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How Watch_Dogs 2 Is Setting the Standard for Free-Running Games

Parkour ascends to new heights as you play a hacker in San Francisco.

Every gamer knows that free running, otherwise known as parkour, has been a staple of some of the most ground-breaking video games. (See: Prince of Persia and Mirror’s Edge.) But for the latest big release from Ubisoft, the juggernaut maker of Assassin’s Creed, the rush of urban gymnastics has never been so intricately detailed.

Watch _Dogs 2 follows Marcus Holloway, a resident of near-future San Francisco and a hacker seeking to disable a massive surveillance network. His biggest weapon is his body: Not only can he hack into cars and phones, he also has a diverse fighting skill set, which he showcases while scaling walls and free-falling. This proved to be a challenge for the game makers, which is why they enlisted the help of Sébastien Rouleau, an ex-police officer and elite practitioner of parkour, among others. “The performers’ sheer athleticism blew us away during rehearsals,” says Colin Graham, Watch_Dogs 2’s animation designer. The team used motion capture to film two performers practicing the same move, which were then blended into a final parkour move on screen.

Since Watch_Dogs 2 has a no-kill play-through—refreshingly, you can complete the game without harming anyone—every parkour path is explorable, with unprecedented freedom. The result is a film-quality product that offers a glitch-free game play, and you feel an exhilarating freedom as Holloway springs off rooftops and then tumbles with complete control on to the street below.

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