In this post I’m going to be reviewing Watch Dogs 2 for the PS4.
I played Watch Dogs 1 when it came out. I played it on the PS3 though, so the whole graphical downgrade controversy didn’t affect my opinion of the game. I didn’t hate the first Watch Dogs like many people did, but I didn’t love it either. I thought it was okay, although I felt it was quite short and the story left a lot to be desired.
When I heard that Watch Dogs 2 was coming out, I wasn’t interested in the slightest. After a few people requested I play it on my streams once it came out I decided to look into it, and from the gameplay footage that was out so far I thought it looked fun.
Is Watch Dogs 2 fun though? And is it worth its asking price? In this review I’m going to try to answer those two questions.
Hacking is front and centre in Watch Dogs 2. You could try to play this game like a third person shooter with hacking elements, but that would sap the game of most of its fun factor.
Distracting guards with fake texts, sending a gang hit squad after a pesky NPC and setting fuse boxes to blow up when someone walks past are some of the ways you can use hacking to take out your enemies.
But you don’t have to take out your enemies. Most of your objectives consist of you getting into some restricted place in order to hack something or steal something. You could sneak past guards without engaging them at all if that’s your thing. Unfortunately, the are no rewards for either playing stealthy or playing aggressively. Perfectly ghosting a mission nets you the same reward as mowing down every enemy you see with an assault rifle – followers.
Every mission you do in the game gets you followers who download your DedSec app, giving you access to their processing power and that means you get research points to buy upgrades. It’s basically a progress bar that fills up and gives you a bunch of skill points like when you level up in an RPG. The upgrade tree is pretty cool as by the end of the game I felt unstoppable and had way more options to tackle my objectives than I did when I first started playing.
The upgrade system does require you to participate in a little busy work though. In order to unlock the later skills in the skill tree you have to find Key Data somewhere on the map – this is just something that you need to pick up which is usually in a restricted area. At first I thought this was a good way to get players to explore the city and I had fun doing it until I went to locate some Key Data for an upgrade I really wanted and it didn’t spawn. I walked around the area the key data was located in using my detective vision (yes, this game has it too) and it was nowhere to be seen. This bug has thus changed my opinion on the way this part of the upgrade system works. If it was working, I think it’d be good (although some people may disagree). However, with bugs present, it’s terrible.
Stealth plays a large part in this game and it is evident that it’s meant to be played that way. You die very quickly, and if you try to have a wraith up gunfight the enemy can call in ever lasting reinforcements. You can play aggressively if you really wanted to though, killing people or distracting people who try to call for reinforcements and staying behind some good cover make it a viable option, not to mention the large arsenal of weapons you can buy from a 3D printer located in your hideout. The stealth, however, is fun, but finicky at times. For example, if you shoot your stun gun at someone and he’s looking at you for a split second, the whole area may go on alert. And if your enemy goes on alert, the AI all of a sudden becomes psychic and hones in on you. The guards don’t shout or alert everyone else in any visible way that gives you a chance to prevent the full on alert mode either, so as soon as someone sees you it’s like a switch is flipped and the area turns into a war zone. On the flipside, the distraction ability is very OP. Guards will pause mid firefight in order to check a text or a funny video – it’s crazy and very unrealistic. Also, there’s no crouch button which in my opinion is a cardinal sin when it comes to stealth gameplay.
If you’re looking for realism, you won’t get it here. However, if you want to create chaos and take the dumb AI with a pinch of salt, you can have a lot of fun.
The side missions have some stories and writing behind them. A little dialogue goes a long way in terms of motivating the player in my opinion. I had loads of fun completing side missions and diversions.
The parkour is mediocre compared to Assassins Creed’s parkour as it’s very limited. This is understandable, however, as having the ability to scale buildings with parkour would stop you from needing to use your hacking abilities in order to get to hard to reach places. I would have preferred a jump button to be honest.
Using your drone and RC to complete objectives while you operate from a distance is quite fun. They can also be used to scout the area and aid your stealth which adds another layer to the gameplay.
The seamless multiplayer has been down since launch and almost a week later at the time of me writing this review it still isn’t up. You can play co-op with people on your friends list, but these co-op missions are limited to a few randomly generated side missions without much context which eventually got boring for me. You can’t play through the whole game with a co-op partner unfortunately. Seeing as games like Saint’s Row have given you the opportunity to play though the entire story with a friend, it’s very disappointing to see that feature missing here.
You can also buy clothes and paint jobs for your weapons and drones to customise your character which is nice touch.
While playing the game, I have experienced a few bugs and glitches unfortunately:
- I was unable to move at all at one point when I was on a roof. However, I eventually got it working by using my gadgets and it never happened again.
- I fabricated evidence on someone and the police just stood there with the guy for ages. Later I called the police on another guy and then killed him and the police just stood there not doing anything so this seems to be common.
- I hacked a junction box to attract a guard. He looked at it, noted that it was acting up and then went the other way continuing his patrol.
- Sometimes your car just stops out of nowhere and you have to let go of and press R2 again to make it work. Maybe this is just the car stalling in an attempt at realism, but I’m unsure.
All in all, the gameplay in Watch Dogs 2 is very fun. Some of the stealth mechanics need some work, but once you get used to them you can get a lot of enjoyment here. The driving and shooting are both mediocre, but the hacking – which is the cornerstone of the gameplay – is great. There are so many opportunities to get to your objective and you can play however you want. The new and improved pipe puzzles are also a cool addition. However, they make you think enough to feel smart, but not enough to feel truly challenged.
In Watch Dogs 2, you play as Marcus a young intelligent hacker wrongly flagged as a criminal because by ctOS. After you delete your public records, you’re welcomed into DedSec a hacktivist group populated by 4 other 20-something year old hackers.
If you’re looking for an amazing story you won’t find one here. The story in Watch Dogs 2 just serves as an excuse to make you infiltrate parody versions of real life companies such as Google and Facebook and have fun with your wide range of abilities.
The story is serviceable, the characters are okay at best and the pay off at the end is anti-climatic but not completely terrible.
The graphics are very good, but they’re nothing mind blowing. The new colour palette and bright colours is vibrant and eye catching – way better than in the first Watch Dogs.
Is it worth the price?
- Hacking abilities are fun
- Side missions are fun
- Lots of content
- Co-op is fun
- The gameplay loop is fun
- The stealth is iffy
- The story isn’t that strong
- The seamless online still isn’t working
- No crouch button
Watch Dogs 2 is currently £39.99 on Amazon. I had a bunch of fun playing this game for well over 20 hours, so in terms of the amount of hours of fun you get for your money this is worth the price. However, since the seamless multiplayer is not out yet, I’d suggest that you wait until that has been fixed and is actually part of the game. The bounty hunter and invasion features look like they’d be pretty fun, but I also cannot condone these publishers putting out unfinished games. So, if this sounds like a game you’d enjoy, wait until the multiplayer is back up to buy it and I think you’ll have buckets of fun.
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