I was about a dozen hours in when I suddenly found myself grinning unbearably. I was playing as Marcus Holloway, the new protagonist of Watch Dogs 2, and I was using my Quadcopter drone to both solve a puzzle and during a stealth section to get around the enemy. I just loved being able to use a drone to get past my problem I was facing. Watch Dogs 2 has little moments like that all throughout the campaign.
The original Watch Dogs launched in May 2014, the game had a rocky road to launch including delays and graphical downgrades, a protagonist that was one-sided and bland narrative. We still liked it though as Ubisoft had great ideas ready to be worked on and brought into a new franchise for them.
With a sequel set in a new city and with a new protagonist, Ubisoft allows itself the room to begin a new and really dig it’s heels into new territory. Marcus Halloway, the extremely optimistic and charming protagonist comes to San Francisco to join up with DedSec and we find ourselves joining him during his initiation into the hacker group.
The narrative of the sequel is the opposite of its predecessor; what was a grim and dark revenge tale featuring Aiden Pierce, turns into a very light, very colorful crusade.
San Francisco is the newest city to adopt the ctOS citywide operating system that plagued Chicago. The world sees the software as something that is there to better their lives but the people of DedSec has seen what happens with this software controlling the city and work against the surveillance that’s plaguing San Francisco.
The city itself is alive and Ubisoft knows how to turn a locale into a character, providing more than enough personality to keep the areas interesting. Casually strolling through the city I always found something funny to read from a passerby as they texted their friends or intercepted a call that took an unexpected but quirky turn.
The supporting cast of hackers that help Marcus take down Blume are really interesting individuals. Sitara, Wrench, Horatio, and Josh are your friends within the group and each has a distinct personality that brings some good laughs. Wrench is easily my favorite addition to the Watch Dogs family.
A key area I found to be entirely reworked is mission design. I don’t remember having the same amount of freedom I do in Watch Dogs 2 to complete a mission. The sooner I unlocked my tools for use, I noticed missions pointing me in a few ways to get what I needed. Need to distract an enemy? Send out your Jumper drone and taunt him away from the area. Use your Quadcopter to maneuver a parked car into traffic causing a distraction that sends the area into chaos. Or just unload your weapons into all your enemies and go about your way. I spent my time keeping in line with what I believed to be the way Marcus would handle these situations, stealthy and without unnecessary body counts of guards.
Driving has been improved over the original Watch Dogs and its so much fun getting around the city. The cars respond well and but sometimes fly off the handle, and even overresponsive at times.
I’ve had only one round of online multiplayer work for me, as during the time of the review period and a few days after launch, the seamless multiplayer has been experiencing issues that Ubisoft has been looking to have resolved as soon as permitted. The one time I did get to play, though, I was tasked with finding who was hacking me. I loved this mode in the original game spending hours trying to mow them down for attempting to infiltrate me. I ended up running them over.
Side activities range from taking selfies and uploading them for your fans around landmarks throughout the city, to picking up cab fare in the very meta Driver app (Driver San Francisco, anyone?) to hacking ATM’s and giving away money to random residents. There is always something new to do, and just enough variety to keep it interesting.
Watch Dogs 2 rights the sins of Watch Dogs and sets the series up for a smoother future, but the sequel is not without its own issues. Marcus is a genuine improvement over Aiden, his mission is noble and righteous. The amount to see within the Bay Area will put you to work and will leave you working to discover all the secrets within an area and the tools of this elite hacker will make your time with DedSec to good use. Watch Dogs 2 is an improved sequel that stands on its own legs, leaving a more enjoyable game.