Watch Dogs

Jonathan Morin Shares Creative Vision for Watch Dogs

A secluded, shady hut served as the host of a screening of new Watch Dogs footage at PAX East this weekend. Patrons waited in line for hours to get a glimpse of some exclusive gameplay footage. Although the trailer shown was simply the one screened at the PS4 announcement from late February with a different narration, the video shown before it served as the true gold to the showcase.

In the video, Watch Dogs Creative Director Jonathan Morin talks about the game. He relates his creative vision to that of the real world. “We all live in a hyper-connected world,” Morin says. “Everything that’s been invented surrounding the Internet these past 20 years has slowly redefined how we live our day-to-day lives.”

As many know, Watch Dogs takes place in near-future Chicago, a smart city, a place controlled entirely by technology to solve problems such as traffic jams and criminal activity. This technology makes everything within them hackable, which is what protagonist Aiden Pearce does for a living. This violence-prone and surveillance-obsessed man can tap into anyone’s private information, hack ATMs, control power grids and traffic signals, and more with nothing more than a phone and his vast array of knowledge. He uses his power to track his family 24 hours a day without their knowledge to protect them from something that happened in the past.

Unfortunately, Aiden’s family falls into the path of danger, forcing him to take action. Morin promises that the story will expand beyond that of just the single character you experience the game through and will expand to involve the entire city of Chicago.

One question that’s been in my head since I first saw Watch Dogs’ debut was whether or not events such as car crashes were scripted. Morin put my fears to rest; every action you do occurs in real time, and has appropriate consequences. “The level of realism our simulation of Chicago will offer is simply unprecedented,” Morin stated. “When you walk on the street and press a button to cause an accident, this accident will be real. The people behind the wheel will be in danger. They might die.”

Watch Dogs will have elements of choice throughout. How you react in situations will change how the city views you, akin to games like inFamous. Causing accidents and letting civilians die will cause the city to view you as a menace, and treat you as such.

Morin also hinted at meta elements. The idea behind Watch_Dogs is that Aiden is always watching someone’s actions in these smart cities, but within the game, you, as a player, are being watched by other players. The game itself reflects the story it’s telling about a world of inter-connectivity and the lack of privacy that comes with it.

Also, somewhat unexpectedly, came the mention of mobile capabilities. Morin brought up the fact that players will be able to experience Watch Dogs from their mobile devices. “You’ll be able to play on any platform anywhere you want at any time,” Morin said.

In the end, the trailer confirmed some suspicions and brought in only trivial new information. But the more I hear about Watch Dogs, the better. I personally can’t wait until Ubisoft’s anticipated title is released near the end of the year.