With Watch_Dogs 2, UbiSoft listened to fans after the first Watch_Dogs and crafted a sequel that exceeds the first game in every way. That’s high praise for a sequel to a game that was controversial in more ways than just its graphics, but Watch_Dogs 2 ended up being one of the best games of 2016 and the best UbiSoft open world title since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
In fact, a lot of Watch_Dogs 2 feels like Black Flag. Although set in modern San Francisco, a lot of the collecting you can do harkens back to that amazing pirate game. Remember the Shantys you could collect in Black Flag? Those are replaced with music tracks you can collect in Watch_Dogs 2. It’s small, but you can feel some of the DNA from ACIV flowing through this sequel.
Set three years after the original Chicago-based hacker game, Watch_Dogs 2 introduces ctOS 2.0 in San Francisco. It’s an entirely new cast of hackers with only fleeting references to the original Chicago DedSec (and one original character does join up with them about halfway through), and the new cast of hackers is part of what makes the game so great.
Aiden in the original game wasn’t that likable. Here the main character is Marcus and he’s joined by a group of fellow hackers that each have their own personalities. The group makes Watch_Dogs 2 the entertaining adventure it is, and the tone is very similar to that of the 90s “classic” Hackers. It’s almost a video game adaptation of that hilarious look at the internet in the mid-90s, including an awesome mission where you literally hack the planet.
Those open world missions that make up the game is part of what makes it so great. You can approach them anyway you want, go in guns blazing or go for more stealth. And while some may have some trial and error to get just right, when you get in there and complete the objective it feels so rewarding because your plan worked.
Later in the game you can unlock more Social Engineering skills such as placing an APB on someone or triggering a gang war. On a lot of missions I would like to sit back, place a few APBs on the enemies near the objective, and then just wait for the cops to mop them up so I could waltz right on in. If you don’t want to worry about outrunning the cops then the gang war is also an option. There are so many ways to play the game that if you ever want to go through it again you can do things differently.
Watch_Dogs 2 also has what is likely the best writing in any UbiSoft game. Where Big Bang Theory falls on its face trying to do “geek” dialog, Watch_Dogs 2 comes across as authentic. The DedSec team sound like actual fans of the stuff they talk about in dialog. From Star Wars, Aliens vs Predator, to Short Circuit (and the sequel we don’t talk about), the banter between them about geek stuff is real, not the manufactured crap spewed every week on The Big Bang Theory.
Of course the multiplayer from the original is back, and now there’s a “seamless” MP option. There’s been some crashing issues with the seamless version so Ubi disabled it over the weekend, but if you liked the MP in the original there’s more here to enjoy including Co-Op. They’ll even be adding additional Co-Op difficulties in DLC.
Speaking of the DLC, Watch_Dogs 2 is one of the first games where I’m really happy I got the Season Pass for the additional story DLC missions. Even after the Main Objective story, you want to see more of this DedSec. You want more time with this cast of characters, which makes upcoming story DLC very attractive.
The first Watch_Dogs was a good, if flawed, start to a new UbiSoft open world franchise. Watch_Dogs 2 corrects the course and gives us a new open world series that can hold its own with the best out there. With great variety in how you can complete the missions, a fantastic cast of characters, and a ton of side objectives to take part in; Watch_Dogs 2 is easily the best open world game of 2016 and one of the best games of the year. It comes highly recommended.