Mostly all game sequels settle on polishing and improving the already established core concepts of their predecessors. However, there are some that go beyond what is expected and overhaul many of the elements of their predecessors. Such is the case with Assassin’s Creed 2 which took the problems of the original Assassins’s Creed and did away with them. Here’s why we think that Ubisoft could take a page from their own history and do something similar with Watch Dogs 2.
In 2014, Watch Dogs started one of the biggest downgrade debacles seen in the industry for a long time. Watch Dogs was revealed at E3 2012 and quickly stole the show. Originally amazed many gamers and critics alike with it’s vastly impressive visuals and interesting concept.
“Watch Dogs goes beyond the limits of today’s open-world games by giving players the ability to control an entire city,”Jonathan Morin, creative director, Ubisoft said in a statement. “In Watch Dogs, anything connected to the city’s Central Operating System becomes a weapon. By pushing the boundaries, we can provide players with action and access to information on a scale that’s never been seen in a video game before.”
Back at E3 2012, it wasn’t even announced for the now-current generation consoles and was originally slated for release on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
A very in depth comparison between the E3 showings of Watch Dogs and the final retail release was made by Jason Knothe and demonstrates the downgrade perfectly. You can view the video here.
All this demonstrates the downgrade with Watch Dogs was a heavy one and many gamers criticized how Ubisoft handled the Watch Dogs promotion. This served to the detrament of the game and led to many fans who were eagerly awaiting the game that that was shown off in 2012 to boycott the game that was released in 2014, Even Sony faced a lot of flack for previously promoting Watch Dogs as a 1080p 60fps game on their official site when it in fact ran at a lower resolution and at 30fps.
Although the image was removed shortly afterwards, it served as another piece in the Watch Dogs debacle; disappointment. Disappointment, I feel, was the driving force behind Watch Dogs’ ‘failure’. I use the word ‘failure’ reluctantly because, commercially, the game did perform very well but in terms of fan expectations, I think it’s fair to say the game fell short.
Watch Dogs 2
On February 11th of this year it was announced that Watch Dogs 2 is in development and will be released by the end of March, 2017. Ubisoft broke the silence on the sequel’s development by listing the sequel among the tentpole releases for the 2017 fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.
“For Honor, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: WildLands, the next installment of Watch Dogs, and a new high-potential AAA brand with strong digital live services.”
The sequel was already pretty much confirmed back in April 2015 by creative director Jonathan Morin. In an interview which you can read here, Morin stated that
“When you start a new project [and new IP], it’s a blank page and everything you do is what you want to do,” he says. “With a sequel, there is more pressure to push a brand forward and we now have to appeal to fans in a new way.” In order to do this, Morin insists Watch Dogs will continue to take risks. “You have to carry on taking risks”, he asserts. “I will not do this job if there is no risk in it, that would just be boring. You shouldn’t prevent yourself from trying something just because it’s hard and the solution is not apparent.”
It seems like Ubisoft are aware of how they went wrong with the initial Watch Dogs and a sequel may be a way for Ubisoft to make things right. In fairness, it was Ubisoft Montreal’s first game like this and it is the first entry in the Watch Dogs franchise so maybe, now that next generation consoles are out and the hardware is well-known, a Watch Dogs 2 may be very impressive indeed.
This is reinforced by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot who admitted that the company raised expectations too high with its 2012 ambitious graphical demo of the original Watch Dogs. He told The Guardian that
“It’s a real challenge to create those types of games,” said Guillemot. “When they come out, especially the first iterations, they are not perfect on everything. We think we launched a good quality game for a first step in a new brand with a new technology. It’s just so complex – seamless multiplayer, connectivity with mobile and tablets, so many things – it was maybe a bit too much for a first iteration.”
So, we know that top level people who had some involvement with Watch Dogs are promising a better game with the sequel. Given Ubisoft’s history with the improvements they made with Assassin’s Creed 2, this should have Watch Dogs fans excited. For all we know, their experience in making the first one will allow them to make a game close to the E3 2012 demo shown. I’m expecting Watch Dogs 2 to feature a whole new location and a new protagonist as a means of allowing it to stand as it’s ‘own game’ instead of a direct sequel to the first game. And for the love of God I hope Watch Dogs 2 brings better driving mechanics or just scraps driving from the game if it’s anything like the driving physics in the original Watch Dogs. A bad car-handling model like the one in the original Watch Dogs – an open-world game whereby you’re required to traverse quite a bit – genuinely made the game less enjoyable so an improvement on this aspect would be a very good start. ]
Could Ubisoft repeat history and perform an ‘Assassin’s Creed II move’ with Watch Dogs 2?
One of the most significant improvements between Assassin’s Creed II and the original was the vastly improved plot. Assassin’s Creed 1 featured Altair, a supposed legendary assassin of the order. But when it came down to it, Altair was a very one-dimensional character and his story was very bare boned and frankly not very interesting. However, in Assassin’s Creed 2, that all changed with the introduction of Ezio who was a much more fleshed out character who also had an interesting cast of supporting characters who made him more grounded in reality and someone we could identify with. Ezio had a family who interacted with him and the story, the famed painter and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, a large amount of fellow assassins and thieves, etc who all drove the plot forward more so than Altair and his sparse company. Additionally, Ubisoft also greatly improved the fighting mechanics to give a much more fleshed out experience in combat.
So, Assassin’s Creed 2 was generally much better received by gamers and critics alike for it’s new, more interesting protagonist and a more fleshed out story. Since Watch Dogs faced very similar criticisms for its protagonist Aidan Pierce being ‘bland’ and ‘generic’, we hypothesize that Ubisoft will pull an ‘Assassin’s Creed 2 move’ with Watch Dogs 2 and introduce a new protagonist, a new story and a new location and the sequel will be much better off for it.
Do you think Ubisoft could pull an ‘Assassin’s Creed II move’ with the sequel to Watch Dogs and make a much better game in the process? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.