Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs (stylized as WATCH_DOGS) is an action-adventure video game franchise developed and published by Ubisoft. The series' eponymous first title was released in 2014, and it has featured three games in total, the most recent being 2020's Watch Dogs: Legion. Several tie-in books and a comic book miniseries set in the games' universe have also been published.

Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs.svg
First releaseWatch Dogs
27 May 2014
Latest releaseWatch Dogs: Legion
29 October 2020

Gameplay in the Watch Dogs games focuses on an open world where the player can complete missions to progress an overall story, as well as engage in various side activities. Most of the gameplay revolves around driving, shooting, and stealth, with occasional role-playing and puzzle elements. The Watch Dogs games are set in fictionalized versions of real-life cities (Chicago, San Francisco, and London), at different points in time. The series centers on different hacker protagonists who, while having different goals to achieve, find themselves involved with the criminal underworld of their respective cities. The antagonists are usually corrupt companies, crime bosses, and rival hackers who take advantage of ctOS (central Operating System), a fictional computing network that connects every electronic device in a city together into a single system and stores personal information on most citizens. The player also has access to ctOS, which can be used to control various devices to assist them in combat or solving puzzles.

The series performed well both financially and critically. Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2 sold over 10 million units each.[1]

The game engine Disrupt is made for series development.[2]


Release timeline
2014Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs: Bad Blood
2016Watch Dogs 2
2020Watch Dogs: Legion
2021Watch Dogs: Legion - Bloodline

Watch Dogs (2014)Edit

Set within a fictionalized version of the Chicagoland area in 2013, the first installment in the series follows gray hat hacker and vigilante Aiden Pearce's quest for revenge after the killing of his niece. The game's development began in 2009, with a budget of $68 million.[3][4] Watch Dogs was derived from a potential sequel from the Driver series which had been in development at Ubisoft Montreal coincident to Driver: San Francisco at Ubisoft Reflections and was released in 2011. Driver: San Francisco did not have a strong commercial performance, leading to the Driver game at Montreal being reworked into one that focused on hacking but still incorporated driving elements.[5] Ubisoft Montreal was Watch Dogs' lead developer, with additional support provided by Ubisoft Reflections, Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Quebec, and Ubisoft Bucharest.[6] The game was heavily anticipated following its gameplay reveal at E3 2012, though the final game, which was accused of graphical downgrading, triggered controversy.[7] The game was released for Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in May 2014, and a Wii U version was released in November 2014.[8] The game received generally positive reviews despite criticism aimed at certain technical issues, the discrepancy in graphical quality between marketing and the real game, narrative, and protagonist. It sold more than 10 million copies by the end of 2014.[9][10]

Downloadable content (DLC) for the game, titled Watch Dogs: Bad Blood, was released in September 2014. Starring Raymond Kenney, a main character from the base game's story, as the playable protagonist, the DLC adds ten story missions, new "Street Sweep" contracts, as wells as new weapons, outfits, side missions, and an RC car.[11]

Watch Dogs 2 (2016)Edit

Set within a fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016, Watch Dogs 2 follows the story of hacker Marcus Holloway, who is punished for a crime he did not commit through ctOS 2.0, and joins the hacking group DedSec in their efforts to raise social awareness about the dangers posed by ctOS 2.0. and expose the corruption of its creators, the Blume company. This installment expanded upon the multiplayer options from the first game and introduced new weapons and gadgets. Unlike Watch Dogs, the game features a much more vibrant and optimistic tone.[12] The game was released in November 2016 for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[13] Ubisoft Montreal was the lead developer, with Ubisoft's studios in Toronto, Paris, Bucharest, Kyiv and Newcastle assisting the development.[14] The game received generally positive reviews upon release, with critics generally regarding it as an improvement over the original game.[15] While the game struggled at launch commercially, more than 10 million units were sold by 2020.[16]

Five downloadable content packs for Watch Dogs 2 have been released: the "T-Bone Content Bundle", "Human Conditions", "No Compromise", "Root Access Bundle", and "Psychedelic Pack".[17][18] As per an exclusivity agreement with Sony Interactive Entertainment, all DLCs were timed exclusives for PlayStation 4.[19]

  • Root Access Bundle (available in December 2016)[20] and Psychedelic Pack (available on launch day) feature a Zodiac Killer mission as well as new outfits, cars, skins, and weapons.[17][18]
  • The T-Bone Content Bundle was released for PlayStation 4 on December 22, 2016,[21] and includes a new co-op difficulty setting, "Mayhem", plus the clothes and truck of Raymond "T-Bone" Kenney.[17][18]
  • Human Conditions was released on February 21, 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and on March 23 for the Xbox One and PC,[22] and includes three new stories set in San Francisco's science and medicine industries. The pack also includes new co-op missions featuring a new enemy class called "the Jammer", a technologically savvy enemy capable of jamming all of a player's hacker equipment, making them vulnerable to head-on attacks.[17][18]
  • No Compromise was released on April 18, 2017 for PlayStation 4 and was launched on 18 May for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows, featuring a new story mission, outfits and weapons.[23]

Watch Dogs: Legion (2020)Edit

Set within a fictionalised representation of a futuristic, dystopian London, Watch Dogs: Legion follows the local branch of DedSec as they seek to clear their names after being framed for series of terrorist bombings. DedSec also attempt to liberate London's citizens from the control of Albion, an oppressive private military company which turned the city into a surveillance state following the bombings.[24] The game introduces a multiple playable characters system, allowing players to recruit virtually any NPC found in the game's open world. Each playable character has their own unique skills and backgrounds, and can be lost permanently if players enable the option of permadeath before starting a new game. There are multiple ways to complete missions depending on which playable character is selected.[25] The game was released for Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia on October 29, 2020; PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions were also made available once the consoles released.[26] Ubisoft Toronto led the game's development, with Clint Hocking serving as its creative director.[27] Legion received mixed reviews; most of the criticism was aimed at the playable characters' lack of personality, poor voice acting, and inbalance between their abilities, as well as the game's world, driving, storyline, and inconsistent difficulty.

The game's online multiplayer component, which was delayed from its planned December 3 release to March 2021,[28][29] allows up to four players to complete exclusive cooperative missions, participate in various competitive game modes, or simply explore London together. Players can share progression between the single-player and multiplayer modes. Both game modes receive regular updates that add new content, such as missions, characters, and abilities. Players who own the Seasons Pass for the game have access to exclusive missions and characters (including Mina Sidhu, who has mind-control powers; Aiden Pearce, returning from the original Watch Dogs; Wrench, a supporting character from Watch Dogs 2; and Darcy, a member of the Assassin Order, as part of a non-canonical crossover with the Assassin's Creed franchise).[30] Aiden and Wrench are featured in their own story expansion titled Watch Dogs: Legion - Bloodline, which was released on July 6, 2021.[31]

Common elementsEdit


The Watch Dogs series is part of a genre known as sandbox games. The series combines elements of action, adventure and vehicular gameplay. The player can freely roam the virtual world on foot or by use of vehicles and make use of an array of weapon and mêlée based combat. Illegal activity such as assaulting non-player character civilians and police officers will instigate a proactive and usually lethal response from authoritative figures. In the instance of death, the player will respawn near the area where they were killed.

In each game, the player assumes control of a hacker, who can hack into various electronic devices connected to the fictional ctOS system with their in-game smartphone.[32][33] While most of the abilities granted by ctOS are used to solve puzzles, the player can also use it in free roam at any given time to create chaos and entertain themselves, such as hacking into traffic lights or placing fake evidence against NPCs to have the police arrest them. In each game, the player can level up and unlock new abilities and gadgets. The games incorporate numerous stealth segments, where the player must try to avoid detection by enemies and take them out silently with non-lethal weapons; if the player fails to remain undetected, they may still attempt to kill all remaining enemies, though most times they will find themselves overwhelmed. In Watch Dogs 2, more weapons and hacker gadgets were introduced, such as a taser and a quadcopter.[34]


The Watch Dogs games take place in fictionalized versions of real-life cities that have implemented ctOS. Watch Dogs is set in the Chicagoland area, Watch Dogs 2 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Watch Dogs: Legion in Greater London. While the first two games take place during modern times, Legion is set in the "near future" (circa 2030), depicting significant advancements in technology.

Other mediaEdit

An eBook, //n/Dark Clouds by John Shirley as a continuation of the first Watch Dogs, was released in conjunction with the game.[35] A comic book miniseries, Watch Dogs: Return to Rocinha, was published by Titan Comics in 2019; it was later merged into a single book. Two Watch Dogs: Legion prequel novels, Day Zero and Resistance Report, were released prior to the game.[36]

In 2013, it was rumored that a film adaptation of the first Watch Dogs game was in development by Ubisoft Motion Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and New Regency.[37][38] In 2014, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese were commissioned to write the film.[39] In 2016, Engadget published an article stating that the film was still in development and that Ubisoft planned to make film renditions for all of its franchises. While a film adaptation of Ubisoft's most popular franchise, Assassin's Creed, was released that same year, there have been no news about the Watch Dogs film since, and the project remains stuck in development hell.

In 2019, it was reported that an animated television series based on the Watch Dogs series was in development.[40]


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