In Watch Dogs, the city is your weapon, but its citizens have their own opinions on how you use that weapon. Those opinions can be monitored via the game’s reputation meter, which is based directly on your actions. If you are more reckless – harming innocents, driving like a madman – the people of Chicago won’t look upon you favorably. Nor will the media; they’ll start running Aiden’s face more, referring to him as a menace. On the other hand, a more conscientious Aiden will be received with cautious optimism.

Watch Dogs - Naughty Or Nice?

“The media will still report on you, but maybe not in such a negative tone,” Lead Writer Kevin Shortt explains. “It will be more questioning. Is he a good guy? Is he a hero? Is he a terrorist? They are going to start raising these kinds of questions.”

Let’s say you want to steal a car. This is obviously not a very nice thing to do, but if you have a better reputation, rather than calling the cops on you, a citizen might decide to look the other way. In other words, you don’t really lose access to anything if you choose to play it bad. Your friends and allies won’t treat you any differently – after all, they know you better than the citizens, who just get a small glimpse of your actions. Shops won’t shut you out or refuse to sell to you (though, as we’ve seen before, they may call the cops if your face pops up all over the news). There won’t be any areas of the game that are unavailable to you, should you choose to be a “shoot first, ask questions never” kind of player.

Shortt made it very clear that this isn’t like many other in-game morality meters. “The reputation system isn’t really a good-versus-bad kind of system. We really wanted it to just be the citizens reflecting back on you and what you’re doing so that you think about it more. The game doesn’t suddenly tilt one way if you get a bad reputation. It doesn’t make it exponentially harder. It should just make you consider your actions and what you’re doing.”

Watch Dogs - Naughty Or Nice?

So You Had a Bad Day

What if you’re typically a pretty good guy and you just have a really terrible day and decide to take it out on the virtual citizens? That’s okay to do, too. It will affect your reputation, but unlike some meters, there is redemption. You will never find yourself in a scenario where you can’t undo the “harm” you’ve done. Although Lead Gameplay Designer Danny Belanger stressed that like actual people, the citizens will need a little coaxing before they fully forgive you again.

“If you’re seen as a really good guy and you start shooting cops, the meter is going to go down pretty fast. If you do the crime detection a lot and you save people to redeem yourself, your reputation will go back up, but you have to work for it. It will take some time and good deeds.”

You are always given the freedom to make your own choices, but if the world doesn’t react to those choices everything begins to feel false. The meter acts as a gauge for you to see how the city feels about you and how the citizens will respond when you act.

Watch Dogs - Naughty Or Nice?

No One Is Looking

There are moral choices even beyond the reputation meter. Sometimes you’ll make decisions that no citizen could possibly notice you doing. In a recent lengthy hands-on session, I found myself faced with a lot of these choices. I could see someone with an unsecure bank account walking down the street. That’s basically free money, I thought. I should just take it. But it belongs to a teacher who does charity work and makes only a small pittance in a year. The guilt is overwhelming and I let her go on her way. While I’m sure I won’t be alone in making this choice in this kind of situation, Shortt explained that some people he’s talked to take her money anyway because – as they rationalize – she’s probably insured and the bank will get her money back. I just couldn’t take that risk, even in a videogame.

Shortt described multiple scenarios in which this moral ambiguity will play a role. What will you do when no one is looking? When your actions don’t have an immediate consequence, can you still justify them? These choices have no impact on your reputation in the game, but the goal is to make you ask these kinds of questions. What you do is entirely up to you.

Watch Dogs - Naughty Or Nice?

“With the profiler system we have – and the voices you can hear and hack into – we’re making everything more grounded in reality. We’re making you feel a living city around you. We’re making you realize there are consequences to these sorts of things. It’s up to the player what they want to do in that regard.”

The team worried if they added reputation values to things like hacking people’s phones, then it would detract from the realism of the living city. “It will affect people differently. We didn’t put reputation points on that because if we did, then you would not be making the choice based on information,” Belanger says. “We chose to not assign points and just give you enough information to get a sense of who that person is so you can decide what to do. Only you will know what you’ve done.”

For more on Watch Dogs, check out these posts:

Watch Dogs – 35 Highlights From Four Hours of Gameplay

Watch Dogs – Multiplayer Guide

Watch Dogs – Animating a Next-Gen City

Watch Dogs

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

Anne Lewis began her career as an editor at PlayStation: The Official Magazine, where she worked under Gary Steinman. She can now be found skulking around the UbiBlog, once more working for Gary. Alas. When Anne isn’t writing about games, she's alphabetizing her comic book collection or shooting at stuff with a bow. Follow her on Twitter: @BDRAnneLewis

28 Readers Commented

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  1. SolidEye on May 12, 2014
    Can't wait for this game!I would like to know how his mask affects his reputation system? Can he conceal his identity when he wants to do something bad? Otherwise what's the point? Are you able to equip it at will like in Red Dead Redemption? Or is it like Edward Kenway's hood where he it instantly puts it on when in conflict? Thanks! Really excited for this game
    • Anne Lewis | Communications Associate Author on May 12, 2014
      It works like Edward's hood.
      • SolidEye on May 12, 2014
        Oh, Ok. Was hoping it WAS like RDR (better potential for cooler gameplay elements) but never mind. Gonna be great regardless. Thanks Anne for answering my question! :-)
        • Happy To be a PC GAMER on May 13, 2014
          yeah, but then reputation wouldn't really matter -- it's kinda like a cheat
  2. AMH on May 12, 2014
    This sounds interesting. I wonder if the differences in how people react to you are deep enough that it will be worthwhile to play through the game twice, once as a saint and once as a supreme jackoff?
  3. Branden Anderson on May 12, 2014
    Video games are my life, I'm not some fat couch potato, in fact I'm an author, but I can say without a doubt Watch_Dogs is the game I've been most excited about. Thank you for making such great games. I do have 1 question though; As in the InFAMOUS series if you chose to say... be morally "less kind" Will NPCs attack/insult you as you pass?
  4. Dag on May 12, 2014
    I have a strong feeling this will be my favorite game to play!
  5. DM on May 12, 2014
    I usually play as a "good guy" on my first playthrough in games when given the choice. I know it's just a game but I feel guilty sometimes when I harm innocent people.
    • Bijin06 on May 13, 2014
      Same here xD In Red Dead Redemption? I played as a good guy. In InFAMOUS? Also as a good guy. Watch_Dogs? I am pretty sure to play as a good guy again xDAnd I have a question: When I kill a civilian (sorry for typos, english isn't my first language lol) does he "dissapear" forever? Or do I find another one with the same... ehm... profile? :) If not... it will be even more difficult for me to play as a bad guy x'D Because when they are gone forever it makes them unique and more real xD Thx for reading :)
      • DM on May 13, 2014
        From Colin Graham of Ubisoft “You will never see the same thing twice, guaranteed,” Graham says. “Your experience is unique. You go around this corner and the ten people that are there will be ten completely different people. Ten different profiles, ten different backgrounds, different actions, different combinations of actions.”
        • Bijin06 on May 13, 2014
          That means... that they are unique??? OMG NOOOOO.... okay. I'll never kill a innocent NPC :'D thx for the reply :)
  6. Krad on May 12, 2014
    Curious though. If you aren't liked by the public, will it just be more people that will spot you more often and call it in or is it less room for error when no ones gonna turn away? Very curious about the bonuses of good or bad. Not as much the balance or if I want a harder game, i shoot more people. Is there moments where players breaking into your game attack someone and they have worse rep than you when you hurt someone. Will the cops focus on the worst criminal slightly more or will it always be even to the cops of Chicago.
  7. Happy To be a PC GAMER on May 13, 2014
    Are there any benefits to being bad?
  8. Anne Lewis | Communications Associate Author on May 13, 2014
    I see a couple people asking about the pros and cons of being bad. Think of it like being in a real city. You're already friends with some shady people. They won't change their opinions of you if you're a "bad guy." If you choose to play fast and loose with the law, the citizens are going to take notice, just like they would in real life. You'll get slammed by the media. So the upside to being bad is you get to do whatever the hell you want to do. As Shortt explained, the game doesn't get crazy difficult if you shoot cops and run down civilians. It just reacts in a natural way. People will call the police more frequently, but if you're a "villainous" character you might have fun with that. Aiden can be whoever you want him to be. Good, bad or somewhere in the middle. (My Aiden has a serious gambling problem he's trying to work through. Don't tell his sister.) Hope that helps!
    • EA on May 13, 2014
      Wait, wait...gambling?
      • Anne Lewis | Communications Associate Author on May 14, 2014
        Oh absolutely. There are poker games of varying stakes and you can use cameras in the area to cheat. It's wonderful and I am addicted. I mean...Aiden is addicted. Poor Aiden.
        • Tori on May 14, 2014
          Lol nice. I wonder what my Aiden will be. Is Watch Dogs like Assassin's Creed where you can have 3 saves?
        • EA on May 15, 2014
          Great stuff.
  9. Tori on May 14, 2014
    In Watch Dogs, can you enter any building or place you find, or are you limited to just some shops and a couple places? If it is different depending on which gen you play, what is the difference?
    • Anne Lewis | Communications Associate Author on May 14, 2014
      You won't be able to physically enter every building (there are a lot of buildings in Chicago), but there are quite a few you can hack your way into and spy on the inhabitants.
  10. Rixsta on May 16, 2014
    Hello Anne, I think this will be the first game that I actually want to play as a good guy, since I started gaming, I've always enjoyed being the bad guy, I blame Darth Vader, will this be the first game where I actually feel morally bad for the citizens, to really make me think about my actions? That alone will be an achievement in it's self and will speak volumes for the game, I'm expecting some very high review scores soon...
    • Anne Lewis | Communications Associate Author on May 16, 2014
      Hey Rixsta, I am the exact same way. I've tread the path of villainy in almost every game with a morality system: inFAMOUS, Mass Effect, BioShock, Fallout, etc.. It's just fun going on a rampage. But...I just couldn't do that in my time with Watch Dogs. I tried! I really did. But when I saw how people reacted to me, it just made me feel something I hadn't really felt before in a game. I felt guilty. As I stated in the post, this guilt even affected how I acted when I knew no one was "watching." I couldn't justify stealing from a destitute single mother when I could just as easily track down a corrupt businessman. So I believe the game does make you think about your actions. The city of Chicago is living around you and will remember what you do, and not only that, you'll remember what you do. Hope that answers your question!
  11. V on June 1, 2014
    uum... is my game broken or something because the rep system does not seem to be working for me no one calls the cop when i have really bad rep, no TV broadcast, and the only time the rep seems to have effected me is when a woman said "Dont worry i wont call the cops". Btw why are the cops just gunning me down when they ask me to surrender, like i put my weapon away and all (and i have seen you could surrender in the demo). did they remove that feature from the Ps 3 and Xbox 360, or just in general remove it. And also why they remove online free roam, and decryption from Ps 3 and 360. kinda sucks for us last gen people who cant afford a Ps 4, XBONE, or a Good pc? but well im enjoying the game for now, maybe not great but i think its good
  12. Elvis on June 2, 2014
    Please I want Clara Lille Back! she can't die or finish like this, have to be something more with aiden on a sequel or dlc. :(
  13. Kidas on June 4, 2014
    Fuck off. Use spoiler tags
  14. Christian on July 19, 2014
    I love this game so much but it is so long
  15. Logan on July 20, 2014
    I didn't know you could use cameras in a poker game on here. That's awesome!
  16. Logan on July 20, 2014
    One funny thing about being a vigilante is people are like,"oh wow! He's the vigilante from the knews!" And take pictures. I always find that funny.

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