Watch Dogs creative director Jonathan Morin has compared the game's fictional version of Chicago to Rockstar's chart-storming epic Grand Theft Auto 5.
Morin wouldn't speak to the exact size of Watch Dogs' Chicago map, but promised that its environment would offer a "huge density".
"One thing I wanted to promote with Watch Dogs was density, a lot more than scale," Morin told Eurogamer during an interview conducted today at EGX 2013. "We have a big city but one thing a lot of games aren't exploring is the shared density of it.
"[In Watch Dogs] you can stand still and profile people for ten minutes - you're playing without moving, almost. I think that's even more important to me than just adding size to it. I don't want size just becoming a space between A and B. We have a huge world but it's more about the density."
Having such an enormous world made sense for a game like Grand Theft Auto 5, Morin continued, because of its inclusion of aeroplanes - something Watch Dogs won't offer.
"GTA 5 has a huge world but it has flying, it has jets so it serves that purpose. You don't have a jet unless you have the space to fly into. Us, we have huge density, so if we double or triple the scale then you're going to start hitting repetition because we wanted to aim for the density first. We wanted the game to be the right size for that density, so it's a matter of balancing what you want to achieve."
In Watch Dog's dense world will be missions which tightly-bind gameplay with the environment, something Morin says has been helped by conversations with Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed team. With that franchise about to hit its sixth major instalment, Watch Dogs is able to take advantage of knowledge learnt since that series' now-primitive first release.
"It's great to have the guys who did Assassin's in the same studio," Morin explained. "We can always questions about what gamers liked, why they made those decisions. What really helps is those conversations. Watch Dogs is obviously a very different beast, especially from a gameplay standpoint, but one of things that helped is binding the gameplay to the world.
We're selling the idea of hacking a city. It would have been lame if we'd done that and you'd never have to go anywhere to connect your sh** together.Jonathan Morin, Watch Dogs creative director
"It's especially important to us as we're selling the idea of hacking a city. It would have been lame if we'd done that and you'd never have to go anywhere to connect your sh** together. That would have been bizarre. But there's plenty of know-how at Ubisoft Montreal that has been useful."
One of the main differences from Assassin's Creed is Watch Dogs' inclusion of multiplayer elements in the game's main world. Ubisoft has already shown other online players appearing in your world stalking you - and vice versa. Other modes remain "under wraps" Morin hinted. A fully free roam offering, perhaps? "We'll see about that," he smiles.
You'll be able to customise main character Aiden Pearce's look to some degree, but Ubisoft's main customisation focus will be on his skill tree, Morin continued.
"You're going to be able to change Aiden's look a bit but the biggest element of customisation is his skill tree - deciding on which way you want to progress, which skills you want to progress. And then there's tons of guns and cars to choose from as well, so it's more about your loadout. We're not pushing for the micro-customisation of cars or guns."
And as for the look of the game, Morin expects the PC build to remain the best-looking version, with Wii U's graphical fidelity lying somewhere in between current and next-gen offerings.
"I think it's even going to be a bit better. If you pump the PC to its maximum there are things in the filtering and rendering that I think are possible on high-end PCs that are pretty amazing. Wii U is pretty much in-between - it's neither of them, not current-gen, maybe closer to current-gen than next-gen."