Ubisoft has finally launched an open world game that you can enjoy playing in, set in the bustling city of San Francisco, contrasting seaside towns and suburbs with a vibrant city and the eternally pretentious Silicon Valley. The world is chock full of NPCs actually participating in real life activities and having genuine conversations that portray a host of emotions.
Released on the 15th of November, 2016, Ubisoft has created a surprisingly great sequel to the hack everything game known as Watch Dogs. With improved AI, a gorgeous and colourful environment, and brilliant character development, Watch Dogs 2 has it all.
One of the games biggest strengths is in it's story. You play as Marcus Holloway, an underground hacker who is framed by a company called the ctOS network, for crimes he did not commit. Marcus, and his hacker group, Dedsec, demand vengeance and have one main goal, take down ctOS and the group who are in control of it, Blume. To do this, Marcus must take down various hacker groups who are working with the FBI, in order to get under Blumes’ skin, and open up opportunities to take them down. During the main story you will witness some amazing character development from the other crew members of Dedsec, the bond you form during your chaotic adventures is at times touching, and always entertaining.
The characters within Watch Dogs 2 are equal parts diverse and interesting. Your team members within Dedsec all bring varied skillsets and personalities to the table. Sitara is the leader of the group, Horatio handles intel, and is your most constant support during missions. Josh is a young expert hacker who can break into just about anything, regularly playing the role of battering ram during hacking missions. Wrench rounds out your team and is the best character within the game, he is loud, brash and a bucket load of fun, upon first glance he looks like a meme come to life, wearing an animated mask 24/7.
The Gameplay is much like Watch Dogs 1, hacking is your bread and butter, whether it be hacking cameras to spot enemies, interacting with their phones to either distract, shock or (in Samsung's case) blow up. Also at your disposal are RC cars, a quadcopter and the ability to hack/control vehicles. Outside of hacking you can also take the fight to your enemies with your fists or a varied arsenal of firearms, the gunplay could be improved upon (aiming at times was inconsistent), but it wasn't game breaking by any means.
The character upgrade system revolves around 3 different skill-types, and these influence the game in various ways. Ghost, is mostly for those who love stealth gameplay, Aggressor, for players who love a good gun fight, and Trickster, which is for those who love messing with AI. I went mostly down the Trickster skill tree, it offers a good balance between both steal and gunplay while also allowing you to create city wide chaos with traffic lights, vehicles and more. All three skill trees are worth exploring, they providing the player with a slew of play style options while also allowing you to tackle missions in multiple ways.
The world of Watch Dogs 2 sees San Francisco expertly recreated, it is vibrant and full of life. Ubisoft have done a great job building this open world for you to play in. CitizensYou see people jogging, dancing, being piss drunk, fighting and arguing in the streets, Gang shootouts, drive-by’s, anything that you can think of, might happen in Watch Dogs 2 if you take time to just, enjoy the scenery. In my 85 hours playing Watch Dogs 2, a good 50-60 of those hours was just walking around listening to people talk and gossip… amongst other things.
Overall, Watch Dogs 2 is a great return to form from Ubisoft, righting a lot of wrongs from WD1 while also improving on their open world hacking formula across the board.
4 out of 5
+ Gorgeous environment and setting.
+ Pretty smart AI who can outflank you and sometimes outsmart you
+ The Story is well written, despite the strange “Followers are actually XP” thing
+ Encourages multiple playthroughs to get the best experience
- Performance and bugs ruin the fun a bit for players who don’t have the best setups