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Watch_Dogs 2 Review

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Gameplay:

There are many facets to the gameplay of Watch_Dogs 2, and sadly they are somewhat hit-or-miss. Direct combat, for example, works but I did not find it to be an enjoyable strategy. Of course my preference is always for stealth, but I can still enjoy it, just not here. To be fair, I think I can safely say the combat is not meant to be all that enjoyable. You do not have that large of a selection of weapons to 3D print at a hackerspace, your home bases, and at least I am not aware of any way to increase your health or armor against the powerful enemies you may encounter. While it is possible to engage in direct combat, it really seems like you have done something wrong if you find yourself undesirably exchanging fire with anyone. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid combat or indirectly attack your enemies.

Avoiding combat is what I most often tried for and thanks to the two drones you unlock, was actually fairly possible. One is an aerial drone that you can fly around and use to hack various items. The other is a jumper that rolls around on the ground and is able to hack basically anything, unless Marcus is required to be there for one reason or another. Many if not all buildings have vents and openings obviously meant for these drones to use, in order to avoid being spotted and destroyed.

These two drones are also the media for indirect combat, as you can hack various objects to explode, stunning or killing enemies, and even some of the items enemies have, including grenades. If they are not near a makeshift trap and are not carrying a grenade, both drones can drop one of your own grenades. Your grenades will not detonate without you commanding them to, or setting them to explode when an enemy enters their proximity. You can also have them taunt enemies, to bring them closer.

There were a number of occasions when I used primarily the aerial drone to fly around and drop grenades on enemies, clear out a room I needed to cross as Marcus. Both the drones and the grenades regenerate over time, so as long as you are not discovered and killed, you can keep this up until everyone is dealt with, and by that, I do mean killed. I am not sure if stunned enemies were getting up on their own or not, but I definitely saw some woken up by their comrades. Explosive grenades take care of that.

 

 

This does lead me to one issue I have with the combat and that is a total lack of penalty for killing enemies. I like it when part of the challenge is not exterminating everything you come across, but that is not here, so if you feel like removing the threat permanently, just do it without mercy or remorse.

Marcus' melee attack is also somewhat problematic. It is very effective at dealing with enemies, if you are close enough, but the animation of you swinging what seems to be a pool ball on a bungie cord into someone's head can take so long, that another enemy can spot you, start shooting, and kill you before you regain control and re-enter cover. On the flip side, I was able to create a very visible stack of bodies on one side of an open door, and the enemies never seemed to notice enough to be alert. Eventually they would walk over on their own and I would add them to the pile. It was rather odd.

I should talk about driving some and personally, it felt fine to me. I typically would just take whatever car was nearby, because while I could request a specific vehicle, it is just easier to take the one I already see. Different cars had different feels to them, and while some felt ready to spin out, others were fine. This did make escaping the police and gangs more difficult, but honestly, once you get in a car, it is only a matter of time before they give up the chase. You will be able to out run them or find somewhere to hide. To help keep them off of you, you can hack the pursuing vehicles to turn one way or another, and explode the steam pipes underneath them, but be careful that you are not also in the area.

There are a number of side missions you can do to earn followers/experience, but, for better or worse, they almost all amount to the same thing: See that point? Get to that point. Hack that point. Sometimes combat might also be involved, but rarely. While this does mean you will get to develop your puzzle-solving and drone-controlling skills, it is repetitive. Now, I am okay with that, but that is what you will be in for. There are also side missions where you pick up and drive people around for one reason or another. In one case I was helping them search for a robot and in another we were going off-road to follow a drone. In either case, it was actually very forgiving when it came to my rating at the end.

 

 

The campaign missions are typically more interesting, but that is so often because of the number of armed guards in the area you either need to avoid or neutralize. There can also be multiple stages to one of these missions, leading you to adapt your approach, but at most you just need to neutralize those enemies and then not worry about it. Basically there is still some challenge to it, but there are also approaches that can all-but remove the difficulty.

When I played the game for this review, it did not have the ability to replay missions, but this is something I see is coming in a patch, along with a difficulty slider. I am not sure if increasing the difficulty will also make those approaches I just mentioned less successful, but I do like that the ability to replay missions is coming.

According to the save, it took me 26.5 hours to complete the game, and I did do all of the offline Dedsec missions. There are still plenty of ride sharing missions, races, and online missions I can do, but everything else I did.

 

I almost forgot to mention that Watch_Dogs 2 supports Tobii Eyetrackers, like the Tracker 4C I reviewed not too long ago. This means the game can recognize where I am looking to provide new means of interaction. I did not have it enabled for the entire playthrough, because I had guessed it might have been causing some issues, but later the issue returned and I kept forgetting to turn the tracking back on.

The eyetracking options are Hack at Gaze, Cover at Gaze, Aim at Gaze, Fire at Gaze, and Extended View. This last one is to allow the camera to pan around, following your eyes, and I turned it off very quickly. Watch_Dogs 2 uses a third-person camera which I do not find to work well with such control, since the camera has to pivot around the character and not the point you are viewing from. Aim at Gaze I also turned off, for the similar reason that I do not like how it works with this camera, but the other options I left enabled and did enjoy using them. Except for Fire at Gaze, but that is only because I never actually used it. It is to aim your weapon while driving, which I never did, with or without eyetracking. Both Hack at Gaze and Cover at Gaze use the information of where you are looking in the world to provide more freedom in how you interact with things. With Hack at Gaze you are not reliant on the cursor or on the game guessing based on what it considers most important. Cover at Gaze lets you look to where you want to move to cover and really works well, as it gives more control than the cursor does, while also not requiring the camera to move. So, while not every option is a perfect fit for this game, it does work quite well, which I am very happy to see.

Overall the game is fun, but I at least found myself falling into the same strategies to do everything. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does remove some of the interest when you know you can do almost anything with little-to-no risk to your character.




  1. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Introduction
  2. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Graphics
  3. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Story
  4. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Gameplay
  5. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Additional Screenshots
  6. Watch_Dogs 2 Review - Conclusion
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