Originally, this post was meant to be published when I only had three hours experience as Watch Dogs 2 protagonist, Marcus Holloway. I had the entire thing planned out: notes about the characters when we first meet them, gameplay, story.. the whole dang shebang. I’m so glad that I didn’t go through with it, because my first impression of the game does not represent how I feel about it many hours later. In fact, the reason this post wasn’t published last Wednesday was because I actually got hooked on the Ubisoft’s sequel.
Now, I was one of those people who went out for the Watch Dogs midnight release with fingers crossed that I was about to play my new favorite game. I was also one of those people who spent a decent amount of time hacking cameras and controlling Aiden Pearce only to realize that I was, in fact, very disappointed. It’s two years later and I still couldn’t tell you what I was expecting from the predecessor, but I can tell you that whatever I was expecting, I definitely did not receive.
Due to the previous disappointment, I was hesitant on purchasing Watch Dogs 2, and actually didn’t click pre-order on Amazon until a few hours before it’s release. Hell, the only reason I mustered up the courage to pre-order was because if the game failed me, I’d at least have the bonus Zodiac Killer missions to justify my actions.
Photo Credit: Ubisoft.
Watch Dogs 2 places us in the shoes of Marcus Holloway, a talented hacker working with DedSec, whose primary goal is to bring down the system. Right off the bat, you’re placed in a situation where you must hack through the cTOS, and clear your name from a false criminal record. And, right off the bat, I found myself falling in love with the DedSec crew and vibrant scenery of San Francisco.
For those who played the first Watch Dogs, the setting in the sequel is a definite change from the drab city of Chicago. Ubisoft even included some familiar San Fran landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Graffiti paints alleyway walls and personality exists in each of the areas from Silicon Valley to Oakland. A personal favorite addition of the game is the simple situations that you can stroll past, such as a stray dog that Marcus can actually interact with or a heated dance-off.
And, of course, there are the very colorful characters in your crew: Sitara, Josh, Horatio, and an already fan-favorite, Wrench. Each character has their own unique personality, and something that differs from the original game is that I actually learned to care about each of them. They even made jokes and references to Archie Comics, which is the moment where I officially decided that I was in love with the geeks, Marcus and Wrench.
Photo Credit: Ubisoft.
In my opinion, Watch Dogs 2 is very Mr. Robot-esque. This may be just because I’ve recently been watching the USA Network hit series, and I’m connecting the hacker story with another hacker story. But, of course, with any technology / hacker-based scenario there is a heavy reliance on technology. For Watch Dogs 2, 3D printing is a very important concept — as it allows you to get weapons and handy drones that aid in hacking and taunting enemies. I would be no where without my quadcopter. Like, literally, no where.. I needed it to advance in a few missions. There’s even the ability to hack vehicles, a weapon helpful in distracting and neutralizing enemies.
In the beginning, I originally struggled with the concept of being stealthy. For some reason I was convinced that I had to play it without being caught by the several AI guards strolling the restricted areas. It turns out, you can go in with guns blazing — and still beat the missions. I did read a lot of reviews where this was actually a turn-off for the player as it does seem completely out of character for our protagonist, but for me this method was much more entertaining and far less stressful than being stealthy.
There are times where this game makes me want to toss my controller and move on with my life. Maneuvering through security cameras and solving puzzles can be annoying, but in general, I’d have to say Watch Dogs 2 is a definite leap in the right direction. The characters are easy to love and the brilliant environment makes you want to explore. There are also several creative ways to complete missions and fight off opponents — from drones and hacking to guns and his special melee weapon, the Thunder Ball. If you’re looking for a new-release, I strongly recommend you grab up Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2.