So Watch Dogs 2 was great, I mean really great, I loved it, so much in fact I felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard and write why I loved it so much.
The location of Watch Dogs 2 was a real winner, San Francisco is a beautiful location and one we haven’t had to the chance to digitally explore in gaming, at least not since ‘Cisco Heat. It had everything, large expanses of water, off-road sections and a town that was dripping with technology.
It was just a wonderful, vibrant city to explore. So it came as somewhat of a shock that at the end of the game, that hidden in the ending there was a reference, or geographical numbers that point to a possible location for Watch Dogs 3, Brixton!
That’s right, Brixton. Not London, the rich vibrant city that gamers have longed to have digitally re-created, just Brixton.
So that of course sent waves of rumours circulating the internet that Brixton, or more likely London in general could be the setting of Watch Dogs 3. Of course this isn’t the first time Ubisoft have dabbled in creating a London setting for their games, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate gave you a lovely Victorian London to run around. But this is 2017 (or 18/19 depending on the release date), so what can Ubisoft offer us?
This got me thinking. If Brixton were to be the main location for Watch Dogs 3, what can this South London city offer gamers that could match or even surpass the delights of San Francisco? Well at first glance not much. I mean really not much, I’m a Londoner and I learnt from an early age to avoid the place. To this date, my only experience of Brixton was at the world-famous Brixton Academy where I saw Foo Fighters.
So that’s one location they could use, It’s a world famous music venue, that would be home to crowds of people with smart phones to hack. The new hero would have to sneak into a live gig and hack the lead singer or something, while avoiding the mosh pit, pints of piss being thrown around and of course not interrupting the gig itself. That would be fun.
Brixton is also home to 6 large housing estates. Now you may be thinking what the fuck? Who wants to explore housing estates in Brixton? I guess video games are all about doing things you don’t usually do in real life, and believe me, you don’t want to go near a housing estate in Brixton in real life. Stay with me though. In the original Watch Dogs, set in Chicago, there was an abandoned housing estate complex that was over run by drug dealers, and nefarious bad guys which Aiden Pearce had to infiltrate and do his thing. This was one of the best parts of that game in my opinion, a kind of dystopian future, yet in the modern day Chicago, It was kind off eerily scary too. So imagine 6 blocks, perhaps all owned by rival gangs at war with each other, that would make for a decent story line.
Brixton is not particularly big in the scheme of things, but it does have lots of different styles of architecture. It’s not all just blocks of concrete, There are still plenty of Victorian buildings dotted around Brixton, including St Matthew’s Church slap bang in the middle, there are also lots of 60’s esque styles, along with all the different styles that each of the varied cultures bring. So the aesthetically, If Ubisoft get it right it could look as glorious as it does gritty.
You can’t come to Brixton without a trip to the famous Brixton Market, home of every imaginable food and fabric known to man. along with all manner of different market traders and people. What a great centre point that would make for any open world game and also wouldn’t it make a great location to stalk your prey with your gadget-o-phone? Hacking people’s phones, ATM’s, hiding amongst the thousands of different fabrics and cloths on offer. And if you need energy you can easily steal an apple or something and replenish you health. I don’t think we see enough markets in video games. The last one I can remember was Shenmue!
There is also a shopping arcade called Electric Avenue which given the nature of Watch Dogs is just asking to be recreated and would make a perfect British HQ of Dedsec, oh and 80’s reggae star Eddy Grant even wrote a song about it.
The Ritzy Cinema
another cool location for a video game. It worked in GTA V so there is no reason why a cinema can’t be incorporated into WD 3. Imagine using your super phone to hack the film and play an alternative Dedsec Propaganda video? Nice! The Ritzy Cinema, for all you fact lovers was England’s first purpose-built cinema, so there is a some history there and it’s not just your bog standard super mega hyper plex.
Brixton has such a diverse range of people, so many In fact you could probably put all four corners of the world in this town, primarily from the Caribbean,but you’ll find pretty much anyone here, from all races, religions and faiths. Brixton has everything, Synagogue’s, Churches and Mosques, so there will be a diverse range of people to populate this digital city.
The Criminal Underworld
In terms of the criminals you’ll find in Brixton, you’ll fine all sorts mainly low level thugs and some skanky drug dealers. But, scarily, Lambeth (next door to Brixton), according to The Independent is home to over 200 ‘hardcore Yardies’ who are nasty af, with two major gangs in play the “Firehouse Posse” and Brixton’s “Kartel Crew. I’m not entirely sure if Blume would have Yardies in their ranks, but they would sure make a good enemy to face up against. I think something a little more real-wold than tech related would be a a nice change for Watch dogs. Of course there is no guarantee that Blume or a subsidiary of Blume are still part of Watch Dogs when it comes to the third game. Find out more about the notorious Yards here.
In Watch Dogs 2 your trusty phone had a great app called Scout X, which made gamers go in search of famous locations, landmarks, street art, buskers and anything else of interest. The good news is, Brixton, has its fair share if interesting murals, and people and landmarks to snap up. Brixton is famous for some great street art that cover topics from nature and politics to community and ideas. And awesomely, a massive David Bowie Mural. The Platinum Trophy could be hunting out a rare Banksy.
Brixton is found at the very end of the Victoria line, so how cool would it be to have the London Tube to feature in a video game? On the Victoria line you’ll find stations such as Oxford Circus which is London’s shopping capital, Islington which is London’s drinking capital and Walthamstow which was once my capital until I moved. A tube line would be a perfect way what to load up different parts of London without there being an actual loading screen. I mean I don’t know what’s possible to achieve in games, whether they can do all of London or just a section, but if they need to load sections, use the Tube. OR, if they can recreate London then the Tube would be an ideal way to fast travel. Also super iconic.
An integral part of any open world game is the music you’ll hear on the radio whilst driving. What would make a nice departure from commercial radio would be to focus on pirate radio. This is something Brixon, and London in general is quite famous for. Creating it’s own style of music, and that ‘London sound’ This would not only give the game are real London vibe, but also a more varied style of music. Maybe you would have to find all the pirate stations so you can put the Dedsec message across the airwaves. Ok I know that sounds pretty old-school but it would make a nice change from computers and the like (isn’t Brixton where East 17 is from? I’m in – Ed)
Interestingly Brixton is home of The Brixton Pound which is a local currency that’s an alternative to the traditional paaaand sterling. I don’t pretend to know how this works, in fact until I wrote this article, I didn’t even know it existed. BUT it is a real thing apparently and in 2011 an electronic version was launched where people could pay via text message, that’s got Watch Dogs written all over it surely? OK I know it’s not the thousands of dollars we’re used to dealing in the Watch Dogs universe, but there is something there that could make for a good mission or two.
Now any open world worth it’s salt doesn’t really just focus on one city, or area. WD 2 had four different areas or towns/cities to explore, Marin, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Oakland. But what areas could WD 3 realistically explore if set in London? Well this is where things get tricky, there is not a lot around Brixton that is that much different, or exciting. And there’s no expanse of water, or any large expanse of county side to to separate each of the locations Ubisoft choose for a London based Watch Dogs.
There is the River Thames of course, if Ubsioft decide to incorporate that snake of water, then the possibilities are endless, because from there you can get to the Financial district, or the ‘the city’ as locals call it, Soho, Leicester square, the Docklands and the O2 Arena each of these places have a distinct look and feel and are near enough, yet far enough away to make for some genuinely different and interesting places to explore. All of which aren’t too far from Brixton, all thanks to the trusty London Underground.
Ever since the Getaway I’ve wanted to have an open wold of my home city of London to explore. Although its fun to getting to see the sights of America, it would be nice to walk/drive create all kinds of chaos around London for a change.
When I heard about the Brixton setting at the end of Watch Dogs 2 I was laughing my head off, There’s nothing there I thought, and although this is a light-hearted look at what is in and around Brixton, it has changed my mind somewhat as to if the location would work or not. Of course you can’t set a game just in Brixton, that would be rubbish, but the wider picture of an open world London makes it all the more appealing, and something that would genuinely interest me.