What is Watch Dogs 2?
Watch Dogs 2 is an open world action game that's set in a near-future San Francisco - a city that's been transformed into a high tech, interconnected digital metropolis like no other. While at first glance, it may look like a normal city, below the surface, almost everything is being run by a program known as ctOS, with everything from traffic lights to forklift trucks, and from gas mains to doors and security systems being managed by one program. The only catch is, it's capturing more than a little bit too much information about you - and corporations are all too happy to exploit it. Joining up with an anarcho-hacktivist collective, it's up to you to team up with a group of outcasts to fight back against big brother, and bring down the system.
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How do you play Watch Dogs 2?
With an open world to explore, and your in game mobile phone giving you a back door into almost every system, Watch Dogs 2 provides both a solid selection of story missions, and a veritable play ground for you to mess around in.
As you make your way through the story, you'll get to delve behind the scenes of how the city's run, as you try to lift the lid on its corruption. Whether you're infiltrating a building in an attempt to steal some files from a server, or trying to make off with a high tech car to draw attention to your cause, there's one thing that always plays a key part in your missions - your mobile phone. Letting you hack into anything at the touch of a button, you can take control of security cameras to scout areas up ahead; rig junction boxes to explode when an enemy gets too near to them; or even take remote control of forklift trucks, or cars themselves, causing chaos for your opponents.
When you're not making your way through a story mission, you're free to play with the city itself - left to your own devices, you can either play with your hacking powers to see what chaos you can cause, or take part in one of the game's side activities. From DriverSF, which is a series of side quests that makes you a driver for hire, shuttling people from A to B (only with a series of conditions you'll need to meet - like hitting a number of jumps), to ScoutX, an app on your in-game mobile phone that lets you level up if you take an in-game photo of your character in front of a number of famous landmarks, there's plenty to get stuck into.
How easy is Watch Dogs 2 to pick up and play?
While the game does provide a handy tutorial to help ease you into the game, and how its more unique systems work, it does also provide a hefty challenge - mostly because there's a large emphasis on stealth in its missions. As a hacker, you're not exactly a military super soldier - and so staying out of sight is key. Instead, you'll often have to send a drone in to do your dirty work, or try and sneak in undetected, hacking nearby things to cause distractions. There is a handy marker that pops up on screen, and fills in if you're getting spotted, but with a heavy police presence, you won't have to make too many mistakes to find yourself getting detected, which almost always ends in a firefight - and while you can certainly fire back, the emphasis of the game is still on remaining hidden.
Watch Dogs 2 autosaves your game on a regular basis, meaning if things should go horribly wrong mid-mission, you won't lose too much in the way of progress. In terms of finding your way around mid mission, while waypoints are usually clearly marked, they are "as-the-crow-flies", simply telling you your objective is in this direction, over here, and letting you figure out how to get there yourself. Any objects you can interact with are handily clearly marked, with an icon hovering nearby to tell you what you'll need to press.
With a range of difficulty levels on offer, you can tailor the game to suit your skills, with the lowest (easy) letting your character take a much more substantial amount of hits before being killed - you can change the difficulty level at any time in the settings menu. Whichever you choose, though, you'll need plenty of situational awareness if you want to make it out of the trickier hacks alive - keeping an eye on the top left of the screen, where the game issues a warning if you're about to be detected is helpful.
- Watch Dogs 2 contains microtransactions, in the form of a "premium" store, where players can buy new clothes, and skins for cars, in the form of a number of packs.
- Watch Dogs 2 also has a season pass, which gets you access to the extra, downloadable add-ons will follow the game's release.
- By default, Watch Dogs 2 allows other players to jump into your game at any time, and attack you as part of a bounty event (you can also choose to jump into other people's games, and do the same to them). This can be disabled, or tweaked, through a range of settings in the options.
Aimed at a mature audience, Watch Dogs contains moderate violence and gore, but frequent, strong bad language, and full frontal nudity.
In terms of violence and gore, Watch Dogs 2 lies somewhere in the middle of the open world game standard. Enemies do give off a small amount of blood when hit, but it doesn't tend to leave splashes or splatters behind. Standard combat allows you to shoot foes with tasers and guns, hit them with a ball on a stick, or choke them with a rope, with the former feature little in the way of blood, while the latter is over in the blink of an eye, without any actual protracted strangulation. In cutscenes, it's much the same situation, although there is one scene where a character gets stabbed, and bleeds to death - but beyond that one scene, any blood is minor.
Bad language is a regular fixture in Watch Dogs 2, particularly amongst the main characters. F**k, motherf**ker, sh*t, sh*t sack, bullsh*t and other terms are heard frequently.
In tune with the rest of the content, Watch Dogs 2 features a substantial amount of sexual content and nudity. Both full frontal male and female nudity is included, with the residents of a local hippy garden often going about their daily business completely nude. It is a bit out of the way, but as this is one of the places the ScoutX app asks you to visit, the chances are anyone playing Watch Dogs 2 will come across it. That said, genitalia isn't really modelled, or textured, and doesn't look as graphic as it could.
The game also contains a strip club, where players can watch scantily clad (and topless) women pole dancing, while one of the characters also makes reference to wanting to 3D print a dildo. One cutscene shows a man in a bondage harness and hood dancing, while another mentions two characters "banging", as one shows the other his mobile phone, and you hear sexual moaning.
- The game makes reference to drugs, with an in-game radio host calling for drugs to be legalised.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4