Ubisoft recently revealed in a financial report that a sequel to 2014’s Watch Dogs is indeed in the works, with a projected launch coming somewhere before April 2017. The original was the first next-gen game many got excited about, boasting insane visuals and an uber realistic world. The final product turned out to be disappointing, but many believe Ubisoft can pull off a markedly better sequel in Watch Dogs 2, just like they did with Assassin’s Creed and its sequel..
But even with all the disappointment, Watch Dogs was still a sound game that has a lot of potential to become a successful franchise. Here are the 10 Things We Want to See in Watch Dogs 2.
By nearly unanimous consensus, Aiden Pierce just didn’t cut it. He was bland and boring, and his motivations didn’t spur me to feel anything for the character. The underwhelming protagonist was not helped by mundane voice acting and incredibly hilarious character design, including a trench coat that definitely did not look suspicious.
Ubisoft would do well to step away from the shackles of the first game and embrace an all-new city and main character – someone who is personable and charming and involved in an intriguing hacker plot. The formula the studio took with Assassin’s Creed could be implemented, and a new character could elevate the series like Ezio did for Assassin’s Creed, featuring in a trilogy of his own games.
Stronger cast of characters
A fresh new protagonist will only carry the game so far without an ensemble of memorable characters to take them through the various story beats. While open-world counterpart Grand Theft Auto V has its 3 endearing partners in crime, Watch Dogs came packed with a throwaway villain and allies who were used as emotional ammunition to establish a connection with the player.
Maybe we can get more humorous characters to break the tension in serious cut-scenes – Jordi Chin in the first Watch Dogs was criminally underused – or a charismatic villain that has us swaying between love and hate for them. The cast doesn’t necessarily need to be extended, but they need to have meaningful interactions compared to the half-baked and poorly acted performances of the first game that were devoid of any heart.
Better gameplay and more set-piece moments
Watch Dogs, like Ubisoft’s own The Division, just doesn’t have satisfying third person gunplay. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the game featured more stealth missions that didn’t need the use of heavy artillery, but 9 times out of 10 you will end up in a shootout.
The game was also marketed as having gritty set-piece moments, which don’t really ever occur. Watch Dogs 2 would benefit tenfold if it were to incorporate Uncharted-like set pieces every so often in between some of the stealthier missions, alongside a deeper and more satisfying shooting system. If nothing else, at least let players fire from the hip instead of having to zoom down the sights all the time.
Immersive sandbox world
The E3 2013 reveal of Watch Dogs showed off a buoyant and lively world full of character and hundreds of NPC’s going about their business. Chicago was alive as Aiden hacked his way through a crowd of people in a nightclub. And like most things in Watch Dogs, the final release was not indicative of what fans were shown. While Chicago isn’t barren, it’s just very generic and boring. The rumors of Watch Dogs 2 being set in San Francisco should allay some of the problems Chicago had, but it still needs to be a sandbox for players to enjoy.
It would be good to see more of the slower, and immersive missions that were shown off in the reveal, which felt like tailored experiences with a lot of production value and interaction with the environment, instead of the quick and easy missions that barely involved any use of the city as a sandbox in the final product.
Intuitive hacking system
Instead of just ‘hold square to hack’, it would be nice to be more involved in the process in Watch Dogs 2. The first game’s hacking system was just pressing a button, with a few hacking mini-games that were not much fun. Ubisoft needs to find a way to make the hacking an engaging part of the overall gameplay, especially if it wants to boast hacking as the hallmark feature and differentiator against other games in its genre.
The sequel could implement better use of cameras and other hackable tech, while enhancing player versus player hacking on the multiplayer side. More stealth missions would also encourage players to use hacking as a viable gameplay style to get through missions – because as it is now, it’s just not that fun.
Meaningful side quests and activities
After the credits roll, the player only has the option to play some of the weakest side missions so far in this console generation. Fixer contracts send the player on a variety of quick missions like timed pursuits to drop off a vehicle at a designated location – only fun the first 2 times -, or taking someone out in a high-speed chase. Only the gang hideouts, similar to Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, where you are tasked with approaching an enemy camp in whatever way you want to take them out are satisfying.
But I’d like to see more story based side missions. Maybe split the city up into boroughs similar to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and have a hacking crime boss reaping havoc on the local population. Short cut-scenes could also give a backstory to the NPC’s in each borough and show off a different side of the new protagonist. I’m not asking for a Batman Arkham City style ‘every side mission is fully fleshed out’, but the post-game content of Watch Dogs left a lot to be desired and gave no reason to hop back into Chicago.
At the previously mentioned E3 reveal, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said that Watch Dogs would “revolutionize the way players interact with each other.” What that suggested was something similar to Bungie’s Destiny – an open world Chicago where players would be invaded by others with seamless integration, heralding the start of a new era of multiplayer. Instead, players were told to press left on the d-pad and join a match, albeit without a lobby system in between, to take part in what was essentially mini-games ranging from a quick race to being the last person in possession of a decrypted file.
With the release of The Division next month – having a built in system like Destiny where players are put into others worlds seamlessly and can interact with them in meaningful ways – the Ubisoft would be wise to use that technology and deliver on the promise of Watch Dogs’ multiplayer.
Variety in main story missions
The main quests in the game are not bad by any stretch, but too many of them don’t use the game’s environment in meaningful ways and don’t provide enough hacking opportunities. While engaging in a firefight every so often is fine, Watch Dogs 2 has a chance to distinguish itself from other third-person shooters.
A lot more stealth would be welcome, as well as missions that don’t just involve the protagonist. It would also be cool to have NPCs join Aiden on missions or aid him in real-time – similar to Grand Theft Auto V’s heists. And it would be nice if filler missions involving Aiden going to his daughter’s birthday party were just left to cut-scenes. I want to feel like an infamous hacker, not someone running errands or firing my high-powered rifle in every other mission.
Deeper customization options
Throughout my own Watch Dogs journey, I accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars but was left with nothing to do with it. I could replenish my ammo at a local gun shop or buy a new trench coat with a different color palette, but that’s all it basically came down to. More customization in what I wear, what I drive, and what I shoot is almost standard fare in other open world games, and needs to be included in Watch Dogs 2.
I’d like to attain a vehicle I’m attached to and upgrade its tires and NOS capabilities. Perhaps add silencers to my weapons and long-rage scopes. Or even have the ability to purchase unique sets of clothing instead of drowning myself with trench coat after trench coat. This is one of the easier things the developer could implement, but it would make Watch Dogs 2 significantly more meaningful to players if they are able to customize their experience.
Playing through Watch Dogs, I never felt any fear of an impending doom from the villain, or cared about what was coming next. If Ubisoft can pair an ambitious plot with a new character, Watch Dogs can become a viable franchise that’s story is actually anticipated prior to launch. Some type of world-wide hacking syndicate could be touched upon and then blown out in the third iteration, similar to Assassin’s Creed where Watch Dogs can just take place in different cities all over the world that are connected by the same goal of taking down said syndicate.
Even if the plot is more ‘local’, I want to know what is actually going on behind the scenes. The first game touches on it, but I’d like to experience the deep dark world of hacking from the perspective of the new protagonist. Maybe we take the role of the villain and get to experience the plot from that side. The story almost writes itself.
What do you want to see in Watch Dogs 2? Does an engaging story matter to you or are you all about enhancing the gameplay? Let us know in the comments below.
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