Hands-on with Watch_Dogs’ opening hours on PS4

Find out how Ubisoft’s open world future-tech epic gets underway

Watch_Dogs will rewire the way open-world games are played. A near-future Chicago, teeming with criminal intent, serves as a playground, weapon and resource in one interconnected latticework of data. And at the heart of it all stands Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker with a painful history. Within the first few hours of Watch_Dogs on PS4, Aiden’s story of revenge has enough potential to match the anticipation the gaming community has levelled at it.

At the beginning of Watch_Dogs, Aiden earns his money through digital thievery, syphoning funds away from the unsuspecting masses without lifting a finger to harm them. But one job goes south and Aiden robs the wrong people, leading to the tragic death of his niece.

Players take control of the action after six year-old Lena Pearce has been buried and mourned. The hacker has accelerated his efforts to find her killer, and that chase has led him to a hit man under May Stadium. As thunderous cheers roar above them, Aiden interrogates the killer and gets one step closer to unravelling the underground powers moving against him.

Watch_Dogs revolves around hacking. Aiden uses it to gather intel, collect funds, steal cars, stop crimes, and weaponise his environment. This changes the way players can approach every situation in Watch_Dogs, from slinking through back alleyways to racing down highways in exotic (stolen) cars.


The entire city of Chicago and its abundance of data can be accessed with the Square button, thanks to ctOS – the city-wide monitoring and security network. This one-button hacking is contextual, but also flexible. Traffic lights, bridges, garage doors, and more can be interacted with just by aiming the reticle in their direction and hitting Square. Similarly, every NPC (strict emphasis on every) has an individual and unique set of data points that Aiden can peruse at any time. This alone demonstrates a colossal effort on Ubisoft Montreal’s part.

“Names, incomes, and criminal histories flicker onto the screen, giving the bustling city streets a palpable sense of life and authenticity”

Hit Square to activate the profiler in Aiden’s smartphone, lighting up the city streets with data. Names, incomes, and criminal histories flicker onto the screen, giving the bustling city streets a palpable sense of life and authenticity. Players can spend hours just walking through Chicago and siphoning money from people’s bank accounts. Or listening in on phone conversations. Or watching text exchanges. The possibilities are enormous.

But Aiden can also take a much more active role in the world. Besides pursuing main story missions, Aiden has a wealth of side missions and mini-games to interface with during the free-roam portions of Watch_Dogs. Aiden’s profiler will alert players when random crimes are about to happen, and players can intervene if they wish, connecting to security cameras and watching over just about every inch of the city.

Hacking extends through combat, driving, surveillance, and stealth, which requires an almost fundamental shift in thinking for open-world players. Aiden can do everything you’d expect from a no-nonsense vigilante, from deft gunplay to wince-inducing takedowns. But his ability to hack changes the game. Fuse boxes and underground pipes become explosives, cameras become spies, and even grenades can be detonated remotely… while the bad guys are still holding them. A new layer of options has been laid over the traditional open-world experience, empowering Aiden, and players, with more control of the moment-to-moment play.

In one later mission, for example, Aiden can plan his assault on a gang’s meeting spot before they arrive, adjusting shutter doors and guard plates to manually shift the cover points for the ensuing gunfight.

Aiden’s skills are kinetic, growing from experience via player-driven skill trees. Divided into hacking, combat, driving, and crafting, these trees open up new ways to hack, new buffs, and devastating countermeasures to employ against the police – like causing a blackout or disabling pursuit choppers.


Watch_Dogs also features a suite of multiplayer modes, which can be dropped in and out of during single-player missions. One such mode tasks two teams with decrypting a packet of data. Each team must keep the data away from the other to prevent the opposing side from stealing it back. This digital tug-of-war encourages heart-pounding car chases, sea-side shootouts, and countless other action set pieces that erupt across Chicago.

Watch_Dogs is more than an open-world game; it challenges gamers to look at the action differently, from a small gunfight to a breakneck chase. Players can take control of a digital Chicago when Watch_Dogs hits PS4 and PS3 on 27th May.

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33 Comments 0 Author replies
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AndyBeans 23 April, 2014 @ 5:17 pm   1

After delaying it a week from release I won’t touch this until I’ve seen user reviews, “adding polish” doesn’t explain why the storyline had to be re-certificated or why the first footage after Ubisoft’s silence seemed to show the graphics had been significantly downgraded.

    ThugETH 23 April, 2014 @ 6:41 pm    

    I’m pretty much in the same boat, had the bundle preordered and had to switch to Killzone.
    I’m desperate for PS$ games too but will wait it out for Watch_Dogs and see what the gamers think.

    exogenesis87 24 April, 2014 @ 3:58 pm    

    I’m actually in the opposite boat 😛 I did not have this preordered until the recent footage started appearing. That Welcome to Chicago trailer changed my mind and made me preorder it.

residentSteve 23 April, 2014 @ 5:38 pm   2

Can’t wait to relaunch my ps4 with this have to say I’m disappointed with ps4 so far it’s just been a blu-ray and Netflix player since the start of January for me.

    CreditDue 23 April, 2014 @ 5:42 pm    

    Why did you even bother buying one then?

    residentSteve 23 April, 2014 @ 5:50 pm    

    I did have the watchdogs pack preordered which got delayed so I replaced it with killzone which I was awful recently I did get infamous but even that was rubbish. Never mind hopefully ps4 will get better for me soon with watchdogs drive club and the last of us.

    Tipo-120B 23 April, 2014 @ 5:56 pm    

    Because like me, CreditDue, no one thought the PS4 would end up being a door stop because of Sony’s shabby management and direction. I’m that disgusted with the whole PS4 shambles, I’d happily give Sony my unused PS4 back.

    How long have we been waiting for Drive Club? Firmware 1.70 was first announced how many weeks ago as coming in the coming weeks? Now it’s just coming soon. Same as EVERYTHING Playstation related.

    There was a time when there was such a thing as a release date. Seems to be a thing of folklore now.

    Lucreto 23 April, 2014 @ 8:05 pm    

    There are plenty of games if you actually look.

    Since January I have played Tomb Raider, Rayman, Resogun, Dead Nation, Infamous and currently FF XIV.
    I have Octodad and Trine 2 still to play. This is between playing FF X and Lightning Returns on the PS3.

    The Watch Dogs, Child of Light and the Beta of elder scrolls online.

    I can played non stop so don’t moan like there is nothing to play when there is.


    So you would rather play a broken game and have faulty firmware than let them take the time and have it perfect. According to a leak it will be out the 30th April if you can wait that long.

    Tipo-120B 23 April, 2014 @ 9:01 pm    

    No, I’d rather Sony do away with pre-launch rubbish of announcing what is going to be available and tell us as it really is.

    Take Drive Club, a game that was supposed to be available at launch. This is still not here 5 MONTHS after launch with still no release date. If a game has gone 5 months past it’s announced release date, it’ pretty obvous that Sonynd the developers knew weeks in advance this game was never going to be in launch packages. Still, they persisted with blurb.

    Blacklight: Retribution. Another title set for release on launch day. Although it was only a short period between the console release and the game release, it was another title that wasn’t available. If you’re happy playing indie games, retro graphic games and what are in effect weak launch titles, then that is OK for you.

    The main gaming reasons I purchased my PS4 for on launch day was for Blacklight and Drive Club. Only one has been delivered at this time. On my PS3, I have Dust 514 and GT6…. See a similarity? You have to realise, not everyone wants to play every title available. I’m not a young gamer and choose my titles carefully. After it was announced Drive Club wouldn’t be available at launch, I think it fair to say no one expected the delay to be this long (I hear it’s scheduled for an autum release, nearly a YEAR of PS4 launch!)

    Firmware. How long do you think it should take to add features to console firmware, considering pS4 is easier to develop for, the core framework is already done and the fact PS4 already took 5 years to develop? How many MAJOR updates has it’s competitor had since launch? A lot of things the console is missing really should have included the day it was launched. Come on, 5 years in development.

    I’m fine with things taking time to develop and be released. What I’m not fine with is constantly being lead up the garden path with vapour ware, software that’s slated for release that doesn’t exist or is no where near being ready. I’m not fine with continuous braking of promises (basically lieing) to generate hype for higher sales. Atari became accustomed to producing vapour ware. Look what happened to them.

    If Sony would be truthful and realistic with release schedules, I’d be happy with that. Just don’t have customers believing something is going to be here within a couple of weeks when they actually meen a couple of months. Firmware v1.70 was announced in March as ‘in the coming weeks’. We’re 5 weeks on now and still no release date.

    CreditDue 23 April, 2014 @ 9:21 pm    

    @Tipo The main gaming reasons you bought a PS4 for were a racing game and a beta for a F2P game? Whatever…

    CreditDue 24 April, 2014 @ 12:20 am    

    It was quite clear early on before the PS4 even launched that the PS4 launch games and the months that followed were going to be rather stale. I guess you wasn’t paying attention. Drive Club had its delay announced in Oct. You should have waited until the summer

    The only person to get mad regarding your boxed PS4 is yourself

    AlexAtkinUK 24 April, 2014 @ 2:35 am    

    I have to agree with some of the sentiment here as its insane how slow Sony are rolling out firmware improvements. When you consider Microsoft launched with half the good features on Xbox One compared to Xbox 360 but have mostly caught up now. I badly need to be able to see my friends coming online, that was a core feature for my on Xbox 360 and I expect it on PS4. Sony risk falling behind here.

    While I wouldn’t go so far as to say my PS4 has been a door stop (very much enjoyed Assassins Creed on it), it has been disappointing when I bought it primarily on the strength of Watch Dogs, Drive Club and an improved Pinball Arcade.

    The first two games being hugely delayed and the latter I couldn’t purchase for over a month after launch due to bugs with the SCEE store, and now its stuck with crappy audio because of a bug at release that either Sony or Farsight are taking forever to get patched.

    I suppose one positive is due to the lack of games I did take a chance on Knack and really enjoyed it. People who dismiss that game based purely on its art style and somewhat awkward controls are really missing the point.

    Fortunately the wait for Watch Dogs is almost over, it better be darn good and not get delayed again.

    Tipo-120B 24 April, 2014 @ 6:48 am    

    CreditDue – Get real would you! The months that followed? Yeah I accept 2 or 3 months but we’re going on HALF A YEAR! When you’ve pre-ordered a console with a non-returnable deposit, quite some time before it’s release, based on the fanfare of it’s announcement, it’s pretty much a done deal. I’m not sure when 3rd party developers got their dev kits but Sony’s in software houses PD etc knew of the console at least 3 years ago.

    As for paying attention, I’m in my late 30’s not a kid who lives on twitter and facebook…. I don’t even use that that stuff. I have a life other than gaming and a very busy job, which is forever changing at an exponential rate. I don’t have time to find every bit of news on all things Playstation. Right or wrong, I saw the launch announcement, the features and games that were supposed to be available with it and made a decision based on that. I suppose several million others did the same.

    I’ve been a PS user since the first console and this is the worst launch they’ve done, even worse than PS4.

    You’re right in saying I should have waited for the summer, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    I’m not mad CreditDue, disgusted and disappointed yes, but not mad. I know good things are on the way, but the young kids who got a PS4 who know no better don’t. Sony seem to have forgotten about the console, as their hype is now centered on Morpheous.

    Before you jumped on my comment I was saying the way Sony are handling this console is wrong. They should stop dropping feeders about games and features when they haven’t even got an estimated release date. Do have any idea how many people think Drive Club is never going to arrive? That’s what happens when you cry wolf all the time. Having adverts stating over 180 games are in development is all well and good, but a games console is only as good as the games available on it. So far, they’re pretty poor. Thankfully I only bought the hardware, not a package.

    Tipo-120B 24 April, 2014 @ 6:51 am    

    “I’ve been a PS user since the first console and this is the worst launch they’ve done, even worse than PS4.”

    Obviously that should be PS3! Anyways, I’m done with this conversation. I’ve made my point and so have you. Either way the situation is what it is and I don’t see Sony changing their methods anytime soon. They’ll be trying hard to get out of the financial mess they’re in. As for me, PS4 is the last conole I buy.


    Not sure how old you are and how many console launches you lived trough but every console launch has a sparse amount of games released for it in the first year. Developers need to learn a lot to program for the new machines. Actually due to easy ports and indie games the library for the console is bigger then ever before has been the case but (like me) you look forward to those wonderful AAA games but that takes time. Games will get delayed or even cancelled during this time. It’s all about being an early adapter. That are the reasons why games like Watchdogs and Driveclub are delayed and whining about that doesn’t make them come earlier. I’m sure these developers would rather have the game out today instead of tomorrow but if they aren’t up to standard it’s no good.
    Same for the firmware. The final hardware was only decided on just a few months for release. So it take time to write and perfect the firmware. Thankfully Sony is going to continue to invest to improve on the system. Take the Blu-ray in the PS3. Not one Blu-ray in the market got that many updates like this one. Sure it’s disappointing the PS4 Blu-ray isn’t to that standard but it takes time because the system is different and needs other software written to make it perform great.
    Maybe you are not cut out to be an early adapter and is that the lessen you learned. Maybe you can sell your PS4 and wait a year or 2 when everything is more up to your expectations.

    Tipo-120B 24 April, 2014 @ 8:21 pm    

    Ah nice to see adult discussion OttoT. Lets just say I was out of diapers by a lot of years when the Atari 2600 was launched!

    The thing with the PS3 which overshadowed the small amount of titles at launch was the fact it was a Linux PC, media hub, 4 USB slots, memory card slots, 60GB HDD and a games player out of the box, and 98% PS2 backwards compatible too, so the lack of games wasn’t too much of a problem. But it’s shining star was it’s price. For £500 you got all this PLUS a Blu-Ry player, at a time when standalone Blu-Ray players were £400! I’ve still got my 60GB phatty (with bigger HDD), it’s only ever needed a replacement laser.

    The big developer sales pitch for PS4 was that because it’s based on x86 architecture, there wasn’t the massive skill hill climb that there was with the Cell processor. I wouldn’t say I’m whinning, I’d just prefer a bit of honesty and truth. The games are announced as coming soon and then forgotten about, there’s no announcement to say ‘Look, this is what we’re working on. It’s just in it’s concept stages at the moment so there hasn’t been a thought of release dates and it won’t be comming soon”.

    Sony made a big deal of promoting Drive Club but we had to look elsewhere to read from the developers that they have ‘gone back to the drawing board’!

    Maybe I’m being too harsh, I’m a seasoned gamer who likes a few select genre of games. I see my nephews (still on PS3) who but titles nearly every month and I wonder why on earth they’d want ‘that game’. Maybe the games I’m looking for are on PC. Arma, Eve Online, rFactor and iRacing all appeal to me, maybe I should update the GPU in my audio workstation!

    The 3 titles I’m looking at this year is Destiny, Planetside 2 and Project Cars. Drive Club, I think for me, has missed the boat. Project Cars will be hear by then and that’s more in line with iRacing, I think that will eclipse Drive Club. I won’t sell my PS4, I can wait.

    JediKnight246 26 April, 2014 @ 8:48 pm    

    The £425 price tag was one of the reasons the PS3 struggled so much at first. The Xbox 360 had 10 million sales before the PS3 had been released and was also cheaper and had more good games by then. Besides exclusives it turned out to be just as capable as the PS3.

    The 60GB PS3’s memory card slots and so on were overkill and Sony forget that it was primarily a game console. I’m glad they got the core features right on the PS4 first before anything else. Being easier to develop for will help a lot in the long run and so will not being a year later than the other consoles. Many features like DLNA and 3D Blu-ray can be added later via a firmware update.

cowbanana 23 April, 2014 @ 5:40 pm   3

This looks like an exceptionally bland excercise in over-production. I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to grasp something that’ll pull me into this game. Everything looks so generic and uninspired. From the (CENSORED) protagonist I don’t feel like playing as to the bland everyday concrete cityscape. Bland, boring…

Don’t even get me started on the typically repetitive “gameplay” that drags down every AAA(A?) Ubisoft game. I don’t really feel like enduring that well known repetition all over again.

Basically it looks like an over-produced product with little real value to offer. The Ubi repetition put me off these games completely and I don’t really think that this one will be different. It even fails to stand out with any sort of appeal to my imagination.

    AlexAtkinUK 24 April, 2014 @ 2:41 am    

    How is having so much control over the environment bland? This is the first game to ever show buildings lights coming on a few at a time, going dark a section at a time like the, its far more dynamic than any game I have ever seen.

    Being able to walk into shops and there be the same level of detail inside as out, and people in there going about their business. This is FAR from bland.

    This is clearly a game that cannot really show what it has to offer in trailers, you need to experience it for yourself. I certainly don’t see its going to be any more bland than GTA, what they have done with the physics and AI is going to make it feel much more engaging. I just hope they have managed to keep the missions interesting enough to stop them feeling too repetitive.

    Ultimately, most if not all games are based on repetition. There are only so many ways a game can play, what makes one interesting and another not is how those ideas are chained together, how the story works, etc. I have faith that Watch Dogs is going to work.

dark_angel69 23 April, 2014 @ 5:42 pm   4

Can’t wait for this game. Would get me using my PS4 again. Been a long time now since I switched it on. My PS3 and Vita have been getting all the love

cowbanana 23 April, 2014 @ 5:43 pm   5

wat? The nanny filter on this blog is ridiculous.


I read quite a few previews and they all conformed the graphics had a downgrade. The game still looks fine but not great. What is worst is that even they played it for 4 hours the gameplay felt repetitive. Same can be said about CoD and still enjoyed by many (not by me) and driving feels odd although it’s a significant part of the game. All in all it’s not a good sign.
I’ll wait until the reviews poor in to decide if Watchdogs is worth my money but I’m less excited then when I saw it first.

    AlexAtkinUK 24 April, 2014 @ 2:45 am    

    I have watched quite a few previews which confirmed it HASN’T had a downgrade, its all spin either way until you compare it for yourself in like-for-like scenarios and weather.

    Games always look more flat and fake when its day time and dry compared to night time and wet. The reflections on wet surfaces con the brain into feeling that its more realistic.


    @AlexAtkinUK Yes I read those to but I have 4 to 6 sites I trust (Dutch, German, UK and US) and they say all the same and talks about a graphical downgrade.
    That is actually not the worst thing I read. I guess the fact this is also on PS360 has something to do with it. The thing that worries me is that they all say the gameplay is repetitive.

jfontyman 23 April, 2014 @ 10:19 pm   7

I would prefer a delayed game than a bugfest, Battlefield 4 should have been released late February on the PS4 and held back on other platforms because it was not ready, Driveclub? well it’s not like evolution studios can’t make good games so I’m in no hurry, Watchdogs??? you’d be hard pushed to find a rubbish Ubisoft game and I don’t mean a game you don’t like..

As for myself I can catch up with ACBF multiplayer, Warframe, BF 4 campaign, Infamous SS bad playthrough and Trials Fusion, not forgetting tombraider, dmc , hotline miami, sly cooper, PES2014 plus a backlog on my PS3, imagine if I picked up a Vita over the weekend I might experience a serious gaming drought until watchdogs comes out…… jeez

solarwind12 24 April, 2014 @ 10:52 am   8

Really enjoyed reading the Posts here, the games review is ‘when i see it for myself’, as with much lately… the best line though was one i been thinking of for a while, ‘wasting my warranty’, really is, and as explained hindsight IS a good thing, oh well, really never thought i would be thinking that when i managed to ‘grab’ my PS4, december 13th, but there were some shops offering More than i just paid, in cash, IF only i chose to turn quick profit.. when it Did dawn on me the shops offer was about hundred less than i paid, tempted but will have faith my unused months will not bite my behind when warranty expires, impulse, sometimes is good, mostly is bad?.. but was glad to read others having same thoughts as me.. not looking to debate anything etc…..

Skookie30 24 April, 2014 @ 12:49 pm   9

So that why the delay some-one from sony Says “hey guys we “Need” MP right” like MP was not plan at first so what do we get?

a downgrade single player MP bolted on game, no word if tablets or vita helps friends on their adventure like was shown last year E3.

Garrus1712 24 April, 2014 @ 1:03 pm   10

yay so close to release now, lil over a month left.

vicentecarro 24 April, 2014 @ 5:05 pm   11

Is the capture in the article from the PS4 version or PC?

ATLBravesfan13 28 April, 2014 @ 6:44 am   12

Can we get some high res pics of the ps4 that show everyone this game was not downgraded? Thanks

D_R_A_G_A_T_A_88 29 April, 2014 @ 1:21 pm   13

Looks amazing!