Prior to its launch, Watch Dogs was hyped as a new bar in video game realism, blending gritty narratives with relevant and newsy stories.
Four months on from its arrival, it's clear that Ubisoft's adventure failed to come close to the expectations placed upon it when it was first shown in 2012. A mostly enjoyable adventure, it enjoyed strong sales of around 8 million copies and review scores around the 80% mark, but did not establish itself as a benchmark in game design and was not noted for trying anything particularly new and interesting.
So where next for Watch Dogs? Obviously, a sequel is on the way, but what will it do above and beyond repeating the formula set down in the first game, in which a man uses urban digital infrastructure to hunt down and kill bad guys?
Lionel Raynaud, vice president of creative at Ubisoft Montreal, said in an interview with CVG that the next Watch Dogs game will seek to make some big changes."
There are parts of the game that will need to change.
"There are flaws, obviously," he said, speaking of the original game. "We absolutely want to tackle these flaws and surprise players, and the way to tackle some of those flaws is going to be quite radical. There are parts of the game that will need to change."
He said that the company had learned how to build from inauspicious franchise beginnings, going back to the original Assassin's Creed. "We had a lot of flaws in the replayability of gameplay loops and you could feel that the game was a first iteration. At the time, there was clear potential but it was not easy to know it was going to become the franchise that it is today."
He said that the company will seek to build technologies that give players more freedom. "We have this ambition to have games that are worlds with systems that offer more agency and freedom for players, that allow them to discover the world in the way they want. We want them to be less narrative or character driven and more creative, with more choices for the player.
"This is quite a high ambition and will require us to develop technologies that we didn't have for Watch Dogs, but this combined with fixing and refining what worked well is probably the way to go for Watch Dogs 2."