Watch Dogs 2 is what the first game should have been. A fun techno thriller that captivates with excellent action, an entertaining plot, and creative ways to hack modern technology, the sequel improves on the first in so many ways that it almost feels like a different game. While it does have some flaws here and there, especially a rocky start for the game’s multiplayer, it’s a solid sequel and promising step for the series.
Watch Dogs 2
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal / Published by Ubisoft
Available on the PS4 and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Ubisoft
In Watch Dogs 2, players step into the shoes of Retr0, a young and bright hacker who after deleting his profile from ctOS 2.0 – the latest iteration of the all-seeing software that hacker and Watch Dogs protagonist Aiden Pierce faced in Chicago, is recruited by hacker group DedSec. Looking to take out ctOS developer Blume by getting people to download DedSec’s app and turn them into zombie computers for a concentrated attack, Retr0 and the crew look to get DedSec’s name into the spotlight by hacking their way into public awareness.
While the first Watch Dogs missed its mark with a forced grittiness that really didn’t work that well, Watch Dogs 2’s plot is a much more pleasant, entertaining and effective story that has Retr0 and a ragtag crew of misfits attempt to take on a corporation through the power of social media. Gone is the moody Aiden Pierce and his questionable crusade for revenge, and instead we have youth doing what they do best to take on Big Brother. It’s fun, compelling, and often ridiculous, and it’s overall a very good time.
It also plays great too, building upon what made the first an intriguing open world gameplay experience. Players once again take to the streets to complete missions – this time in San Francisco – while armed with powerful hacking technology to give them the advantage in any situation. Players will be able to sneak about and jump from cover to cover, use melee attacks to silently take out foes as well as varied firepower (3D printed weaponry, no less, which is a nice touch) to disable or take them out from afar, hijack a large selection of vehicles, and of course use their cellphones to hack into ct0S 2.0 for a number of purposes, like opening and closing doors, causing disruptions, distractions, and explosions, and more. Additionally, this time around, players will also use a drone or remote controlled car to scout and hack from a distance.
The gameplay is better than ever, and there’s often different ways of tackling each situation, like using stealth, scouting and hacking to get through the opposition unscathed as though you never were there, going in guns blazing until no one stands in your way, or using a combination of both. The controls are also great, with solid and accurate gunplay, and excellent and responsive driving mechanics, and the hacking, which normally is complicated, is make quite simple, thanks to the fantastic UI. Players can also create combos – like putting IEDs on the drone, RC car or vehicles – to take out enemies, allowing players to experiment for creative ways to get things done. Taking on foes, screwing with people through technology, and creating general chaos throughout the city is a really good time in Watch Dogs 2.
The mission variety is also fantastic, giving players a bunch of entertaining, action-packed and thrilling tasks to complete in order to bring in the followers and screw with Blume. As players are looking to draw in the masses to download the DedSec app, players will go about stealing cars from movie sets, hacking into famously secure home security software, steal unreleased game trailers, and more. The missions play out in multiple parts, developing through small stages or objectives that almost play out episodically, which is great, as it allows the game plenty of time to flesh out the story while players go about doing things. There are also tons of side missions and activities off the beaten path as well to complete, as well as upgrades that players can use to develop Retr0’s skills, further keeping players busy with fun and creative things to do. Players can race drones, tag high spots with DedSec art, and even be an Uber driver of sorts. It’s fun stuff.
It’s also a good-looking game too, improving on Watch Dogs drab and dark aesthetic and presenting a colorful and lively San Francisco with various areas that’s a joy to explore. From inside the city and its rich variety of stores, civilians and sights, to the outskirts, there’s plenty of beautiful sights and authenticity to be found here. The character models and vehicles are also pretty good and detailed, and the animation is superb. Overall, it’s a fine-looking game.
But unfortunately, not all is well with Watch Dogs 2. At the moment, the game’s multiplayer – which is a large part of the experience – is down, due to a glitch that caused the game to crash, according to the developer. Therefore, we will reserve our judgement on the game until the gameplay mode is available. That also means that any players looking to get into the game now will also be getting access to a broken game, so be aware that you won’t be able to play with friends at the moment, which is not good. It might seem like it’s something that can be overlooked – because the single player portion is fantastic, but with the game constantly reminding you of the multiplayer mode through the UI, online mission notifications, and more, it gets pretty annoying that it’s not available. It’s a fun game, no doubt, but shipping a product without promised features on day one is definitively a no-no, which is something we’ll take into consideration.