What is Watch Dogs?Finally there's a Watch Dogs release date and we're so relieved. Now we can actually count down the weeks until the game hits our console of choice, we can't help feeling the butterflies in our stomach. We're still so very intrigued by how good the game will be when it launches - especially on Xbox One, PS4 and even Wii U.
Watch Dogs is a brand new IP from Ubisoft, the creators of games like Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Most likely turning out to be a cross between a high-tech GTA 5 and an Assassin’s Creed game, Watch Dogs is set in Chicago in the not-too-distant future.
The game was originally intended to be an Xbox One and PS4 launch title, but was pushed back to 2014 because it wasn’t quite as perfect as Ubisoft wanted.
Now we have to wait until May to get our hands on Watch Dogs, but until then we can console ourselves with all the news and gameplay footage we have so far.
Watch Dogs Hands-on from E3 2013Ubisoft had an extended demo of Watch Dogs available to see behind closed doors at E3 2013, and we were lucky enough to be one of the few to be granted access.
Our first impressions in our hands-on Watch Dogs review were that the architectural detail of Chicago is very realistic and the weather effects are particularly impressive.
“If we have any reservations, it’s that a lot of the game mechanics echo those in the Assassin’s Creed games, though with more emphasis on hacking, surveillance and GTA-style driving, and less on the parkour stuff.”
Watch Dogs Release Date: When is Watch Dogs coming out?Originally intended to be a launch title for the Xbox One and PS4, Ubisoft suddenly delayed the Watch Dogs release date to sometime in Spring 2014.
However, we can now confirm that the hacking-based, open world title, Watch Dogs will launch for Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC as well as the PS4 and Xbox One on May 27.
“We are pleased to be able to reveal to gamers all over the world the new release date for Watch Dogs,” said Geoffroy Sardin, EMEA Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Ubisoft. “We are extremely confident that the additional time we afforded the dev team to refine and polish the game will be more than worth the wait.”
Anyone who chooses to play Watch Dogs on the PS4 or PS3 wil also get accessive to exclusive content, including 60 minutes of additional gameplay.
“We’re really excited for the launch of Watch Dogs on both PS3 and PS4 and are confident that it will prove to be one of the standout games of 2014,” said Michael Pattison, VP of Third Party Relations at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “It’s a unique and visionary game and we believe that the exclusive content available via PSN will not only excite gamers, but showcase how PlayStation is a preferred destination for Watch Dogs.”
Watch Dogs for Wii U
Despite finally getting a firm release for all the other platforms, Watch Dogs for Wii U has been delayed. Again.
It will not be released on May 27, but will arrive at "a later date".
“We made the difficult decision to further delay the release of Watch Dogs on Wii U to focus the team’s resources where they could have the broadest possible benefit for both our customers and Ubisoft,” said Ubisoft to investors.
Watch Dogs News: What we know so far
Watch Dogs graphics may be better than anticipated
If you were following (or part of) the online outrage surrounding the supposed graphic downgrade for Watch Dogs spotted in the most recent story trailer, you might be pleased by the "Welcome to Chicago" trailer.
Ubisoft's Creative Director Jonathan Morin has said that particular trailer "wasn't a good graphics reference", but that wasn't the best excuse for a pretty major trailer for a hotly anticipated game.
The lengthier Welcome to Chicago trailer is all in-game captured and attempts to show off the game's "depth and diversity".
It focuses on rich dynamic lighting, weather and lighting effects offered by the game as well as the myriad NPC characters you'll stumble across in your Chicago adventures.
Read more: New Watch Dogs trailer suggest better graphics than originally thought - March 28
You may well be thankful for that release date delay
Ubisoft has revealed that the delayed Watch Dogs release date has "made a big difference" to the final game, allowing the developer to polish the finished title and add some additional features initially destined for a sequel.
“The things we’ve developed the most are the interactions with hacking, and how in many situations being smart with chain reactions can offer something unique from any other open-world game," explained Ubisoft's VP of Creative Lionel Raynaud. "If we weren't able to deliver this aspect, it wouldn't feel new enough to be worth a new IP."
There are also some new systems that Ubisoft has managed to fit into Watch Dogs, thanks to the delay.
“There are always things that you have to keep for the next game. In this case the extra time allowed us to put a lot of our ideas into the game, so we are happy with that. There were several systems that were not going to be in the game if we released in November. There’s always the discussion of ‘should we leave them for the sequel, or do we take the time to finish them?’ And we decided to take our time and do it right.”
However, the developer has kept back some of its ideas to fill out the next game and to save inconsistencies in the first Watch Dogs.
“Some ideas that we weren't able to get into the game would not have made a difference, while other, bigger ideas that naturally emerged during development were so different that we felt they would have changed the experience.”
Read more: Watch Dogs delay "made a big difference" to final game - March 27
Exclusive PS4 and PS3 content revealed
Those of you looking to play Watch Dogs on the PS4 or PS3 will be very excited to hear what exclusive content you'll receive at launch.
Some may be excited at the prospect of getting your mitts on a unique "White Hat" Hacker Outfit, but we expect you'll be more intrigued by those exclusive missions.
The PlayStation exclusive content offers four extra missions that equate to an additional hour of gameplay, on top of the standard gameplay.
"By playing this additional content, players will have a deeper knowledge of DedSec, a key and powerful faction in the Watch Dogs universe," explained Ubisoft.
When you've played all this additional content, you'll be offered a Hacking Boost called Superior Capacity that gives you an extra Battery Slot.
Read more: Watch Dogs PS4 and PS3 exclusive content detailed in new trailer - March 21
Sony identifies Watch Dogs as a defining next-generation title
Speaking to TrustedReviews, Sony Computer Entertainment Managing Director Fergal Gara said Watch Dogs could be a defining game for next-generation consoles.
"[Watch Dogs could] define next-gen gaming really push some boundaries. A title like Watch Dogs, the anticipation is so high around it; pre-orders are already very significant and very strong for PS4."
Sony has a highly optimistic outlook for Watch Dogs, but the company was still disappointed it couldn’t be release as a launch title for the PS4 and Xbox One.
"It is a slight disappointment [that Watch Dogs has been delayed]. The timing isn’t as we had hoped. We have said we are for the players and we would rather they have a great game slightly later than a good game early."
The PS4 creator also believes that Watch Dogs could be the first in a hugely successful next-gen franchise.
"It would be a terrible shame if a game like that – which could go several rounds, Watchdogs 1, 2, 3 and could define next-gen gaming and really push some boundaries – it would be a shame if a title like that came out and it was only good when it could be great."
Read more: Watch Dogs could define next gen gaming say Sony
Watch Dogs Wii U still in the works despite the cancellation rumours
In late January 2014, word came that GameStop was cancelling pre-orders of the Watch Dogs Wii U edition because Ubisoft had made the decision to abandon the game.
Reports emerged that Italian GameStop branches were not only cancelling orders, but also informing customers was because the Wii U Watch Dogs had been scrapped.
Another report from a "reliable Kotaku source" also claims the US GameStop was also cancelling Wii U pre-orders for the game, which heightened the speculation.
However, it turned out that the cancellations were the result of an internal GameStop glitch and not an indication of Ubisoft cancellation. Pre-orders across the world are still in place, and the Italian ones were to be restored within the next 24 hours after their initial abolition.
Rather bizarrely, Ubisoft declined to comment on the suggests the Wii U version of Watch Dogs had been scrapped.
"We have nothing to comment at the moment," said a Ubisoft spokesperson.
In an interview in 2013, Watch Dogs creative director Jonathan Morin said the Wii U version actually looked better than the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions.
"I would say the Wii U version is pretty much in between what the current gen is and what the next gen is from a version standpoint", said Morin in an interview with CVG. "It's hard to position it. i would tend to say it's maybe a bit closer to current gen than next gen for certain things, but it's a beautiful game on the Wii U and it's cool to play it just on the GamePad."
See also: Mass Effect 4 news and rumours round-up
Watch Dogs Storyline: What happens in Watch Dogs?Watch Dogs is set in Chicago and you play as Aiden Pearce, a highly-competent hacker and former thug. Pearce is seeking justice for a violent family tragedy (similar to Max Payne) and does so by monitoring and hacking those that surround him in the city.
You’ll need to manipulate Chicago’s Central Operating System, known at ctOS as it controls the majority of the city’s technology and information as well as holding data on all the city’s residents.
Manipulating the ctOS can be done via Pearce’s smartphone, meaning you’ll be able to access security cameras, download personal data, control traffic lights and public transport form the palm of your hand to achieve your goals.
Being able to control parts of the ctOS means "the city is our weapon", one of the game’s defining catch phrases.
Ubisoft has created Watch Dogs’ storyline in part as an "homage to humanity".
"You’re going to see mundance, funny situations, see very dark secrets, we really want to make sure we pay homage to humanity, and we’re not critiquing them 100 per cent of the time. That would be bad," explained Ubisoft’s Creative Director, Jonathan Morin.
Watch Dogs Gameplay: What type of game is Watch Dogs?Watch dogs is a sandbox game that will allow you to explore the various layers of Chicago, from the rooftops down to the city’s dangerous underground system. However, you will have to hack Control Centres in order to access citizen profiles and the ctOS in each district, similar to the towers you have to scale in Far Cry 3 and the Assassin’s Creed series.
"When you’re doing an open world game, I think one of the best practices is to connect your fantasy, the fantasy of the game to the world itself," said Jonathan Morin, Ubisoft’s Creative Director.
"For example, us, we’re talking about monitoring the entire city of Chicago, it makes no sense whatsoever if you don’t have to do something in the world to eventually get access to the system. It’s how it works in real life, and it also connects the player with the world a bit more with its progression."
Watch Dogs will also use a Reputation System that is based on the media’s perception of Pearce and the way the player completes the missions and side quests, including the amount of citizen casualties you wrack up.
"Every time you intervene and how you play, your Reputation is going to sway in different ways, and that’s now going to have an impact on the entire city and [how] they will perceive you,” added Morin. "It’s not a judgement call on how you play. There’s a lot more depth in that to our system."
Elements that seem particularly GTA 5-like include the driving sections. Ubisoft partnered with the Ubisoft Reflections studio, responsible for the Driver series, to influence Watch Dogs. Watch Dogs actually features over 65 vehicles each built using a top physics and handling engine.
There has yet to be any playable game demoes at gaming trade shows, but there have been several Watch Dogs gameplay trailers released by Ubisoft, which you can enjoy below.
Out of Control gameplay trailer:
Gameplay Series Part 1 – Hacking is your weapon:
14-minute long Watch Dogs gameplay trailer:
Watch Dogs PC System RequirementsIn early October Ubisoft released an initial system requirements sheet for Watch Dogs and this has now been confirmed by a Steam listing for the game.
You’ll need quite the gaming PC to even get Watch Dogs started.
Minimum PC system requirements are as follows:
Supported OS: Windows Vista SP2 64bit, Windows 7 SP1 64bit, Windows 8 64bit
Processor: 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 or 3GHz AMD Phenom II X4 940
Video Card: 1GB VRAM DirectX 11 with Shader Model 5.0
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card with latest drivers
Hard Drive: 25GB of available space
This product supports 64bit operating systems ONLY
Recommended PC system requirements are as follows:
Processor: eight-core 3.5GHz Intel Core i7 3770 or 4.0GHz AMD FX-8350
Video Card: 2GB VRAM DirectX 11 with Shader Model 5.0 or higher
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card with latest drivers
Hard Drive: 25GB of available space
Supported Video Cards at the time of release include:
nVidia GeForce GTX460 or better, GT500, GT600, GT700 series;
AMD Radeon HD5850 or better, HD6000, HD7000, R7 and R9 series
Intel® Iris™ Pro HD 5200
Watch Dogs TrailersAny additional Watch Dogs trailers we will insert here for you to stave off the excitement with until the spring release date.
Watch Dogs demo from E3:
Watch Dogs – DedSec trailer:
Read more: Destiny release date, news, gameplay and trailers round-up