The other multiplayer modes are truly inspired, however. As previously mentioned, you'll be able to hack into other players' games. Your single-player experience can be interrupted by a hack attempt by others. While some have drawn allusions to Dark Souls, it actually shares more in common with Assassin's Creed's multiplayer offering. When hacking into another player's game, you'll be able to score points that can be used on an entirely different skill tree set, separate from the abilities you can unlock in the campaign. When your game gets hacked, you'll be notified to investigate a certain area. You'll have a set amount of time to identify the hacker and dispose of them. As the hacker, you need to remain close to the target player. However, you don't want to draw attention to yourself. Like in Assassin's Creed, success depends on hiding in plain sight. The player will scan all the characters in the environment. Acting suspiciously, like running around, will undoubtedly draw attention to yourself. Blending in with the AI civilian characters, however, will increase your chances you'll remain undetected. The search radius narrows as time passes by, giving the hacked player better odds of finding the hacker over time. Even if the hacker gets detected, he can run away. For example, in one game, I was hacked while exploring a park. I did manage to find the intruder--but he managed to run away via speedboat before I could shoot him. Clever boy.
That's one way to stop the hacker
You can even screw around with players even when you're not playing the game. The ctOS companion app is a brilliant addition to Watch Dogs. Playable on tablets and phones--even whilst on a 3G connection--you can issue challenges to players on either PSN, Xbox Live, or Uplay. With the application, you'll get an overhead view of the city, and you'll be able to use a helicopter to track a player, deploy police, and trigger traps. Players that accept challenges from ctOS commanders will have to race through a series of checkpoints, while avoiding all the obstacles that the city throws at them. However, that is much easier said than done. Tablet players will be able to use their finger to keep a helicopter over their target, while deploying police to create roadblocks, for example. Players must reach their checkpoints in a certain amount of time, so smart ctOS players will figure out a way to redirect their targets away from the shortest path. Perhaps one of the smartest twists in this mode is that players must avoid killing cops and civilians while racing to their checkpoint. By harming innocents, the ctOS commander gets more points to use, which can then be used for increased police response. It's a clever way of mimicking the real-world consequences of these actions, while still making it playful. It can be overwhelming playing as the driver. However, there are ways to fight back. You can attempt to hack the ctOS player. Or, you can also try brute force: shooting the helicopter can take it down, rendering the tablet player powerless for a limited time. The ctOS app also lets players create custom challenges. While these races can't be used to earn progression, it'll be interesting to see the kinds of routes players decide to create. Perhaps one that goes through all of Chicago's most famous landmarks? The drag-and-drop interface does a lot to make it easy and accessible. Watch Dogs is at its best when it innovates and fully takes advantage of its hacking concept, and focuses less on running-and-gunning. It's possible to play the campaign and turn off all these online features. But, Ubisoft has made a convincing argument: why would you want to? From deadly games of hide-and-seek with unknown enemies to helicopter car chases against players who may be commuting from work, Watch Dogs' online elements add a lot to the game experience.
The ctOS companion app lets you mess around with in-game players
Disclaimer: Ubisoft provided Shacknews transportation from New York to San Francisco to attend an all-day preview event.