Monday, May 27, 2024
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Revisiting ‘Watch Dogs’

In the whirlwind of video game wins and dramas, let’s talk about the wild ride of the PS4 and Xbox One launch era. We’re talking about everything from launch day glitches to the rise of the infamous Gamergate saga.

But one thing that really had tongues wagging was the hype and hullabaloo surrounding Ubisoft’s much-anticipated Watch Dogs.

Let’s rewind back to 2012, when the gaming world got its first peek at Watch Dogs during E3. It was like stepping into a whole new world – a hyper-connected version of Chicago with jaw-dropping graphics and the promise of total freedom for players.

Watch Dogs skyrocketed to the top of everyone’s must-play list for the next-gen consoles faster than you could say “game on!”

With the hype machine in overdrive, Ubisoft keeps teasing gamers with trailers that show off some seriously impressive next-gen graphics, taking full advantage of the PS4 and Xbox One’s performance capabilities.

They’re throwing in dynamic gameplay mechanics and a massive open world just waiting to be explored.

Players were told they could hack into the city’s systems, peek into people’s lives, and even change the story with their actions. The excitement hit the roof as fans counted down to the big release on May 27, 2014.

ABOVE & BELOW: While shrouded with controversy, the world of ‘Watch Dogs’ still continues to amaze, especially with the mods installed; and despite stumbling in certain areas, the story still remains engaging with its themes. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM & UBISOFT
ABOVE & BELOW: In ‘Watch Dogs’ players assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a skilled hacker seeking revenge in a world where privacy is a luxury and information is power; and photos show scenes from the game. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM & UBISOFT

But when Watch Dogs finally hit the shelves, things didn’t quite live up to the hype. The graphics were a bit of a let-down from what we’d seen at E3, and that’s something the game’s history still hasn’t quite shaken off.

The lively, bustling city we saw in the trailers turned out to be a bit more toned down in the actual game. A lot of players felt pretty let down, with many pointing fingers at Ubisoft for hyping things up too much. And that’s how the whole downgrade controversy for the game got started.

Even with all the fuss at the start, Watch Dogs turned out to be a pretty solid game. It had some cool gameplay and a story that really sucked you in.

Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of being a super-savvy hacker, taking down the bad guys who lurk in the shadows?

Set in a near-future Chicago where technology reigns supreme, players assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a skilled hacker seeking revenge in a world where privacy is a luxury and information is power.

The game’s open-world design encourages exploration and experimentation, with a plethora of side missions, mini-games and activities to uncover and partake in.

While the graphics may not have lived up to the pre-release hype, Watch Dogs excelled in its gameplay mechanics which gained a cult following after the release of the game.

The ability to hack into the city’s infrastructure, manipulate traffic lights, and access security cameras added a layer of depth to the already tight gunplay experience, allowing players to approach objectives in creative ways from going in guns blazing to a more stealthy approach with the use of security cameras and gadgets.

While the narrative was not ground-breaking compared to other open-world experiences such as Grand Theft Auto V which was released a year prior, it still kept players invested with its themes of surveillance, corporate greed, and moral ambiguity.

Over the years, the Watch Dogs series has been evolving and tweaking its narrative and gameplay mechanics. Watch Dogs 2 shook things up with its satire-filled take on San Francisco, while the more recent Watch Dogs Legion got folks talking with its whole “recruit anyone” concept.

And even though it’s been around for almost a decade, the original Watch Dogs still has a loyal fanbase, thanks in part to the awesome mods created by its community. These mods range from simple cosmetic tweaks to major overhauls of the gameplay.

Take the Living City Mod, for example – it completely flips the script on how players interact with the game world. The Living City Mod didn’t just patch up old game issues – it breathed new life into Watch Dogs.

Now, the crowds are more lively and responsive, with even the cops pulling off some slick hacks when you’ve got a high wanted level. And remember those multi-player modes that were once off-limits to solo players? Well, now they’re seamlessly integrated into the single-player experience. So, if you’re causing too much chaos, don’t be surprised if a hitman or hacker shows up to rain on your parade.

But it’s not just about missions – the Living City Mod throws in all sorts of random events to keep you on your toes.

You might find yourself in a street race one minute and battling it out with some shady characters the next.

And let’s talk gadgets and weapons. With this mod, you’ve got a whole arsenal at your disposal, from calling in the cops to deal with street gangs to sniping targets from miles away with a remote rifle.

Thanks to mods like Living City, Watch Dogs has gone from a rough diamond to a fully immersive experience. The once-stagnant world now feels alive and reactive, with NPCs behaving just like real folks. It’s everything the developers had in mind when they first unleashed Watch Dogs on the world a decade ago. – Daniel Lim