History shows us that Ubisoft tends to oversell and overpromise their products. The first Assassin's Creed, The Division, Watch Dogs, all are prime examples of such instances. But if there's one thing Ubisoft is good at, it's marketing; and in some ways, Watch Dogs 2 delivers on what was promised to us all those years ago when the trailers for the first Watch Dogs came out.

Watch Dogs 2 is a much needed patch to heal what could be the makings of a good franchise. It has a much more interesting world, improved gameplay mechanics, better driving, and is a much lighter adventure than the deadpan serious and boring slog that its predecessor was.


The World

The Bay Area is richer and more alive when compared to the first game's Chicago setting. There's a lot to explore; from urban landscapes to high rises and their parks and recreational areas.

One of the things that the first Watch Dogs did right was managing to humanize a whole population of NPCs. This social exploration continues in Watch Dogs 2. You can see an NPC's full name, age, and occupation through random acts of voyeurism, which still happens to be a thing in the game.

The resulting encounters are sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, while others are just outright frightening. You tend to wonder if your own computer's camera and microphone are being used by someone from another part of the world. In this digital age where apps ask for private information, it does raise a few hackles.


The Characters

Look, Aidan Pierce was a sympathetic character, a former thug who upgraded himself to become a digital thug. He is also quite frankly one of the reasons why a meteorite crashed onto Watch Dogs.

The new game's protagonist, Marcus Holloway, and his crew of hackers are full of personality. There is just so much life in them that it helps drive the game forward. Even when you're away from the other members of the crew, modern technology keeps you engaged with one another, making missions anything but boring.

Should we get a Watch Dogs film in the future (which would probably depend on the success of the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie), I hope it focuses on Marcus and his gang.


The Gameplay

Watch Dogs 2 revamps every gameplay aspect that was introduced first game. Basically, everything is smoother. Not Assassin's Creed or Prince of Persia smooth, but a hell of a lot smoother than the first Watch Dogs.

Gunplay is arguably the least interesting part of the gameplay. In the first game, you could obliterate entire gang hideouts without ever really going in there. Why would you ever engage in a shootout when there are more fun alternatives provided by your extended arsenal? If I wanted to shoot things to get out of trouble, I'd play Uncharted or Grand Theft Auto.

In the sequel, you are given a wider arsenal which includes gadgets like drones. Drones are used to spy on buildings and other targets so you can plan out your play style for a particular mission. Spying, after all, is a form of hacking.

Watch Dogs 2 likes to poke around and make fun of current technology trends by utilizing tongue-in-cheek mechanics like 3D printing weapons. The point is, Watch Dogs 2 is a game that wants you to chill.


The Multiplayer

Dark Souls has the best multiplayer experience I've ever had. There's nothing more thrilling than invading another player's world to steal their souls and humanity, becoming an ally to another player by fending invaders off, or taking the role of an unpredictable unknown as a mad phantom.

Watch Dogs 2's multiplayer experience is something like this. It is a seamless experience and an excellent distraction from the missions and side quests that you have to complete throughout the solo campaign. There were some issues where my PS4 began to lag, but after the recent patch, I ran in to no such problems.


Conclusion

Ubisoft seems to have learned their lesson in treating the fans as mindless sheep who will buy whatever game they throw at them. Fans will still buy their games no matter what, but after the retaliation from the first Watch Dogs, it seems that the company has learned to give their fans something that actually lives up to their marketing promises.

There are still flaws in the game, but they are forgivable and not really noticeable unless you're really looking out for them.


About the author: Karen Benitez

Skater, musician, carpenter, gamer. Karen is interested in culture, science fiction, and Cthulhu. She participated in MMA bouts, got her ass kicked many times, and ended up with broken bones. Life is good.


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