There's a reason why the driving in Watch Dogs looks so good.
As interesting as Watch Dogs looks, it's hard to ignore its resemblance to another Ubisoft franchise. Sure enough, Watch Dogs was, in fact, built using an engine originally created for a different game, but not the one you might expect. According to Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc, the foundation of the Ubisoft's next-gen herald was originally created for a new entry in the Driver franchise.
"Watch Dogs wasn't started as Watch Dogs," Detoc told IGN. "They were working on a driving engine, working on something. We had the Driver license. This was years ago. Then we were thinking, 'no, this is not the way we want to go with a driving game,' so we cancelled that and restarted. It's not like Watch Dogs started as Watch Dogs. The Watch Dogs project was initially another game. At some point it changed. That's at least three years ago, and then the Watch Dogs project reused some of the work that had been done on this driving engine."
The situation is more nuanced than it might appear at first glance: According to Detoc, the transition wasn't as simple canceling Driver, then starting Watch Dogs. "It's not that Driver became Watch Dogs, so much as the driving game we made was a driving game," said Detoc. "The decision was made that there was another driving game being made and this one should be an open-world game where the guy comes out of the car and does other things. Then the team decides to reshuffle itself entirely. A few other people come in, a new creative director, and then they start a new game."
In another portion of the same interview released earlier this month, Detoc explained how Rainbow Six: Patriots is in the process of being rebuilt from scratch.
Watch Dogs is expected to launch on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC next Spring.