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gamescom 2013

Hands-On With Watch Dogs' Emergent Gameplay

by Mike Futter on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM

During a hands-on demo with Ubisoft's Watch Dogs today, I experienced the kind of emergent gameplay that the publisher's Montreal studio has been promising since E3 2012. I was taken through a series of events, and while the scenario I created wasn't intended, it did showcase what Watch Dogs is all about.

I was asked to respond to a crime in progress at a gun shop. Unfortunately, along the way, I fumbled with the controls and accidentally pulled my gun. A bystander noticed and called the police before I could jam his phone (or rip it away from him and smash it). My choices became clear: run from the oncoming swarm of police or try to stop a hold-up.

I'm glad I decided to be the hero. As I entered the gun shop, the stick-up man fled through the back door. As I burst through, I encountered three armed thugs backing up the robber. I took the primary criminal down as four police cars arrived on scene, starting a three-way battle.

I opted to flee after taking down my first target, but the police decided that the three guys shooting at them were more important than I was. I escaped quickly, much to my delight.

This situation could have played out in at least two different ways. I could have been smart enough to keep my gun in my pocket and fallen into the crooks' trap, leading to a shoot-out with armed criminals. The police could have arrived later, or not at all depending on who was walking by on the street. Or, I could have fled from the beginning and engaged in a high speed chase, using blockers, steam pipes, traffic lights, and bridges to confound law enforcement. I'll admit that Ubisoft's promise of truly emergent gameplay had me skeptical, but now that I've gotten my hands on the title and accidentally created one of these moments, I'm wholeheartedly looking forward to playing it.

Watch Dogs will be releasing on November 15 alongside the PlayStation 4 and November 19 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC. No Xbox One release date has been confirmed yet, but it is safe to assume it will be available in the same window.

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