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Watch Dogs: Did Ubisoft undersell the awesome gunplay?

Hood slide shoot
Hood slide shoot

Watch Dogs has already sold 4 million copies since its May 27 release, becoming the fastest selling original IP of all time. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it is available on 5 platforms--PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, but 4 million is an impressive figure nonetheless.

However I do believe that Ubisoft could have easily sold another million had they spent more time showcasing Watch Dogs' phenomenal combat. We've known for a long time that "hacking is your weapon." But so are guns. Lots of them.

Watch Dogs is the first genuine third person shooter of the now current gen (you can argue that the Tomb Raider reboot was the first, but it's really more of an adventure game with shooting elements) and Ubisoft should've tried to appeal to shooter fans. Its cover-based gunplay is as strong, polished and exciting as any dedicated shooter. Firefights are intense, explosive and strategic.

Some of the gameplay components were ripped right out of Ubisoft's own Splinter Cell: Blacklist, such as the smooth cover system along with its "last known position" feature (albeit without the white silhouette), which make for some slick flanking maneuvers during combat.

Much has been said about Aiden Pearce's "magic cellphone," but I think the real magic is in his trenchcoat, as it can carry and conceal an unlimited number of weapons including pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers and more. With the exception of dual-wielding, Wolfenstein: The New Order has got nothing on Watch Dogs.

Watch Dogs is every bit an all-out action game as it is the cerebral, techno-stealth thriller that Ubisoft has been advertising it as, maybe even more so. I've managed to turn just about every mission into a full blown shootout.

Oh and one more thing, Ubisoft failed to emphasize one of the game's greatest strengths--player choice. You are free to take whatever approach you want in most scenarios. Save for a handful of brief, insta-fail stealth sequences, it is up to you to decide if you want to be like Sam Fisher or Rambo. You can certainly find success and satisfaction in both styles.

Before I played Watch Dogs I was under the impression that gun combat was the last resort and little more than an afterthought on Ubisoft's part. I was expecting the hacking elements to be shoved down my throat even during combat. I envisioned a game in which the action was constantly being interrupted by confusing hacking interfaces that would force me into some finger gymnastics in the middle of a firefight. I'm glad that I couldn't have been more wrong.

It's true that Watch Dogs could be played stealthily and there's plenty of fun to be had in hacking your way into completing an objective without ever firing a single shot, but action fans ought to know that going in guns-ablazing is a viable and effective option as well.

Had I not gotten Watch Dogs as a gift, I never would've given it a chance. I suspect there are many more like me who may have passed this up for the same reasons I almost did, and they would be missing out big time. So would Ubisoft.

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