Watch Dogs 2 is an open world Adventure game in which you take on the role of protagonist Marcus Holloway. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area, you team up with hacking group Dedsec to take down ctOS 2.0. Is Watch Dogs 2 better than the original? Read our review to find out..
As of writing this review, the seamless multiplayer has been taken down for repairs due to bugs and lag issues, as such this review will be based around the campaign and co-op modes only, with a short paragraph with my opinion on the state of the seamless multiplayer.
First things first, and to answer the big question about Watch Dogs 2. “Is it better than the first one?”. The answer simply put is yes, and here’s why. Ubisoft Montreal have taken all of the feedback from the original game and made good of what was a quite forgetful experience. Gone has the boring protagonist and drab looking world. In Watch Dogs 2 you play as Marcus Holloway also known by his hacker name “Retr0”. throughout the game there’s lots of instances where you see the ins and outs of his character from his geeky fanboy love of certain films and games down to his sense of humour. Marcus is recruited by the hacker group known as Dedsec, a small band of hackers who feature quite heavily throughout the game, each with their own style and ways in which they interact with Marcus. There’s lots of scenes where each character comes to life in their own way and it definitely adds to the story experience, there does seem to be a bit of a Saints Row influence when it comes to the characters in the group (which is not a bad thing).
The gameplay has been improved upon too, with the hacking abilities of Watch Dogs still present there’s been tweaks and additions made, namely the addition of the RC Jumper and Drone, these are two pieces of equipment that Marcus can deploy to help scope out areas and reach areas he can’t via vents etc. This in turn also adds an element of freedom when it comes to completing missions, you can either take a stealth approach and use your gadgets to get in and get out without ever stepping foot into an area yourself, or on the other end of the scale, you can go in guns blazing. It’s all down to how you want to play the game you can even go for non lethal take downs using a stun gun, although this does add a timed element to what you’re doing as after a while NPCs will wake up. speaking of which, NPCs are quite smart in Watch Dogs 2, they will react to noises and go and investigate, even if you hack a door to open near an enemy they will question what is going on and investigate around the area. I also like the “line of sight” mechanic too, there’s a detection meter in use for this but it’s not a case of it needs to be full for the NPCs to come after you, if it fills slightly as you make a b-line for some cover you’ll hear “what was that” and the NPC will have a quick look around, and if it fills up to the half way point they will come over to where you were and have a real good look around. It works well and keeps you on your toes.
The same sort of smart AI can be seen throughout the city, little things like how different NPCs react to Marcus taking a selfie for example, some will tell him to get lost where others may even find it funny to strike a pose while photo bombing you, dogs too while out in the city being walked will react to things such as a flock of seagulls on the pier, they will run up to them and chase them away. There’s lots more examples I could give but these two I think represent enough to explain just how ‘Alive’ the world feels, and for me is definitely the most alive feeling open world game to date.
The main campaign is quite lengthy and around the 20 hour mark, but aside that there’s loads of other activities to get involved with, from the branching side quests to taking part in races using cars, boats, bikes even drones. there’s lots to keep you going between missions and as I did you may even find yourself side tracked with other activities for a few hours before realising that you’ve not touched the main story for a while. The mission variety during the main quests is a little on the low side and often requires infiltrating certain areas and fetching some data etc. but as I mentioned earlier the way in which you go about the mission is what really mixes things up, the fact that you can go from start to finish without killing anyone should say enough, there are some missions though that are real gems to play and really change it up.
As mentioned earlier the co-op missions are the only aspect of multiplayer available at the moment while Ubisoft work on fixing the issues with the rest of the multiplayer modes. Co-op is a nice idea but there’s not a whole lot to do, there’s co-op missions yes but they don’t have any impact on the main game and are generic side quests that have you going to x location the destroy x amounts of data then escape. they do become a little repetitive after a while and you’ll soon find yourself and your co-op partner just messing around in the world.
Now, on to the broken elements of multiplayer, I didn’t get chance to experience what was wrong with the game before these modes were taken offline, all I know is that they were causing issues with lag and were behaving quite buggy, so I can’t comment on the specifics of it, but I did feel that I wanted to get my opinion down in the review of the situation. We can all agree that a game should be released bug free, on this occasion it wasn’t, but Ubisoft did quite quickly recognise there was something wrong and took steps to keep the player experience as best as possible by taking these game modes down and get to work on fixing them as quickly as possible. As of writing this sentence I know that the first portion of multiplayer is almost ready to be put back online, and so Ubisoft should receive some praise for being pro-active in remedying the issues, although they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Visually Watch Dogs 2 blows the original game out of the water. The setting of San Francisco gives plenty of different areas for the player to explore from the hilly roads that surround the famous Lombard Street, the massive tech offices in Silicone Valley and even the Infamous Alcatraz. The colour palette is the extreme opposite of the original that was quite dull and grey where it constantly rained in its Chicago setting. It is definitely much more welcoming and adds to the enjoyment. The same can be said for the audio, the voice acting is pretty well done, there’s plenty of noise while out and about in San Francisco that adds to the immersion and goes hand in hand with the aforementioned ‘alive’ feeling the world has. Not forgetting the in game music of which there’s a wide variety of genres to listen to.