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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Watch_Dogs 2's Lofty Goals: Can it actually work?

So... damn. Ya, I'm actually kind of looking forward to Watch_Dogs 2. My brother asked me if I wanted it and I gave him a disgusted "No!" We both played the game and it was... bland. Sure a lot of the ideas there were pretty novel and decent but the game ended up being 'do this, do that' and not much else. It was really evident it was trying to be a Grand Theft Auto killer (which ALWAYS goes well) or at the very least in the vein of GTA with a different spice. The story fell flat, they tried to make a completely boring character the main focal point with his own entire DLC where I latched onto another character who was killed off unceremoniously at the end of the game. Alright, I've gotta keep an open mind on this.
So watching the trailer I saw a lot of things they wanted to do and wondered if it was actually possible. I'm going to say it right off the bat, ya the game isn't going to look like that. Don't even bother. Its less about the game being able to look like that, rather how well the game will run. As a person who still unfortunately has a potato for a PC I have to look into the specs of a game before I buy it or risk having a choppy mess or something that just is straight up unplayable. Xbox One and PS4 are pretty relatively powerful when it comes into comparison with PCs. Of course a hyper modified PC with all the latest specs and tech will absolutely annihilate any console but that's pretty standard. You have a lot of freedom to modify a PC at will, though at great cost to you, and consoles are very set in their specs. Even when they are first released it doesn't take too much to overpass the current capabilities. So that's a scratch on the graphics department. Its not going to look like that. Try thinking GTA 5 and you'd get a pretty good ball park on how the game will end up looking.
Watch_Dogs was very rigid when it came to... most things. The hacking was one note at best, albeit functional, and the driving mechanics left much to be desired in terms of its competition. The places where it really shined was combat. Enemies seemed fluid and, unlike GTA, they didn't immediately know where you were if you engaged in combat. On a personal rant for a moment: What is the purpose of silent weapons and silencers in GTA if they immediately know where you are and react as if they weren't silent??? So stealth is a possibility in that the first game actually had it. I'm not going to get into too much of the specifics but expect the sequel to function similar to the first in terms of combat and movement. Though usually given the rule of sequels they will probably add a few new features that might not be immediately noticeable/enhancing what has already been established.
The one feature I'm actually pretty excited to see is the drones. Now you have a two wheeled hopping RC car with some minor functions and a portable RC helicopter drone. From what they showed you could simply pull these items from seemingly nowhere and they began to function. They also seemed to have some racing mechanic with the helicopter so that's probably going to be a new game mode of some kind.
If I had to say the two biggest iffy things for me were the idea of 3D printing and how the world simply acts without player agency or input. These two were really the reason I wrote this article. 3D printing weapons (and hopefully gadgets) sounds like a really awesome idea and you might even be able to mod them. The problem I have with this is its probably going to be a bit rigid in the sense that you can craft a few things like weapons and possibly gear and that's it. The big problem being that once the game is finished that this tool isn't going to have much functionality other than "You made this and that's it". To give an example it would be like in Skyrim if you could only craft one of each weapon and they didn't get better or worse via player input, they were just static items and there was a clear better versus worse item. You only need one Iron Dagger and that's it. If this is the case that would be terrible and I really hope you can do a bit more. The world reacting is also a big problem in some ways. Speaking of the Elder Scrolls again, Oblivion had this really interesting way of making the world feel alive. The game ran scripts that gave the NPCs their own tasks to do throughout the day which made it seem like they were actually doing things instead of just being there for the player to see and talk to. The problem arose in where a few bugs occurred though that's not really the problem here. The problem would be in the sense that by its very nature a program is somewhat set in stone. What I mean is if you haven't programmed something in the program just won't do it. The idea behind artificial intelligence is that it can learn from experiences and form new ideas from simply learning. Video games, unfortunately, can't do that now. So its really a matter of "Yes this is possible but where will the cracks show up?" Will we see the same interactions being repeated through the game? Will these interactions actually affect anything, say if someone has an argument with someone and attacks them will the other NPCs react in a sensible way or not? I would say the technology is kind of there. Rockstar has proven that GTA 5 can do this to a degree though they spent years and years on their game, though its entirely possible most of that time was spent perfecting the engine.
Really its more of an idea of how great is the scope of the team behind Watch_Dogs 2? All of these can be implemented into the game, though with varying degrees of success. I'd say wait for more info on the game. I'd probably like to pick it up when it comes out though time will tell in the sense of how the development progresses. If I had to guess I'd say the game was in pre-Alpha right now, though definitely not in a playable version, at least to the public. What that basically means is the game isn't completely finished and given that there's about an almost half a month gap till the game (presumably) releases we have some time to learn more.
Thanks for reading and I'm definitely looking to hear more.

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