Ubisoft’s vaguely cyberpunk open-world thriller Watch Dogs has the worst minimap in history. It’s so amorphous and blobby, like someone sneezed on the screen, and it miraculously oozed into a fully functioning UI element. I’m sorry. I know that’s not really the main issue at hand here, but it had to be said. But yes, Watch Dogs! It looked rather promising – though somewhat upsettingly action-focused – during E3, and new footage only adds fuel to the electrical fire. Which is rather the opposite of how you’re supposed to deal with those things, but this is a rare case where that’s a good thing. Well, if you like Assassin’s-Creed-style chases and magical cell phone techno-magic, anyway.
I actually like this a fair deal more than the E3 footage, if only because it seems to more accurately represent what a day-to-day stroll in Aiden’s sneakers will be like. Scan people for personal info, rob them blind if you feel like it, turn up a side mission, suddenly remember that you’re Ezio from Assassin’s Creed but in a cool jacket, etc.
I’m still slightly worried that the hacking elements will be more action game gimmicks than bold strides into new territory, but they do at least seem to be playing ball with Watch Dogs pretty nicely. Both instances of environmental manipulation produced marked effects – with barriers shredding a police car and a remotely controlled train providing a new route for escape – so it’ll be a fun bag of tricks, if nothing else.
It looks like Grand Theft Auto meets Assassin’s Creed meets Hollywood hacker fantasies, basically. I’m not blown away, but I’m working up a decent anticipatory spittle froth nonetheless. Well, assuming they change that minimap, anyway. How about you?
Ubisoft will let Watch Dogs out at the end of 2013 to coincide with the PS4’s launch yadda yadda yadda blah.