What does one want from the sequel? What should one really expect?
In the midst of so many disappointments in the past few years, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs stands out the most. One isn’t necessarily sure why. In retrospect, the game wasn’t completely awful. The graphical downgrade was obvious and perhaps a little too severe when taking other graphical lies into account. The gameplay didn’t really do anything new – the hacking was merely an excuse to replace more traditional mechanics rather than anything truly imaginative like the trailers hinted at. Even Aiden Pearce for all of his assholery was a different character archetype than we had been used to in the past.
And yet, for some reason, I really hated that damn game. It’s like taken together, it’s far suckier than the sum of its disappointingly below average elements. Again, this is a personal opinion – I’ve seen plenty of people who found Watch Dogs to be decent, even good.
"Is Watch Dogs 2 even ready? Can it really follow Fallout 4 and release several months after an announcement at E3?"
According to rumours, Watch Dogs 2 will be out this year to compensate for Assassin’s Creed taking a much-needed break. There’s no inherent problem with this as such, aside from the fact that Ubisoft will be committing a number of mistakes if Watch Dogs 2 indeed releases this year. Chief among them include possibly throwing yet another yearly sequel into the mix to alternate with Assassin’s Creed, thus continuing the uninventive soul-sucking cycle we’ve had to endure thus far (and Syndicate was honestly good).
There’s also the issue of timing. Is Watch Dogs 2 even ready? Can it really follow Fallout 4 and release several months after an announcement at E3? It’s not impossible but Ubisoft hasn’t exactly been known for sticking to all of its intended E3 release dates. Heck, Watch Dogs itself faced multiple delays before finally releasing in 2014.
However, it’s worth factoring in that Ubisoft has learned a lot since the twin disasters of Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed Unity. It learned that it shouldn’t bite off more than it can chew; that if a game isn’t going to innovate on any significant level then the least it could do is be a fun experience. Most importantly, it learned that some games should be delayed until they’re done right. How broken would Tom Clancy’s The Division had been if it met its original Autumn 2014 release date instead of releasing this year?
"I suppose Watch Dogs as a concept was new to an extent but it reeked of uninspired open world gameplay. How do you improve on this without significantly overhauling everything?"
All of this adds for a very strange feeling regarding Watch Dogs 2. I don’t see myself really looking forward to anything with this game. There’s nothing I really feel Ubisoft can add to make the original better because to me, there was next to nothing redeeming about it. I suppose it could make songs unlocked from the beginning rather than having me run around, collecting them? That would be kind of nice.
Really, at this point, I want Ubisoft to wow me like it did with Assassin’s Creed 2. I didn’t anticipate Assassin’s Creed 2 or really think about how it would build on the original. And yet Ubisoft knew exactly how to deliver. It gave us a likable protagonist, a huge city to explore, a better combat system with more variety and weapons, interesting missions, a cool story and a hang-glider. I don’t expect a hang-glider in Watch Dogs 2 but I wouldn’t put it past Ubisoft to have something cool planned. Something to break the mold and inject some much needed freshness while acting as a compelling standard for future open world titles to follow.
I suppose Watch Dogs as a concept was new to an extent but it reeked of uninspired open world gameplay. How do you improve on this without significantly overhauling everything? That will be on Ubisoft to answer, naturally, but it would have to be a completely different game.
"For all the fancy footage you’ll see of Watch Dogs 2 and all the mechanics Ubisoft will espouse on, it’ll ultimately be up to you to decide whether you actually want to take a chance again."
Thus far, you’ve heard my take on what Watch Dogs 2 could impress me (long story short: not be anything like the original). But why should you look forward to Watch Dogs 2? Why should you be hyped if the open world game is eventually a reality?
Honestly, you shouldn’t be. Because that’s how things went off the rails with the first game. Ubisoft talked a big game but couldn’t deliver. For all the fancy footage you’ll see of Watch Dogs 2 and all the mechanics Ubisoft will espouse on, it’ll ultimately be up to you to decide whether you actually want to take a chance again. There are valid points arguing for and against the same. No one’s going to blame you either way because it’s your money.
At the very least, if there’s one thing I want to see from Watch Dogs 2, besides an interesting story and likable characters and memorable missions and fun inventive gameplay that takes advantage of the hacking premise and visuals that are impressive at reveal and launch day, it’s to work. Hopefully Ubisoft – and every other developer – won’t forget that lesson any time soon.
But seriously, a more interesting protagonist wouldn’t hurt either.