The world of Watch Dogs has so far been explained as a virtual GTA-like hackathon for protagonist Aiden Pierce, a vigilante who rights the wrongs he sees in the world. But Ubisoft has finally lifted the veil on the world of fixers and how players can team up or work against each other in the game.
As it stands now, multiplayer in Watch Dogs is a bit unconventional. Someone will be playing Aiden in their game, and another player playing the game will hack in, said senior producer Dominic Guay. “There will be no menus or lobbies. We plan to do it in a very organic way as they play through the adventures. The way it works is that the player is in the city doing his own thing and at some point he gets hacked. Aiden tries to find out who hacked him using cameras around the city and prevent the other player from hacking his game by killing him or chasing him down–however he wants to handle it.”
Once the hacking cycle has begun and the player finds out who hacked him, he can return the favor. “Basically, I am getting a contract to hack into another player,” Guay said. “I go into his game, he doesn’t expect me to be there and he sees me as any other character in the street, so if I’m careful he will just think I’m an AI. I hack into him and then he tries to find me. It’s a meta game of sorts where you can plant a virtual virus into other players.”
With much of the game surrounding the player doing the hacking, the reverse can be a bit jarring, he said. “The first time it happens, it’s like a ‘wow’ moment that it just occurred. If people like it, they begin to get more engaged in it and do it more often. But, the first time you hack into other people, you become vulnerable to being hacked back.”
So what’s to be gained from hacking another player? Successful completion of a hacking contract affects your notoriety within the fixer world, Guay said, possibly hinting at some sort of leaderboard system. “If you want to go on top of that pyramid, then you don’t let someone successfully hack you. You want to kill them and keep them from fleeing back into their own game,” he said. “If you don’t care about that, you don’t lose anything if you are hacked. Even if the other guy kills you, you are just going to respawn and continue on your mission. We don’t want to make it something that hurts you. We want to make it something that adds to the game.
However, if players are not interested in that aspect of the game, they can opt out of the experience. “It will happen to you at least once because we want to give people that experience, but you don’t have to be a part of the meta game,” he said. “If you decide you want to try it, then you can just hack someone else and the opt out is canceled.”
Right now, Ubisoft has it so only one person can hack you at a time, but Guay hinted that there will be certain missions or contracts where other players can tail you and spy on you.
Another multiplayer aspect involves a mobile companion app that Ubisoft plans to release for free when the game launches on November 19. The app, which will be for iOS and Android, gives a second player the option of aiding Aiden or hindering his efforts.
“We wanted the companion app to be more than just looking at stats or checking up on friends. We wanted real gameplay,” Guay said. “The player can literally control the city from the palm of his hand so there is a top down view. It is basically what Aiden can do with his own phone. You can see the grid–the digital side of the city–and you can do anything that Aiden can do from the ground.
In co-op mode, a player may be in a sticky situation and have cops on his tail, so he basically sends out a call for help in game game that is immediately broadcast to everyone on the player’s friends list that has the app. The friend can accept the request on his or her mobile phone or tablet, and then they are immediately in the game with a top down view seeing what is happening.
“Help can come in the form of hacking into a police chopper that is following Aiden, hacking into a digital stream within the city so they can communicate, or even redirecting police cars,” Guay said. “It’s a friendly way to help each other. You can do it at a distance or you can do it with someone in the same room.”
The other way is a competitive mode that doesn’t have repercussions on Aiden’s adventures. “The way it works is that Aiden will be given certain objectives to complete on the ground in the city, and the other player on the companion app plays the police forces, dispatching cops around, or controlling the police helicopter with the touch pad. He can access various things in the city, all with the goal of keeping Aiden from accomplishing these objectives.”
Guay said that the app will allow progression that will offer more abilities than Aiden has. Hacking a police helicopter or activating multiple hacks at once over the grid are not in Aiden’s repertoire. He added that the progression may cost money, but they are still looking into that option. “The core aspect, though, will be free to play at launch.”
While these aspects of multiplayer are in the game now, Guay said another mode is in the works that could involve multiple players coming together for a competitive mission, but they won’t be taking about it for another few months. “We want to show it before we talk about it,” he said. “We are also looking at different types of DLC for players to connect to one another. We also hope to improve the companion app further down the road as well, so we have a lot planned to keep players interested.”
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In Watch Dogs multiplayer, your game will get hacked