Back in 2014, #Ubisoft introduced gamers to the world of Watch Dogs, a new IP that gave us an exciting look into a world dominated by surveillance and technology. Watch Dogs was met with mixed reviews, after many players reported heavily downgraded graphics and a clunky gameplay experience.
But recently I had the chance to sit down with Ubisoft and check out unreleased exclusive footage for Watch Dogs 2. And it looks like an old dog really can learn new tricks.
The Fresh Prince Of DedSec
Now, in order to really detach itself from the stigma associated with the Watch Dogs name and to move to an experience filled with new dynamics for the player to explore, Ubisoft has introduced players to a new protagonist for the franchise. And his name is John Cen — I mean, Marcus Holloway.
In my exclusive viewing of Watch Dogs 2, I was shown a demo mode of the game by Sunny Sanghera (@SunnyGearSolid), an events specialist for Ubisoft, who told me:
"One thing we really wanted to change this year was the movement. Aiden Pearce in Watch Dogs was quite slow, and we decided that for 'Watch Dogs 2' we wanted to speed things up and make it more fluid. So, we've done a lot of work to make Marcus Holloway quicker and introduce some parkour and stuff like that to the game, so that he can move around the environment much more easily."
In short, Ubisoft has done a bunch of work on the movement of Marcus, who can now seamlessly sprint, slide and somersault his way through the beautiful city of San Francisco. In the video below, you see a glimpse of how Marcus traverses the terrain. It's almost as though Ubisoft has taken elements from Assassin's Creed and translated them into the new and improved world for Watch Dogs 2. And I believe this tactic will prove very popular among players as they see new life breathed into the franchise.
The Highway Code
As well as streamlining movement in Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft has also worked tirelessly on simplifying the experience of hacking Marcus's environment. As he moves around the bustling streets of SF, he can use his phone to hack into his surroundings, manipulating things such as traffic lights, vehicles, or even pedestrians' phones. Though you're never quite sure whether you caused their phones to explode, or if they're just unlucky Samsung customers.
An interesting feature I noticed was that Marcus could hack cars while he drove behind them, making them swerve violently into buildings or into unlucky pedestrians. This feature tied in well with Ubisoft's new focus on fluidity and freedom of movement, causing Marcus to be able to drive at breakneck speeds on busy roads without hitting a single car.
However, in the world of Watch Dogs 2, Marcus's movement isn't just limited to parkour and driving cars. He can also make use of boats. Hackers? Boats? Sounds like Ubisoft is making Pirate Bay: The Video Game.
It seems as though Ubisoft has really pushed the boat out (*tumbleweed rolls slowly by*) with the freedom of movement in this game, delivering an experience mimicking the expansiveness of the Grand Theft Auto franchise but with the distinctive flair of the Watch Dogs universe.
During the gameplay screening, I had a good look at the size and structure of the in-game map. Quite frankly, it's huge, with several built-up urban areas separated by large expanses of water. This also makes boating an essential mode of transport when getting around the map, especially if you want to visit the infamous Alcatraz Island.
There's An App For That...
As Marcus roams around San Francisco, trying to help in the rise of DedSec, he'll need to gain followers to progress through the story. This is done through using a number of apps, ranging from the simple DedSec mission management app, to the very useful Car on Demand app.
One particular app that was shown during the gameplay demo was ScoutX, which helps Marcus to gain followers, allowing him to progress further through the story. By taking photos next to major landmarks using the app, Marcus can add large numbers of followers at a time, perfect for that last burst of followers needed to unlock the next mission.
Speaking of the story mode, I asked Sanghera how long the main story would be in Watch Dogs 2. He replied simply with:
So with that vague response in mind, it's safe to assume that between completing side missions, story missions, and generally just spending time messing around in the urban jungle of San Francisco, each and every player in Watch Dogs 2 is going to be sinking a lot of hours into this game.
Overall, with a new protagonist and an added focus on speed, ease of access and fluidity, it seems as though Watch Dogs 2 could be the game that breathes new life into the Watch Dogs franchise. This is amazing news for Ubisoft fans, or even those who felt let down by the first installment, because quite honestly, a franchise with the potential that Watch Dogs has should simply not be allowed to go to waste. With this in mind, Ubisoft has definitely kicked it up a notch with Watch Dogs 2, and therefore it's undoubtedly one to look out for in the coming weeks.
Watch Dogs 2 releases on November 15. Will you be playing the new game? Answers in the comments section after you check out the cinematic game trailer below. And feel free to tweet me at @PeachyBaws, it'd be awesome to know what you think!
You might also like: