Hack the planet!
Watch Dogs set a precedent in open-world games by letting players hack into all kinds of devices, and Watch Dogs 2 significantly ups the ante. This game is much larger than its predecessor and actually takes place in three giant northern California cities: San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley. All three cities are recognizable by anyone who’s familiar with them, and they each have a very different feel. For example, San Francisco is bright and sunny, with winding roads down hills that overlook the Bay while Oakland is gritty and dirty with overgrown lawns and numerous warehouses.
The plot closely mimics real life as it centers around a radical group of revolutionaries who take a harsh stand against giant corporations and corrupt government officials who are in their back pocket. Players control a new character named Marcus Halloway, who is recruited by the revolutionary group because of his brilliant hacking skills. It’s up to players to determine how far Marcus is willing to go to expose the corruption and bring a sense of justice back to these NorCal areas.
In addition to the ability to hack anyone Marcus comes across, players can also hack numerous devices, such as street lights, electrical boxes, and barricades. Players can now initiate a mass hack that automatically hacks everyone in the vicinity. Performing a mass hack sends the same signal to every cell phone in the area, so it’s a great way to cause confusion and distract everyone away from the player.
One cool new feature in Marcus’ repertoire is the ability to hack into vehicles and control them remotely. This is a great way to create a distraction as everyone runs away from cars on the rampage. It’s also really fun to chase pedestrians and cause mayhem by plowing into fruit stands and other destructible objects (cue maniacal laughter). Anyone who has a vehicle on display in his or her apartment is sure to be in for a big surprise when it mysteriously plows through the building and out the window! Players can even hack into other cars (moving or not) while the player is driving to move them out of the way or careen them into any cars that are in pursuit.
Another cool new feature is being able to control two different types of drones. The first one is a standard aerial drone that’s very handy for scouting out areas, marking enemies, and taking pictures of certain people in compromising situations. The second drone is a small two-wheeled vehicle that is driven along the ground. Due to its compact size, it can be used to sneak by enemies and activate switches, like unlocking a door, without drawing unwanted attention. Combine the two together on a mission and it’s unlikely that Marcus will be discovered.
What I found most impressive from my time with the game is the new online co-op feature that lets another player join the action at any time. Believe me, it’s a blast to strategize with a friend and come up with great ways to undertake missions. One player can cause distractions while the other player performs the mission, or both players can alternate. Playing co-op also minimizes the chances of being killed if either one is discovered because two hacker/fighters are much better than one. It’s going to be a blast to create entirely new methods of infiltrating areas and causing distractions.
I know that many people were disappointed with Watch Dogs, but I think that Watch Dogs 2 will deliver the kind of experience players were expecting with the original. Not only does the game provide a much larger scale by taking place in three large cities, but it also offers a plethora of options for performing missions and adapting to unexpected situations. Add in new hacking abilities and two-player co-op gameplay, and the result is a robust open-world game that distinctly separates itself from others. Watch Dogs 2 is set to be released on November 15, 2016.