Watch Dogs 2 Xbox One Review

Watch Dogs 2 is everything the first game should’ve been

By Grayshadow, Posted 18 Nov 2016

In 2014 Ubisoft released Watch Dogs, which received average reviews and was heavily criticised for failing to deliver the product that was promised. Now Ubisoft seeks to redeem franchise Watch Dogs 2, with a brand new protagonist and setting. Watch Dogs 2 is a massive improvement from the previous game, offering a living world teeming with quality content. This is what the first Watch Dogs should’ve been.

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Watch Dogs 2 has you in control of hacktivist Marcus Holloway. After the events of the first game, a new version of ctOS has been installed in San Francisco. Framed for possible criminal activity by the ctOS 2.0 criminal algorithm, which uses collected data to determine future actions of a person. Marcus joins hacking group DedSec to take the company responsible for the operating system, Blume. Over your adventure, you’ll find out that the ctOS 2.0, if not stopped, could become one of the biggest threats ever created.

DedSec consist of a lot of people but the main story focuses on 4 other members: Wrench a self-taught engineer and pyromaniac, Sitara the team’s lead graphic designer, lead coder Horatio, and security expert Josh. Each one has their own personas and reason for being part of DedSec. As the story, the comradely between these group of characters grows, eventually to more than just friends, as they overcome difficult challenges that would break lesser groups. 

Unlike the first Watch Dogs don’t expect a series of monotonous objectives, instead, each mission feels fresh and new. A lot of them repeat the same pattern of going from point A to B, hacking junction points, and spying on people but the presentation makes each one of these tasks worthwhile. In one instance you can find yourself hacking into the private room of a health insurance CEO and in another controlling an ATM and messing with customers. Ubisoft went to extra mile to ensure that every mission felt exciting, at times I wanted to see what the next side mission held; ignoring the main objective.

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Missions are delivered through your smartphone. Everything from music, maps, and hacking is controlled via this device with detailed graphics going into everything. The style of Watch Dogs 2 is distinct, with a mixture of bright and dark colors splattered across each screen and interface. This extends to the weapons, gadgets, and clothing, which can be customised. 

What truly separates Watch Dogs 2 from the original game is San Francisco. The city feels more alive with NPCs acting out their daily lives, unconcerned with the digital issues now surfacing around them. Gangs will engage with other gangs, and even cops, NPCs will call for help when their car is stolen or see an accident. Best of all travelling from one location to another is easy thanks to the effective fast-travel system. Simply pick a red logo and you can travel to that location in between 1-20 seconds! If you have to walk Marcus is part assassin, nimble enough to parkor almost any terrain. 

Watch Dogs 2 has a myriad of options for players to upgrade. Combat, non-lethal weapons, hacking, and driving can be improved using research points. Weapons and gadgets are made using DedSec’s 3D printer but you’re limited to only 2 weapons at a time, with explosives being replenished over time like a cool down. Some upgrades are locked behind special packages within the city, while shown on your map getting to them will require some creative thinking. Your gadgets include an RC car that can hack and get into enclosed areas and a Quadcopter for aerial viewing. Missions have been designed to take advantage of every one of Marcus’s talents and gadgets.

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Missions aren’t linear, instead, multiple options exist from stealth and combat options. These are not always presented and require the player to think creatively. Combat is much more efficient at completing missions but Marcus isn’t a soldier and can be gunned down quickly. Stealth is limited to non-lethal force since players cannot drag bodies and silenced weapons alert enemies just as well as non-silenced weapons. The Stun gun, which is effective at one-hit KOs, alerts everyone within the vicinity. 

Marcus does have a healthy selection of weapons available to 3D print. Everything from sniper rifles to handguns are available for use. You cannot customise them with attachments, only change their paint. Shooting is efficient and operates very similar to Ubisoft’s The Division. 

Enemies are smart. When alerted they’ll actively search areas of interest and call in reinforcements when necessary. They’ll take cover, flush you out of cover using grenades, and allow the heavy armoured soldiers to take point. It’s bewildering when caught all enemies within area are alerted without so much as a phone call. 

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Ubisoft has refined the notorious hacking minigame from the first game. It’s not as frequent and instead takes place within the environment instead of a digital plane. The format remains the same, navigate the energy circuit until power flows to the circuit but the reformatted interface is a massive improvement from the first game.

Of course, the biggest thing about Watch Dogs 2 is the hacking. Hacking remains the same with a selection of options becoming available once your phone is connected to a specific item or NPC. Some functions don’t require energy but most due, such as causing a blackout. I did have a lot of trouble hacking NPC targets while driving once I upgraded my car hacking skills, forcing me to exit the car before I could hack NPCs.

Watch Dogs 2 attempts to give the player freedom between stealth and combat options by offering experience only for completing missions. It doesn’t matter whether you storm an encampment or discreetly take want you need, the followers (Watch Dogs 2’s form of experience) is the same. The story doesn’t change base on your actions, making you free to cause calamity and destruction without any issues; except for the cops.

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Multiplayer has three modes; cooperative, bounty hunter, and hacking invasion. Cooperatively players can complete missions or explore the world together. Bounty Hunter has players either trying to capture a target while the target runs. Hacking Invasion allows you to invade the world of another player while attempting to steal their information. All are mediocre distractions at best, rewarding followers for completion. 

I didn’t have high expectations for Watch Dogs 2 after the first game, but Ubisoft blew me away. After 30 hours of playing, I went back to complete side-objectives, hacking locations, and complete races. Watch Dogs 2 is everything the first game should’ve been. It’s a hackers paradise that embraces creative freedom and destruction, buy this game!

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Watch Dogs 2

88/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal
Genres: Action
Themes: Third-Person Action
Release Date: 2016-11-15

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