First Impressions: Watch_Dogs

Disclaimer: Please note that I’m playing this on the Xbox One and I have multiplayer features turned off for the time being. I also have not had a chance to try out all the side missions and features yet. This is a first impressions review of about 2-3 hours worth of gameplay.

What can be said about Watch_Dogs? The short answer is, a lot. There is so much going on in this game, it’s crazy. It makes it a little hectic with everything you can do, just with free-roaming there is SO much happening in the streets of Chicago that you don’t know what to do next.
You could go do the side missions; be a driver, take out gang hideouts, stop crimes in progress, Criminal Convoys or fixer contracts. You can also partake in city games, such as poker games or chess matches.
There are also Investigations you can do (alas I haven’t found any yet), there are online contracts, which are the game modes mentioned in my previous Watch_Dogs post. There are also Digital Trips, which are mini-games you access from your in-game smartphone. You can mow down zombies in a hellish version of Chicago, you can be a giant spider-tank terrorizing police, you can take a psychedelic trip and bounce around the city on giant flowers or you can try to stop a ctOS invasion.
You can also check in at Hotspots around the city and compete for the “Mayor” position at said Hotspots.

This brings us to the smartphone. This is part of what makes Watch_Dogs truly unique. The setup is a mix between an android and windows phone. You use the right analog stick to navigate while walking around town. (navigating the phone removes the ability to use the in-game camera movement) So you can still move around the city while messing around with the app menu (and even some apps). This took some getting used to, and in all honestly, I’m still not really walking when I’m in the app menu.
The phone comes with the Profiler app, which lets you look into anybody’s life via facial recognition.
You also have the Progression app. This is essentially the Animus mission and collectible’s tracking from Assassin’s Creed…at least one part of it. The other part of it is your Statistic app, which is exactly as it sounds; your stats page.
Next app is your Skills Tree, this is where you upgrade your abilities.
Then is the DedSec Field Guide. These are refreshers on the tutorials.
Last but not least, we have leaderboards. Everybody knows what these are.
You can also access fixer contracts from your phone.
Ontop of those, you have Utilities, which include; Cars on Demand which allows you to get a car drop-off, City Hotspots (which we discussed earlier), Music and Song Sneak which allow you to listen to and steal music from other respectively.
This brings us to Fun and Games. Cash run is like a Mario/Sonic world, but in the Watch_Dogs perspective. You run around and collect 8-bit coins. NVZN is a game that turns the world into an 8-bit alien invasion. You also have Digital Trips (which were discussed earlier) and can access your challenges from here.
As for online, you can connect through your smartphone to online sessions and get online contracts.

Combat. This is where Watch_Dogs can feel like GTA, but can also feel 100% unique. The easiest and dullest solution, as always, is your gun. (tip: don’t run around in public with your gun out) Doing nothing but slaughtering your enemies makes it feel like GTA, but if you try to act as Aiden would ACTUALLY act, aka stealthy and using his smartphone and hacking abilities, then it’s truly unique and really fun. Let’s put it this way, I found it very difficult to resist the urge to shout “Bazinga!” every time I would pop my head up just to lure them into an explosion that I triggered via blowing up a fuse box.

During combat though, if being shot at, it gets VERY crazy and you panic a little until you realize…”Oh wait, I just killed everybody by looking at them through security cameras…I’m safe now, and I never fired a single shot..”
That being said, combat is combat, but they really did give you ways to make it 100% unique.

Now, this brings us to the story and characters.

*Minor Spoilers Ahead*

The characters really do have a good amount of depth to them, and Aiden is caught between figuring out what went wrong in the past (opening cutscene) and what’s happening now, both of which seem to intertwine. (I haven’t finished Act 1 yet, but I’m close, and this is what I can see so far).
Aiden’s sister hates his lifestyle and wants him to stop, a promise he keeps breaking. Aiden was driving the night his niece died and he wants to get to the bottom of it. His sister is threatening him with never seeing his nephew again if he keeps going. He blames himself for what happened, so he feels he can’t stop.
Enter Jordi. This guy is like the guy who wants to be cool, seems cool, and is really, really obnoxious. I hate the personality types of Jordi’s character, that being said, Jordi is awesome. He’s funny in a very dark humor sort of way. Jordi is Aiden’s fixer, he helps him get rid of bodies and cover his tracks when needed and also drops off cars for him and finds him side work.
There are other characters but I haven’t had much interaction with them yet, and one of them is somebody from Aiden’s past (who I will leave to you to find out about).

*Spoilers End Here*

The story seems really compelling and the characters have a LOT of depth to them and were voice acted very well (at least the ones I’ve encountered).

All in all, my Watch_Dogs experience thus far has been very positive. It’s nothing groundbreaking, (other than the smartphone and hacking of course) but it’s truly unique and very fun. I’m 2-3 hours in and I feel this game will have many playthroughs ahead.

I apologize if I missed anything, but please understand this is a game with a LOT going on. It’s difficult to cover everything this game encompasses.

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