Two Days With Watch Dogs

Two Days With Watch Dogs

While Kirk plays his way through the entire game in order to get our formal review done, I thought I'd pass the time by writing up my own impressions of Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, which I've been playing for a couple of days now.

The short version is I don't really like it that much.

The longer version is as follows:

Two Days With Watch Dogs
  • This game isn't very interesting. You might think, thanks to a two-year marketing campaign, that it's going to be a unique open-world experience where hacking takes precedence over gunplay, but nope, most of the missions I've played (I'm probably halfway through) are about driving and taking on guards. Just like GTA. Only it neither drives nor shoots as well, and some stealth missions will insta-fail you if you're discovered. Which is never fun.
  • Has anyone ever enjoyed a sliding morality scale in an open-world game? Where you're punished for accidentally killing civilians? No, they have not. Pity, then, that Watch Dogs has one.
  • The way you can bring up biographical information about every person in the game is a novelty that's yet to wear off. Sure, most of them are just generic people with generic jobs, but every now and again you come across someone like Zeke.
  • Don't listen to the radio in the car. Whatever you do. Don't do it. Just turn it off and listen to the engine.
  • The hacking powers are great. Weirdly, they make you feel less like a hacker and more like a wizard. Example: you can hack cameras to watch things, but while using that camera, you can then hack anything that camera sees, and so on. It makes little sense technologically, but it's fun for the missions you get to use stealth on, as by discretely distracting, shepherding and even killing guards remotely it brings a little bit of Splinter Cell to the game.
  • Aiden Pearce is a black hole. I'd call him the worst playable character in a blockbuster game in years, but that would imply there is a character there to begin with. There is a gruff voice and an "iconic cap", and that's it. It boggles the mind how Ubisoft spent so much time and money on this game to assemble such a forgettable cast of characters.
  • Watch Dogs has a button that lets you slide down in the driver's seat and stay hidden while staying inside the car. I wish more games had this.
  • Chicago has been recreated (at least in caricature form) in such painstaking detail that at times the game feels more like an intricate diorama than a 3D world. As someone who loves dioramas, this is a good thing.

Some further notes: this was retail code that unlocked "early" because I'm in Australia. I'm playing on PC, with an AMD card, and for what it's worth haven't encountered a single issue.

Remember, these are just my impressions from a couple of days spent with the game. Kirk's working on our full review, and it will up in the next day or two.


    I have had a very meh feeling about it so far.. the world looks more crisp on PC than GTA but no where near as detailed. Not to mention all the stuttering and crashing on my Dual GTX680 cards.

    I'm in complete agreement with you Luke. I've only had about 5 hours in game so far and I can't stop thinking "What did they do with all of that time and money?"

    I'm sticking with it hoping that it gets better and I'm enjoying the online mini games but overall i'm not blown away and, for the time, money and studio involved in this, I bloody well expected to be.

    Side note: the fact that all of the costume variants are essentially colour changes and that you need to hack a tower in order to reveal points of interest on a map seem like lazy transfers from Assassin's Creed.

    I'm finding it extremely enjoyable so far. Playing it on Xbox One. It's no game changer, but it's keeping me entertained. I'm about 10 hours in and enjoying the side activities more than playing the story.

    Also... The radio mostly sucks. Except for Screeching Weasel!!!

    I can't believe that Wolfenstein got lower reviews than this.

      This gen so far has been disappointing (understandable, it is launch title time). And the only game that, IMO, stood out (even if it was just a little) as not being as rushed/ generic was Wolfenstien.

      Which didn't get such great reviews unfortunately. But then games like this are underwhelming and get an average of 8? But I guess that's just how gaming is now. There are extra points given for advertising campaigns, and how the old E3 footage looked, in the final review ;)

      Jokes aside in the end it's not the review that leads me to buying a game, I normally look at some spoiler free game play and decide if I 'need' it now, or if I can wait for a sale. Wolfenstien: Now, Watchdogs: $5-15 in a sale.

    I love the interaction you can have with the NPC's of the world , they affect your game more than you think ! I stole someones car last night and then overheard that person calling 911 to report me and then the cops were on me within minutes.

    I have found myself diverting from the main story line a lot to stop crimes and help out the NPC's. So far I'm having a lot of fun with it and it looks beautiful on the PS4

      I found this cool at first, but realised it's actually pretty shallow. I mean, the AI is thick as bricks most the time.

        But most games become repetitive and the AI eventually becomes stale so It's harsh to pinpoint this on watchdogs.
        Unless you a playing against 100% human online opponents there is going to be some AI flaws.

        When I play a game I hardly rely on how the games "graphics" are or how well the design is done. Basically if I don't want to turn it off and keep playing then it's a good game in my eyes , if the game seems like a chore to play through than it obviously doesn't appeal to me and I move on.

          I'm just saying because personally the AI seemed more aware of me and what I was doing in GTA IV (Haven't even played V) than in Watchdogs.

          Just because the game has a sprite telling me they dude is calling 911 and plays a repeated piece of random dialogue doesn't make it more immersive, for me anyway.

          Especially given that you can then carry on as normal with AI civilians seemingly oblivious to you. (Compared to GTA where if you fire a shot the civilians get out of there cars and clear out for a whole block while others try flee in their cars etc.)

          Just my opinion though, glad you are enjoying the game because that's what it's all about in the end, even if I am not.

          *Edit: and I know that people don't like to compare games to GTA, but the developer set themselves up for it with their whole 'Two Months Are Enough to Visit Los Santos' thing.

          Plus, if you are trying to 'brag' about having more depth and immersion than other free roam games and fail to do that (And have pretty bad car handling and physics IMO) then yes, we will speak out. I think it's just time that theses high budget 'AAA' games stop being praised just because they are advertised everywhere.

          IMO Watchdogs is fairly average (I'd give it a 6, which is a little on the high side if you look at the user rating on Metacritic) Especially after the whole graphics downgrade thing. But I'm spinning off, sorry about that, like I say: In the end, if you are enjoying it that's all that matters.

          Last edited 29/05/14 1:16 pm

            Everyone is entitled to an opinion mate, I loved GTA V and it definitely has more re playability than watch dogs.

            I'm not comparing it to GTA V because I feel they are different on many levels. I do agree that it was over hyped but I find that most games are these days anyway.

    That first complaint kind of bothers me. There aren't a lot of situations in missions where you can't use the hacking tools to clear an area of guards. If you're upset with having to shoot things all the time, stop shooting things. There are other options available.

      Or... You know... Stop playing shooters LOL

        I think that was BDKIAF's point, that 'Watch Dogs' doesn't *have* to be a shooter. Because it's an open-world game, you can play it like a shooter because there are guns and you have the choice to use them. However, unlike GTA, it also has a stealth/hacking system so you don't *have* to come in guns blazing to complete a missions. I am 5 hours in and haven't drawn my weapon once outside of cutscenes. So people who say: "Oh it's just like any other shooter." are basically saying: "I, personally, am incapable of playing this game without shooting."

        Ditto with the morality scale. "Has anyone ever wanted an open-world game with a morality scale?" YES. God, yes! I played GTAIV without ever killing a civilian (or anyone who wasn't actively trying to kill me at the time) and the game didn't give a toss. You could be the world's greatest mass-murderer or most peaceful Buddhist and it was all one in the same in terms of how much cops cared when they walked past you. I'm very haooy that mowing down civilians finally has SOME kind of consequence, however mild.

        As for the music, you make your own playlist by hacking people's phones and stealing tunes. So saying: "Just don't do it." again, says more about you and what you are putting into the game than it does about the game.

    Whilst it is a bit annoying having to be careful not to kill citizens, I don't mind this too much. It is fun killing citizens making 9/11 calls in a crowded area, it creates a bit of a domino effect. You kill the caller, for another person nearby to call 9/11.

    I agree that the radio is horrible, have yet to find a single song that I like, have not heard of 95% of the artists. I have only completed Act 1 so far, though the storyline does leave a bit to be desired.

      Gemini Club - Sparklers is a good song, in my opinion, but other than that the playlist is pretty mediocre

        Are they actual songs or just made up ones for the game? i wonder if someone has put together a tracklist yet

          Just found this:

          The only artists that I recognise are Kid Cudi, Alice Cooper and Smashing Pumpkins. Horrible music compared to any GTA game.

          Last edited 29/05/14 12:50 pm

            Wow what a dismal list.

              I must be weird because ive heard of most of the Hip Hop, Punk and Rock songs before and have been enjoying the radio heaps. Been the only good thing about the cars so far.

                Don't worry I knew pretty much the whole list. I mean that it pales into comparison to GTA V's list. It's like comparing Passion Pop to Cristal Champagne

    Yeah, pretty big let down. I keep playing it in the hopes that it will "click", but nothing yet.

    My first couple of hours were pretty frustrating, it felt clumsy and pretty much all ove the shop. Now after 5 hours though, it's starting to settle in and I'm enjoying it more. In terms of shooting and driving, both are passable (but not as good as GTA I agree, but you get used to it), but as nearly every mission can be tackled by hacking and stealth, that's how I'm choosing to play the game rather than shooting everything that gets in my way, and I'm enjoying it.

    The world doesn't feel as alive as San Andreas does though, not too sure why, maybe it just needs more time to grow on me, but it feels more like a game level rather than an open world.

    Definitely not game of the year, and probably not worth all the hype, but still, I'm having fun with it.

      Totally agree about the radio though, but hey, at least they gave you an option to turn it off!

      Last edited 29/05/14 11:27 am

    When I first started looking into this game I told everyone that it wasn't going to be too great. The hacking would be a gimmick that would lose it's, "funness" if you know what I mean. It becomes more of a minor improvement and in reality is just GTA with hacking and from what I have seen. Compared to something like GTA V it doesn't even come close. Sure the graphics may be good but as mentioned in the article Aiden Pearce is a black hole. I’d call him the worst playable character in a blockbuster game in years. I wouldn't disagree. All he has going for him is the coat and hat. He doesn't seem interesting at all. Look at Trevor form GTA V. He was a disgusting, racist, redneck. He's memorable because of his actions. Not the way he looks. If they made this Aiden fellow more interesting then I would actually care about him.

      So, have you played the game? Or is this comment based on what you've seen in trailers/previews?

      I'm asking because you have an opinion on the main character.

      I'm playing through it at the moment and while I haven't played enough to agree or disagree with that, I don't think you can make that judgment without playing it yourself.

        Played it a little, didnt really enjoy it, plus had too many graphical problems so it would run very poorly

    Eh, I am having fun with it. Sure not a GOTY, but if every game was GOTY then it would be an interesting year! I think this is mostly a victim of its own hype, and good game that was sold to the masses as the best thing since EVER! Then when it did not deliver they started pulling it apart like a bunch of vultures.
    Look past the hype. Look at it for what it is... a pretty fun game with some great elements (like always looking over your shoulder in case another player is profiling you) and some old school mechanics that suck.
    Again, eh... I am having fun.
    Good god, electronic entertainment that is entertaining....and not everyone's cup of tea. Who would have thought :)?

    Really enjoying it so far. The side missions a really fun and so far the story is good.

    The driving is actually something I'm finding hard to get used to in this game, there's something off about it....

      Seems a bit like saints row, like the cars are on rails. Also you push hard in one direction and it seems like it goes from a slow turn to all of a sudden banking hard and then just because its a corner it puts the car sideways a bit not because you lost grip or anything but because its a corner. You can see the programming at work rather than it being seamless.

        This! Also feels like there's always too much going on in the screen at any given time....

    worst big budget game of 2014 imo. Thief was 10 times better....

    Spent 16 hours in it and have only done 5-6 story missions. I love the seamless integration of MP into SP with the online hacking and tailing and the variety and depth of approach you can take to some of the side missions, particularly the gang hideouts which can be approached with stealth or straight up guns blazing.

    I think I'm glad I gave this a miss, maybe I'll try a cheap GOTY edition where all the DLC is included.

    I'm kinda hoping all this backlash means I can pick it up for cheap in 6 months when I finally get a next gen console!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now