Interview with Watch Dogs Legion creative director Clint Hocking

After our Watch Dogs Legion hands-on, we had a chance to catch up with creative director Clint Hocking. Hocking’s previous accolades include working on Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2 and he has worked as a level designer, game designer and scriptwriter before becoming creative director.

After the prologue with Dalton, is the character handed to you for the first Main Mission the same for every player or randomised? [note: we got a female construction worker] 

To be clear, in the demo you played, you fast forward from the prologue to a point midway through the game with a randomly assigned team that was different for every player that went hands-on with the demo. In the final game, after the prologue, all players will be able to choose their first operative.

Do any (many) of the Recruitment missions overlap, so that completing one might save time acquiring multiple new agents. Shared households, responsibilities … as examples? 

Yes, characters that you encounter in the world all have relationships with other people and helping someone can have cascading effects on their friends and relations making them easier to recruit as well.

With the Spy, is the Spy Car always that same model – resembling a classic James Bond vehicle – or do they vary in performance and appearance depending on the avatar?

If you recruit the spy, you will always get the same model of vehicle.

How many different roles and/or professions have such specific gear, along the lines of the Spy and Construction Worker? Are there many specialists as such?

We added a bunch of different abilities that create new properties and new gameplay dynamics for players to explore. Any character can be interesting depending on which combination of abilities they have, and if these abilities suit the way you want to play. For instance, you can recruit a Street Artist, and that will come with a paint ball gun, paint grenades, resistance to gases because they have a mask etc. But then you can also find other characters in the world with 2, 3 or 4 of these features. Characters come with abilities that you would expect based on how they look, and that logic was really important to us to motivate players to recruit new members to their teams.

Please can you detail a few of the negative attributes that new recruits might bring? For example, I recall a bartender whose strength was brawling but had a likelihood of coughing!

While I can’t give you an exact number, a significant number are drawbacks to increase the interest and diversity of the population.

What new vehicles have been added, and how many? Emphasis was placed on flying vehicles in the presentation, but in the hands-on we only encountered small drones…

All the vehicles were created custom for the game. In terms of drones, there are seven different types that can be found and hacked to control in the world. There are even some custom drones that you can find with particular characters or special missions.

There appears to be many more access points to locations now. Is this a prominent new feature, or did we just happen across particularly good examples (docks, corporate office).

Since the beginning we set out to allow players to access locations by any way they choose. We put an enormous effort to ensure that all game locations could be approached from as many angles as possible. 

Will players be rewarded for completing the entire Main Mission (if not every mission) by playing exclusively stealthily? Is this at all possible?

While there’s no specific reward for playing the entire game in stealth, one of our design philosophies was that the player can play the entire game any way they choose. So, if you choose, you can certainly play the full game stealthily.

How much of London does the map cover, and how accurate is it – in terms of scale and proximity of landmarks – to London as we know it in 2020?

London in the real world has a number of protected sightlines that define the visual layout of the city. It was very important to us to protect those sightlines so even though we had to compress some portions of the city, our representation of London is very accurate. We’ve been pleased to get feedback from Londoners or people who have visited that the city is an accurate representation, too.

Please can you detail some of the new hacking opportunities, and the reasons for their inclusion in terms of gameplay opportunities?

We’ve added a lot of new hacking opportunities to the game with a particular focus on hacks that you can perform on drones which is an entirely new feature. And there are a number of new hacking abilities that we’ve added to differentiate and diversify hacker type characters in the population – such as viral hacks that can propagate to multiple targets.

Do NPCs sometimes react differently to the player’s avatar in set-piece scenarios, i.e. the hostage rescue conversation; security guards (depending on your disguise); gangsters etc.

When characters are encountered in the open world, their behaviour will be different depending on their persona, while in context such as being rescued from an enemy facility, they will always be thankful that DedSec is there to help.

Are there plans to introduce anything new for multiplayer / shared-world activities?

We are excited about our online experience and we will have more to share in the months to come.

If it has the letters RPG in it, I am there. Still battling with balancing trying to play every single game that grabs my interest, getting 100% in a JRPG, and devoting time to my second home in Azeroth.

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