Watch Dogs 2 is out today on PC, though it’s been out for a couple of weeks on consoles. While critics and players alike are lauding it as a far better game than its forbear, we thought we’d spend a little time today talking about some the game’s interesting bits – a seamless online experience that an MMO gamer might find enticing, some truly great side missions, and RPG-styled character progression.
YOU GET TO STICK IT TO A SHKRELI-ESQUE JERK
As you play Watch Dogs 2, your smart phone is the main way in which you do just about everything in the world – including getting some interesting side missions. Early on in WD2, you’ll overhear a couple of guys in a park talking about a rapper whose highly anticipated next album might be bought by a pharmaceutical company owner just to keep to himself. Said buyer just happens to be a guy who jacked up the price of leukemia medicine to make steep profits. Sound familiar?
You’ll get to exercise a little fantasy justice of your own by hacking into the pharma bro’s house and calling him as a recording of the rapper to negotiate the transfer of 20 million dollars to a Leukemia Research organization. Of course he thinks he’s paying for the album, and when the transfer’s complete you let him in on the trick in a marvelous fashion.
THERE ARE LOADS OF SKILLS AND CUSTOMIZATIONS
The bummer of Watch Dogs 2 is that you must play the main character prescribed to you, as it’s a single player open world game first, and multiplayer second. That said, there’s no stopping you from completely altering the clothing style of your Marcus. Hell, if you happen to be a Gaymer and you want to fly that flag in SF, you can find the proper attire with which to do so. If you’ve played games like GTAV, you know the drill. Earn clothing rewards via missions and achievements or buy them from in-game clothing stores all with their own styles and brands.
For those of you who love the RPG skill-building side of these games, you won’t be disappointed here. Via the ./Research app you and the rest of DedSec share, you’ll spend skill points earned by playing the game in one of seven different skill trees. Now, like other Ubi games, you can and likely will max out all of the skill trees so there are no reasons to panic about what skills to buy and what to skip. Just do yourself a favor and invest in the Vehicle Hacking tree to make some truly memorable events happen by remote controlling cars across the Bay Area. As you gain “followers” (or better known as XP), you’ll unlock tons of options to add to Marcus’ arsenal.
THERE’S A HIDDEN UBISOFT TRAILER FOR A POSSIBLY REAL GAME
At some point you’ll stumble across a pedestrian talking to his boss about how a leak won’t happen. On the other end of the phone you’ll hear someone say, “Remember Unity, Syndicate, etc”? Turns out the guy’s a Ubisoft employee and there’s a new trailer behind closed doors at the Ubisoft SF offices. Yes, they’re in the game, and yes you’ll hack into their camera system and download the mysterious trailer. What follows is a really rough cut marked “INTERNAL USE ONLY” that seems to focus on space exploration and perhaps some tragedy or another. Is it a real game they’re working on? Who knows, but they’ve got our attention and if it is real, that’s some really clever viral marketing.
SEAMLESS MULTIPLAYER IS REALLY DAMNED COOL
Don’t freak! If you like to keep your single player games just that – single player – you can turn off the hacking and invasion multiplayer encounters in the game menus. But you should probably leave them on, because what they add to the experience and the real life feeling of Watch Dogs 2’s world is worth the little bit of social anxiety you might feel when the events happen.
How does it work? While we wish there was more than 2 player multiplayer available at launch, the sheer ease of use and spontaneous nature of Invasions, Bounties, Free Roam, and Co-Op missions is brilliant. The Invasions and Bounties are probably the most fun part of the multiplayer. Occasionally and at random times, you’ll be given a chance to either hack a fellow Watch Dogs 2 player, or you’ll be notified that you’re being hacked. In the former case, your goal is to remain undetected while the other party tries to hunt you down and knock you out. In the latter, your goal is to track down the hacker and kick their butt before they get away with your data.
I was initially worried about PVP in a game like Watch Dogs 2, as I usually suck at competitive shooters, but so far I’ve been able to get away from people I’ve hacked, and I’ve successfully chased down people hacking me. It’s in these moments that you realize games like Watch Dogs 2 are really dang close to making a truly special open world MMO if only they could somehow increase player capacity. Even Rockstar’s flagship series is limited in number of players, but we long for the day when one of these games creates a persistent, polished and free online world. I vote for Watch Dogs, if only because the hacking of everything in the city makes for near limitless shenanigans.
You can free-roam the city with any one of your friends that also has the game, you can team up for co-op missions of several categories and types that are randomly generated and offered via your smartphone. But I’m itching for a world that’s got at least 100 other people running around it at all times, working with and against each other. Maybe one day? For now, Watch Dogs 2 seems like a real gem and it’s ported wonderfully to the PC. We’ll have a full review for you on the Not So MMO column in a week or so.