Ubisoft have recently announced their latest cash-grab open-world title; a sequel to the 2014 action title Watch Dogs. Having placed production of their flagship series Assassin’s Creed on hold, a smart move in many regards, it is hoped that Ubisoft have finally figured out how to stop the rot in their game production. In some ways, Watch Dogs 2 can be a fresh game in a market quickly becoming over-saturated with by-the-books open world games, but I do not hold out hope.
Watch_Dogs 2 can be a fresh game…but I do not hold out hope
For some context, the first title in the series, Watch Dogs, promised much, and delivered little. The reveal in 2012 left most gamers highly anticipated for what looked like a seminal release. The graphics were simply outstanding, the world looked fascinating, and the gameplay mechanic of hacking looked revolutionary. What we received two years later was heavily downgraded in the graphics department, had gameplay and technical issues, and had so many ridiculous editions upon release that many consumers required a spreadsheet just to figure out which version to buy. In this mess of disappointment, the only real spark of promise was the hacking, which, whilst not as impactful as promised, was still compelling. If Watch Dogs 2 is to succeed, Ubisoft need to figure out how to fully utilise this mechanic, whilst maintaining every other aspect of their game to a higher level. Watch Dogs 2 only has six different editions available from release, but please do not contribute to the culture of pre-ordering games unnecessarily.
Fortunately, Ubisoft appears to have listened to fan concerns, promising a more vibrant location in the San Francisco Bay Area, more organic hacking (which is essentially marketing talk for trying to make you forget how gimmicky some aspects are), and an entirely new system of driving, which is encouraging since the driving in Watch Dogs was problematic at best. New features include the ability to ‘hack’ AI such as the police force, and 3D printing a choice of weapons for the protagonist, Marcus, to use (an option I can only assume will be more organically utilised in DLC packages).
From the press release it is difficult to discern any set plot, so concerns remain that this game may have a disappointing story, much like the first. The side you are on is fully-realised; you are a young hacker named Marcus Holloway, you join a group of hackers known as Dedsec (inspirations clearly drawn from Lulzsec), and you have a clear plan to take down the ‘establishment’. Unfortunately, the ‘establishment’ is a vague concept, so Ubisoft will need to be inventive if they are to keep a clear focus and driving force behind Marcus’ (your) motives and actions. I have faith the storyline will at least be functioning, if not fully memorable, but only time will tell.
Ubisoft will need to be inventive if they are to keep a clear focus
The game will be available on November 15 on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.