In response to a few recent games that appear to be lacking in the criteria. This is a short list and thoughts on some stand out game mechanics that developers seem to be ignoring and need to build upon.
Why Watch_Dogs Could Be Assassin’s Creed In Disguise
It’s safe to say that news on Watch_Dogs has been in the doghouse, so to speak. Following its abrupt delay last fall, Ubisoft’s open-world action title has remained behind a wall of secrecy bringing as much mystery as it has confusion regarding its pending release. With every passing day, players seem to learn even less than they had before on its current whereabouts and its anonymity has only grown more synonymous to its now shadowy reputation. Its only right, then, that Watch_Dogs has steadily garnered theories on par with its own conspiracy-fueled narrative.
Whether players are jumping the shark or hitting direct bullseye, take a look at just a few of the wildest and most telling of them that may indeed prove to be stranger than fiction.
*Potential Spoilers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag may follow*
Ever since bursting onto the scene of 2012’s E3, Watch_Dogs has been nothing less than an enigma. Paraded as a unique blend of GTA’s high-octane driving simulator and the stealthy trappings of Assassin’s Creed, Watch_Dogs both surprised and impressed as a new IP with old-school tricks upon its debut. With the increasing coverage, however, few could deny its blatantly evident roots in the latter. While flashy cars and streamlined gunfights filled its debut trailers, extended in-game looks only furthered suspicions of what an urban Assassin’s Creed title could look like. Modern day or not, its protagonist retained all the hallmarks of his assassinating brethren down to the trademark crowd blending to his running animations. Familiar chokeholds and tailing missions were followed by substitutions as bayonets replacing hidden blades and cell towers Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s Borgia fortresses. More than a spiritual successor to Ubisoft’s flagship franchise, Watch_Dogs embodied everything its historical predecessors would and could take to the Chicago streets.
What Is ctOS?. . .
While any of the above could be easily interpreted as mere coincidence, Ubisoft’s very own of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag seems to say otherwise. More than a few players have found several “easter eggs” of sorts within the game’s offices of Abstergo Entertainment in the form of private emails such as the one you can view below:
So what is ctOS?
- CONFIDENTIAL: “Privacy is security.”
- INTEGRAL: “How did we ever do business without it?”
- ACCESSIBLE: “The touch of a button!”
- AVAILABLE: “We’re everywhere… all the time.”
- STABLE: “It just WORKS.”
Put simply, ctOS is the most stable and user-friendly software security-controller ever devised. Can ABSTERGO afford to pass up perfection?
Perhaps more than simply Abstergo’s own tongue-in-cheek reference to its own mustache-twirling antics, the message specifically references one thing worth eyeing: ctOS. Throughout Watch_Dogs’ coverage, the “ctOS,” or the aptly named “Central Operating system,” was spoken of as the main computer intelligence running the entire near-future version of modern Chicago, controlling every citizen and monitoring every occurrence. Seems mighty similar to that little ‘ole observatory’s crystal skull in Black Flag that could see every person on earth. Seeing and hearing everything isn’t unfamiliar to the Templar run Abstergo or its subsidiaries, and maybe that’s why Chicago itself was name-dropped more often than you could wave a hidden blade at in plenty of your conference calls in Abstergo Entertainment. A mass Templar conference in particular was referenced by the staff more than once as being held in the Windy City. Could Chicago be the next plot-point for Assassin/Templar intrigue?
Who is Aiden Pearce?. . .
These very theories then take us to the one figure at the center of Watch_Dogs: Aiden Pearce. Paranoid, dangerous, and unpredictable, Aiden’s a mystery even less revealing than his game, but not without a few fascinating elements that may be more than mere coincidence. Born in 1974 amidst Ireland’s ethno-nationalist violence, Aiden’s no stranger to trouble and certainly harbinger of it. With such a strong European ancestry, it’s not impossible that Aiden’s extended family may have included a hot-tempered one at that regarding Black Flag’s hero, Edward Kenway. Considering Edward’s very red-headed wife, an Irish relation there isn’t far-fetched and if so, you can count Edward’s Assassin companion of the Irish Anne Bonnie as a possible grandmother to a separate line of Assassins in her later years. Add that on top of Aiden’s general disregard for the rules and ambiguous ties to an estranged family whom he protects in secret and you have a typical Assassin archetype molded into a trench-coat and a cap.
The greatest evidence for Aiden’s Assassin connection may be in simply stepping out of Abstergo’s Animus. Players may have noticed the oddity of adding in first-person segments into an otherwise third-person game. Yes, designers could always argue away the finger-pointing and claim it was to aid players’ immersion in a distinctly more personalized environment. Then again, what was designed to be very personal about extreme close-ups of computer monitors and vending machines? Further, we never knew the name of our character and it’s difficult to believe that Ubisoft would stand behind the idea of it merely being us. We’re not that interesting, much less while doing office work.
Take a look at the picture above. A while before Black Flag’s release, a few seemingly tedious screenshots were released of Abstergo’s otherwise bland present-day segments, save for one piece of concept art. See the man standing on the balcony? We could easily place him as Olivier Garneau, but then again, he wasn’t exactly a vital character needing discretion. As often as the player stood on the balcony as part of story requirements, could this character above be yours?
Maybe, just maybe, we could take a leap of faith, so to speak, and estimate that Aiden Pearce was the true character hiding behind your silent office wanderings. We can also take into account the amount of primitive yet oddly prominent hacking segments within Abstergo’s story missions. Were Aiden’s later abilities being coyly previewed? Maybe it’s understood that he, Shawn, and Rebecca are infiltrating Abstergo together or else Black Flag is the very prequel leading up to Watch_Dogs in which Aiden finally turns on and escapes his manipulative parent company to begin his revenge.
Why the Delay?. . .
If all these pieces come together as logically as we assume, the final question is that of the game’s delay itself. Ubisoft’s been unsurprisingly tightlipped regarding the game’s presently undated arrival and for reasons equally puzzling. It’s not like Ubisoft to tolerate a few glitches, or even plenty of them considering what was encountered in Assassin’s Creed III. Such PR disasters are probably strong motivators to ensure a cleaner product in an age of Battlefield 4’s and Sim Cities, but why pull Watch_Dogs from distributors so soon before release? Surely if anything game-breaking occurred, it would’ve been easily spotted months beforehand rather than weeks.
The biggest conspiracy of them all might be to say that Watch_Dogs’ delay wasn’t technologically related at all. Rather, it was a straight-up sales move to ensure that the game didn’t directly compete with Black Flag during the holiday season, as the company’s learned the hard way from commercial disasters as 2011’s Rayman: Origins versus Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and 2003’s Beyond Good and Evil versus The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time demonstrated. Ubisoft may have even done so to ensure that what easter eggs of Black Flag’s were found prior to Watch_Dogs’ release in a smug anticipation for it.
Apart from the game itself, the most telling thing about Watch_Dogs is relation to Ubisoft’s properties. As a (presumably) new IP, it stands up against cash-cows like Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance as well as a title being made by a company unapologetic about exclusively committing to franchise material. With the former having been long criticized for following a similar annual release cycle that resulted in Call of Duty’s infamous fanboy hate, it makes sense to potentially disguise Assassin’s Creed in a new shell complete with a few necessary upgrades to go alongside it while not overtly rocking the boat. An Assassin’s Creed title is all but guaranteed for 2014 if old habits prove true again, but it remains unannounced. Watch_Dogs could already qualify in a subtle counterpart to the series if not a cloaked sequel.
It’s a Conspiracy!
Tell us: What’s your take on Watch_Dogs? Think the rumors are crazy or just crazy enough to be true? Write your thoughts down below!