Hip, modern and in-tuned with today’s issues – this could possibly be the Watch Dogs game we’ve been waiting for.
Watch Dogs 2 feels more than a reboot than an actual sequel and that’s perfectly fine with me. The original promised a massive open-world hacking adventure but felt quite limited with the amount of things you could actually hack. Aiden Pearce, the protagonist from the first game wasn’t as likeable as well making it hard to actually follow the story. Watch Dogs had lots of potentially and thankfully, all of this has changed with the new Watch Dogs 2.
During my hands-on session at E3, the developer walking me though the game explained about the vast improvements they made with nearly everything in the game. He acknowledged the issues with the first game and told me how the team wanted to revamped it, change the vibe and how San Francisco added a new theme to the game. San Francisco is a vibrant city and comparing that to Chicago which was the city in the last game; makes Watch Dogs 2 seem more alive than dull. San Francisco also features the iconic Silicon Valley, a prominent tech start-up region of in the city so it’s a no brainer to feature a title revolving around the growth of technology in Watch Dogs 2.
Another huge change is the introduction of Marcus, the new protagonist for Watch Dogs 2. Unlike Aiden from the original, Marcus is more urban and hip which creates a punk-style aura to the character giving a much more interesting angle than before. Marcus even had his own reveal trailer so you could see Ubisoft really pushing the personality of the character even more. You will also be able to customise Marcus, the stock standard look is there but Ubisoft is also giving us the option to give him a little more of your personality. It’s no character creation unfortunately so no making your own hacker but you can dress him up to your liking with all the different clothing stores available. Want a more hip-hop Marcus? Want to wear those damn Crocs? It’s up to you.
Dedsec is probably the only thing I noticed returning from the original. This time however, it’s all about the social aspect of running this hacking team (or organisation?) Dedsec needs followers and Marcus and its members must rebel against the authorities (Government, NSA etc) to gain fans. While I wasn’t able to explore more of the plot elements in the preview, I was guided through the menu system showcasing five sets of quests at your disposal. The developer mentioned they wanted a more dynamic play-style for Watch Dogs 2 and instead of offering just the one tree of quests, players can choose and switch whenever they want to do something different offering more ways to play. This is great and obviously they learnt this from the last GTA giving players more options.
Hacking was one of the biggest criticism in the last game and in Watch Dogs 2, I was shown the massive changes in the hacking gameplay. Hacking is now line of sight meaning you can point and hack different objects and devices in front of you. In the preview, I was given some time to hack things around me which later in missions can prove valuable. Things like hacking cars is more detailed now allowing the player to remotely control any vehicle. Turn left, turn right, go straight… run over a civilian (by mistake) you can control nearly everything and I could imagine myself using this feature in maybe a car chase down the track.
I was taken through two different missions in Watch Dogs 2, first one was to infiltrate an area to steal some information. Before that happened, I drove to the spot to trigger the mission and can honestly say the improvements to vehicle handling has been vastly improved. The developer mentioned vehicles was one of the main issues in the last game so they worked on fixing that while also focused on the how wide the streets are and how everything is placed. When arriving at the mission, I decided to take the hacker approach to the situation so decided to use a combination of my drones to move and hack into objects to achieve my mission without even stepping foot into the area. This is similar to what you can do in the first game but seems more in-depth than before.
The next mission leads us into a warehouse area that’s guarded by armed guards and at this point another developer joined my game. Like the co-op experience in Far Cry, other players can drop in and out your game at any time. The developer also mentioned that there’s mission sets also catered to the co-op experience which you can do solo but are easier and more suited with a partner. Within minutes of joining my game, the developer has already unleashed chaos with his hacking by driving cars around me and creating a havoc by blowing things up. I already can see the unimaginable madness two players can create with the same abilities which should set up for some haphazard fun.
After testing out the stealthy way of tackling the previous mission, in the next one we decided to go in guns blazing. The developer again mentions the option to approach things how you want to so I could have gone with the more stealth action again this time but I really wanted to see how combat plays out. My partner decided to commission a van and we both headed to the place we needed to infiltrated. We both went in guns blazing rushing the van into the middle of the area before jumping out like your typical action game.
Receiving fire from all angles, I moved into cover but unfortunately the preview build suffered from some shoddy framerate when there was a lot happening on the screen. It was laggy here and there which got me killed because I couldn’t get my character into cover. Thankfully the game respawned me within the vicinity and I was straight into combat with my partner without any delay. The shooting mechanics felt weird as well making things hard to shoot and kill because of the massive amount of kick back I received. It felt unpolished and still needing work which they should hopefully address before the game releases.
I wasn’t really expecting a sequel to the original Watch Dogs because it never wowed me and after the announcement of Watch Dogs 2 – I was still sceptical. However after talking to the developers behind the sequel acknowledging the faults as well as seeing all the improvements and amount of detail has gone into the next instalment, this could possibly be the Watch Dogs game we wanted all along. While it’s still rough around some parts it’s definitely got me interested in the series again.
Watch Dogs 2 hits PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 15th 2016.