Second or third post I’ve seen on WordPress talking about Watch Dogs. Take 10 minutes and watch this video. It looks like it’s a missing link in bringing the sandbox genre to the next level.
Adding an open world aspect into a game obviously is a prized element because it has the potential to draw the user in, and create greater number of user experiences. Why program objectives when you can let the player create their own? I think this feature is generally done poorly in a lot of sandbox type games though. Sure GTA is great, but does anybody remember True Crime, Streets of LA? A bland world, or one where all of the encounters are scripted, and therefore limited, sets a winner apart from a loser. More often than not the people are just in the game as animated shrubbery.
Where I see the real potential with Watch Dogs is that the world is both very organic in that it exists outside the player as a being in of itself, and also offers a more fulfilling connection through the hacking concept. The character derives power from the access and control of information, not through a magic artifact or radioactive deus ex machina. The impact of exploding digital information on our lives, and how it has changed our world really has taken place outside the game design sphere.
Take this bloggers observations for one: http://zoyastreet.com/2012/07/26/phantasy-star-online-2-a-glimpse-of-the-future-through-the-prism-of-the-past/ A million years in the future and no Wi-Fi? Please. For god’s sake, the U.S. military has more advanced weapons than the Terrans. Not that a video game ever will, or even should be realistic, but creating some sort of demi-god through the manipulation, disruption, and control of communication is an interesting paradigm. Not necessarily because it’s realistic, but because it says something about our actual world. I’d really like to see what the developers do with this great concept.