'Watch_Dogs' vs 'Watch_Dogs 2'!
Is one better than the other?
I must start out by saying, it is extremely rare that I get addicted to a game.
I'm the type of guy that is always on the go and working on either new poetry or a new story. So when I stumbled upon Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs for the PS4 it was love at first sight!
You start off as the main protagonist Aiden Pearce. He is a very skilled grey hat hacker(a computer hacker who can successfully hack into security systems but not at all for malicious intent) who uses his cellphone to hack into the ctOS (Central Operating System) which is what controls everything in the city of Chicago (which is the setting for the game).
Aiden has many skills that the player unlocks as they progress throughout the game. One of his huge skills is stealth mode, which is why the citizens of Chicago call him "The Fox."
If you've ever watched the CBS show Person of Interest then you'll remember the computer system would tell the main character John when danger is about to strike—like someone is about to be murdered or robbed. Well, in this game, the ctOS scans every citizen revealing dark secrets and extreme fetishes, while also informing Aiden (the player too) about a Crime which is about to happen. (More on that later.)
Watch_Dogs 2 takes us out of the windy city of Chicago and into the bright, sunny, and artsy San Francisco. We play as the protagonist Marcus Holloway who is a member of the hacktivist group Dedsec. Dedsec makes an appearance in Watch_Dogs but they were portrayed as a mysterious force that has some citizens scared and they even ask Aiden for help in the end of the game but he neglects to help them. Apparently, San Francisco was so inspired by the technology of Chicago that they decided to install ctOS 2.0 throughout the city, which is what Marcus hacks through to manipulate things in his favor.
Now that we have the story down packed, let's go over how each of them differ from each other when it comes to game play, story, and quests!
We start off this game with our feet on the ground and running!... Literally!
The game takes place eleven months after the death of Aiden's niece. She was killed when a gunman named Maurice Vega shot Aiden's car, causing it to flip. She sadly was seated in the backseat and died on impact.
Of course I will be avoiding spoilers so don't expect detail to detail when it comes to the twists and turns along the way.
Now, in the beginning, we confront Maurice in the locker room of a sports stadium during a live game! Aiden shoots Maurice, but the gun is empty, so Aiden, AKA us, subdues Maurice knocking him out cold. Aiden leaves the locker room and is met with a Fixer (assassin for hire who we will see plenty of during the rest of the game) named Jordi Chin. He tells Aiden he emptied his gun on purpose because he didn't see Aiden as a killer. And to make matters worse, Jordi tells us that he called the police to cover up the bodies that are all throughout the backroom of the arenas—most likely Aiden's work—to set up a local gang.
This sounds like an amazing idea! Aiden is scot free, right? WRONG! The freaking cops are searching throughout the arena for The Fox AKA Aiden. It is our job—through the tutorials—to help navigate Aiden out of the stadium and avoid being spotted by the CPD, easier said than done. But we learn the skills of crafting devices which will distract guards and enemies—I honestly used this skill once throughout the entire game.
We are able to escape, but not before we hack into the ctOS system and cause a huge blackout. We then have to go through a connecting bar and avoid the Police scanners from finding us. Of course, they found me a few times because I couldn't find a proper way to escape them and a huge city wide car chase ensued but I was able to escape the clutches of the police!
After this, everything else seems like a walk in the park.
There are missions where you have to stop a car from reaching their destination, hack into all ctOS systems throughout Chicago where you unlock side quests, then there's one mission where you get yourself arrested to infiltrate a prison and you're in prison with dirty cops... with no weapons... It's not fun.
I got this game this past Christmas and once I popped it into my PS4, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!
We start off the game infiltrating the ctOS system of San Francisco playing as Marcus Holloway—a younger and more charismatic character than Aiden. We are given a short tutorial as we have to take down or avoid being seen by the security guards who are faster, stronger, and have quick trigger fingers. Clearly the ctOS officers upped their training from the first game.
We enter the building and hack into various floors to get the ctOS database so Marcus can delete his identity from the system. He was set up for a crime he didn't commit as the system was quick to make him look like the criminal.
Once he deletes his name, everything goes crazy! Backup is called, more guards enter the building, and getting out alive seems like a mission that not even Tom Cruise can handle.
Although I'm still playing this game—there is so much to do in this sequel. What I faced so far were gang riots, hacking into systems, avoiding detection, angry competing hackers, the death of an important character, stealing a movie car, re-meeting characters from the first game, petting dogs yet avoiding their attacks, and realizing that the citizens of San Francisco are armed and deadly!
A huge skill in Watch_Dogs is profiling. This is where you can successfully hack into the citizens of Chicago's bank accounts, learn their secrets, and find out if they are seconds away from committing a crime or delivering a suspicious package.
There are conversations which have people talking about their disgust for their mother-in-law, picking up their friend's sister, or blackmailing their closeted boss.
But profiling comes in handy on missions when you need to find a Hacker who is trying to hack into your database! Seriously! A moron Hacker is trying to out hack the hacker—it's a mess.
'Watch_Dogs 2' Profiling:
From what I've played so far, profiling isn't really as important as it was in the first game. Sure, you can still profile each person and automatically steal their money without needing to go to the ATM (like in Watch_Dogs). There are a few great skills added: you can now falsely accuse someone of a crime, causing the police to arrest them, or falsely accuse them of being a snitch, causing the local gang to come and attack them.
It may sound mean to attack poor innocent people but in this game, those freaking people are far from innocent! Some citizens will attack each other over the craziest thing. Whether it's a small fender bender (I witnessed a man knock a woman out), a man stealing another man's cell phone and running, a wife smashing her husband's car windows with a baseball bat for cheating on her, or a person coming to snatch you out of a parked car you stole because it's theirs.
I love the inclusion of citizens doing something other than walking around, cursing, or taking pictures of you like in the first game.
'Watch_ Dogs' Potential Crimes:
Throughout the game play, we will get alerts of a potential crime, whether it's someone seeking payback on another individual, a mentally unstable person thinking a citizen is a three headed alien, or just a creep trying to plant a bomb somewhere. It is Aiden's job to stop these crimes from happening. We watch as the "Potential Victim" meter reaches 95 percent before we can intervene by knocking out the suspect. If we are spotted too early, the criminal gets nervous and walks away, causing that crime to go undone.
Every crime we stop—hopefully without using a gun, running the criminal over, or without having the criminal kill the victim—causes our reputation bar to increase. This lets us know where Aiden ranks in the Windy City. For example, the reputation bar starts off with Aiden as The Protector and after the bar increases to 100 percent—and if we don't harm police officers or citizens throughout the course of the game, Aiden will be known as The Vigilante and the citizens of Chicago will do everything in their power to protect Aiden from the police.
I'm not entirely sure what happens if the reputation bar hits the negative but there is a mission later on which shows the citizens quickly dialing 911 on Aiden... so maybe that's it?
'Watch_Dogs 2' (NO) Potential Crime:
Potential Crimes do not exist at all in this game! You receive side quests based off of Intel other Dedsec members give you but you don't get any notifications of a potential crime going down. There are moments though where a person will randomly attack someone else and even if you do intervene, you don't have a reputation bar, let alone make money, and if you don't play your cards right, you will get the police called on you or gang attacked by a crazy old lady with a gun bigger than her head.
I like the idea of this because it makes high speed chasing a lot easier when the police ram your car, so if you run a pedestrian over, you don't have to worry about your reputation decreasing.
But with the inclusion of gang territories in the game, be careful where you walk because drive-by shootings happen daily!
'Watch_Dogs' Focus Boost:
When shooting enemies on missions, a focus boost comes in handy! A Focus Boost is when everything slows down (slow motion) and you're able to take down moving enemies with ease while remaining stealthy.
I cannot stress how important this one factor is throughout the game. Of course the focus boost doesn't last long and it replenishes itself in due time, but when you have to infiltrate a gang's hideout, Focus Boost is what you'll need to get the job done.
You can also craft your own Focus Boost pills when you upgrade Aiden's skills.
'Watch_Dogs 2' (NO) Focus Boost:
I think Ubisoft wanted to see how they could frustrate players and not adding the Focus Boost in this sequel certainly did the trick!
The enemies this time are faster and more lethal. They have guns which will cause your health to drop faster than your drunk uncle during a party.
From my experience, I don't bother using guns because they're useless (my opinion) on the agile enemies. I just use stealth mode—which Marcus excels in too—and I knock out the enemies. Or I just use the default taser we get, but even then the enemies wake up a few minutes later! If that doesn't work, I just pin an enemy as being a criminal or a snitch and I let the police and gangs take care of them as I hide somewhere far off.
Aiden's Bag of Tricks:
Using the Focus Boost as mentioned before is a huge help! And if you want a huge tip: buy the grenade launcherthat will come in handy for all the crazy missions you will face. But if you want to remain stealthy as a fox throughout, then Aiden with his baton is the greatest weapon of all!
And considering Aiden hacks into ctOS if you upgrade the important hacking skills, you can cause steam pipes to burst in the street, stopping enemy cars from attacking you, manipulate traffic lights to cause car accidents, and raise spikes to flatten the tires of enemy cars.
When you're Aiden Pearce the possibilities are endless!
Marcus AKA Inspector Gadget(s):
Unlike Aiden, Marcus has two gadgets that he uses to help him with his missions. (Again, I'm still playing this game so if he has more gadgets that become available later, I'll let you know)
He has an RC Jumper and a Drone which makes it easier to get a map layout on where what is on an enemy's territory. Now keep in mind, if an enemy spots the RC Jumper or Drone, you can expect them to throw rocks at it (I have no idea where they even get the rocks from) or shoot at it destroying it immediately!
When that happens, you are given a minute for the gadgets' health to repair and you are able to use it again brand new.
As mentioned, I'm not too fond of Marcus's gun skills so I stick with fighting. And since he doesn't have a Focus boost, maybe catching enemies off guard is the easiest way to go.
Just like Aiden, Marcus can change traffic lights—which has no effect since the streets are narrow and hardly any traffic is around—and he can cause steam pipes to burst. A plus side about Marcus is that he can falsely label someone as a snitch or a deadly criminal causing enemies to be distracted and a huge plus side is the fact he can hack cars!
This comes in handy when being chased down by enemies or police. You can cause the cars to stop, reverse, swerve left, or swerve right.
It's really fun to do!
'Watch_Dogs' Side Quests:
Most of the side quests involve Criminal Convoys (stopping cars from reaching their final destination), Gang Hideout(taking down gang leaders, not killing them, just taking them down with a K.O.), Fixer Contracts (driving missions), Invasion of Privacy(where you hack into various computer cameras to get bonuses and find out what happens in an every day Chicago citizen's life; also check out a cameo by Aisha Tyler playing herself), Human Trafficking (where you hack the phones of bidders and put a stop to women being sold), and Weapon Crates(This is where you hack weapon boxes to see who is going around using high powered weapons. The final mission took me two tries to pass, but if you get spotted by the big bosses then you can run out the area, steal a car, and drive back and forth mowing the enemies down.)
But my favorite side quest is Missing Persons. In this side quest, you have to find the Fingerpaint Killer, a serial killer who kills women and uses their blood to paint images... with his fingers.
The bodies are spread all throughout Chicago and are labeled on the map with a magnifying glass symbol. Once you find all six bodies and scan them, the killer will call your phone breathing heavy into it like a stalker hiding somewhere in your house. Aiden tracks his signal—seriously, he's a hacker; what don't his enemies understand?—and must reach him before the killer paints a new image with the blood of his next victim!
'Watch_Dogs 2' Side Quests:
The side quests in this game are plentiful and that to me, is an amazing thing!
A few of the side quests involves Marcus hacking into cameras of various people and teaching them a lesson.
For example, the young lady in the picture is the cousin of a Dedsec member and she is underage. She performs various dances on a live stream which draws child predators, so Marcus hacks into her camera and changes the music, turns the light switch on and off, and messes with her until she decides to log off the live stream.
Another side mission sees us hacking into the camera of a teenage gamer who has been trolling people. He is distracted by his game that he doesn't know we called 911 on him and when he shouts "I'm going to kill you!" he is unaware the 911 operator hears it all.
Right now, I just started a few side quests where I'm doing graffiti and trying not to get caught and another one involves me hacking into the cameras of the ATM machines and deciding if I want to give someone more money or take their money. Karma is a b-!
Is there a winner?
From playing Watch_Dogs, I dove right into playing Watch_Dogs 2 and I have to admit there were a few things in the sequel which caused me to let out a dramatic sigh.
The controls, for example, are a huge let down for me. Nothing is the same as the first one. Running isn't the same button as the sequel and it seems Marcus gets tired when he sprints, which is a huge difference from Aiden.
The lack of Focus Boost was a let down for me as it would've helped!
I do enjoy the atmosphere in WD1 because it was gloomy to fit the tone of the story. WD2 is bright and definitely a huge open world that will make you go insane—in a good way!
WD1 bored me when I finished the campaign and side quests, because there wasn't much to do except stop Potential Crimes, whereas WD2 doesn't give you much time to relax and take a breather as you're either enthralled in another mission or a citizen is assaulting someone or a gang member performs a drive by a few inches from where you're standing.
I do admit—and this might be juvenile—but I miss the music from WD1.
I have two favorite songs which I enjoyed listening to on loop.
This song would be my go to when it's rainy.
The energy of this song is fire!
So overall if I had to choose a clear winner, I'd say it's definitely Watch_Dogs 2. There are still more missions that need to be completed before I beat the game but Aiden Pearce will always have a place in my heart. (And also a place in Watch_Dogs 2... semi spoiler alert.)
And kudos to Ubisoft for including their version of the Castro, which is a LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhood in San Francisco!