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Breaking Down Watch Dogs' Multiplayer Modes – Will They Be Meaningful?

by Kimberley Wallace on Apr 23, 2014 at 02:33 PM

Watch Dogs is only a month away and while we had extensive hands-on time with it, we haven't yet explored the online play. Today, Ubisoft Montreal released a 9-minute trailer showing off three different ways the game incorporates multiplayer. Here is a breakdown of what's shown and if we think it will have a big impact on the experience.

Everything Is Connected

In the world of Watch Dogs, everything is intertwined and that includes the multiplayer and single-player content, which plays out in the same world. You can just be strolling down the street minding your own business when another player tries to hack you. But fear not, you also possess the same power.

Three Different Ways To Offer Multiplayer

Ubisoft isn't just offering one way to involve other players, but three different opportunities to challenge players via online hacking contracts, using the CtOS mobile companion app to control hackable objects, and competitive decryption combat. All the online gameplay contributes to points you can put into the skill tree, which features hacking, combat, and driving focuses.

Online Hacking Contracts Keep You Guessing

Online hacking contracts can be found by simply exploring the city and if you accept a contract, you enter another player's game. Your opposition immediately gets an alert, "You are being invaded," putting them on guard and potentially finding your hiding spot. The mini map shows that your enemy is somewhere in the circled vicinity. Remember, your opponent looks just like a random NPC, so figuring out who's trying to hack you isn't so easy.  You can try to profile everyone, but Ubisoft showed a way to find out who was the hacker by causing chaos. Shooting Aiden's gun in a public area and seeing how civilians react is a way to gauge who's really an NPC or not. Except, as seen in the trailer, it has one big risk: Someone could call the cops and draw more attention to you. This doesn't bode well when you're trying to prevent someone from completing a hack on you. If you can find them before they do, the war is on and you can try to shoot at them or run them off the road. Avoiding being killed and hacking your opponent grants you notoriety points.

CtOS Mobile App Lets You Outsmart The One In Power

You can accept a challenge from someone on the free CtOS mobile app (which will be available on iOS, Android phones and tablets) during your journey through the Windy City. In the recent trailer, a mobile player controlled a helicopter using a touchscreen device and tried to wreak havoc on the player in the game. The mobile player has control to hack anything to get in your way and shine a spotlight right on you as you try to complete a race course and hit all the checkpoints on time. The mobile player has one job: Stop you from succeeding. The streets aren't different from the single player campaign, so if you've paid attention throughout you can anticipate the hacks your opponent may use against you. The mobile player can leave you a message at the end of the race to make a remark on the match.

Check out more on this mode with our hands-on impressions from Gamescom 2013.

The Most Promising Mode:  Competitive Decryption Combat

From the trailer, the mode that most caught our eye was the competitive decryption combat that looks similar to Halo's Oddball mode. Here, two teams are pitted against each other to steal and decrypt a file. The footage in the trailer showed you working with a team to storm the building and find the file. Unfortunately, the other team grabbed it first, but because decryption takes time, you have an opportunity to get in close and disrupt the decryption. If you kill the enemy with the file in hand, he drops it. If your team stays close together, the decryption speed increases. This mode tests your ability to use your environment to your advantage by setting traps and causing distractions.

Will Watch Dog's Multiplayer Be Meaningful?

So far Watch Dogs has shown us a slew of things to do in its open world from crime neutralization missions to VR games. This adds just three more activities, and as with the other content, some things look more engaging than others. The blend of single player and multiplayer in the open world universe feels like a new frontier, but I'm not sure I see people investing hours into Watch Dogs' multiplayer ventures. I worry all this content will just lost in the shuffle. And even just getting a glimpse at these modes, they feel like small diversions, with the competitive decryption combat showing the most potential. These days in the open-world landscape, you must go big with multiplayer content to engage players, like Grand Theft Auto Online. At any rate, this game will be about the world and what you can do in it. This is just adding to options. But that's just it - they feel like options, not must-play content.

What did you think of the multiplayer modes shown off in the trailer above? Do you think you'll be engaging with them a lot?