You won't experience hack-tastic open world Watch Dogs at its best unless you're online, Ubisoft has explained in a blog post, but you'll be able to enjoy it offline regardless.
"In Watch Dogs, you can go from being connected and online with other players to being fully disconnected - without affecting the world or changing the environment," reads the post. "That's no small feat, and this seamless connectivity is another key pillar of the Disrupt engine."
According to producer Dominic Guay, you won't have to step away from the core experience to access the online stuff. "There's no loading or matchmaking or waiting for a game to start. That means that every single thing in the game needed to be ready to be synchronized with the network. Every aspect of animation and physics and the AI needed to work online with other players."
To access another player's world, you'll need to accept a contract (the idea, presumably, is that you're carrying out hits on rival hackers). Other players appear in the game as non-descript civvies - "there will never be two Aidens on the screen", the post assures.
"Though the engine is built with this connectivity in mind, it can be turned off for players who prefer to explore unhindered by any outside influences," it continues. "The multiplayer will also be unavailable during story missions, so you don't need to worry about hackers while you're in the middle of an important moment." Here's a video of the above in action.
There's a smidgeon of additional insight on the differences between current and next generation versions of the game, which we've already explored in depth. "On current-gen systems we may need to cut down the number of people on the street a little, but it's still the same game," says Guay . "You don't get the same sense of the crowd, but it allows us to scale certain bits and keep the same experience."
Animation director Colin Graham adds that "players are going to know they aren't getting a bad experience if they play Watch Dogs for the current gen, but the next gen is the real HD experience. You can zoom in another level.
"You can have better shaders, better simulation on the wind or the water, more particles, better atmospherics... Basically anything you can get with more computing power."