Watch Dogs, Ubisoft's 2014 hacker action game that tried very hard to persuade people to refer to it as WATCH_DOGS, didn't quite manage to get the gamer population at large begging for a sequel. Though initial footage was impressive, the game suffered from later controversy with regards to what was seen as a "downgrading" of the graphics, and when the final product was released many felt it was a little too bland to be enjoyable.
Nonetheless, the studio is taking another stab at the world of smartphone-based hacking in Watch Dogs 2, which moves the action from Chicago to sunny San Francisco, home of the tech haven Silicon Valley. Taking over as protagonist is Marcus Holloway, a member of the hacking collective DedSec, who uses his unique vigilante hacker skills to fight crime, corruption, shady dealings and all that good stuff - while having a little fun along the way.
The first official trailer for Watch Dogs 2 was released last week, along with the news that the game is set for a November 2017 release. Now, as part of Ubisoft's press conference at E3 2016, a gameplay trailer has arrived online alongside 11 minutes of gameplay featuring one of the missions from the game. Among the new additions this time around are drones - both wheeled and flying - which can be used to scope out a location and hack remotely. The player in this demo starts out playing stealthily, but by the end of the mission things have devolved into an all-out shoot-out. Check out the gameplay trailer above, and gameplay footage below.
Watch Dogs 2 seems to be shooting for a looser, cooler feel this time around, and whether by accident or design the gameplay feels reminiscent of last year's critically-acclaimed TV show Mr. Robot, which starred Rami Malek as an expert hacker with mental health issues who joins a hacking collective similar to DedSec. Of course, while Mr. Robot was praised for offering a relatively realistic portrayal of hacking, Watch Dogs 2 continues the first game's approach of giving the player a smartphone that is effectively the same as having a magic wand in their pocket.
UbiBlog offered more details about the new gameplay elements in a blog post that explains one possible approach to the mission in the video above. The post notes the three distinct styles of player - Aggressor (guns blazing), Ghost (stealth), and Trickster (drones and hacking) - which brings to mind a similar set of approaches in Ubisoft's earlier game Splinter Cell Blacklist. Ideally, this should allow the player to tailor their gameplay style rather than following any one particular path, which is a promising sign. However, it remains to be seen if the world of hacking in San Francisco will be engaging enough to keep players hooked.
Watch Dogs 2 will be released on Xbox One, PS4, and PC on November 15th, 2016.