E3 2016: Hands on Watch Dogs 2


On Sunday, Dave and I were able meet with Ubisoft to talk about Watch Dogs 2. We were first treated to an explanation of the game and an extended gameplay trailer. One of the first things they talked about was the different ways of playing the game. Though the game is open to allow many options, Ubisoft said numerous times that they are designing around three main ways to play the game.

These styles are dictated by how the player uses the game’s big mechanic: hacking. One type of player, they said, tends to go in guns blazing, using the hacking only as a supplement to firepower. Another type tends to play hands off in most situations, relying heavily on hacking to let them get in and out of a mission without being detected. Finally, some players play as a “trickster,” causing chaos with hacking.

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The demonstration showed Marcus, the player character, on a mission with his group Dedsec to infiltrate a politician’s headquarters and obtain evidence that the politician is using social media to influence the populous into voting for them. It showed a variety of tools and gadgets, including a remote controlled drone and an RC car. After the demo, I was able to try a free roaming section of the game.

The demo started off at the base of Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. I actually grew up about an hour north of San Francisco and I was impressed with the little bit of the game I saw. Things seemed familiar to me as a native. Talking with one of the developers, they said they weren’t shooting for strict realism when designing the in-game San Francisco due to keeping things succinct for gameplay, but that they did want it to be close enough to the real thing to be familiar.

By scanning a local passerby, I learned that someone was using a device to steal information from people’s phones. Using the drone, I found the device on the tower. This gave me information on this operation and where I could go to hack the computer of those stealing people’s data. When I arrived at the restricted area, I experienced what Ubisoft was talking about with player choice.

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I decided to start out stealthily, using my RC car to sneak past an attack dog and guard and unlock a door. From there, I snuck around, took down a guard with my taser, and made it into the objective. However, the guard’s body was discovered, which alerted another guard and the dog. So my way out was more of a guns blazing approach.

The second mission I had was to obtain two harddrives. However, unlike the first mission, for this mission I had a player-controlled partner. In Watch Dogs 2, players who are connected to the internet may have other players appear in their game and they can do missions together.

Again we were infiltrating an enemy controlled area, however this one had a lot more enemies. I started out by scouting out the camp with my drone. My partner and I then started working together to stealthily take out enemies and find our objectives. Communicating with my partner made everything a lot easier because we could coordinate the enemy movements and take out them out as needed.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with Watch Dogs 2. I’ve never been huge into the Ubisoft open world games like Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry. Watch Dogs 2, while it seems similar to their other games, felt like it gives the player a lot more options. Hacking, for example, has several different uses that facilitate different play styles.

Being able to play cooperatively with another player added a lot as well. I liked how I was able to coordinate our attack on an enemy compound when I was playing co-op. Doing so opened up the ability to tactically approach a more difficult situation. While it sounds like the main missions are only solo, we were told that most of the side missions should be able to be tackled with a buddy.

Dave and I also got to sit down with the creative director Johnathan Morin for an interview. We talked a bit about the map, as I mentioned above, and about the game’s gameplay systems. One thing that was interesting was how the game is built around “followers,” similar to real social media platforms. In Watch Dogs 2, doing things that affect the world earn the player followers.

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These followers also act as the game’s progression system, we were told. More followers means more research points to unlock new hacking skills or hardware. Because the hacking community often overlaps with the maker community, Johnathan told us they wanted to give Marcus the ability to 3D print gadgets. The idea was that Marcus’ followers act as a forum for him to learn new skills, be they hacking or building or otherwise.

Followers also play into the game’s narrative. Johnathan told us they intend to tell stories and present on real world issues with the game. One example is how the game can react to the player. As they gain notoriety, depending on how the player approaches missions, they can cause debate within the world. Playing missions lethally might, for instance, have the world debating the morality of Marcus.

Watch Dogs 2 seems to be shaping up to be a pretty good game when it hits shelves this November.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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