By Gita Jackson
In Watch Dogs 2, NPCs aren’t just set dressing. Instead, the virtual people populating the streets of San Francisco are a constant delight to interact with.
Yesterday I decided to swing by Stache & Vine to grab some new clothes after a long day of being a hackerman. While in the store, I decided to casually rob some people. In the NetHack View the screen is washed out in grey, and it’s really easy to walk into people or lose track of your surroundings. What I did was accidentally punch a woman.
I only knew I did this because she started screaming at me, even taking a swing back. All around me, other shoppers started taking out their phones. One shouted, “Gotta get a shot of this.” I was, for a moment, waiting for someone to croon, “World Star!” The tension did not diffuse until I left the store. I swear to god, lady, all I wanted was that goddamn pineapple shirt.
But my favourite thing, by far, is how NPCs react to you taking a selfie. Some NPCs are pretty okay with it. I liked these people outside the pawnshop a lot. As soon as he spotted the camera, he threw his hands up and made a face, yelling, “Yeah!”
When you catch a group of NPCs enthusiastically photobombing you it can be a real treat. Here’s some skater kids I caught having a party in the middle of the night in a skate park in Oakland.
Right after I took this, I heard gunshots and screaming, and the kids all started running out of the park and into the street. There had been a drive by, and as I followed the kids I saw them, briefly, staring at the dead body in the street.
It seemed gauche to take a selfie of this.
In richer parts of town, people are less outgoing, but that’s not to say they aren’t wild. Trying to get negative reactions to selfies in Silicon Valley, I ran into two people arguing loudly with a homeless man. The woman got in his face, and the homeless man lashed out.
Right after I took this, the woman pulled out a gun. Understandably, passersby were scared—they started screaming, and eventually the cops showed up. The homeless man ran away, relatively unharmed, although a cop ran after him. The woman was clearly still angry but had calmed down somewhat. In the aftermath, I took out my phone to snap a selfie with the would-be murderer.
She called me a fuckwad.
You don’t have to get involved to see how lively the NPCs are, though. Here, my friend Jack DeQuidt, writer at Crows Crows Crows, just watches a couple kids play on a curb. It’s nice to have fun with the NPCs, but it’s comforting to know they’ll also just be having fun on their own.