First Play: Watch Dogs 2

Commence hackathon 2.0!

Can you remember June, 2013? The E3 press conference with THAT trailer for the original Watch Dogs game? The one that blew audiences away and sent excitement levels to fever pitch?

Then the release of the original game, met with a wave of disappointment and apathy? Watch Dogs was an interesting game for the most part, but it didn’t live up to expectations and left a sour taste in the mouths of gamers across the world.

Even though they may have missed the mark the first time around, Ubisoft has a real knack for listening to their fan base. They prove it time and time again with the Assassin’s Creed series, so I knew that they would go back to the drawing board for the sequel.

I wasn’t wrong. Watch Dogs 2 really did capture my imagination at this year’s E3, and after some research and a lot of thought, I picked it up!

The first thing Ubisoft did was abandon the original character, Aiden Pearce, and the original setting, Chicago. Fans had labelled Pearce as “bland” and “designed by committee” So now we have Marcus.


Upbeat, always cracking jokes and MUCH more Nimble, able to climb ledges and vault across gaps, Marcus is a vast improvement. The supporting cast, a bunch of misfit hackers known as DeadSec, are much more memorable than anything in the original too. While we’re talking about improvements let’s talk about the locale. San Francisco is colourful, vibrant and alive. I immediately drew comparisons to GTA V’s Liberty City.


Something the game does better than Rockstar’s masterpiece is the driving. Traffic levels seem to be at an all-time low in Watch Dogs 2, and while that isn’t very realistic, weaving across lanes and power-sliding round corners is great fun.

The hacking mechanic. Let’s talk about that. It’s simple enough to hack almost anything in Watch dogs 2, hold left bumper (or L1) and press a button. A helpful white line appears to show you what you’re hacking, because you can hack anything from security doors to mobile phones to steam pipes. I’m not lying. You can read a stranger’s text conversations from across the street, or change the traffic lights and cause a pile-up. Playing more of the game unlocks more points which you can use to level up your skills.

Larger hacks require more patience, and this is where I’m getting a little frustrated. To hack an access point I need to turn on the power at one end and re-route it via several junctions. These junctions happen to fall in a red area of the map, a tight closed-in space occupied by private security guards. I’m trying to sneak through, take out these guards and hack these junctions at the same time. One wrong move and I’m spotted. Either I die and have to start all over, or I flee and have to start all over. With the guards on alert. I have some neat toys: A little RC car and Helicopter that can whizz along the ground or through the air and do any of the smaller hacks mentioned above, but not the larger ones! How…… inconvenient!


Apart from this little gripe, and Ubisoft’s obsession with putting these “physical hacks” on rooftops, I’m having a wail of a time with this game. I don’t want to spoil any main story missions, but you’re basically trying to take down the system. And at some point you steal a talking car from a movie set. What’s not to like? All I’m missing is a track from Rage against the Machine, but there’s time yet.

Thumbs WAY up for this game. There’s plenty of choice out there at the minute, but if you’re craving some open world cyber-crime. You can’t go wrong with WD2!

PS: The game has several multiplayer modes that sound intriguing, such as stealing data from another player or chasing down a target before oncoming attackers get to it. I can’t comment on how these work because I haven’t tried them yet. (Want to build my skillset first) But they sound good to me!

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