One of the most exciting aspects of Ubisoft Montreal's Watch Dogs is its open world multi-mechanic design which, in theory, allows players to solve problems using a variety of tools.
Watch Dogs is set in an open world Chicago and features a savvy protagonist, Aiden Pearce, who can hack into city-wide systems to attain his own goals, while also making use of more traditional combat or stealth techniques. Speaking with The Guardian today lead designer Danny Belanger talked about how all this will actually work.
"There's a campaign, complete with main missions and a narrative, and then there's what I call the player narrative," he said. "Once you're in a mission and you have an objective — say, to get information from this person — you can use the tools in anyway you want to solve it. We're not saying, mission A is shooting, mission B is driving, mission C is stealth. If you're clever and you really use the tools you can play it the way you want. That's the philosophy of the team."
Watch Dogs was first introduced at E3 2012 and has been marked as one of the most promising new franchises of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 era. At E3 2013, the game showed well, among a wider trend of open-world titles that are seeking to deviate from linear stories.
"I do believe there's still room for crafted experiences that are fun and immersive, like playing a movie," said Belanger. "But an open world game with a lot of quality mechanics gives the player a lot of power. If we succeed with all the mechanics in the game, players may say, well, if an open-world game offers all this variety, will I be tempted to buy a game that only does one thing?"
Of course, this added layer of complexity gives more freedom to players and therefore more problems for the developer. "In some of the play tests, people have been finding really clever ways to work around the problems," said Belanger. "One guy used a motorcycle to jump over a whole section of the map to get to the end. That's fine, he used the environment to his advantage. If players are really breaking the game, then we'll find ways to deal with that, but if it's within the rules of the universe, it's ok. We're giving you a lot of tools, so we won't stop you using them."
Watch Dogs releases on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC in late November with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 released dates yet to be confirmed.