PAX East 2014: Watch_Dogs Hands Off Demo Impressions

In an effort to be completely transparent with you guys, Watch_Dogs still remains one of my most anticipated upcoming titles. It was the major reason why I made the jump to next generation consoles as well and even though it was delayed for a while from its original November date, I’m still very amped for it.watchdogs_screen

So when I heard Ubisoft was bringing the open world shooter to PAX East 2014, I was thrilled. Considering it’s a month away, I figured it would be a perfect time to let people go hands on with it to really get the hype train rolling again.

Then came the news that it was hands off and my excitement levels plummeted.

For those of you who attended the last couple of PAX East events, you’ll remember that Ubisoft likes to bring their AAA games with them, but instead of giving people access to them, they create these theaters for people to go in and watch. You may also remember that the gameplay is typically released a few weeks later for everyone to see, so realistically, you feel like you’ve wasted your time. It’s because of that, I had no intention of waiting in a line to see Watch_Dogs. A small concession to make sure I see the other things on my list, I thought.

As it turns out, that’s not at all what Ubisoft had planned. They pulled a Splinter Cell Blacklist and had the demo running on an open stage allowing everyone to huddle around and watch the gameplay. This was an excellent decision as it allowed everyone to watch without needing to wait a couple of hours in line. So unexpectedly, I found myself paying particular attention to the demo and I wasn’t disappointed.

The first thing I noticed is how beautiful the game looked. I tried to look around to see someone playing or the origin point of the gameplay. I saw a beefy PC, but as it turns out, things were not as they seemed. What’s interesting is that the footage has been confirmed by Jonathan Morin (WD creative director) to be that of the PlayStation 4 version. After hearing this I was surprised because the game is visually impressive similar to that of a game like inFAMOUS Second Son. The light reflected and the sun glared off the road especially after it had rained, and I found myself drawn in by the character animations. If you remember the E3 2012 reveal gameplay, then you know what I’m getting at. It’s very slick and easy on the eyes.

In terms of gameplay, I never really got a sense on what was going on, but Ubisoft was showing off one of the missions in the game. Aiden was apparently hunting down a target (for reasons I must have missed) which ultimately culminated in the player causing a traffic accident and preventing the character from escaping in a vehicle. Using an IED and his phone to trigger the explosion, the target was eliminated. All of this chaos prompted people in the area to contact the police which kicked off the second part of the demo where Aiden works to escape the police. with little prompts in the world letting you know what can be interacted with, this player opted to use the “Blackout” in which the electrical grid of Chicago is powered down and everything goes dark. It’s a really impressive effect and performing that allowed the player to escape the police, park the car in an empty lot and turn off the car lights to lose his tail.

While I would have absolutely loved to have gone hands on with the title, I’m at least glad that Ubisoft didn’t hide the game behind a closed off theater. This way, at least people could get a good look at the game even if they couldn’t play it. Visually, it’s mighty impressive especially now that the PS4 version has been shown off. Here’s hoping that they release the gameplay footage in a couple of weeks so everyone can have a look.

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2 Responses to PAX East 2014: Watch_Dogs Hands Off Demo Impressions

  1. Sarif says:

    *Jonathan Morin

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