Another holiday season is up us! Here's a look at the biggest games of the season as we make our way to the end of 2016. You can find our other previews here.
There's no Assassin's Creed coming this year, so something else has to take the flagship holiday spot for the publisher. That something else is Watch Dogs 2, the sequel to Ubisoft's new franchise for this generation of consoles.
Watch Dogs is a continuation of Ubisoft's love for open-world games, but instead of exploring different areas of history like Assassin's Creed or various harsh environments like Far Cry, Watch Dogs and its sequel take place in the modern day. Watch Dogs 2 builds upon everything that Ubisoft Montreal crafted in the series' 2014 debut. Players hack, drive, and fight their way to revenge and justice.
What Is It?
While Watch Dogs took players to Chicago to experience the exploits of hacker Aiden Pearce, Watch Dogs 2 moves to San Francisco. Our new protagonist is Marcus Holloway, a young man wrongly accused of a crime who finds his way into the hacker collective DedSec.
Ubisoft Montreal went hard on listening to player feedback and set out to improve on the first game. The result is setting spanning San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley, with more lively and active citizens. Marcus himself is a practitioner of parkour and can get around the city on foot far better than Pierce could. Cars, motorbikes, and trucks have been joined by quad bikes and boats, and the handling of all vehicles has been improved. The series focus on hacking has been vastly expanded, with more objects to hack and more options available once you' hav've hacked something.
There's also new multiplayer content, with cooperative and competitive play modes. Players can still invade other players' games to hack them, but you can also join your friends to complete missions, or team-up to hunt down other players who are causing too much chaos in San Francisco.
It Is An Annual Franchise?
Not quite. The last Watch Dogs came out in 2014 and this is launching in 2016. Given that Ubisoft has said that Assassin's Creed may no longer be an annual franchise, it's possible that Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed will keep handing off the prime holiday spot, meaning Watch Dogs 3 would likely be in 2018.
Are We Excited?
Watch Dogs was a good start to a franchise that didn't go as far into its concept as it could and lacked a sympathetic protagonist. While mourning the death of his niece was understandable, the problem with Pierce was everything that happened was his fault. Everything that happens to his family in the game is a result of his criminal actions and he's only a hero inasmuch as the folks he was fighting against are worse.
Watch Dogs 2 looks to fix both problems. Marcus Holloway is a young man accused of a crime that he didn't commit, with authorities backed by a system that can watch your every move. His slow fall in DedSec makes more sense. Ubisoft Montreal seemingly wants keep Marcus on the side of angels as well, given the online-enabled Bounty Hunter system, which spawns players into your game to hunt you down if you cause too much chaos in your city.
For a game about hacking, there really wasn't much you could do in the first Watch Dogs. Most of your options simply amounted to an on-off switch for door locks, street lights, and automated bridges. Expanding upon that is imperative. In Watch Dogs 2, you can still hack into citizen's phones, but you can do more than just view their information. Now you can help them, set them up to be arrested, or use their phone's speaker as a distraction. Vehicles can be hacked and driven remotely for a quick getaway. And the addition of Marcus' drone extends the reach of your hacking capabilities.
I liked Watch Dogs. I wanted more of the concept and Ubisoft Montreal looks like it's set to deliver. So yeah, I'm pretty excited to run around San Francisco hacking the hell out of everything.
Ubisoft's hacking sequel finds a new city and new protagonist.
Mike takes a spin around San Francisco in Ubisoft's Watch Dogs sequel.
Gamescom is in full swing and here are all the trailers that have headed our way so far.
Watch Dogs 2 is coming out for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 15, 2016.