Watch Dogs 2
We sit down and review Watch Dogs 2. It’s a sequel that has a lot to hack up to on its own. Here’s our review of Watch Dogs 2
The wait is almost over and the hype levels for Watch Dogs 2 have been hitting an all-time high as we get ever closer to November the 15th and we can see the game launch on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The first Watch Dogs, for me, was an amazing game and I was excited to see that Ubisoft was keeping to making this a whole new franchise. Now we are here on the eve of Watch Dogs 2‘s launch and we had a chance to give the game a good play just before that date. While the full aspect of the online multiplayer was still down during our play, even though we had a few instances of it pop up, we are here with our review of Watch Dogs 2 and if it is worth your time and money.
The world has moved onward and forward from the events of Watch Dogs and there is a new version of the ctOS system launching in San Francisco. It is just as horrible as before and we get to join the ranks of Dedsec to help bring the whole thing down yet again. Apparently no one in this universe has seen The Matrix. None the less we take on the role of one of the team’s members who was recently falsely accused of crimes he never committed and he is out to make sure the rest of the computer illiterate users out there don’t fall to the same fate. That is unless he is the one pulling the strings. This is Watch Dogs 2.
If the above story sounds a little “lacking” then let me say that to me this was the case for the overall story of Watch Dogs 2. I’m not going to claim that the whole story was lacking as there were a few scenes and moments that I truly loved in the game; it’s just that the rest of it all seemed fairly pushed. That or we needed to follow along closely with all of the hype materials to get a full understanding of the character’s motivations and wants. I had a connection to Aiden in the last game. In Watch Dogs 2 it was almost like we were expected to have the same for Marcus right out of the gate without having any major connection short of, “well that is a fucked up situation you were in.” Maybe I just love a good revenge tale over a “we need to do the right thing” tale.
Moving along from the story drawbacks I had, it also looks like the controller scheme for hacking has been tweaked and in a way that made the game a bit more on the annoying side. In Watch Dogs 2 you have to look at the people or item that you want to hack, lock in with one of the bumpers, and then select the effect you want to cause. While this does give us more option all around it does make it insanely hard to do hacks while on the run or in a situation where you need them but need to keep running and moving. It is something that can be learned or trained on your end but it seems a lot harder to do all of the basic hacks than it was before. The old system worked and while this one does too, it did manage to convolute the system a bit and make it all more annoying.
Slightly building off of that, and maybe this was just me, but it also looks like when upgrading in Watch Dogs 2 you can also make things even worse for your hacking game after getting use to things. In particular the vehicles in the game. When you start out you don’t have the ability to hack vehicles and you need to upgrade to be able to do that. That makes sense. Sadly though, once you do that you also lose out on being able to hack the person in the car. This wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that if you play a certain way you can get locked out of an easy way to recharge you Botnet and Cash in the game as those options go away. At least until the person leaves the vehicle. I’m still trying to figure out how this is a true upgrade besides allowing for item collection later on.
I know I griped on the story above which is why it may sound odd that the individual characters, outside of the main, that Ubisoft has set up here are written rather well. At least to my tastes. We were assumed to know everything about Marcus out of the gate but we were left to find out and experience all of the other characters in the game and they are really well written and instant classics. Again, this could be down to personal tastes but I dare you to look at Josh and Wrench and tell me that there little bits of story and personality don’t tell a great story than we are presented with for Marcus. If they would have focused more on this aspect for Marcus we’d have one less Hated section and this part of the Loved would be even bigger. None the less it was the supporting cast that shined here and I loved every second I had with them.
Another aspect of Watch Dogs 2 that I was concerned on was the usual one that happens with sequels and that is resetting everything to zero again in terms of abilities and skills. While they did go with a new character which would have been the easy “cop out” to explain why he wasn’t the dynamo Aiden became before, they didn’t just go that path. In fact, for the most part Marcus still has all of the abilities that we were used to by the end of the first Watch Dogs. Now we just get to improve them and push them all further. Just as real tech and the world works. There is still so much room for improvement and all of the skills I came across did that even though they limited out other aspects at a certain point. It didn’t feel like we took a step back to move forward but were always moving forward in Watch Dogs 2.
Also linked into that comes to all of the other aspects of gameplay in Watch Dogs 2. From the traversal to the driving to the puzzles. Everything felt a bit more fluid here in Watch Dogs 2 and not just a rehash of what we already knew. The normal hacking system is still there to do breaches but it is no longer in a weird digital space and adds a level of “fun anxiety” to everything that was lacking before. Even the driving made me hate driving in San Francisco again. I’m talking not in the game as that was a little more refined here but Ubisoft gave me that feeling of having to deal with driving in a city that I personally loathe being behind the wheel in. Seriously, if you have issue with the driving in Watch Dogs 2 go to the real world location and you will have a different feeling on the game side of it all.
Last up, and it feels odd having to say this with all of the hype before Watch Dogs 2 launches, there is always something to do in the game. It also never feels like it is too much to do or that you will get lost on it. In many other open world games like this one I usually harsh on this. That is also usually because the developers build a huge world and then need to just randomly fill it in to make it feel like it is living and breathing. Watch Dogs 2‘s world doesn’t feel like it suffers from that at all; and that is with only running into a few online players messing with me or to be messed with. None of the side content even makes you forget about the main goal at any time so to use the word distraction would be quite wrong. We are just in a living and breathing world with similar options while on our end mission. As I write this I am still planning on which to go back to and complete.
When all is said and done, should you give Watch Dogs 2 your time and money? Yes, the story felt a little lacking and there were a few issues with the new systems mixed in for the game but even with all of that I find myself wanting to get back in and play more of the game. The supporting cast is well written. The world is insanely well designed. It also felt like Ubisoft was truly trying to improve on their old title instead of just giving us more of the same. There is also a lot of gameplay and experiences to be had even while we wait for the online mode to get patched up and out for us. Even if you choose to wait until Watch Dogs 2‘s online mode is at 100% I still give my full recommendation on picking it up and giving it a play. It is how open worlds should be crafted and I can’t wait to experience more of it here soon. I’m sure you’ll have the same thoughts.
I give Watch Dogs 2 19 Botnet Nodes on the Botnet Node scale.
Watch Dogs 2 — Watch Hades Play