WHEN developing Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft had to expand and build on the elements that made the first title enjoyable, while also completely changing what fans disliked. And there was a lot that fans disliked.
In many ways, Watch Dogs 2 sets out to be both bigger and better than its predecessor, and successfully so, but it has some flaws holding it back (least of all the inconsistent multiplayer servers that, at the time of writing, are still under repair by Ubisoft).
The single-player campaign takes place in a near-future version of San Francisco where you play as Marcus, a member of a team of hackers called Dedsec that featured heavily in the first title. The premise of the campaign follows the organisation as they attempt to halt tech companies from taking over the city using technology and digital profiling as a medium.
In a similar vein to the first title, we’re presented with an open world playground that wouldn’t be out of place in the universe of Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row. The thrust of the gameplay revolves around hacking and stealth.
“The game is at its most fun when you’re left to play around with its mechanics”
The hacking mechanic is largely carried out through Marcus’ cell phone. Through navigation and a few button presses you can carry out various actions: from remote controlling a forklift, to causing electrical boxes to explode shocking those nearby, or even something as simple as overriding a stoplight to cause a car accident.
Unlike its predecessor, we are presented with a lot more non-lethal weapon options that encourage the use of stealth. This includes a stun gun for knocking enemies out while manoeuvring and mini-drones for long-distance hacking and distracting security guards.
Within missions, these elements are really the highlight of the game; Watch Dogs 2’s best moments come when you are left alone in a large area, meaning it’s up to the player figure out how to handle their objective.
However, its latter half doesn’t forget to remind the player of the series’ main theme. Almost every mission thereafter requires you to constantly engage in hacking minigames, which wear out the novelty very quickly and take away from the mission at hand.
Overall, Watch Dogs 2 is an enjoyable experience. While the gimmick of the game might be pushed a bit too much in the player’s face, the game is at its most fun when you’re left to play around with its mechanics. There are hours of meaningless fun to be had through experimenting in the sandbox world Ubisoft have created. Combine that with a cast of engaging Dedsec characters and you’ve got a game that far exceeds the original.