It seems that the common theme for E3 2012 has been to overexplain everything, but sometimes we see that a company can still give us just enough information to intrigue the audience without boring or overburdening them with too much explanation. For instance, stop everything right now and watch this world-establishing pitch for a future Ubisoft project:
This is the world of Watch Dogs, a world where nothing is true and everything is permitted everything is connected and connection is power. It's based on a kernel of truth, building off of the 2003 blackout in the northeastern United States (which, in reality, wasn't caused by a disgruntled employee) and expanding to craft a fictional narrative that isn't too far away from the truth. Everything that we dump into Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and services like them form a massive digital profile about each and every one of us. In reality, all of those profiles are separately owned and accessed by the companies with which we do business, but in the world of Watch Dogs, all of that data has been unified. I find that to be a fascinating backstory for a video game, and that brings us to this gameplay demo in which smartphones are the primary weapon over guns.
Watch Dogs has the potential to become next generation's Assassin's Creed. Next generation, you say? Have you ever seen a Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 game that looks this detailed and runs this smoothly? Ubisoft showed this early version of the game at its E3 press conference using a high-end PC, but has been very cagey when it comes to announcing which platforms this game is intended to hit. Stephen Totilo at Kotaku has been investigating.
"I think I know which platform that game is for," one top gaming executive said to me while we were discussing Watch Dogs. But he didn't want to blurt it out.
"That sure looked like a next-gen game to me," I later said to a Ubisoft developer, who is not on the publisher's Watch Dogs team. He smiled and kept his mouth shut.
I pressed Ubi PR again yesterday, and a rep wrote this to me: "So far we have only confirmed PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. However, since Watch Dogs will not be shipping this year, we have time to build content for multiple platforms should we choose to. We'll continue to update you as details become available."
So while announcements for the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation were missing from E3 this year, perhaps we have already seen the sort of thing that those machines will be capable of producing. If Watch Dogs hits during the transitional period between consoles, expect to see watered down versions for the current generation of hardware and the real, intended productions on the new consoles. If this final game is as intriguing as this pitch and demo, I think we'll all want to spring for the better version.