In Review

Watch Dogs 2 reviews: What do the experts think?

New hacking abilities and a bustling game world feature in Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2 has finally arrived, marking the return of Ubisoft's hacking game franchise after a three-year absence.

Fans and critics were disappointed when the first Watch Dogs game appeared in 2013, and it soon emerged that the retail version had been downgraded from the initial stage demos shown at E3.

Now the follow-up is seeking to right those wrongs. Set within a new game world in San Francisco, the game invites you to play the part of a young hacker called Marcus Holloway, who joins up with the anonymous group Dedsec to expose weaknesses in the city's infrastructure.

With a new world to explore and refined game mechanics, can Watch Dogs 2 become Grand Theft Auto for hackers?

World

The Daily Telegraph praises Watch Dogs 2's realisation of San Francisco, calling it a "gorgeous playground", especially when compared to the original's "drab, grey take on Chicago". It's a world packed with personality, in which "you can zip across the countryside on a dirt bike, picking up speed and pulling off jumps across grassy hillsides".

It really "captures the flavour" of San Francisco, says Polygon, and it's a lot more open than its predecessor, allowing you to "drive anywhere on the map and access everything from the very start".

Gameplay

While the basic hacking abilities of the original Watch Dogs left fans wanting more control, Digital Spy says the sequel offers options that are "extensive and enable you to have a lot of fun and be creative with the missions".

But although the driving mechanics have been improved, it says, they still "lack personality and some realism, especially as you move across different vehicles". 

Forbes disagrees, saying that "the driving mechanics are about as good as I've seen them in any other open-world game". The result, however, is that the lack of driving missions is a disappointing waste of the "litany" of unlockable car hacks. 

Characters

GameSpot praises the introduction of the new main protagonist Marcus, saying he's so entertaining players may overlook his contradictory personality that "hates corruption yet murders without flinching".

Joining Marcus is the Dedsec group, a "bunch of stereotypical, hyperactive hackers" that add to the "likeable cast that knows how to have fun in their own way," the site says.

IGN is less impressed, calling the group "cartoonish, but they don't seem to know they're in a spoof". It adds that the hackers' "meme-laden" propaganda highlighting Marcus's actions can also feel "garish".

Combat

Unlike the original Watch Dogs, where combat was at the forefront of the experience, violence is "much more of a last resort", Trusted Reviews reports, although the frustrating mechanics can "push you into a gunfight from time to time".

The guards are "particularly dumb" as they appear to walk towards gunfire and escaping the police can be as simple as walking "out the front door", the site adds.

Polygon applauds Ubisoft's take on modern society by offering 3D-printed guns, but the combat mechanics themselves are "far from noteworthy" and can seem "boring in a world with more interesting ways to interact".

Combat is also bought into question when the protagonists are portrayed as a "group of peaceful hacktivists", yet use violent means as a form of moral control, the website says.

Where to buy

Amazon is selling Watch Dogs 2 for £39.99 on both Playstation 4 and Xbox One. There's also an exclusive Gold Edition for £69.99, which features a DLC season pass and gold key design. 

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