When Ubisoft released the first Watch Dogs about 2 years ago it was proclaimed as a game that would define a console generation. In fact it was more hyped than Lebron James was when he was still in high school but unlike King James, Watch Dogs did not turn out to be the chosen one. Recognizing the shortcomings of their first attempt, developer Ubisoft has rectified a few of its missteps of their original game as Watch Dogs 2 is a more entertaining and satisfying forray into a life of cybercrime in San Francisco.
I would be remiss not to mention that although Watch Dogs 2 is a significant improvement out the gate over its predecessor it does come out the gate with a pretty major hiccup. At the game’s launch Ubisoft announced in an official statement that due to an issue an issue tied to the seamless multiplayer feature it will not be available until they are able to fix it. The only thing available is co-op where you can team up with friends for a few specific missions, but intriguing modes like Bounty Hunter won’t be online until a fix is deployed. This review will be updated when everything is working as intended.
Thankfully, Ubisoft dialed back on some of the drama that was found in the first game and concentrated on just making it fun committing cyber crimes in San Fran. Instead of the brooding Aiden Pearce who I felt ultimately dragged down the mood of the first Watch Dogs, this time you’re thrust into the shoes of Marcus Holloway, a young gifted and energetic hacker who joined a team of hackers called DedSec. DedSec operates as a hacking collective and Marcus along with fellow team members Sitara, Wrench and Josh try to take down the evil cooperation called Blume. Each member is equipped with their own abilities: Sitara is in charge of the branding, Wrench is the gadget geek and Josh handles the coding. Marcus of course spends the majority of his time in the field hacking systems, breaching corporate facilities and blowing things up when the occasion calls for it. Like Aiden, Marcus possesses a similar set of hacking skills except his have evolved and he incorporates a laptop along with his cell phone. The most important weapon in your fight against ctOS is your phone, which allows you to hack into anything connected to the city’s infrastructure. His hacking abilities vary from opening security doors, controlling fork lifts and elevating platforms and stealing data from computers as well as hi-jacking bits of infrastructure to work as lethal traps, like transforming an electric fuseboard into a proximity stun-mine or a gas pipe into an explosive device. While hacking is the core of Watch Dogs 2’s gameplay, it is balanced to support several playstyles: You can be the Aggressor (Combat Hacker), the Ghost (Stealth Hacker) or the Trickster (Remote Hacker). You can mix up the playstyles as you see fit.
Mission design has been fleshed out and the city of San Francisco looks breathtaking. As I perused the city I noticed there’s more variety in locations as opposed to the first game and vehicles handle a lot better so it’s not as much as a chore driving around as it used to be. It’s a pretty big open world so as expected it has more than it’s share of side missions. You can do anything from hacking challenges to motorcross races to performing off-beat tasks for clients scattered about the city. As I touched upon before, Online Activities such as co-op, Hacking Invasions and Bounty will occur as you are free roaming in the city. Investing time in these events will contribute to the game’s progression, as will Main Operations. When Ubisoft fixes the seamless multiplayer, I will be able to expound on these thoughts longer.
There’s no questioning that Watch Dogs 2 is a superior game to it’s predecessor. The tone is lighter and the humor is engaging and despite running into some instances of brainless A.I. you can have a lot of fun playing offline. But until seamless online multiplayer functionality is up and running as it was intended with a server full of players part of a community of hackers, it will be impossible to fully judge Watch Dogs 2 until then. written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
BMR Rating: 8.7 (Good, tentative)
This article is based off PS4 review code for Watch Dogs 2, provided by Ubisoft.