Discover the power of cause and effect as we take Watch_Dogs for a spin on PlayStation 4...
Watch_Dogs is no ordinary open world epic. When we stepped into this highly detailed version of Chicago – under the watchful eye of Ubisoft's Colin Graham – we entered a vast city where events can change in an instant, and often because of our own actions...
1) Hacking traffic lights on a busy road
Changing a red light to green at a busy three-way junction.
Several cars plough into each other, and one particularly unfortunate driver gets her vehicle smashed by two cars, one of which speeds off. The poor lady gets out of her car to survey the damage, screaming in frustration, while others watch the accident at a distance and take pictures with their smartphones. Helpful chaps.
2) Escaping the police
Darting through the bushes, we desperately avoid the line of sight of the cops. They know our vigilante, Aiden, is in the area, but they don't know where. So by using the radar (and listening for sirens) he avoids people and open spaces. We find a car that's tucked away in a car park, get Aiden to smash the window and hotwire it. While speeding away, we hack traffic lights to cause some chaos and aid Aiden's escape.
Innocent bystanders become panicked, causing others to wonder what's going on, and the police to get suspicious. Our speedy getaway causes other cars to try and avoid Aiden - which creates more accidents. Whoops.
3) Attempting to steal a gun
Tasked with arming Aiden from a local gun shop, we're given the option to buy from the shopkeeper or threaten him. Curiosity makes us plump for the latter.
The shopkeeper cowers behind the counter, and runs out of the shop after Aiden tries to approach him. Other customers quickly leave as well. But as the shopkeeper's firearms are locked away, there is now no way to actually buy a gun. Instead, we hack the shop's radio and Aiden strolls out to the strains of Vampire Weekend's Diane Young.
"Missions can run differently every time you play them," explains Ubisoft's animation director Colin Graham. "There may be more cars, more civilians and so on. You need to adapt and improvise. We want to make it as fluid as possible so you can focus on having fun."
4) Hunting down a mugger
After watching a young lady get mugged for her purse, we quickly give chase to hunt down the rotten crook. Aiden leaps over several fences and when jumping over the final fence, he accidentally lands on top of the mugger.
Aiden's lucky fall knocks out the hapless mugger, meaning he's captured rather than killed - and this increases Aiden's reputation. Had we killed the mugger instead, Aiden's reputation would had suffered and more people would see him as a villainous vigilante rather than heroic one.
"There are a lot of unintended consequences of your actions that you may not even think about until it happens," says Colin. "We've created a context for players to create their own stories about being a vigilante, making mistakes and learning from them. Every player will craft their own experience."
5) Jacking a car in view of others
We get Aiden to casually step out in front of a slowly moving vehicle and threaten the driver to leave by pulling out a gun.
A bystander screams for someone to call 9-11, which another duly obliges. Aiden runs over to the caller, grabs his phone and smashes it before the call is completed. Aiden then goes back to the car and drives off, listening to My Love is Winter by The Smashing Pumpkins.
6) Attempting to stop a criminal convoy in broad daylight
In an effort to bring down a huge gang and capture their leader in transit, we establish a simple plan: hack a bridge crossing to stop the flow of traffic, then take down the gang and injure their leader.
The traffic jammed gang starts firing on Aiden as soon as they see him. In a panic, we accidentally drive Aiden's car into a bunch of civilians, which causes the police to arrive. Once the police realise what's going on, they divide their team - one half takes on the gang, the other half takes shots at Aiden. A car explodes in the crossfire, causing more panic and casualities, and most of the gang is taken out in the ensuing battle.
"You can really exploit situations like this," explains Colin. "When it comes to contracts, I love to get the cops to do my dirty work for me. You feel like a puppet master once you start hacking and getting the police involved, because they bring in choppers and snipers to take down the mobsters. If you stay hidden you can just sit there and enjoy the show."
Ready to create your own stories as you manipulate the city to become your weapon?