Game - Watch Dogs 2
Release Date - November 15th, 2016
Platform - Xbox One
Developer/Publisher - Ubisoft
Personally, I think the first Watch Dogs caught a bad rap. Too many people got caught up in what they thought it was going to be, that they forgot to enjoy what it actually was. Nevertheless, Ubisoft promised an improved performance based on players' feedback, and Watch Dogs 2 was born. Marcus Holloway enters San Francisco and joins up with Dedsec to help take down the Ctos 2.0, this time integrated fully nationwide. As humans have become "less valuable than the data you produce", Marcus sets his sights on protecting everyone's personal freedoms by taking down Blume Industries, the company behind Ctos. Watch Dogs 2 is everything it should be and more.
I liked Aiden Pierce although many didn't appreciate his monotonous personality. Ubisoft took a different approach with Marcus Holloway and crew as the personalities are pretty seductive, sarcastic and sexy. The story is much improved, side missions are much more involved and it features one of the most beautiful open world environments in San Francisco.
My only real complaint about the first Watch Dogs was the driving. It's no secret that the driving mechanics were the worst in a very long time. Fortunately, these have been greatly improved (considering they couldn't get worse) and are now average instead of purely abysmal. Although it sounds like a minor change, it has compounding affects. You don't have to worry about dying in a mission due to driving and starting all over, possibly losing any progress you made along the way. Handling is adequate and responsive. Although there could be some driving improvements, there are hardly any driving missions and the ability to fast travel anywhere in San Francisco negates any of the real issues.
This time around, Marcus has his four friends helping him from Dedsec. Wrench is funny as hell with his emoji mask, voice changer and odd fetish with technology. Horatio becomes Marcus' most "go to" guy, Sitara is the take no bullshit female and Josh is the autistic hacker who is basically Dustin Hoffman from the film Rainman.
The best thing about Watch Dogs 2 is that the newly added hacking options. They really complete the game, making you realize what the original game could have been, and solidify the fact that you truly never should use a gun. Like ever. Pretty much every mission can be completed by only using some combination of the Jumper RC car, Quad-copter drone and hacking fuse terminals/steam pipes through cameras like the first game. Once you take out enough enemies and hack the items you need with the drones to give you access, simply walk in and get what you need then leave. Mostly all missions require some sort of physical hack, meaning you have to actually be there to do so. Trying to complete them without hacking and just sneaking in alone or shooting will leave you in a mess of cops and security hunting you down and guess what....you're dead. It also goes against the entire premise of the game. The best enjoyment of Watch Dogs 2 is when you give up the guns completely, focus on what the game gives you and let it come into its own.
Unlike the first game, you don't earn upgrades simply by XP. In Watch Dogs 2, Dedsec needs a huge amount of computing power in order to take down Blume. In order to do so, you'll complete missions to get more followers, or people to download your app. You will then be able to use the power of their phones added to your own in order to take down the giant. These followers are what you need to earn in order to get research points to upgrade your skills. The main missions provide a huge amount each with multi-stage payouts. Most main missions will earn you enough followers total to increase about two levels, even more on some later on.
How you decide to play should determine your research point allocation, but I strongly suggest skipping the lethal weaponry section since guns are truly not needed in the game. The best and most necessary upgrades in the game are car thievery and snitches get stitches, or "call the cops". This new skill lets you call in the fuzz on local gang members, and can be upgraded to full on SWAT responses. Missions requiring infiltration of a gang hideout can be pretty easy while you sit back and enjoy the SWAT team taking them all out simply to stroll in after like nobody's business. Although the online section was taken off while Ubisoft fixes it, I was still able to get some online in beforehand. This feature will come in very handy while trying to be hacked as well. Fellow players will find it hard to keep track of you once you call in the SWAT team on an area NPC in order to escape. The car thievery is mandatory and should be one of the first ones you select. This, just like the first game, let's you simply unlock any car without setting off the alarm, and therfore people won't call the cops on you. Since you will be fast traveling to nearly every mission and not have one of your own cars nearby when you do, this handy dandy little upgrade is a mandatory unlock.
Watch Dogs 2 proves execution is better than an idea. The idea of Aiden Pierce exacting revenge for a murdered family member is better than Marcus Holloway taking down a tech giant. The execution in Watch Dogs 2, as well as the jovial personalities of the Dedsec crew and how they jive, make for a much more complete game. Even though you don't really "need guns", it is fun to use the 3D printer in HQ to make them. You can also make grenades and other items, which make for a WHOLE lot of interesting fun when you combine them with the Quad-copter.
My favorite part of Watch Dogs 2 was the exploring. San Francisco is covered in places to go and things to see that you can get lost doing literally nothing. Ubisoft does a great job trolling things with Nudle, their version of Google. Their office uses slides rather than stairs, poking fun at the company's juvenile nature, and every employee inside is a tumultuous hipster. You'll hear people chatting about porn on phone conversations, hiding weed in gas station trash cans and there's even a line that says verbatim "What's that guy doing? Why does he have a toilet brush up his ass?" Marcus can take selfies with various landmarks to get followers (as well as an achievement) and there are many mini-games you can make up on your own. I took the E-kart on the street and decided to see how much carnage I could create in a certain amount of time. Of course, these are not reflected anywhere in the game, but it's the ability Watch Dogs 2 presents to you that allows this to happen.
Watch Dogs 2 takes everything good about the first game, throws out what was bad, and adds some more good stuff to it. It is a game after all, so there is only so much Ubisoft can do in making a hacking game before it actually ceases to be a game. As I said earlier, I really enjoyed the original Watch Dogs. In fact, I 100%'d the game and all DLC. Although I would have liked to have seen Watch Dogs 2 represented as the first game, the original how it was really made me appreciate this game even more. I probably would have missed out on all the little nuances this game had to offer if it wasn't for the original. As the old saying goes, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. Watch Dogs 2 accomplishes this by not trying to be something it's not. It installs a bit of humor into a good strategy game, all the while reminding us how much of our lives are truly manipulated by our personal data.
I can't remember a single mission from the first Watch Dogs, but somehow have a "that mission when" type of response for nearly every one in Watch Dogs 2. The game has great visuals, memorable missions and makes for a great jumping off point after the first game. There were some things that could be improved, like the driving and overall online play (although what we did play worked fine), and Watch Dogs 2 is exactly what you look for in an open world RPG.