Great PC Gaming Moments: Spotting an Invader in Watch Dogs
Great PC Gaming Moments are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
When the original Watch Dogs launched in 2014, I played through the countryside like a digital Spider-Man: virtually swinging between security cameras, setting off traps and electronics, and battering entire skyscrapers filled with bad guys without ever entering the building. Anything I had to do I could do standing on the sidewalk outside looking at my smartphone.
But as fun as it was, the best part of Watch Dogs was invading other players’ games. Silently joining their sessions, pretending to be a random NPC, and hacking into their data while they frantically ran around trying to find me was a hilarious thrill. There was nothing quite like finding a good hiding place and seeing my target completely freak out that they weren’t alone in their solo play. For me, it was more than a fun activity. Watch Dogs invasions have become an absolute obsession. That was all I wanted to do.
One of my most memorable invasions came when I started hacking another player and ran into a store to hide. I crouched down behind the counter, which seemed like a great place to hide. Unfortunately, the NPC shopkeeper looked at me crouched behind his counter and immediately tried to strike up a conversation with me. (I hadn’t thought of killing him and staying behind the counter for him, which is a fun and often effective strategy.)
The player I was hacking ran in and out of the store probably 10 different times because he reduced my position to a small circle on the map that pretty much only contained the store. And I was completely freaked out because that damn shopkeeper kept staring at me and talking to me all the time. I was sure he would betray me. But somehow, the player never noticed that the store owner was looking down at his feet and talking cordially with the terrified man hiding there. Against all odds, I completed the hack and escaped.
The only problem with spending most of my time invading other single player games is that I gradually became – and I think that’s the approved clinical term – paranoid as balls about other people invading my own game solo. It was always fun when that happened, but I became obsessed with becoming the toughest target possible for an invader. To hack someone, you have to get close to them without them noticing, so I made sure it was a real chore. I traveled the world at top speed, made crazy turns in my cars, changed direction constantly, then suddenly braked, jumped out of my car, drew a gun and saw if I could spot someone trying desperately to follow me. I did this constantly. As a result, I did next to nothing in single player mode from there, as I never quite reached where I was headed. I was too busy trying to spot someone who was never there.
Except this time someone was there. I was driving through the city as usual, like a complete maniac, and as usual I made a few hairpin turns at full speed before suddenly stopping, jumping out of my car and looking behind me with wide paranoid eyes. I stood there watching and listening for about 30 seconds as nothing happened. Then I heard, faintly, a noise in the distance. A crashing sound. Shouts from distant NPCs. Glass breakage. Then there were more crashing sounds. The sirens are approaching. Louder screams.
Then a car came roaring around the corner, although it’s not really fair to call it a car. It was a twisted, crumpled, smoking, quivering ball of metal that had once been a car. I don’t know what this player hit while trying to call me, but my guess is: everything. The mutilated, smoking wreckage of what was once an automobile came to rest a few feet from where I was standing in the middle of the street. I’ve watched it. The driver, presumably, looked through his broken windshield. After about five seconds, during which I couldn’t do anything because I was laughing so hard, he suddenly backed up at full speed in a straight line down the road where he instantly collided with the police car chasing him.
Needless to say, it wasn’t a successful hack on his part. And that one instance of me managing to spot an invading player before they started hacking me justified all the paranoia I had accumulated over the past few weeks. I never saw anyone else following me, but I never stopped trying.