Watch_Dogs 2 Hands-on Impressions: A Step Above The Original
It’s hacking time!
When I first stepped foot into Ubisoft’s Watch_Dogs 2 on the E3 show floor I was prepared to focus on the worst the game had to offer. Instead I walked away excited for the future of this franchise as a whole; though there is still much work to make this the next GTA for hackers.
Dedsec are trying to recruit you into their hacking union lead by a masked hacker speaks about how evil corporations and the government are feeding your brain with propaganda that persuades the opinions of the people; it then follows into how these special interests rig votes and allow all the wrong people in to gain the greatest powers. It’s a strong, aggressive message about how our freedoms can only be protected if democracy thrives.
"What felt very limited in what could be hacked within the original Watch Dogs, it now feels broader than ever before."
The E3 show floor demo of Watch_Dogs 2 starts out with a magnificent view of San Francisco and the surrounding districts. As Markus, the playable character who is described as a brilliant hacker, you quickly learn how to hack everything. From controlling cars and allowing them to drive completely out of control; to mobile phones which can pull up personal data and side mission hints; to camera scattered throughout the city; and even door locks and security locks. What felt very limited in what could be hacked within the original Watch Dogs, it now feels broader than ever before. However (and this is assuming there was a lot more to hack that wasn’t in the demo), it really felt like Ubisoft could have and should have gone a lot further and made the hacking cooler than just taking temporary control of common everyday items. With the original Watch Dogs, it felt like a let down to hack only cameras and a few other objects, but I always imagined that the second game would go so much farther — it went farther, but not by much.
Beyond the mediocre hackable objects strategically scattered all around, my breath was almost taken away by the beauty of the graphics the game was rendering — and I’m very picky when it comes to good/bad graphics. Every angle I’d taken note of was crisp with smooth edges that looked natural and every bit San Francisco in design. Buildings had sharp lines, character models didn’t act as cardboard as they had in the original game; it was an overall splendid view from every place I was allowed to explore. What expectations we all had for the graphics of the first game that fell horribly short should definitely be made up for within this second game.
As many complained about the driving mechanics within the first game, the overhauled engine that works specifically with the automobiles in Watch Dogs 2 is superb. The handling of the controls, through tight spots, around narrow banks, and between cars and alleys was smoother than it’s ever been. The overhaul and redesign makes other open world games with cars feel lackluster in comparison.ns
I got a chance to fly a drone within the game. Drones can be used to target and spot enemy locations, certain hackable points of interest, and to flesh out the area that Markus can’t see from the ground level. As the clues within the E3 demo lead me to a tall tower, I was able to scale the drone very high up and spot any anomalies within the tower through some form of infrared vision. From that high up I then took a 360 turn that allowed me to focus on the entire city abroad. From downtown San Francisco to Oakland, then the Golden Gate Bridge and many more districts in between; every location I could see I was told was a playable area.
"What felt completely flawless and utterly smooth, I made my way through the entire first floor to the rooftop without alarming even a single enemy; this all felt completely satisfying."
Within the show floor demo, other Dedsec members (A.K.A. online friends or players) can settle in on your game waiting to start a co-op mission that will allow you to team up with another online player and take on a slew of different scenarios. The scenario I was granted access to, I was partnered up with another Ubisoft developer who showed me the ropes of what to expect within co-op. With just a press of a button, my partner joined my game in seconds. No loading for my side or freezing or bugs of any kind. It was just that simple.
Within the co-op experience I was lead to a building with a group of enemy AI. I had to option to hack certain objects that would distract the enemies and allow my partner to sneak in and steal information, or vice versa. I decided to be the one to sneak in — I didn’t know the controls well enough yet to prove my hacking abilities… especially in front of a developer in front of the game!
We first went it with drones to scout out the area and spot whichever enemies we could first. This allowed me to sneak past as many of them as I could without having to go guns blazing which would defeat the experience for this type of scenario. After we figured out where everything stood and where I had to go, my partner began to distract everyone to allow me to sneak in and steal the objective. What felt completely flawless and utterly smooth, I made my way through the entire first floor to the rooftop without alarming even a single enemy; this all felt completely satisfying.
From what I was assigned to play within the E3 show floor really impressed me and made me believe Watch Dogs is actually on the right track for progressing this world into a true triple A franchise soon enough. Within the first five minutes and until writing this right now, I had totally forgot about Aiden’s misadventures in Chicago, and that feels good. I had a great time playing Watch Dogs 2 and I can’t wait to get my hands on it later this year.