Watch Dogs 2 is set for launch around the world on Xbox One and PS4 on the 15th of November 2016. It’s an open world game which puts you in the part of Marcus Holloway, a gifted hacker getting up to mischief in San Francisco.
It’s definitely the sequel to the 2014 original but a lot has changed for this second time out, and Ubisoft was intent on showing that in a recent hands on preview.
I also got the chance to chat to creative director Jonathan Morin who led me through some of the new features. One thing I had noticed after around three hours of play was the difficulty - Marcus can die pretty easily, especially when the bullets start to fly.
That’s a pretty realistic reaction to flying pieces of lead but not all that usual in videogames. So I asked Morin about whether they were still balancing the game or if the challenge was going to be the same in the final version.
“We’re still fine tuning certain things but we do like that Marcus is fragile to an extent. It’s important that hacking is useful as well. In Watch Dogs 1 it might have been one of the flaws where you could too easily use shooting and it was probably more effort to use hacking. So this time around we wanted to balance it so that the wit of the player was important.”
It’s an interesting point and Aiden Pearce, the protagonist of the first game, was definitely a more capable killer. The hacking sometimes felt like a convoluted puzzle which you had to muddle through rather than the most fun way to take out an enemy.
In Watch Dogs 2, you’re given a much wider array of abilities to use in a world that’s more malleable. For example, I could be in the middle of a mission and plant digital evidence to call the cops on a random guard, causing all manner of chaos. Or I could also just call in a hit on a particularly troublesome enemy.
Morin says they wanted to support all styles of play so that hacking would be complementary, rather than an alternative option:
“The direction was always - no matter if you’re an aggressor, a trickster or a ghost player - for us you always should feel like hacking is a better option... And then you can start to see how you can deal with them. Players will tend to funnel through the easiest way of playing, and it's our responsibility to balance things out properly.”
There’s a lot to learn about how Watch Dogs 2 expands on the first game, and I’ve got hands on impressions, videos and more interview snippets to come.
Watch Dogs 2 is out on the 15th of November, 2016.