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Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs: "You're not by default a criminal"

We talked with Watch Dogs' creative director about providing player choice in a traditionally violent genre.

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GRTV tracked down Watch Dogs' creative director Jonathan Morin and found out how the game had been progressing since its debut on stage at last year's E3.

Watch Dogs promises to offer players with a plethora of options as they hack their way through the underbelly of near-future Chicago. While the player will have a gun in their hand, Ubisoft are keen to offer a variety of options, not just the run-and-gun tactics that dominate the open-world genre: "If you want to shoot everybody, you better be good at it... If you're good at shooting and that's what you want to do, you're going to receive your challenge, but if you think a little bit more then you're going to be rewarded by having the consequences of being detected to be less hard."

"You need to almost see it as a cycle," Morin continued. "Someone who loves shooting will be challenged because he's going to go straight at it. Someone who wants to think should be able to completely dodge the shooting if he's really good at it, and if he fucks it up he needs to improvise with the flow. So it's not about it becoming easy. It's more about it becoming rich and deep, like if when you get detected and you follow the last guy, for example, he can flee systemically, take a car, call his friend... other cars show up. So when you have all of those consequences arriving systemically, then it's hard in itself because you don't know what's going to happen, you need to fix the problem and the AI seems to outsmart you sometimes with something you didn't expect or a curveball. So in the end there's a pretty good balance between difficulty and what you can express yourself with."

The E3 trailer for Watch Dogs leaked just before this year's event, and it showed us the darker side of the city. Morin explained: "We really want to go deep into the underground of the city, right? So we have a good spectrum of situations, human trafficking is one element you're going to encounter. We have side-missions that dig more into those subjects as well."

Morin promised us that we won't just see the bleak side of Chicago, and there'll be beautiful moments for players to discover too: "The one thing we had to be really careful of though, was the tone of the game. The tone is pretty serious, so we need to make sure there's a balance in there. I certainly don't want to be the guy who shows the darkest side of humanity 100% of the time, right?!"

The danger in giving a player a gun is that they'll solve all of their problems via a well placed bullet. But thanks to the wealth of options available to the player, there will be other ways of disarming tricky situations you encounter, such as being recognised on televisions in and around the city.

Morin cites the example of Aiden Pearce snatching a member of the public's mobile phone and smashing it, rather than using lethal force to avoid contact with the police: "You're the kind of vigilante you want to be. You're not by default a criminal, and that's I think an important way not to insult the player's intelligence. We're dropping you in the world with a gun, that's a big deal. If you want to be careful about it, we should give you a character that's smart enough to understand its context and he should give you this ability [to take non-lethal action]."

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