Join DedSec in San Francisco: Watch Dogs 2 Review

From the “Windy City” streets of Chicago to out on the West Coast on the streets of San Francisco, the war continues between the gray-hat hackers group “DedSec” and the evil mad scientist organization of Blume. Only this time Aidan Pierce is not in part 2 of the next Watch Dogs game…this time the main protagonist character of Watch Dogs 2 will revolve around Marcus Holloway as another grey-hat hacker and a group of DedSec hackers based in the open-world of the “Golden Gate City” who will be tasked to uncover more of Blume’s corruption to taking down Blume piece by piece while using Blume’s newest creation in the cTOS 2.0 system.

Gameplay behind Watch Dogs 2

Marcus Holloway, the main protagonist of Watch Dogs 2

The main campaign plot is much different where it generally revolves around connecting the pieces in the corruption that Blume has developed to work with a variety of crime organizations (all of the different gangs around San Francisco such as the Tezcas) all the way up to government agencies and connection organizations in spreading corruption across San Francisco and beyond to other cities as Blume continues to want domination of the U.S. and potentially the world.

Watch Dogs 2 Skills Tree

New skills, same upgrade wheel and tree concept in Watch Dogs 2.

Playing as Marcus Holloway in Watch Dogs 2, there are a variety of ways to go through each campaign and side mission whether it is through the stealth approach where you use more recon approaches to discovering amount of enemies in each area with hacking into cameras to using distractions in order to avoid alerting enemies when in tight
positions or going in the old-fashioned way to blasting your way through each area to getting into a variety of firefights including with incoming reinforcements in order to achieve objectives…not a good idea in this game.

In terms of upgrading Marcus skills, the same skill upgrade tree is back in Watch Dogs 2 as before from Watch Dogs 1 with a choice of upgrading Ghost, Trickster, or Aggressor skills. There are 7 main categories with a total of 51 skills to choose from that are available as you’re leveling up through skill level to completing missions in earning research points. Also, there are “research drops” and access points around the city that can be retrieved to earn research points towards upgrading Marcus’s skills.

In addition to finding research drops around the city, there are many “cash drops” around the city and on most missions where they can be retrieved to buy new apparel to weapons for Marcus in the game as well as earning money by knocking out enemies or hacking into other people’s phones and computers to earn a little.

New Ways of Hacking in Watch Dogs 2

Hacking itself has improved tremendously in Watch Dogs 2 from the previous game starting with the hacking interface going from a separate screen with the hacking puzzle in place to the hacking puzzle and interfaced being designed in more of a universal view meaning that the puzzle is embedded into the environment with Marcus having to move, look around, and jump to and from places in the environment to adjusting each node to solving the puzzle.

watch dogs 2 hacking with quadcopter

Hacking has become slightly more challenging; but, using the quad-copter can help solve a hacking puzzle quickly

The hackers view in Watch Dogs 2 is something new that was not really available in the first Watch Dogs game that will help assist you in sensing security features such as motion sensors and laser grids as well as discovering the paths to all terminal and router boxes to unlock keypad locks to access restricted areas. Using this view also benefits to marking enemies and security bots as they appear as well as finding system access keys that would also be used to access certain areas.

Besides hacking on the spot physically, Marcus’s character also has the option to carry around both a remote control jumper and drone that are also equipped to hack almost everything. The only exception is the aerial drone cannot hack into the terminal boxes like the jumper can.

Improvements to Stealth

Watch Dogs 2 Marcus using Stealth to avoid attention

Unlike the first Watch Dogs game where stealth was very rarely used and somewhat difficult to achieve, Watch Dogs 2 has also improved with a way to use more recon tactics with the aerial drone to marking all enemies and using the jumper to remotely hack into mission objectives without Marcus having to physically be at the objective.

As usual from the core of the first game, hacking into each camera either physically or remotely from the R/C jumper or drone could also be used in scoping around each area to finding location of each mission objective and recon in another way.

Another detail that has slightly improved from Watch Dogs to Watch Dogs 2 is the different distraction ideas that are offered whether you can get enemy’s attention off you by launching a social engineering attack on an enemy’s phone that can be enough to slip by unnoticed or sneak up from behind or head on to take down the threats non-lethally.

Also, overloading the junction boxes on an enemy can be a nice way of not only making a non-lethal take down; but, can also provide somewhat of a distraction to get the attention of other enemies in an area so there is some ease to infiltrating physically.

Conclusion

From the first Watch Dogs game, it was disappointing to see that there was not much chance for stealth in the game-play…the game itself placed yourself in a lot of firefight’s throughout the game with Aidan Pearce as he fought for revenge in the main campaign to the side missions; but, with Watch Dogs 2 it’s a different story following Marcus Holloway and California’s DedSec group in uncovering more corruption from Blume.

Ubisoft for me thought about everything in the book to put into Watch Dogs 2 and not just a simple graphics improvement; but, improvements to the game play. We wanted to see more of leaving it in the player’s hands of how to play in the next Watch Dogs game, we got it with upgrading more to non-lethal and trickster tactics that would call for less physical means of hacking to staying out of sight in using remote control recon methods to hacking our way in instead of engaging in combat as much.

We wanted to hack everything…we again got it with ways to remotely hack into cars and boats to temporarily disabling security systems that was not available in the previous Watch Dogs game.

Despite Watch Dogs 2’s main story campaign being cut to about half of what the campaign from the original Watch Dogs game, Watch Dogs 2 is still enjoyable to play and has improved; but, there is not enough action in the game…in other words maybe Watch Dogs 2 should have added some more main campaign missions. However, knowing that there are some DLC’s coming for this game, it will further seal my satisfaction for action in Watch Dogs 2.

The only other disadvantage that I see is the multiplayer modes…I still really don’t care for it much even with the addition of “bounty hunter” mode in the game. The online multiplayer for me is just way too bland for my liking and there are still some serious lagging problems with it that the previous Watch Dogs game had in their multiplayer.

One another note, I noticed that the cTOS signal tracer from Watch Dogs 1 did not return to Watch Dogs 2 which to me could have been used to challenge you in escaping the police or whoever is searching for you; but, now if someone is searching for you then all you would have to do is find a decent hiding spot to escape instead of being traced. I feel the challenge was taken out here.

Overall, Watch Dogs 2 is still a great game to play for the campaign and to explore around San Francisco. Hopefully, the T-Bone and Mayhem co-op challenge DLC packages will be promising to add new flavor to Watch Dogs 2. Enjoy this game!

Andrew Simmons

Chief, Author/Writer for Hammered Gaming Blog. 15+ year gaming experience. Always a big fan of most first-person and third-person, action/adventure, and racing games from Forza Motorsports to Rainbow Six.

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