O, boy, Watch Dogs… This game, which isn’t that bad of a game, mind you, gathered so much hate, that the only game more hated that Watch Dogs was One Man’s Lie… Sorry, No Man’s Sky. The graphics they showed in E3 were nowhere to be found, the main protagonist was bland, the story was bland, the AI was all over the place… With that, the franchise almost ended before it even started. And then came Watch Dogs 2. So, let’s see if Ubisoft learned something from the last fiasco.
GTA… But with Hax
Well, the first thing Ubisoft did is exchange the drab and grey streets of Windy City for a sunny San Francisco Bay Area. Second, they made their protagonist a black hipster hacker who hates corruption but murders as he pleases. The setting of the game looks amazing, to say the least, and the game and the characters are colourful. And, we don’t mean just the colour. The city is given a soul in Watch Dogs 2, as the NPCs walking around give comments, talk to each other, bomb your selfies, and have their own routines, instead of walking around aimlessly. You can even pet dogs!
When it comes to the protagonist, Marcus is a part of the very stereotypical hacker group, called Dedsec. Dedsec is concerned with making the world a better place by dismantling criminal organizations and pharmaceutical companies (because everyone hates them), but, the story, on the whole, feels lacking. Halfway through the main missions, and you don’t really know what you’re doing and why. In the first game, the protagonist had a clear goal – revenge – no matter how bland he was.
Gameplay concerned, you’re always given different options to complete your missions. This is a stealth-heavy game, though, and you’re very much advised to take the silent approach and make use of your gadgets, such as your drone or your robot. Marcus is an excellent hacker, and there is no lock or security system he can’t disable, or guard distract with a fake phone call. However, the game reverts to the old “hacking” system where you have to connect lines in a puzzle to allow “data” to flow through. As in the first game, these can be really interesting at first but become a chore later.
Naturally, you can deal with the enemies the traditional way – go in screaming “Leeroy Jenkins” at the top of your lungs and guns blazing. However, be wary, as cops will show up guns blazing too (as game cops don’t understand the concept of surrender) and you’ll have a hard time dealing with them. Marcus is pretty athletic, and he can parkour his way out of trouble, or he can choose to stay and fight. The game, unfortunately, suffers from sticky cover mechanics, and the protagonist will often fumble around like a madman while you try to get to the cover you want, hissing “No! What are you doing, stupid!” through your clenched teeth. The car controls are often very floaty, and they’re either too slow or just too damn wild to control.
Naturally, this wouldn’t be a modern game if it didn’t play online. You will be able to experience people hacking into your game, and you’ll have to eliminate them. You can also get in on coop, but the missions are roughly the same, and you won’t get that much satisfaction out of them. Also, this is Ubisoft we’re talking about, so expect server troubles. A LOT of server troubles.
All in all Watch Dogs 2 does look and feel better than the last game. It seems that Ubisoft did get the memo about lying on E3, and made an attempt to redeem themselves. The game still has some hiccups, but it’s still quite enjoyable.