Everything is connected. This is one of the main tenets of Watch Dogs. But to this point, much of the connection we’ve seen has been embedded in the gameplay itself; the traffic lights, bridges, electronic signs, cell phones and pretty much everything else are all tied together in one massive network – a network Aiden has nearly unrestricted access to. But the people in Chicago are all connected too, and nowhere is this more clear than when we examine each of the factions Aiden encounters throughout the campaign.
Each of these groups – the hacker collective DedSec; the violent, yet highly organized Black Viceroys; and the mysterious Blume Corporation – interact with and affect Aiden’s story, as well as the citizens of Chicago. Lead Writer Kevin Shortt laid out these factions and explained just how deeply the connections go.
In the wake of the Blume Corporation launching the ctOS, a group of hackers calling themselves DedSec sprung up to inform the citizens of Chicago about the dangers of this new hyper-connected system. Though they believe they are defending people’s privacy rights, to many Chicagoans DedSec is a nuisance.
They believe the citizens are putting too much of their information online and leaving the Blume Corporation open to turn that information into a commodity to be bought and sold. So they will use the ctOS to raise the bridges and clog up commutes; they’re causing problems throughout the city in an effort to “wake the people up” to the harm the ctOS could inflict. “I think ultimately they would like to shut down the system and expose the backdoors for the world to see,” Shortt said about DedSec’s goals.
Aiden, however, doesn’t see them as a nuisance. He sees them as a means to an end. DedSec has built ways of exploiting the ctOS that Aiden would like to use. But the members of DedSec are wary of him. Aiden refuses to join their cause, and that makes him unpredictable. His mysterious DedSec contact BadBoy17 seems to be the only person on Pearce’s side. Meanwhile, other members of DedSec aren’t sure about Aiden, they do see his potential.
“Being a skilled hacker, Aiden can take advantage of DedSec’s exploits and really dig in to the ctOS much more than they ever could before,” Shortt explains. “They know he’s a good hacker and they’re hoping if they give him these exploits they can eventually come back to him and say Look, we helped you get in there. Now it’s your turn to help us. We need to get inside. Because they aren’t fully inside ctOS. They just found ways to exploit the system a little bit.”
Of course, you don’t do that much digging without making a few enemies… and the Blume Corporation is a powerful enemy.
The Blume Corporation
On an basic level, the Blume Corporation isn’t “evil,” and neither is the ctOS. This is something the development team has stressed from the very beginning. The ctOS is not the bad guy. It’s just a program. And Blume is trying to create a smarter world in which people can go about their daily lives with ease. (“I mean, the company is called Blume,” Shortt adds. “How bad can they be?”) So this particular book has a very lovely cover; however, when you start flipping through the pages, you’ll discover much more sinister motivations.
“Within Blume there are people who have other plans,” Shortt says. “There’s one thing that comes up in the game that peaks Pearce’s interest early on. I won’t say much, but there’s a program in the ctOS and you’ll see it but you won’t be sure what it means. It wasn’t needed to run the system, so why was it inserted into the ctOS?”
Blume didn’t officially put this program in the ctOS, but someone in the company did. Something about this program enables those who put it there to access people’s data and exploit it. This is what DedSec is fighting against.
Blume isn’t entirely squeaky clean to the outside viewer. The fact that they hire military mercenaries with shady backgrounds and pay them exorbitant amounts of money to guard their facilities is raising at least a few eyebrows in Chicago. Lucky for Blume, they have Charlotte Gardner. “Charlotte is a representative of Blume. She gets questioned about the security guards by the media and turns it on the interviewer and says, Hold on, these are soldiers who fought in the Middle East. Are you saying you’re not backing our brave soldiers? You’ll hear her quite a bit in the game.”
But most of the citizens love Blume, so can it really be all that bad? They really are helping make a lot of people’s lives easier. Just like with DedSec, the citizenry’s perceptions about Blume depend on where they stand on some very nuanced issues. Shortt compares this to the recent discovery of NSA spying. “For most civilians, everything is fine. They go about their daily lives a little easier with the ctOS, totally unaware of a lot of the potential danger. Honestly, I think it’s very reflective of the world we’re in. We all woke up a year ago and went, Oh. Prism. NSA. Huh. Okay. That didn’t all happen last year, that’s just when we heard about it.”
DedSec and Blume are both rather gray. DedSec is seen as an irritant, but there are those in the city who understand what they are doing. Blume is making people’s lives better, but the shadows in the company are causing folks to take notice. But not all groups in Watch Dogs are as ambiguous.
The Black Viceroys
With smarter cities comes smarter crime, and the leader of the Black Viceroys is very smart. Anthony “Iraq” Wade returned from military service with a clear plan for the future of his gang. With his newly gained leadership skills and communication know-how (thanks to his military training), he was able to propel the Black Viceroys to the top of the food chain in Rossi-Fremont – the neighborhood they now run. But that’s not enough for Iraq.
Little is known about his motivations at this point, but he has been building up his own network and this is what catches Aiden’s attention. For some reason he appears to be compiling data – data that Aiden wants access to.
“Pearce realizes later in the game that he needs something the Black Viceroys have,” Shortt says. “He’s basically going to have to poke a stick at them and annoy them to get what he wants. That obviously creates some pretty major conflict.”
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