Watch Dogs has been one of the most polarizing brands during the near three years this generation has been around for. Its debut installment achieved unprecedented success for its time, and Ubisoft is poised to take Watch Dogs 2 to even greater heights than its first installment reached.
Changes are all over Watch Dogs 2 when you compare it to the first game, and some of that has to do with feedback from fans, while the rest is Ubisoft. A new tone, setting, protagonist and so much more awaits gamers this November, but We Write Things had the chance to learn more before then.
Watch Dogs starred Aiden Pearce and the game had a far more serious feel. This second game will be different from that. For Watch Dogs 2 Creative Director Jonathan Morin and his team, the decision to make a change in protagonist to Marcus was based on the tone of Watch Dogs 2, as he told We Write Things.
“Aiden’s persona matched the dark, serious tone that the Chicago setting and narrative of [Watch Dogs 1] featured. For Watch Dogs 2, the key story elements like hacktivism, the San Francisco Bay Area culture, and much more shaped who Marcus is as a character.
“Just like many hackers, innovators, and residents of the Bay Area, Marcus’ charisma and wit make him a natural leader and his fearless attitude means he’s willing to take risks to get what he wants and isn’t afraid if it gets him into trouble,” Morin said.
The overall tone with Watch Dogs 2 is notably more light-hearted. From its trailers, to its gameplay, to its cutscenes; everything seems to have taken a turn for the light. This isn’t to say that serious issues won’t come up in Watch Dogs 2, but Ubisoft has drawn a clear line in the sand that this is not the same game you saw in 2014.
With this being the second iteration in the franchise, you would think characters from the first might make an appearance. It is still the same world, just based in a new location with a new character, so Morin entertained our thoughts of returning personalities.
“Creatively, it was quite natural to bring Marcus Holloway and his other Dedsec friends to life. They are a natural extension of the rich and colorful San Francisco Bay Area. There might be signs of some Chicago characters in there, but to know for sure you have to play the game,” Morin said.
Okay, so I just couldn’t resist asking because Jordie was one of my favorite characters from the first Watch Dogs. So without further adieu, will Jordy appear in Watch Dogs 2?
“You will just have to wait and see,” Morin said.
Gamers are going to be able to take to the skies in Watch Dogs 2 with the Quadcopter and the RC Jumper. You will be able to purchase both from a 3D printer in the Bay Area, and then from there you can build out each device’s capabilities.
“Once you have them, they can be improved in the research tree. Through these skills they will be able to either jump higher, go faster, access the inventory remotely, scout more efficiently and even get to insult NPCs to troll them. These two drones are important for trickster players who want to do everything from a distance,” Morin said.
There were a number of skill trees in the first Watch Dogs and those are two more you can add to the total in Watch Dogs 2. I’d expect you’ll be able to upgrade each device both in their tactical, lethal and stealth abilities.
In the first Watch Dogs, gamers were unable to fly aircrafts and unfortunately the same seems to be true about Watch Dogs 2. Morin confirmed to We Write Things that there are “no flying vehicles you can pilot in the game.”
When the series’ debut installment arrived, the game delivered a number of different progression systems for players to max out. Watch Dogs 2 isn’t shying away from progression either and Morin described some options players will have.
“The first is a set of new skills that gives you more control over your surroundings. Hacking is more analogue now and there are more opportunities since every AI and vehicles can become a tool for the player in Watch Dogs 2. Hacking vehicles, calling cops on anyone, starting a gang war or controlling two different drones are a few examples of these new skills,” Morin said.
Abilities like driving, hacking, shooting and other abilities previously existed in the first Watch Dogs. I’m very intrigued to find out which skills made it back into Watch Dogs 2 and which ones didn’t.
Followers are also going to be a form of currency in Watch Dogs 2, and the impact that has on gameplay choices will be telling as well. Morin detailed how progressing via a level-up will reward players and what those rewards can be used for.
“Then the second change is how we deal with currency. You will need to spend research points to unlock skills. These unlock by gathering followers. Each time you level up, you get some of those points similar to the first game. But this isn’t the only way to get those points. This time you can also get points through exploration.
“So getting more skills also helps you reach more of those points within the open world. We wanted to make sure the challenges within the huge open world would provide important rewards to players. So if you want all the skills you will have to also explore the Bay Area outside of the beaten path,” Morin said.
Acquiring points through exploration will encourage the very thing an open-world game is great for, exploration. Being able to uncover secrets and mysteries within and outside of the city will be part of what makes a unique experience for gamers.
Watch Dogs 2 has gone to greater lengths to introduce parkour into its gameplay. While it isn’t a straight up replica of Assassin’s Creed, it is still interesting to find out where the inspiration came from for a greater emphasis on parkour.
“The parkour is an extension of the previous game navigation system. It is not a mean to climb anywhere in the world but more a natural movement style for our younger and more agile hacker Marcus.
“We wanted to make sure that his ‘anything is possible’ attitude would come through in his animation and we felt this fluid movement feel would be more suitable for him. But the parkour is a natural evolution of the previous game and not a climbing system like the one you find in the Assassin’s Creed series,” Morin said.
Parkour feels like a system that players will have to embellish via gameplay work ethic. I’d be surprised if gamers had all of the moves Marcus can perform unlocked from the start. Then again, it’s just running, jumping, climbing, and walking.
The Disrupt Engine is the beast responsible for creating the remarkably precise and immersive world of Watch Dogs 2. This will be the second Watch Dogs game that Disrupt has powered and Morin specified some of the details players will notice when they step foot into Watch Dogs 2.
“The technical team worked really hard to render objects further away to properly deliver the amazing views and vistas of the Bay Area. Lighting, fog and overall global effects have also been improved while AI capabilities had to be revisited in order to support the new level of controls the player will have with Watch Dogs 2 hacking mechanics. Improvements to the engine have allowed us to deliver a much more vivid open world,” Morin said.
The second iteration in the Watch Dogs series will finally debut this coming Nov. 15 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. Ubisoft has placed a serious amount of faith into the game being their marquee title for the fall, and Morin is confident in what they’re creating.
“We are confident Watch Dogs 2 will offer a coherent experience benefitting from everything we learned from its predecessor and we really hope players love it,” Morin said.