Preview

Watch Dogs 2

Six Ways Watch Dogs 2 Is Different From Its Predecessor
by Elise Favis on Jun 08, 2016 at 06:21 AM
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Rating: Rating Pending
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

It's been two years since Watch Dogs, and while it had an original concept at play, the execution didn't completely live up to the pre-release anticipation. However, Watch Dogs' unique premise and hacking mechanics leave room for growth and potential. Earlier today Ubisoft revealed the world premiere trailer for the sequel, with the game arriving later this year on November 15. With the list of improvements coming, it might be worth keeping on your radar. Here are six elements coming to Watch Dogs 2 that we know of so far.

Goodbye Aiden, Hello Marcus
Ubisoft has left behind Aiden Pierce, the series' debut protagonist. His replacement is Marcus Holloway, an African American DedSec hacker from San Francisco. DedSec is the hacktivist group introduced in the first game, and this time around we're given a deeper look at the faction's motivations and the faces behind it. Marcus is one of many that have faced injustice because of ctOS 2.0, an upgraded version of the original central operating system that controls and surveys major metropolitan areas. As a child, Marcus was unjustly branded as a criminal by the ctOS, after it searched through his personal information and made false connections between him and a crime. Since then, Marcus became driven toward understanding that unfortunate link, and also preventing such a scenario from happening to others. He is an advocate for freedom, joining the ranks of DedSec to fight against injustice and corrupted establishments, including Blume, the makers of the ctOS.

Senior producer Dominic Guay describes Marcus as intelligent, open-minded, and charming. He is naturally sociable, and Guay is quick to explain that he's "anything but a lone wolf."

The New Setting Of San Francisco
Watch Dogs took place in Chicago, but the sequel will be set in the San Francisco Bay Area. Divided into six regions, the city includes the downtown area, Civic, Coast, Oakland, Marin, and Silicon Valley, each with their own aesthetic and flavor. For example, the downtown area is business oriented, and Silicon Valley is home to big-name tech companies as well as student campuses. The San Francisco in Watch Dogs is a haven for hackers, with less of a focus on surveillance and more emphasis on the economy of digital information and data mining. In comparison to the last game's Chicago setting, San Francisco's map is two to three times larger.

Improved Driving Mechanics
One of the more notable concerns from the original Watch Dogs was the flimsy driving mechanics, which at times made cars difficult to control. In Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft is looking to solve this issue with more responsive controls. This approach was applied early on in development, as it was one of the key complaints from fans. "We reworked a lot of the driving to make it more accessible while keeping the depth and keeping the variations between vehicles and vehicle styles," Guay says. Furthermore, car chases should be much more dynamic, since shooting while driving is now possible.

Deeper Hacking Systems
Similar to the first Watch Dogs, city infrastructures can be manipulated, and traffic can transcend into chaos. However, some key changes are also occurring. Players can now hack and edit NPC profiles, such as forging evidence in the system so that they're listed as a wanted criminal. Depending on who you target, the individual will either be arrested whilst proclaiming their innocence, or if you targeted a member of a crime gang, they could resist arrest and begin a dangerous gunfight. 

You can also remotely control forklifts and cranes to access previously restricted areas, steer cars in any direction from afar, and use a flying drone creatively to your advantage. Controlling any car remotely can be useful to block off enemy attackers, by sending a vehicle spiraling out of control to make an entryway or street more difficult to pass through. Mass hacks are now available to disrupt traffic and communications systems on a larger scale, or to see through the eyes of another hacker with network hacking.

Skill trees for leveling return, but they come with a wider range of hacking abilities and a differing approach to categorization. "We’re actually regrouping those skills under those play styles to help you choose which one to upgrade according to how you play, including Stealth, Aggressor, and Trickster. Any skill can be used in any style, but it’s going to help the player in how they customize their character," Guay says. 

Outside of abilities, a new taser gun is being introduced, which can be used to incapacitate foes non-lethally. While DedSec's focus remains hacking, it also specializes in weapon manufacturing. You'll have access to a 3D printer that can create five signature weapons.

Side Missions Tie Into The Narrative
The original Watch Dogs had plenty of side quests, but most felt disconnected from the main story. In Watch Dogs 2, all quests are woven into the narrative. Missions known as DedSec Operations are what Guay describes as "narrative threads," and they come in the form of both main quests and side activities. Depending on how you approach these operations, and which ones you follow through with, in-game chatter on the streets will evolve to correspond to your choices. These missions will help you accumulate a DedSec following and gain support from outside sources, which will progress you toward your endgame goal. "For example, we have a storyline about gang wars, basically DedSec gets in a fight with a criminal group," Guay says. "The player will then have a series of missions linked to this but they are all found within the operations. You have an app on your phone called the DedSec App, in which you basically can track which story you want to follow, a little bit like an RPG." 

While we won't see the return of Digital Trips, Watch Dogs 2 is still full of minigames and side activities, such as aiding fellow DedSec member Sitara cover the walls with the hacker faction's graffiti.

Seamless Online Co-op
Just like its predecessor, Watch Dogs 2 features online multiplayer and co-op. This time, however, it should be more seamless, without load screens or menus. Hacking invasions are confirmed to return, along with some new adversary and PvP modes that Ubisoft will reveal in the coming months. One of the most notable inclusions is how the Watch Dogs world is populated with other players going about their business. "There’s no friendly fire, no pre-arrangement, you’re just going about your thing and they’re doing the same thing and you’ll just cross paths," Guay says. With a new emote system, you can communicate to other players on a basic level, as well as invite them to play co-op, or likewise accept an invitation from them to form a team. For those that strictly want a single-player experience, they have the option to play offline and toggle which online experiences seep into their world.

Above: Watch the debut trailer for Watch Dogs 2.