With Ubisoft's Watch Dogs still weeks away from release, there remains a fair amount of confusion regarding the game, including how the multiplayer mode actually works. Early hints seemed to describe an online mode where aggressive players could break into the games of others and harangue the weak digital Darwinism where only the strong would survive.
This is only partly correct, and doesn't do justice to what in truth is a clever and original new approach to online play.
At a recent event hosted by Ubisoft, Digital Trends had the chance to try out all six multiplayer modes and get a sense of how things worked. We then spoke with Watch Dogs Creative Director Jonathan Morin about the multiplayer functionality and how online matchmaking works. He also explained the reason that one section of Chicago is set aside for people to go wild and do whatever they want.
Online play in Watch Dogs is different than in most games, in that you can be attacked or "invaded" without your knowledge by another player during the course of your single-player game. Some online game modes you join deliberately; you can also find yourself involved in one of two multiplayer offerings at anytime without even realizing it. In those modes, you can be attacked at any time by anyone as long as the game decides youre a fit.
"In the case of the one-on-one type of situations, if [a player] fits the criteria under the hood, then he's available," Morin told us.
In "Online Hacking," an invading player surreptitiously joins another person's game while they roam Chicago in a single-player campaign, blissfully unaware that they are not alone. The invader must first locate the target and then stay within range long enough to fill a progress meter that installs a backdoor into the target's smartphone. Once that backdoor is installed, the targeted player is notified and a new progress meter appears with a percentage. The target has until the meter reaches 100-percent to find and eliminate the invader.
During this alert phase, the invader must stay within a specific area outlined on the map, while the target tries to find him by scanning nearby NPCs with a smartphone or using CCTV cameras. But it aint made easy: The invader still sees himself as protagonist Aiden Pearce, but to the target he appears as a randomly generated character. Likewise, the invader sees the target as a random model. Finding and killing the invader (who can run once spotted but cant fight back) earns the target an experience reward. If the invader pulls off the hack, his experience bonus is taken from the target's points.