Watch Dogs 2 (stylized as WATCH_DOGS 2) is an open world action-adventure third person shooter video game developed and published by Ubisoft. The sequel to 2014’s Watch Dogs, it was released worldwide for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in November 2016.
Set within a fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area, the game is played from a third-person perspective and its world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Players control Marcus Holloway, a hacker who works with the hacking group DedSec to take down the city’s advanced surveillance system. There are multiple ways to complete missions, and each successful assignment increases the follower count of DedSec. Cooperative multiplayer allows for competitive one-on-one combat and connecting with other players in order to neutralize a player who is actively causing havoc.
Ubisoft Montreal, the game’s developer, studied player feedback from the first game to assess what could be improved in Watch Dogs 2 and the setting was researched by making frequent trips to California. Ubisoft Reflections was responsible for overhauling the driving mechanic. Real hackers were consulted to validate scripts and game mechanics for authenticity and references to real life hacktivism were fictionalized, like the Project Chanology protest. The original soundtrack for Watch Dogs 2 was composed by Hudson Mohawke.
The game was released to generally favorable reception and praised for improving upon the original Watch Dogs in areas like the hacking, setting, characters and driving. However, character inconsistencies, firearms and frequent technical issues – later patched – were cited as imperfections.
Similar to its predecessor, Watch Dogs 2 is an action-adventure game with stealth elements. Played from a third-person perspective as protagonist Marcus Holloway – a young hacker from Oakland, California – the game features an open world set in a fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area, an area more than twice as large as the Chicago setting from Watch Dogs. The Bay Area consists of four different areas: San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, and Silicon Valley, all of which have different characteristics and aesthetics. Players can navigate the city on-foot or by the various vehicles featured in the game, such as cars, trucks, buses, cable cars, motorbikes, quad bikes and boats. The driving mechanic was overhauled and was designed to be more accessible. The players can also shoot their weapons while driving. Marcus also has improved acrobatic skills, and has the ability to parkour around the city. Players can use different methods to approach the game’s missions, choosing between the aggressive approach, in which they defeat enemies with guns which are made with a 3D printer, explosives like mines, or Marcus’ own melee weapon, the thunderball, a billiard ball attached to a bungee cord. Alternatively, players can use the stealth approach, in which they can evade enemies or paralyze them temporarily with Marcus’ taser. Players can also complete the game through hacking alone. When players commit too many crimes in the open world, police officers will become alerted and will attempt to arrest the player. The game upgrades system also returns, with items being divided into three categories: Ghost, Aggressor, and Trickster. Players can choose their upgrades in accordance to their own playstyle.
Marcus can hack into various electronic devices connected to the ctOS system with his in-game smartphone. For example, Marcus can modify the personal information of non-player characters to have them arrested, hack and manipulate every mobile phone featured in the game, disrupt traffic by hacking cars and traffic lights, hack into monitoring cameras, and carry out “mass hacking”, which hacks the electrical equipment of a large group of people. Players also gain multiple options while hacking the same object. For instance, if the player attempts to hack a car, they can gain direct control over them, or have the car losing control and crashing in a random direction. If the player hacks a junction box, they can choose whether they should deactivate it or turn it into a proximity mine. Unlike Aiden, the protagonist of the first game, Marcus has an arsenal of advanced equipment, including a quadcopter and a remote-controlled car, both of which can be used for remote hacking and scouting. Marcus’ apparel can be customized with over 700 articles of clothing, available for purchase in stores that maintain fashion styles unique to what is worn by the denizens in each area. The game features several main story missions, and side-missions known as “operations”. Once completed, Marcus’ follower count will increase, which is an important part of the narrative.