Despite the fact that the next part of Assassin’s Creed will be released in early November, on October 27 the industry is waiting for the return of another Ubisoft series, namely Watch Dogs with its next title Watch Dogs: Legion.
For the first time in the history of the line, Ubisoft Montreal did not act as the main developer of the game, but transferred this burden to the Canadian branch of the Ubisoft Toronto campaign. Now, this studio, led by game designer Clint Hawking, will try to speculate about where the rapid development of technology is leading society.
“People should be more attentive to technological progress. The more we make ourselves known online, the easier it is to use us. Many people have no idea how quickly their world is changing now, ”says one of the developers of Ubisoft Montreal.
Watch Dogs (2014)
According to Ubisoft Montreal creative director Jonathan Morin, if you want to offer management a new idea, you need to immediately demonstrate the mechanics from which the entire gameplay of the game will grow. For Watch Dogs, hacking the entire city with the press of a button became such a grain, and the first prototype of the title allowed you to control traffic lights.
“It was a real nightmare,” said Maureen. “We started by thinking through the worst-case scenarios. It takes quite a long time to get a sane AI, so we quickly created multiplayer where four people could play against each other. In this setting, we worked out questions like “Can I use hacking against other players, accelerating to 200 miles per hour?”.
Of course, in addition to the innovative gameplay, the developers tried to lay the idea into the foundation of Watch Dogs.
“Development began with us discussing how people exchange details of their lives over the phone and how this affects our daily lives,” Morin recalled.
Watch Dogs takes the player to an alternative version of Chicago, over which the Blume Corporation looms, which, like Big Brother, monitors every inhabitant of the city through the ctOS system.
Blume is a mixture of real well-known companies, which, however, is not itself the antagonist of the game. The developers emphasized that Watch Dogs, on the contrary, celebrates the development of technology and raises questions that should ideally help players form healthy relationships with them.
The protagonist, professional thief and hacker Aiden Pearce, not only has access to ctOS, but is also obsessed with avenging the death of his niece. Developing the image of Pierce, the developers largely focused on the Breaking Bad character, obsessed with his business, Walter White, who sold drugs right under the noses of the police for several seasons.
In creating another third-person game, Morin wanted to offer the player more options for gameplay mechanics, both during the passage of story missions and during free exploration of the map.
The solution was to hack everything and everything using the hero’s phone, from manipulating bridges and traffic lights, to stopping trains and cutting off electricity. Almost every resident of the city he met could offer his own story, which Pierce learned by climbing into his phone. The Ubisoft Montreal team recorded the dialogue of future NPCs in real Chicago for a month and a half.
As a result, the player can not only shoot or beat the next enemy, but study his behavior and even his personal life before choosing how to deal with him. Moreover, Watch Dogs can be completed without committing a single kill at all, except for a few key antagonists. Among other things, as befits a modern game in the open city, Watch Dogs offers more than five dozen vehicles.
Based on the bad reviews regarding the mini-games in Bioshock and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the developers realized that hacking various devices in Watch Dogs should be as simple and intuitive as possible. In the end, they managed to achieve their goal, in fact, reducing everything to pressing a single button. By the way, when developing hacking mechanics, Ubisoft Montreal consulted with Kaspersky Lab in order not to overdo it in game design with the level of sci-fi elements.
“Due to the large number of mechanics, we decided for a long time what we should teach the player and what he should understand on his own. Some games, like GTA, act as a teacher, and it works. We wanted to show the player only the principle of hacking, and he must open different options himself, ”Morin explained.
At first, in addition to the main version, a mobile application was developed to help the player, but later this idea turned into an independent multiplayer mode, in which the owners of the mobile and console versions oppose each other. Also available is the «Invasion» mode, where one player can break into the session of another, as it was in Dark Souls.
Musical arrangement was entrusted to the eminent composer Brian Reitzell, best known for his collaboration with director Sofia Coppola.
“I’ve been wanting to work in the kraut rock style for a long time and I thought it would be great for Watch Dogs. At the time, the film Drive was released with its signature soundtrack, but the growing love for synthwave lacked real kraut rock, as in the early works of Tangerine Dream, ”said Reitzell.
The game was first shown to the public at E3 2012 after four years of development. The title was immediately inundated with awards, highlighting innovations in game design and an unprecedented level of graphics. The latter played a trick on them, given that the developers had to significantly lower the bar for the quality of the visual component of Watch Dogs by the release.
“It’s important to remember that we first showed Watch Dogs before anyone knew what the next consoles would be capable of. We tried to predict the future and never hid the fact that that gameplay was played on a very powerful computer,” explained the producer of the game, Dominique Guai.
However, files from the E3 version were found in the bins of the PC version, and added to the game as part of one of the fan mods. Also in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, there were fewer NPCs and multiplayer modes.
“When PS4 was on the horizon, we had the opportunity to add things like wind and water simulation, as well as more advanced AI. However, we do not create a game for a specific car, so the key mechanics are present everywhere,” Morin assured.
On May 27, 2014, Watch Dogs was released immediately on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. While the game may not have lived up to the expectations raised by the first trailer, Ubisoft sold four million copies in its first week and broke the first-day sales record of any other game from the company.
Initially, the title was supposed to be released in November 2013, but the developers took extra time to “revive” the city even more and less overlap with GTA V, which was released in September 2013. By the way, it was with this game that they immediately began to compare Watch Dogs, however, despite for its scale, Ubisoft’s title was more like the Assassin’s Creed series.
Six months later, the Bad Blood DLC was released, telling about the adventures of one of the T-Bone characters a year after the events of the main campaign.
Watch Dogs 2 (2016)
In the sequel, the player assumes the role of the new protagonist Marcus Holloway, and the events are already developing in the open spaces of San Francisco, which is controlled by the new version of ctOS. If the first one managed mainly the infrastructure of the city, then the second one dealt with the lives of the townspeople to the maximum.
The authorities accused Holloway of hacking ctOS 2.0, in which he was not involved, and now the hero, with the support of the DedSec hacker group, will try to convey to the public the true danger of Blume.
“Pierce in the first part carried with him a dark past, which was reflected in the whole atmosphere of the game. Now we are dealing with a younger person who is looking for only the positive in others. He is charming, loves people, and the light and sunny San Francisco perfectly complements his character, ”says Guai.
At the same time, Markus is more expressive than Aiden, not only in behavior, but also in battle. In order to demonstrate this properly, the developers added more parkour skills to the protagonist and sorted out a huge number of homemade weapons for his arsenal, settling on a billiard ball suspended from a paracord cord.
According to Morin, San Francisco was the perfect place for a sequel, given the diversity of locations and cultures.
“Silicon Valley is fundamentally built on hacking culture ideals, the willingness and willingness to question established rules in order to make progress.” — Maureen.
Ubisoft tried to keep all the key locations of the city in the game, but in the end the city had to be seriously cut. Yet in the setting of Watch Dogs 2 there was a place for various criminal gangs, corporations, and hacker teams.
Given that San Francisco offers a very different mood, Ubisoft turned to another composer for the soundtrack, namely musician Hudson Mohawke, known for his collaborations with such famous artists as Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean.
The developers have thoroughly studied the feedback from the players regarding the first part in order to fix the maximum of shortcomings and make the second as exciting as possible.
The main character has new toys, and with them new gameplay mechanics. Marcus uses a quadcopter to explore areas, and a jumper to hack, distract enemies and get into hard-to-reach places.
One of the notable innovations was the absence of towers, which were the key to opening locations in many Ubisoft projects, including in the first part. The gameplay of Watch Dogs 2, in principle, is not tied to any particular location. Instead, the player progresses, gradually replenishing his army of followers, thereby gaining access to new knowledge and missions.
Watch Dogs: Legion takes the action to London, and instead of one main character, players will have at their disposal numerous hackers of the DedSec team, between which it will be possible to switch between them at will with the possibility of co-op.
The game will be released in October on all modern platforms, and in November it will be released on the fresh ninth generation of the Xbox Series X / S and PlayStation 5 consoles.
“After the release of the first part, we collected statistics, according to which about 60% of the players admitted that Watch Dogs changed their view of technology and helped shape a different approach to using it. For us, this result was a real victory. After all, if you put aside everything superfluous, this is what we want to do — to do something useful for people, ”admitted content director Thomas Jeffroyd.