Ubisoft released the first game in the Watch Dogs series after much E3 fanfare, and a bit of controversy. Debuting at E3 in 2012, the initial trailer for the first game looked spectacular for the technology at the time. The issue was, at launch, that the final game didn’t really come close to the same graphical fidelity initially shown. With Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft made sure to show more down to Earth graphics in previews, and I am happy to say that the game does indeed match that reveal, and looks fantastic. The game is very much worth playing, and some cliche characters and dialogue aside, is one of the better open world games of the past few years.

I have been playing through Watch Dogs 2 on the PlayStation 4 Pro, the updated PS4 console that was just released from Sony. For Watch Dogs 2, the PS4 Pro upgrades the game and utilizes the checkerboard 4k technique to improve resolution and fidelity of the image. The result is a very clean and sharp looking game. I rarely had any issues with the game on PS4 Pro, aside from a few frame drops (from the base 30) when action got intense. After the first Watch Dogs was set in a gritty and dark Chicago, it was a very pleasant surprise to jump into Watch Dogs 2 and see a bright, colorful, sunny San Francisco. With the first game I felt myself getting fatigued and tired of the setting after a few hours of play, but with Watch Dogs 2 I keep yearning to go back and explore more. The color, upgraded graphics, and overall clean look really makes Watch Dogs 2 stand out from the competition. The only game I could really compare it to would be The Witcher 3, another game that had exceptional bursts of color and life.

Watch Dogs 2 is a bit of a departure from the gritty realism of the first game, plot-wise. It is more laid back and Internet-based more than its predecessor and feels more upbeat. You play as Marcus Holloway as he joins the hacker group known as DEDSEC and attempts to free the city of San Franciso from the ctOS system, the same system you manipulated in Watch Dogs 1. The ctOS system has gotten bigger and controls nearly every aspect of city life. As you play through the missions you get the chance to take on multiple side quests that deliver generally good side story content. Overall the plot itself isn’t the greatest, and as you play you begin to wonder if DEDSEC really are “good guys,” but it’s entertaining (albeit a little cheesy with the Internet lingo) and will keep driving you forward in the game. I found the side content a bit more fun, as they were small, self-contained stories that you could do if you wanted, and offered fun differences from the main plot. I will say I did enjoy the plot in Watch Dogs 2 better than the original game, even with the cheesiness of the over the top memes and Internet lingo.

Gameplay in Watch Dogs 2 is mostly similar to the original Watch Dogs game. Third person controls and a cover system, paired with quick hacking buttons, make up the general control set. The cover can be a bit too sticky at times, but other than that the controls are easy to get used to and the shooting is easy to control. You have a skill tree that you use to level up hacking, shooting, driving, etc. as well. If you played Watch Dogs, the controls here shouldn’t surprise you. The hacking system is fairly similar, although fine-tuned, as well. You hold the right bumper/R1 to bring up a hack menu and hit a face button to execute. You can make devices into proximity traps, blow up roads while driving, and steal money from random pedestrians as you traverse the city. The hacking is the best part of the game, although I wish pedestrians were a bit more of a challenge to hack and deal with instead of the free money that they are now.

The multiplayer has not yet been functional, so I cannot comment on it. If it is similar to the original game, it should be fun, even if for trolling other users.

Final thoughts on the Watch Dogs 2 video game:

Overall Watch Dogs 2 is a marked improvement over the first game, even if it does still have some issues with controls and tone. The story is interesting, the gameplay is easy to get the hang of, and there is enough content to keep most busy for numerous hours. If you’re looking for a solid open world game to get you through the winter, spending some time in Watch Dogs 2’s sunny San Francisco is not a bad idea at all.