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Watch Dogs 2 Review in Progress [Updated]

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Update: Watch Dogs 2 is out, but it's not complete. Ubisoft made it official yesterday: there will be no seamless multiplayer at launch. You can still team up with a friend to tackle a handful of co-op-specific missions, but you will not run into other hackers on the streets of San Francisco until Ubisoft finds a fix and issues an update.

Our impressions of the game's single player content can be found below, and while we are still playing it for fun--because a lot of Watch Dogs 2 is quite good--it ultimately feels incomplete. We say that not because Ubisoft promised seamless multiplayer, but because Watch Dogs 2 needs something like PVP to round out its open-world. There are a lot of diversions on the map and plenty of interesting discoveries to make, but the in-game world is on the small side and only sparsely populated with NPCs.

When we got a taste of seamless PVP during testing, we experienced a few instances with serious frame rate problems, but when everything worked, being invaded by other hackers and joining the police to chase down rivals made you feel like a part of a dynamic world. Knowing that we could unexpectedly find ourselves interrupted by a threat, especially one with a human in control, made an average moment in Watch Dogs 2's open world a little more special. That's missing right now, and it's not clear when it will be fixed. Stay tuned in the coming days as we continue to asses the game and give Ubisoft a chance in good faith to fix multiplayer. - PB, 11/15/2016, 11:10 AM PST

Watch Dogs 2 makes a life of cybercrime in San Francisco almost irresistibly fun. In what turned out to be a smart maneuver, Ubisoft dialed back the self-serious cyberpunk drama from the first game, aiming for something closer to an absurd hacker sitcom with Grand Theft Auto's irreverent atmosphere. We've spent almost 40 hours with the game, and though we were able to beat every main objective and most side missions, not every aspect of Watch Dogs 2 was ready for showtime leading up to launch.

In response to reports of heavy slowdown during multiplayer events, Ubisoft temporarily disabled seamless PVP last week. Though we only experienced multiplayer-related frame rate issues a few times, it was relentless when it occurred--rebooting the game was the only cure. We don't know if the issue will be resolved before Watch Dogs 2 goes public, so our full review will have to wait until we can test multiplayer in real-world conditions after launch. However, the majority of Watch Dogs 2 is designed for solo play and everything outside of multiplayer seems to be in working order.

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With San Francisco's skyline at your back, you guide our upbeat protagonist Marcus into the open arms of DedSec--a well-meaning hacktivist group that fights for privacy and justice against the likes of the FBI and social network giants. Your partners come on strong at times, overflowing with hacker cliches, but outside of DedSec's secret hideout, the Bay Area's biggest tech companies, personalities, and headlines steal the show. If you've ever wanted to harass the nefarious pharma bro Martin Shkreli or peer into the mind of a social network bigwig, there's a mission for that.

Your smartphone can manipulate electronics and vehicles remotely thanks to its suite of DedSec apps, and hop between closed-circuit cameras to silently enter municipal and corporate buildings. There's an art to accomplishing your goals without being noticed, but if you prefer to stand tall and carry a big stick, no major character will question your tactics--least of all Marcus himself. You are free to hijack cars, steal from the poor, and use brute force in place of covert hacks, provided you're good at running from the police.

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San Francisco and other Bay Area cities look and feel like their real-world counterparts, but there's a noticeable lack of traffic on sidewalks and city streets. This affords you fewer opportunities to create chaos as a result, but open lanes make it easy to cruise around the bay. Driving feels marginally better than it did in the first Watch Dogs, with motorcycles offering the most control and utility. There's a wonderful mix of urban variety and natural beauty on the map, and the steep hills of San Francisco offer plenty of opportunities for death defying stunts.

The best moments in Watch Dogs 2 are when it presents open-ended challenges that inspire you to mix hacking and armed combat.

As you coast around and across the bay, you can distract yourself from the daunting task of hacking the world by racing motocross bikes, go karts, and drones. You can also work on your selfie game and drive for a ride-sharing service to earn extra cash and attract new DedSec followers, which in turn allows you to unlock new hacking abilities and purchase weapons. Working through skill trees is a gradual process with few grand and meaningful leaps in technology, and though you're encouraged to shoot for a specific playstyle, you'll have no problem if you diversify your skillsets--research points are doled out generously during story missions. There are scenarios where you can easily identify the most reasonable course of action, but the best moments in Watch Dogs 2 are when it presents open-ended challenges that inspire you to mix hacking and armed combat.

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Part of the reason Watch Dogs 2 can allow you to be sneaky or explosive at a moment's notice is that its AI has a few screws loose. You aren't given the chance to hide bodies, which makes stealth seem like a non-option, but this is accounted for by easily distracted NPCs. With a simple command, you can distract or overwhelm enemies through their smartphone, even when they know something sketchy is afoot, then knock them out before they can call for help. You can drive forklifts and scissor lifts through crowds, but no one seems too bothered by the inconvenience. With fast and loose rules, Watch Dogs 2 won't win any points for realism, but it does allow you room to be the creative action hero you (apparently) are.

You can have a lot of fun playing Watch Dogs 2 offline, but multiplayer--when it works--shouldn't be ignored. There are emergent PVP events that allow you to hack or hunt down other players, and special missions where you and a partner can infiltrate networks and private property together. We can imagine how a server full of players has the potential to make you feel connected to the world and part of a larger community of hackers, but we can't test that theory until the game is in the hands of more people. We will continue to experiment, so check back later this week to see if Watch Dogs 2 can seamlessly marry single and multiplayer gameplay, and what that means for the game at large.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Peter Brown

Peter is Managing Editor at GameSpot, and when he's not covering the latest games, he's desperately trying to recapture his youth by playing the classics that made him happy as a kid.
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topgun182

Really didn't care too much about this game's release since I never finished the first one, but I opened an email today from Nvidia and because I use the Geforce Experience, I got a free code to beta test this new feature. Ok. Free is always good so here goes.

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jomi101

This is one ass kicking game. Played the 1st one and loved it, now I can't wait to get it on the 25th after watching hours of in game footage on the web. This is a 9.5/10, period!!!!

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

This game is at least an 8-8.5 on it's own merit as is. I know you're waiting on PVP but if it's anything like the first game we know what to expect. Based on the campaign alone this game is a gem. Just review it as it is and be done.

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DARREN636

surely,if the game is released and people buy it, GameSpot should be reviewing the game as it is

it's not the public's fault that the game is half done.

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edviges

@DARREN636: agree. GameSpot is waiting for the game to be patched so they can give a honest score. I hope you [GameSpot] continue like this in the future (waiting for a game to be patched) and dont give a low score because the game at launch was filled with bugs like you did lots of times in the past.

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chitownjedi

@edviges: This makes absolutely no sense. A buggy game is a buggy game. YOU review it and drop the score because its buggy. You don't wait and hold out... What kind of sense does that make? Being fair? Being fair is reviewing on the same criteria for every game. That should mean once the game is released, and you have your copy, review the game as is. If you want to have a live score that can go up and down over time based on the content and state of the game that's explainable. If you want to do snap shot game scores every 3 months or 6 months for the life of a game, upping or lowering the score based on all the dlc and patches that came out that's understandable...

But saying you want to wait to the game has bugs patched is not fair. What if they patch more then bugs? What if they patched little issues that someone had with gameplay, or the audio, or the visuals, and now that same reviewer instead of giving the game a 8.5 or 7.0 is now giving it a 9.0 because of the patch? It's just wrong. Unless you say no game will be reviewed for at least 1 major patch after release to fix up any lingering bugs and gameplay issues, why do a solid for one publisher versus another? They had the ability to delay this game, and make sure that it was released in better condition. Why is Gamespot enabling this by giving solids to folks who made a decision based solely on profits and for the purpose of GETTING THEIR MATERIAL OUT TO THE USER BASE, REGARDLESS OF FLAWS!?

Seems Ironic that GameSpot can try to be the "bigger" of the two and provide a grace period when non is deserved, it cast doubt on their methodology, and seemingly highlights a conflict of interest.

Keep it real... trying to explain their reasoning behind this is flawed.

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marten216

the detail in the hacker hideout is amazing! u cant deniy that!

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marten216

this is hands down the best graphics on console next to witcher 3. its a show off piece for consoles although it may be to late but all future games should look like this.

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urbanman2004

Patiently awaiting the PC version release

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marten216

@urbanman2004: pc should look amazing as to what ive seen on ps4. great looking game.

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urbanman2004

@marten216: most definitely

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marten216

@urbanman2004btw don't hate pc gamers like others used to be one , just got lazy but pc graphics is always the best and will always be the best.,

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marten216

+been playing on ps4 for about 10 houres this is A very impressive game. the graphics are the best ive seen on consoles and the gameplay is just fun . u can play in short bursts or long playthroughs and be satisfied. this is not gta its just different from that and its great. don't pass this up on negative reviews its worth 60 bucks if u love long term gaming. im recommending this game to friends.

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cjyoung433

I've had a great time with the game so far and I'm looking forward to doing online play once it's fixed

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marten216

@cjyoung433: yeah im sticking with this for online, want to see where it goes. love the music tracks in game! don't know wy just do!

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edviges

GameSpot is waiting for the game to be patched so they can give a honest score. I hope you [GameSpot] continue like this in the future (waiting for a game to be patched) and dont give a low score because the game at launch was filled with bugs like you did lots of times in the past. You are opening a good but dangerous precedent.

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TheEroica

@edviges: then what exactly is the point of a release date? What about the people who get in line to support the product day 1 and ultimately get an incomplete product? If developers want a score that justifies their perceived efforts then they should release a finished product.

Without reviewers holding them accountable with review scores, they can pretty much release anything in any condition and expect reviewers to wait till it's finished to review? Nah.

Moderator
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edviges

@TheEroica: its a vicious circle... but for me the fault is not in the devs but in the big distributors companys.. Much like music artists... always in pressure to release albuns (if its a sucessul band - its been happening since the The Beatles).

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TheEroica

@edviges: which is why people should at least give more than a passing nod to the indie movement of games... Not only are you getting games that are free from what the suits want to jam down your throat (first person persoective/third person perspective and basically nothing else... How boring and unspectacular.) but youre getting someone's/small teams unhinged perspective in a video game experience that doesn't need to be like everyone else. That's pretty cool.

Moderator
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GameofTrolls

If Peter Brown gave No Man Sky got 7/10, Watch Dogs 2 has to be an 8/10. Right ?

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MaccMosley

I love this Game,I having a blast,that's all that matters to me. The games sick,super fun just flying around fucing with cops and stealing money. I give it an easy 9 it's as fun as GTA with extras,I've put at least 10 hours in a haven't hardly started the campaign.

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marten216

@maccmosley: agree bud. think this will be underated game, its fun as hell ! I spent an hour just admiring the graphics and hacking peoples bank accounts. beautiful game and great setting. its different and that's what we need right now.

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chitownjedi

Question: If Anygry Joe, can stream his play through, and take that same footage of the stream to create his video review then why can't ign or gamespot?

Seems like a massive missed opportunity... If it now takes a week to get a review (Because its not just producers asking for more time to sell the game without a negative score impacting the game... which I think it is and why it takes so long,) At least bring some transparency to the process. Let's hear the reviewers enjoy an Oh^*& moment, live during their play-through for their review... versus being told you had one, but at same time taking 6 days to review something that come on now and keep it real.. don't take that damn long.

Put the crap on twitch or create your own twitch like domain.. freaking do your ads.. but for the love of god, stop losing your credibility by leaps and bounds every year...

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Brakster

@chitownjedi: ads bro. Ubisoft be paying their bills with the ads so they can't post bad reviews without giving them a week or two of sales without that review dragging them down. Then the 'waiting for the patch bs' allows them to give a subpar game a better score and continue to screw us the readers and gamers over

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nayce54

By the way, did you hear about the guy that used a DRONE to catch his cheating wife in real life? He looks like a retired Aiden Pearce, lol! *Joking* That guy is my hero!

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darkSYNced

Why not review it now? You had no problem giving gta 5 a 9 without multiplayer.

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Cl0ud

@darksynced: well gta v is an amazing game and was goty that year. without question. definitely over TLOU

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darkSYNced

@Cl0ud: It was, and honestly I'd say the same for this, I consider this game at least a goty contender, and probably the best open world game this year.

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ProfChrisK

Without the PVP MP, which I turn off anyways, the games a solid 8.5. I'm enjoying the story and thematic tone, which feels more fun than the 1st one, similar to how AC2/Ezio Trilogy was compared to the first AC. Its a marked improvement for the franchise and i'm glad to see it

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Lytnin

@profchrisk: So you can turn off PVP? Thought about picking this one up and then I saw "people can just randomly screw with you while you're trying to do stuff". Hate PVP.

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mvilleguy88

@Lytnin: Yeah, my least favorite part of darksouls.

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melante

@Lytnin: yeah, I hate unexpected PVP too. My personal review score will drop 2 points when they fix it! ;)

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ProfChrisK

@Lytnin: Yep, you can :)

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Cherub1000

From what I just read I've come to the simple conclusion that ubI soft are totally ripping us gamers off. Whether watchdogs 2 is good or not, ubisoft have openly stated the game is unfinished yet they're charging full price?! Madness!

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darkSYNced

@cherub1000: Remember GTA 5?

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Utnayan

@darksynced: oh give me a break. We knew MONTHS in advance multiplayer was coming later. Ubisoft flipped the switch off on this 12 hours before the game hit the shelves and didn't even say a word. We heard it through other avenues. Shady as shit.

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darkSYNced

@Utnayan: Okay, fine, but the point is, not many cared much and were completely satisfied with the game in it's technically incomplete state. This game should get it up soon, less than 2 weeks at least, and even in it's state, it's a fantastic game. I just don't see a reason to make a big deal out of it, I'm sure the sp content will keep people pleased for the few days it will take for the mp to go up.

Also, I wouldn't say "shady" just under prepared apparently, which you could fault them for, but it's better than it being up and screwing up the game.

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Cherub1000

@darksynced: yeah true. Though I never followed that too closely so I don't know all the details. It'd just be nice if we, the gamers, could band together and take some of this power away from these huge faceless companies. I can dream right? Haha!

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darkSYNced

@cherub1000: I have no issue myself, not big on multiplayer, only play for sp. So far, the game works 100% okay day 1, no lag in the 10 hours I've played so far (except a stutter once when driving quickly) and no glitches, works just fine, and it's probably one of the best games I've played this year, imo I'd even say it's better than gta 5 in most ways, except driving, driving is definitely not great, but it's good enough.

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facts23

i only bought the game because of san francisco. but sadly, the devs and pubs will get the wrong impression because my money hasn't got "only for sf" imprinted. they will think "another unit sold, another guy made happy". actually, no. i find the game to be abysmal. it's really just the setting that sold it to me.

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gotrekfabian

@facts23: Abysmal? Play for a while longer, it is a pretty good open world game. If you haven't made a few purchases and invested in some skills then it will seem very bland. Once you have the ability to play around with the world it becomes an entirely different experience and a lot of fun.

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megakick

Looks way too much like GTA 5

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snugglebear

While yall are watching dogs, I've been petting them. BOOM!

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Alecmrhand

I really liked the first Watch Dogs but this game doesnt do much for me. Im not sure why. Maybe its because i dont really find the narrative interesting.

Im sure ill play it someday, but after reading the reviews, i dont feel the need to prioritize it.

If its one that warms your loins.....Enjoy!

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sleepingdawg

Been playing watch dogs 2 and dishonored 2 the past week. Been having a blast on watch dogs, whilst dishonored has been a slow boring slog.

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Cherub1000

@sleepingdawg: whilst I've little interest in watchdogs, I'm keen to know your thoughts on dishonored? Loved the first one but despite the sequels getting great reviews, I'm hearing a lot of gamers say similar things to yourself.

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sleepingdawg

@cherub1000: i think you need a lot of patience to play Dishonored 2 as the right way to do it is stealthily, and when / if you do get caught the combat is really poor. Ive likened the combat to fruit ninja, you just wave your blade in the enemies direction but dont get any feel of any damage. I really enjoyed Dishonored 1 too, maybe 2 will grow on me, but its on the back burner now as its not drawn me in like watch dogs has.

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give it a 6 and get over with it