Following the events of the first Watch Dogs, tech company Blume have rebuilt its computer system, ctOS, but this time spread out into cities across the United States. In the case of Watch Dogs 2, San Francisco.
You’re put into the shoes of Marcus Holloway, a young hacker from Oakland which is recruited into DedSec, a San Francisco-based hacker group who are out to expose Blume, which they believe are betraying the public's trust by collecting users' data for personal gain.
Right away you’ll notice that Watch Dogs 2 does away with the seriousness revenge tale that went with the first game and instead went with a bright, colorful & fun tone that feels like a more natural fit for the hacker culture.
Not a lot of games do this, but Watch Dogs 2 opens its world map up immediately giving you the ability to drive anywhere and access everything from the very start. Ubisoft have also done a fantastic job at recreating San Francisco. As you drive around you’ll start to notice the map is full of recognizable landmarks.
The tools and gadgets that are at Marcus’s disposal have evolved since the original Watch Dogs. Though you still have your greatest weapon of all to fight against ctOS, your phone. Just like in the first game your phone allows you to hack into anything connected to the city's infrastructure. It comes in handy too. You can use it to make a nearby electrical panel make a noise, waiting for an enemy to get close to it, then POW!! Short the panel out, electrocuting the unexpecting bad dude.
As you play, you’ll be able to upgrade your phone with new hacking abilities. Things like being able to remote control cars and forklifts, call in fake reports to the police to have someone arrested and of course control traffic lights and shutting down power junction boxes, bringing the whole area to a halt. With the right upgrade your even able to shutdown all devices around you as a distraction for a quick getaway.
The majority of the missions in Watch Dogs 2's will have Marcus infiltrating a building in order to reach a server or hard drive to download some kind of data. There's also a crazy amount of side missions, challenges, and plenty of hidden collectables to sink your teeth into. The side missions will have you scouring the city collecting information. Collectibles are a plenty and can be difficult to reach and require some careful environmental problem solving. The Challenges are more or less mini games like go-kart, bike or drones races.
Marcus also has two new additions in the form of drones. The first one is a RC car which you can use for getting around and explore those hard to get to places and then there’s the quadcopter which is great for getting a bit of a bird's eye view of an area making it easier to plan your next move and will also came in handy for solving puzzles. The puzzles are nothing mind bending and are pretty much the same ones you had in the first game where you must connect circuits to each other by turning around junction points to ensure the power is flowing in the right direction. Like i said, nothing too tricky.
As for the combat system in Watch Dogs 2, it was a little different this time around. While you can use guns, I found myself more or less just sneaking around as stealthy as I could be, but yes, guns can be used and you even have access to a 3D printer back at hacker HQ. From the 3D printer menu, you can pretty much print any type of gun you want, from hand guns to sniper rifles depending how much each items costs of course. As you play you’ll earn in game money which you can use to print items from the 3D printer. Money is pretty easy to come by. You’ll earn it from doing missions or you can use your phone to just wire transfer money from everyday folk walking the streets.
As for multiplayer, Unfortunately, the game's "seamless" PvP and co-op modes weren’t working at the time of this review. When they do go live, we’ll be sure to test it out and update this review, so keep checking back for that.
So, should you pick up Watch Dogs 2? Well it’s clear Ubisoft listened to the communities feedback from Watch Dogs fixing a lot of it’s original flaws making Watch Dogs 2 a significant improvement over its predecessor. With an interesting cast to follow around and a game filled with plenty of challenges that will test your problem solving skills, I found Watch Dogs 2 a lot of fun.