The game was delayed right before its launch alongside next-generation consoles, but Ubisoft has finally given us a release date for Watch Dogs: May 27, 2014. That new release date applies to the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions; the Wii U release is still at a later, unconfirmed date. That version is being handled outside of Ubisoft Montreal, by Ubisoft Romania in Bucharest.
"We have our studio in Bucharest working on it, and we wanted that team to have the time to explore the GamePad and be able to have fun with it and see how far they could push it," Watch Dogs senior producer Dominic Guay told Polygon. "It's also an interesting platform, because it has its own strength, which we want to take advantage of, and we didn't want to delay all the other platforms for that one. So we're going to take the time we need to make sure the game is good (technically) when we ship it and that it also, game design-wise, makes good use of the specifics of the Wii U."
So why was the game delayed so close to launch? According to lead game designer Danny Belanger, it's because the game turned out to be too repetitive once everything started coming together.
"In a big production at the end of the project, everything merges. There are some things you don't know," Belanger told Polygon. "So it started to feel repetitive. The fantasy doesn't make the AI feel alive. We knew some things needed to be upgraded, improved and polished; we weren't happy with that."
Watch Dogs is a new IP for Ubisoft, so it's imperative that the potential franchise has the best start. Ubisoft wants another Assassin's Creed in its stable. So the team took the extra time to beef up the AI, tweak the game's math for a satisfying hacking experience, write more content, and improve the animations.
"We wanted to make sure all of our reactions were fine-tuned," said Colin Graham, animation director on Watch Dogs. "The bigger area we focused on was improving and adding a little more depth to the way AI react when you hack. You can run in and shoot everyone if you want, but we really wanted to make sure you could actually hack and lure guys away, and that they'd have more stages of reaction so that they got progressively more frustrated."
"If you're hacking this forklift, they're eventually going to get mad at it and they're going to try and break the thing because they're frustrated with it, this stupid piece of machinery. And that leads to the search: If they realize they're being hacked and manipulated, they're going to start searching."
Now that Ubisoft is talking again, we also have more information on the visual state of Watch Dogs. An Italian outlet called Everyeye.it released a video hands-on with the game, showing a game that looks great, but not as good as the original E3 2012 presentation. Back in September, a new trailer featuring Aisha Tyler also showed what appeared to be a graphical downgrade in the title, but Ubisoft insisted that wasn't the case.
"There's no scale down in quality, especially the next-gen versions," creative director Jonathan Morin told Videogamer at Eurogamer Expo. "It's pretty much the opposite. What we showed at E3 2012 in a lot of respects was less good. I think it's in the details. So no, there's no scale down."
Either way, we now know when Watch Dogs is coming, which is a better place than where we began the day. Soon players will be able to hack Chicago without going to jail... if Watch Dogs still has a place on their wish lists.