possible. That’s why the game spent so much time in the making and the team even traveled to Chicago to record conversations, to have their NPC speaking with the right accent. The game was made compatible with the latest consoles, including Wii for which it was launched in November.

Watch Dogs was first unveiled by the developers in 2012 at the E3 games convention when the fans got to see the trailer and a handful of screenshots. Despite the fact that the game missed the original projected release and was pushed back one year, enthusiasm was just as high. The game went gold two weeks before hitting the stores and sold like hot cookies during the first week.

Screenshot of Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft
Screenshot of Watch Dogs. © Ubisoft

Where can I download Watch Dogs?

Watch Dogs encourages players to preorder the game from the official website and offers a unique case to those who place in early order. Those who want to download the game today, can head on to the Ubisoft website where they will also find the most popular titles produced by the game developers. The list includes Tom Clancy’s The Division, Assassins Creed Unity and Far Cry Primal among other games.

What are others saying about Watch Dogs?

Watch Dogs was well received by the players as well as the critics, despite the fact that it was pushed back twice. The initial scores revolve around 80%, although the Wii version was less successful due to the cumbersome mechanics and less than stellar graphics. The hacking elements were appreciated on all consoles and personal computers, but the car chases and stealth missions leave a lot to be desired.

Check out what Conan O'Brien has to say about Watch Dogs in his Clueless Gamer review:

Watch Dogs tournaments

Watch Dogs was meant to be an extraordinary single player experience, with a subtle multiplayer flavor for those who wanted to walk down the less traveled paths. It’s not a candidate for eSports and Watch Dogs tournaments are not available, so players should seek competition elsewhere. League of Legends, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm and World of Tanks belong to other genres, but they have a huge fan base.

My rating of Watch Dogs

I’ve always enjoyed playing games that don’t have highly scripted missions and allow you to explore the surroundings. Watch Dogs has an amazing open world that makes it virtually impossible to stick to the main quest and each deviation is lavishly rewarded. I like playing the game in stealth mode and I couldn’t care less for car chases, while the hacking mechanics never cease to impress me. It’s a nice departure from the classic third person shooters and the rating of 8 out of 10 should reflect its quality.

Overall Score