The sequel to Ubisoft’s 2014 Watch Dogs. This time around it’s switched from the dreary setting of Chicago to the bright and vibrant city of San Francisco. Where we immediately delve into the story of Marcus Holloway, a brilliant hacker who impresses a secret hacker collective, Dedsec, ultimately joining their battle to bring down the ‘The Man’. Chaos ensues.
Allowing three years to pass before releasing the sequel was a brilliant move from Ubisoft. Their first attempt in this universe was incredibly drab. The story was interesting just enough to keep you from switching it off. However, the setting, driving mechanics and characters left a lot to be sought after. Some redemption can be found in the song choices for the radio stations. The strongest aspects were the concept, a social commentary on the advancing world of technology, and the fun which could be had inside a large open world playground running around as hackers controlling aspects of the city. It naturally allowed room for growth in future iterations.
After finishing the Watch Dogs 2, it seems that they have improved on most of the negative points which the original game raised. The city of San Francisco lends itself beautifully to the setting; large and diverse enough that you don’t get bored driving around the same areas. Whilst adding a splash a colour which the first severely lacked. Character-wise, they crafted individual personalities into them which is a much-welcomed addition. Playing heavily on the different received ideas for how hackers are portrayed in the public domain, leading to some humorous exchanges and dialogue.
Without getting into spoiler territory, the story echoes some of the social issues that were touched upon in the first game. It asks the question: What if the friendly front to these tech giants was just a façade? With all the data they have on us, what is stopping them from using it maliciously for self-gain? Some of the arcs mimic real-life events, almost seamlessly, except for the names of the companies being altered, that was surprising because Ubisoft doesn’t hold back on the punches. This all comes with a slight tinge of irony because Ubisoft is a multi-million dollar company who made more money last year from the highly debated microtransactions than actual game sales.
The overall feel of the game is great. The driving has been massively improved upon, parallel with the side mission which includes: Drone Racing, E-Kart Racing amongst others. Even Marcus’s phone UI is slicker compared to Aidens in the first game. There’s a wider selection of clothing for character customisation with four main clothing outlets to choose from that offer different styles and even more variations inside the store. All these little elements when compiled make for a beautiful aesthetic.
The only element that sullied the experience was multiplayer. Throughout the game people freely connect to your session whether you want them there or not, whilst simultaneously changing your marked objective to the online mission which was made available. It seems unnecessary. It can be turned off within the settings. But this is the default.
In conclusion, if you want a fun, highly interactive, open world game to hack, drive, free run and infiltrate your way around, whilst also maintaining a strong and compelling narrative. Then Watch Dogs 2 is the game for you.
Overall Score 7/10