A lot can happen in four hours. A person can commit a crime. Or stop a crime. Or both. (And not just once.) That same person can take a joyride through one of the greatest of American cities, with any number of speedy cars or zippy motorcycles. Or that person could square off against a vicious street gang. Or hack into a city-wide operating system to siphon off cash or seek out valuable intel. Or engage in a full-on, guns a-blazin’ shootout. Or jump into a spider tank and maraud through the city streets. Or simply eavesdrop on the denizens of Chicago, discovering their quirks, their passions… and their salaries. (You’d be surprised at how much some of those Blume security guards are earning!) Because four hours is a long time and a lot can happen when you enter the living world of Watch Dogs.

Watch Dogs

So what did we do with our four hours of gameplay? Fellow UbiBlogger Anne Lewis and I had a similar experience with the first hour of Watch Dogs, playing through the initial missions that set up the story and the game. But afterward, we experienced remarkably different things. And, when we were jumped ahead in the game for the second part of our hands-on session, we further deviated and experienced completely different aspects of Chicago. Indeed, there’s a seemingly endless array of options for anyone to see and do in Watch Dogs.

To help tide you over until the May 27 release (and to get you even more excited about the game), here’s our list of 35 highlights from four hours in Watch Dogs’ open world. Some of these are spur-of-the-moment observations and impressions, others are bits of actual gameplay, but they all add up to a tantalizing taste of a thoroughly immersive experience.

(Note: Since Anne and I are sharing our observations, we marked each one with our initial, to help you see how we approached things differently.)

Aiden Unmasked

1. Totally kicked the crap out of a guy named Maurice within the first half hour. Aiden isn’t just a mere “hacker.” He’s a man you don’t trifle with. Nice to see this established early on in the story. [G]

2. Also established early on: Why Aiden Pearce is so angry. The bad guys killed his niece. Heart-wrenching but effective; now I genuinely care about Aiden and his mission for vengeance. Also, that’s messed up. [G]

Watch Dogs

3. Friends are good to have, even when you’re a gruff, gravely-voiced loner like Aiden. Of course, a friend like Jordi Chin, whom I met in the first half-hour – and who’s crazier than I am in the game… well, that makes for an interesting dynamic, and it’s a mere taste of the kind of company Aiden keeps in Watch Dogs. [G]

4. Hey now. I have a crush on Jordi Chin. He’s funny, he can get me out of a tight spot, and he keeps bodies in a freezer in an ice cream truck. What more can a girl ask for? [A]

5. By the way, you can change clothes! Midway through my play session, I slipped into a crimson coat. Because why not. Anne, however, took the more fashion-forward approach by donning the ugliest clothes she could find. It looked like someone chucked a bunch of paint all over Anne couldn’t have been happier. (I’m not so sure about Aiden, though.) [G]

Hack and Attack

6. Remember the Super Bowl blackout a couple years ago? Well we have a feeling that might have been Aiden with his awesome Blackout hack. I used it four times – twice to escape the police, once to cause a distraction at a ctOS control center, and once just for fun. [A]

7. Distracted some guards by setting off car alarms and remotely opening garage doors. Then I ran up behind the individual guards and whacked them on the back of their heads. [G]

8. Discovered a bizarre fetish in a guard’s profile and used it to strike up a rather creepy text conversation to distract him while I snuck by. [A]

9. Unlocking a ctOS Tower is essential to open up more hacking opportunities in every area. But it’s not as easy as pointing a phone at a giant antenna and pressing a button. With one tower, for example, I had to hack everything from a construction lift to several cameras (to find out where the boxes are that unlock various doors). These tower unlocks are full environmental puzzles in themselves. [G]

10. Crafted a lure to draw nearby guards away from my location. Crafting is intuitive, and lures work like charm. (Get it?) [A]

Watch Dogs

11. Carefully placed some homemade IEDs around a construction site using info I obtained from hacking into a surveillance camera, then blew up some gang members when they showed up for a meeting. Fun! [G]

12. I spent a good chunk of change on a sniper rifle and spent about five minutes using cameras to mark all the enemies in a ctOS control center so I could pick them off from a distance. [A]

13. While infiltrating a gang hideout I used a crane to drop a shipping container down on top of a few guys. I got to take them out from afar and they never even suspected I was watching them. [A]

Bridge & Tunnel

14. Spent 10 minutes trying to run a car down during a mission, until Anne leaned over and said: “You know, you can hack that steam pipe beneath the road and simply blow that car up. It’s much easier and a lot more fun.” So I did. And she was right. [G]

15. Stole a boat and drove it as far out to sea as I could, raising every bridge I drove under so I could inconvenience the citizens of Chicago. [A]

16. Tried to evade the police by land and sea, but ended up on a slowpoke water taxi. ProTip: Water taxis aren’t good for evading police. [G]

17. Stole a semi-truck. Those also aren’t good for evading police, but they sure can take a lot of damage. [A]

18. Was amazed at how much cash people leave in their car gloveboxes. Who carries cash anymore? Not that I’m complaining… Almost every time I stole a car, I got a little extra pocket money [G]

Watch Dogs

19. I spent most of the demo on a motorcycle. They’re perfect for triggering blockers because you can just weave right through. They are less perfect for changing the stoplights because one solid hit from another car will send you flying. [A]

20. Drove at the highest speed possible, then ejected myself from the car right into a crowd at the bus stop. The waiting citizens were none too pleased. Also, I died. [G]

21. I couldn’t always track down a motorcycle, but thanks to Jordi that wasn’t a problem. I was able to use a cars on demand service to get “gently used” vehicles of all kinds sent right to my location. [A]

Apps and Entertainment

22. Found a perfect spot to try out NVZN, the AR game that’s loaded onto Aiden’s phone. I shot aliens. I could’ve played it for hours. And I probably will when the game comes out. [G]

23. Played a few rounds of a different AR game where you leap over obstacles trying to get to the finish line while avoiding skulls, which cause you to lose a coin. [A]

24. I am not hip. But the music in Watch Dogs is. So I used SongSneak to figure out what I was listening to, steal it, and create my own playlist. Neat. [G]

25. I spent a good half-hour messing around with the Spider Tank and Madness Digital Trips and then went through withdrawals for the rest of the demo. Gary says I have a problem. [A]

26. Arbitrarily set a cutoff number for hacking people’s account. In other words, anyone making less than $35,000 would get the money stolen. Yes, less than. I’m not a nice person. [G]

27. Used the Companion App against Gary and laughed when the police I sent after him gunned him down. [A]

Watch Dogs

27a. Made Anne stay late to finish a work project that could’ve been completed the next day, simply because she kicked my butt using the companion app. Oh wait, this isn’t technically a Watch Dogs gameplay thing… [G]

28. Spent three minutes following a leaf around testing the animation to see if it would disappear. It never did. [A]

29. Agonized for a good 10 minutes about where to spend my skill points. Watch Dogs has a robust, choice-driven skill tree that allows players to customize their progression to suit their play style. It’s easily sorted and intuitive, but I couldn’t help obsessing over which skills I’d unlock during the all-too-brief demo. [G]

30. Got frustrated with a Living Statue and pointed my gun at him. He ran. No tip for him. [A]

31. Tried to find the fastest way to lower my reputation. Apparently, stealing a firetruck, then chasing down the fireman who I aggressively ejected from the vehicle and running him over, then running over everyone else gathered around, is quite effective. [G]

32. Played a round of high-stakes poker, using the cameras in the room to profile my opponents so I would know when they were bluffing. [A]

Watch Dogs

33. Watched a bucket drummer for a while. Because it’s Chicago. [A]

34. Tried a leap of faith off the roof of a building. Apparently, my faith wasn’t strong enough. [G]

35. As a last resort, I jumped off a bridge and swam away to escape the police. Apparently, my faith was stronger than Gary’s. Also, when jumping, aim for the water, not the concrete, Gary. [A]

Want more Watch Dogs? Check out these UbiBlog features:

Watch Dogs – Animating a Next-Gen City

Watch Dogs – That’s A Digital Trip, Man

Watch Dogs – Playing In the Open World

Watch Dogs


Release date — May 27, 2014
Developer — Ubisoft Montreal
Players will assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a new type of vigilante who, with the help of his smartphone, will use his ability to hack into Chicago’s central operating system (ctOS) and control almost every element of the city. Aiden will be able to tap into the city’s omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control systems such as traffic lights or public transportation to stop a chase, and more. The city of Chicago is now the ultimate weapon.

ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
the author

Gary Steinman has won numerous editorial awards, but you probably don’t care about that. He also ran multiple industry leading publications and websites including PlayStation: The Official Magazine, GamesRadar.com, PC Gamer and Newtype USA – but that’s all in the past. The real truth about Gary? He loves cats, he takes too many selfies on Facebook (according to one co-worker, at least), and he occasionally crochets. And now he’s helping share stories about Ubisoft’s amazing games and their incredible creators in his role overseeing the UbiBlog and other select Ubisoft social channels. Follow him on Twitter: @GarySteinman

20 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. gamer03 on April 23, 2014
    i can't say any thing all i had to do is wait for 27/05/2014 ::)
  2. abdullah on April 23, 2014
    Ooooooh now i Can't study because i am so excited about it
  3. Travis on April 23, 2014
    Great article. ""28. Spent three minutes following a leaf around testing the animation to see if it would disappear. It never did. [A]"" That kind of things are what it impresses me the most. It's incredible. You're creating a simulation, and not any, but 'the most realistic and visually stunning' up to date (as said in the Nvidia video). I could not be more keen on it, and this text gets me even more excited indeed. But we are still waiting for any word on the graphics issue. I don't know if you aren't aware of it, but at least in my country every videogame site is riddled with ton of users who claim that there has been some sort of 'downgrade'. Could it might be true? Was the demo from 2012's a 'bullshot'? We don't know for sure. Recent footage (including the one released today) looks 'gorgeous', but probably less realistic than even the gameplay from September 2013. I don't want to talk rubbish, but, for instance, that volumetric lighting when the sun is down apparently was different before, and the current one may look beautiful, but also a little cartoonish. Of course that is just my taste. What I'm really asking to Ubi is to make an statement on what I said before. How will my PS4 version look compared to what was shown in 2012 and 2013? We (or at least myself, but most likely a lot of other people too) would appreciate a lot any answer.
  4. DM on April 23, 2014
    Another good article! There is also a preview on Playstation.com right now. If this game lives up to expectations, I could easily see myself spending 100 plus hours with it! Is there a dramatic difference between free aiming with the Dualshock 4's analog sticks vs. the Dualshock 3's analog sticks?
  5. Derek on April 23, 2014
    "8. Discovered a bizarre fetish in a guard’s profile and used it to strike up a rather creepy text conversation to distract him while I snuck by. [A]" I'm guessing this means we can have text conversations with NPCs? Can't wait! Also the comment about following the leaves...AMAZING! It's the little things like this that make a game great. May 27 can't come fast enough!!
  6. Derek on April 23, 2014
    Also, being able to use cameras during a poker match will definitely come in handy. It's a fun alternative to making money than just simply hacking people.
  7. MERCURIO2054 on April 24, 2014
    I can't wait for my Wii U, the only game in this genre for my platform, i have the pre-order since jun 2013. i don't need a third control since the Wii u game pad have the touchscreen. the first time i saw this game i was in at work, and all of us was like crazy !
  8. H377PH1R3 on April 24, 2014
    I was watching the multiplayer video that was put up by the Watch Dogs Youtube channel, and I had a question. Will Watch Dogs have at least one split screen multiplayer mode? Nowadays it seems that the number of games that you can invite a friend over and both play multiplayer (without requiring two TV's, consoles, etc.) has greatly dwindled. And while two out of the three multiplayer modes showcased wouldn't work well on split screen, the decrypt the file game seems like it would be perfect. So will Watch Dogs have at least one split screen multiplayer game mode?
  9. Vorsun on April 24, 2014
    Gotta agree with the 4-D Man on this one. Definitely buying this for the Wii U. The gamepad functionality is way too important to miss out on. I will be renting it for the PS3 though, because I'm impatient and seriously can't wait til at least Fall.
  10. Glenn on April 24, 2014
    You can play poker? AND cheat in it?! I know what I'm gonna do most of the time.
  11. Airwane on April 25, 2014
    see this is why I currently can't play any games.. I'm just waiting for this one and a Demo would have done me good.and I think once this game is out I don't think I'll stop playing it until WD2.only 32 days left
  12. schattenmonster on April 26, 2014
    Really? Poker? Texas Hold 'em? I thought I couldn't be more excited about this game than I already was! Good job, Ubisoft. You already got me into poker with Far Cry 3, and now this! I simply must have it!
  13. Aiden Farce on May 3, 2014
    Can you guys pleeeeeease post videos of your demos? I was laughing so hard I would LOVE to see the footage that contributed to this article
  14. Watch Adam on May 3, 2014
    Cant wait for watch dogs it's different way of seeing a video game not just shoot first run second like call of duty is and the new call of duty just takes it too far watch dogs is more modern and that makes it the best game ever not forgetting the division another brillent game to won't
  15. KathyBurke on May 7, 2014
    I am glad that you came up with the idea to write a post about the game of poker, its rules and all its different varieties. I am sure that all your readers will appreciate this post which offers all the important rules and regulations about this famous casino game. I am also glad to announce my poker website for all the interested people who wish to play this game in the online environment. The players can visit and check out my website and play poker and all its different varieties here.
  16. Abhishek Sachan on May 12, 2014
    What an AWESOME article. It made my day. The same thing I read on IGN..believe i was being bored reading that article(5 hours Gameplay Of IGN) because I had already yours one. I really love you both Gary and Anne. That leap of faith and egecting out of the car you two did seems exciting. Oh God 27 is so far :(
  17. Abhishek Sachan on May 12, 2014
    What an AWESOME article. It made my day. The same thing I read on IGN..believe, I was being bored reading that article(5 hours Gameplay Of IGN) because I had already read yours one. I really love you both Gary and Anne. That leap of faith and egecting out of the car you two did seems exciting. Oh God 27 is so far :(
    • Gary Steinman | Communications Manager Author on May 12, 2014
      Thanks so much for the kind words! It was crazy how crazy fun the game can be when we just let loose. That's why we wanted to share a "looser" preview with you all. We also can't wait to jump back in to the game.
  18. The jeejskdyctvrfjd on May 14, 2014
    I wonder of they'll be muggers and gangs and stuff like that
  19. Tyler johannes on May 28, 2014
    Best GAME EVER

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