Watch Dogs captivated gamers everywhere with its initial launch trailer. The game launched to much fanfare, becoming Ubisoft’s fastest-selling launch in the history of the company. Yet it was critically divisive, with our own site scoring it a 6.5. With over 10 million copies sold, a sequel was bound to be announced. We went hands-on with Watch Dogs 2 while at E3 2016, and have our impressions ready.
Watch Dogs 2 takes place in San Francisco and surrounding areas, a fact I was made chiefly aware of relatively early on in our demo. By pressing right on the directional pad, protagonist Marcus whipped out a quadcopter, complete with remote camera. I could use this drone to soar up next to a tower, and really take in the surroundings. The Golden Gate Bridge was off in the distance, as was the Bay Bridge since the game also encompasses some of the Oakland area.
The map is huge. There were hundreds of buildings in my immediate vicinity, and large skyscrapers not too far away. The little drone I controlled was pretty easy to fly, in stark contrast to real-life drones. I was then introduced to some of the new hacking mechanics in Watch Dogs 2. A small diamond-shaped icon appeared over the currently selected object, which would be subjected to whatever hack I decided to deploy. A quick tap of the L1 button fired the default hack, which would vary depending upon which object I was looking at.
My first target was a nearby car. By holding the hack button, I could choose from one of four options – accelerate, reverse, steer left, and steer right. By combining reverse and steer left, for example, I could make the car suddenly reverse and back into any helpless nearby pedestrians before they knew what hit them. Of course, this has the capability of taking out enemies, which is the more likely scenario that players will end up using it in.
On to the Mission
Alright, with the basics of controls and new hacking options out of the way, it was time to drive over to the objective of the current mission. Driving in the original Watch Dogs was always a tad disappointing, since cars tended to drive like tanks. Watch Dogs 2 attempts to correct this by loosening up the driving model a bit. I was able to commandeer a sports car, and was drifting through the city with ease in no time.
After a quick stop at a local clothing shop to showcase a new feature, I arrived at the mission’s start. I was instructed to bring out Marcus’ drone once again, but this time I used it to tag enemies. Simply by aligning my reticle with the enemy, they were automatically tagged. This even included dogs, a new NPC to contend with. After the representative helping me through the game was confident I had tagged most of the relevant enemies, I left my drone hovering and switched back to Marcus. Time to go in and take out the opposition, right? Nope.
Another new gadget, a remote-controlled two-wheeler, was summoned by using left on the directional pad. This device was a little more subtle than the drone, and was used to unlock a door without the enemy’s knowledge. Switching back to Marcus a second time meant it was time to do battle. I used a Taser to take out the lone guard patrolling the area, as well as his companion dog. I was relieved that I did not have to kill the dog, which, according to the rep, is the most common reaction to doing battle with animals.
E3 2016 - Watch Dogs 2 Preview | PSLS
Once this mission was completed, it was time to try out Watch Dogs 2’s new co-operative missions. I met up with another Ubisoft employee, and we exchanged emotes. I initiated the mission, and fast-traveled to the area we needed to be at. The strategy ended up having me manning a drone, tagging enemies and remotely triggering hacks to take out enemies. The game almost felt too easy at this point – I could simply drop electrocuting grenades, or hack explosive components, and eliminate opposition without engaging in actual combat. Later missions may include the enemies having countermeasures to limit the effectiveness of the drone, but at this point, it is a very powerful tool to have at your disposal.
Watch Dogs 2 represents a continuation of the original. The city is larger, there are more gadgets to play with, and even some customization in the form of new clothing options. While the drone may ensure an incredibly easy victory for players, it is also undeniably fun to use. We will have to wait until the game’s full release to see if the story can connect with more gamers, but so far, Watch Dogs 2 is better in every technical sense than the first game. Watch Dogs 2 is currently on track to release on November 15, 2016.