All Eyes On a Brand New Watch Dogs Demo at New York Comic Con

A careful look at Ubisoft's new presentation of Watch Dogs from the floor of New York Comic Con.
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Ubisoft is hosting a Watch Dogs booth at this year’s New York Comic Con containing a brand new demo of mid mission gameplay.

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Up until now, Ubisoft has only released footage of the open world play in Watch Dogs – but the company is starting to reveal what a standard mission will look like and how it will play. For those of you unfamiliar: In Watch Dogs, you play as Aiden Pierce, a super hacker attempting to protect his family. Pierce’s most notable skill is his obsession with surveillance and hacking, which allows him to hack into any electronic entity connected to the Chicago’s city-wide OS. That means any smart phone, any surveillance camera and any ATM make up Pierce’s playground. It’s awesome.

**The surveillance cameras are the focal point of the ctOS.**

In the actual demo, Pierce is charged with interrogating (but not killing) a crime lord of sorts. In order to do this he has to sneak into a construction site congested with enemies and stealthily make his way into the boss’ area. As a huge fan of the stealth genre this is what excites me most.

Pierce is an electronic mastermind. He can engineer small distraction-based devices, sneak around enemies to ambush them and set up complex scenarios to get guards to leave their posts (and sometimes meet an unexpected death). It’s exhilarating and easily some of the most fluid and compelling stealth mechanics we’ve seen for a long time. Sneaking from cover to cover made it look as though Pierce moved as a shadow, easily eluding enemies and swiftly dispatching those that grew suspicious.

What worries me, however, is the gun play. This was still just an eyes-only demo, but the gun play seems like it chops up the rhythm of the game. One minute Pierce is nothing but a ghost – the next everyone and their mom is coming at him from all directions. Sure, watching Pierce deal with the mobs of enemies is entertaining, and I’m sure it will translate just fine. But for such a compelling character it seems as though there should be an additional hook to the tired and true third-person-shooter antics.

**I wasn’t a fan of the shooting mechanics, here’s to hoping it’s a bit more compelling in when I actually play the game.**

Another thing that caught my eye were the painfully apparent graphical glitches.

Most notably the aggressive pop-in. Pop-in is an ever-present issue in open world games, and to a degree I’d say it’s forgivable. However some of the pop-in in this scenario was so aggressively noticeable it completely took me out of the game – detracting from the experience to a frightful degree. 

There were also some truly bizarre transitions in the demo. It looked like maybe the playback failed as the screen got angrily pixellated and fuzzy, like the blocked channels on late night TV (I know you know what I’m talking about, people). This could have been a stylistic choice to transition from a stealth section into a more combat oriented section.

Regardless of the reason, it was terrible. There was no clarification for the transition and I’m really not sure if it was a decision made by the developers, a problem with the playback or a legitimate issue with the actual game. So lets all hope this doesn’t make it into the final game, because it’s really weird in a very bad way.

**Insurance will probably cover that. And the broken bones.** 

Watch Dogs is an ambitious game. Ubisoft is attempting to thrust us into a new kind of open world that will undoubtedly become its own compelling character before the game’s end. Watch Dogs is also one of my most anticipated next-gen titles (maybe second to inFamous: Second Son and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain) so I’m really hoping those random graphical wrinkles get ironed out before the full release.

Watch Dogs is expected to release on November 19th 2013 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U and PC.

For more news out of New York Comic Con 2013 make sure to set your home page to GameSkinny and refresh every 90-120 seconds. You can read all of my other articles, and upcoming stories right here. Be sure to comment or tweet at me (@maxplosions) for any suggestions on what you may want to hear about from panels or the show floor.

Are you excited to see more of Watch Dogs, or is it not your next-gen cup of tea? Sound off in the comments down below and maybe I’ll spare you when I go on a hacking rampage and steal a bunch of money!

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Max Jay
I am an aspiring video game journalist and a professional awesome person. My words make knowledge parents in your brain that give birth to baby-smiles on your face. You can listen to my podcast by going on iTunes and searching Video Game Podcast Show!