E3 2016: Prepare to Hack the World in Watch Dogs 2

The original Watch Dogs took place in a gritty and fairly depressing Chicago. Rain soaked the world and the overall plot was one of tragedy and turncoats. It was one of the most-hyped games of the past half decade and delivered a solid, but flawed experience overall. The idea of hacking into the phones of NPCs was a unique one though, and gave you insight into characters that you otherwise wouldn’t give a second thought to – even if the investigation was surface-level and just explored things like personal interests or criminal history. It was still something that tried to absorb the player into the world, and did so very well.  The announcement of Watch Dogs 2 was a much more subdued effort. Instead of hyping it up as the next big thing, Ubisoft gave it a classy presentation that showcased a more open world and a picturesque world set in a sunny area full of life – San Francisco.

The biggest reveal for the game though was definitely the Dedsec infiltration gameplay walkthrough, where we got our first glimpse of the new game in action. Aiden is gone because his brooding personality didn’t really fit the bright world of California. The goal of the developers is to take missions from having a singular structure and allow players to take a more open approach. A mission could go from stealth into a chase, and take you all over the environment. Quest structure can be modified by players, and even things like the scissor lift can be used in a far more open manner. Before, everything had to be placed in the perfect spot for it to work. Now, you can move and manipulate it as you need it – so if you need to use it for cover or to get from Point A to B, you can.

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Stealth and shooting sill play a vital role in gameplay, as will hacking. New to Watch Dogs 2 is how you can join forces with other Dedsec members in real-time. You can either keep doing your own thing, or join someone else’s mission if you want to. Drones will play a part in things as well, as you can now pilot one and scout the area before actually going into battle yourself. You can see what they’re armed with, or see what their security cameras see. Going in with stealth in mind is harder, but less risky while going in guns blazing increases your chances of death, but will probably be more exciting to play. Hacking can distract guards, or even be used to remotely control a car to provide cover and yet another distraction.

With the first game receiving mixed reviews, it certainly has a lot to live up to and it seems like the developers are taking the original’s criticisms to heart and striving to make this a better experience. Making missions more open should be a boon to every other aspect of the game, and eliminate the rigid feel that plagued the first. Driving improvements would also be welcome, as the driving controls never felt natural in that game either. Watch Dogs 2 hits PC, Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4 on November 15 – so there’s plenty of time to make this the best possible game it can be.