Note: Watch Dogs 2 was reviewed using a PS4 copy which we have bought. It has also been reviewed using the PS4 Pro.
Watch Dogs had all the hype in the world when it was first revealed all the way back at E3 2012, but as time passed, the hype for the game had to started to dwindle. There was worries about the game after more information and gameplay footage was revealed, with many questioning if Ubisoft had downgraded the game since the reveal. Fast forward to the release of the game in May 2014, and it released to a public outrage due to the bugs, the noticeable downgrade, and poor gameplay with driving mechanics being the main issue.
Now fast forward two years later, and Ubisoft have revealed and released Watch Dogs 2. This time however, the hype isn’t there but instead questions are being asked. Can Ubisoft make Watch Dogs in to a credible series after the first game? Will it be downgraded? Will it be buggy? Many questions were answered before the release of Watch Dogs 2, and in this review I will answer all of these questions and more.
It didn’t take long for me to appreciate and enjoy the new protagonist Marcus Holloway who is a much better character than our previous Watch Dogs protagonist, Aiden Pearce (I had to google the name because he was so forgettable) Aiden was a dull, boring and simply uninteresting character which was one of the many complaints of the first Watch Dogs game.
Marcus is an arrogant, young but intelligent hacker who joins the hacking group DedSec after being wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit. The story feels extremely similar to the popular TV show, Mr Robot which also has a hacker group with young adults trying to take down a higher power. I think this was a smart decision by Ubisoft to make Watch Dogs 2 represent hacker culture in a much more accurate way rather than an old, lone wolf, family man.
Although Marcus is a vigilante, he doesn’t have to be a killer in Watch Dogs 2. As there’s options to tackle enemies in either a lethal or non lethal way. While a lethal approach is the more action packed and entertaining option, there’s more of a challenge to try and complete missions without killing anyone. I must mention that’s only when the enemy A.I isn’t being completely awful. There’s been missions that obviously wanted a stealth approach, so I tried it and the results were that I was able to run through to the objective without being noticed even while in the line of sight. I get that Ubisoft want to give you two ways of playing missions, but if you can’t get the stealth right then what’s the point?
Watch Dogs 2’s story while interesting suffers due to relying on very similar missions throughout the main story. Within the first few hours of the game, you would have already done more than ten “infiltrate and hack this stronghold” and after a few times it just becomes repetitive, it’s almost a relief when the upcoming mission in Watch Dogs 2 is unique. It’s a shame though because like I said, the story and the way of progressing through it is interesting. You have to gain followers through your actions, and then the more followers you gain you earn points which can be redeemed for upgrades.
I can tell you something that Ubisoft did do right with Watch Dogs 2, and that is creating a world that feels alive and not something that revolves around just your player. I’ve seen all kinds of random events within the open world of Watch Dogs 2 like for example there was a man who was destroying a parked car, a civilian called the cops and he was arrested. I even had an NPC start filming me with his phone whilst talking trash after I clipped him with my car. Watch Dogs 2 arguably has the most alive open world in a video game ever, including GTA V which is extremely impressive.
Another one of the positives about Watch Dogs 2 was the hacking, which was also one of very few positives I had for the original Watch Dogs. The original hacking elements return from the first game like traffic lights for example but there’s also new hacks that are much better in Watch Dogs 2. You can hack a car, and take control of where it goes which can not only just cause and insane amount of chaos on the streets of California but also an insane amount of fun whilst messing around with this hacking feature.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, Watch Dogs 2 was reviewed using the brand new PlayStation 4 Pro so we was able to give the most complete console version review of the game. I have to say the visuals look impressive compared to when we tested out the game on a standard PS4. There were some major issues with the framerate during the first playthrough of the game, but the issues have since stopped after turning off the online features. This hopefully will be fixed for the launch of the game.
The Final Verdict
Watch Dogs 2 is better than the original Watch Dogs, I want to make that clear first as many people are probably wondering that. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the location which is something I did not like in the first Watch Dogs game so everything better in Watch Dogs 2 after was all a bonus. Lets not sugarcoat it though, . It’s not what Assassin’s Creed II was to Assassin’s Creed, but it’s an improvement. Watch Dogs 2 still has it’s technical issues, A.I issues, and at times repetitive mission that brings the overall score down, but overall Watch Dogs 2 is definitely worth your time and trust that Watch Dogs might have killed.
+ Great open world that always feels alive
+ Interesting characters and protagonist
+ PS4 Pro version looks incredible
– Enemy A.I can be terrible at times
– The main missions stick to a very similar style rather than spacing them out
Final Score: 8/10