Watch Dogs PS4 hands on – delays can’t stop us finding new information

Watch Dogs PS4 Gamecom

My experience of Watch Dogs begins in a nondescript alley – a suitable setting for Aiden Pearce, who even with his mask off is constantly hiding his identity. Ubisoft‘s game plays with paranoia – cops, criminals and even civilians are looking for you, and you must fight, hide or hack your way free.

Watch Dogs PS4 hands on

The language and the feel of the hacking, lead story designer Kevin Shortt explains, was reviewed by Kaspersky Lab’s digital security experts, but the process is abstracted to holding down the Square button. As soon as a pedestrian with a smartphone walks past, I hit the button, hungry for illicit info nuggets. However, the information is blocked – I must drive to and ‘capture’ the local security hub to be able to use Pearce’s data-grabbing powers here.

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Driving certainly feels familiar. There’s a plethora of different vehicles, each with their own handling and characteristics – although Ubisoft Reflections, creator of the Driver series, is still tweaking the car control. Vehicles give a decent impression of speed, and they’re noticeably robust: clipping oncoming traffic leaves my vehicle compacted but still operational.

Crouching behind a wall, I consider my options. I could ram my stolen car into the armed guards at the gate, and then open fire on the others, but my sleuthing senses tell me I’d be better off opting for a less immediately fatal approach.

I consider my options. I could ram my stolen
car into the armed guards at the gate…

Remotely opening a garage door diverts the guards’ attention. Activating the alarm of the car in the garage would certainly be distracting, but would also put the guards on alert. Instead I creep through a gap in the fence and climb on to the roof. By raising hackable barriers, I crouch, hide and sneak to a good vantage point. Then, switching from pistol to automatic rifle, I kill the entire security crew. In your face, subtlety.

Watch Dogs PS4 screensThe enemy AI, which successfully flanked and killed me at ground level when I screwed up my first attempt, goes down fairly easily – the height advantage and slo-mo focus mode enabling me to pick them off from behind cover. Nonetheless, I take a few hits while mopping them up.

Now it’s a matter of recovering the code from a corpse, hacking a camera through a window, and using the viewpoint to access the hub. If you can see it, goes the mantra, you can hack it… but that needn’t to be with your own eyes.