Even if it’s only been two years Watch Dogs: Legion was released, enough time has passed that many are nostalgic for the world’s biggest hacking series and its unique technological take on open-world gaming. With that title only getting a lukewarm reception at best, but it’s mostly the original two games, and especially Watchdogs 2which fans still talk about with pleasure.
It begs the question of how much of this is due to the top-notch gameplay and how much is simply nostalgia for a game that came out at the right time for many of its biggest fans. Although it’s okay to call Watchdogs 2 a big improvement over its predecessor, there are some downsides to be found when playing through it again now.
Watch Dogs 2 is completely different from Watch Dogs 1
When Watchdogs 2 first came out, it was easy to get swept up in the hype of how much of an improvement it seemed over the first game in the series. From the improved hacking mechanics to the much larger and far superior San Francisco-based open world, the leaps forward were obvious from the start.
However, replaying the games reveals that the two are even more different than first appeared. The characters and tone are completely different, the story has neither Watch Dogs 1its gruesome ambitions, and it doesn’t push the player towards the same bloodthirsty approach to missions. All of which makes it seem like the two might as well belong in another franchise.
The shift in tone for Watch Dogs 2 is still jarring
Although it may have seemed like a lot of the less positive reaction to Watchdogs 2 and its more light-hearted tone was from die-hard fans of the first game who were disappointed that the sequel changed so much, a replay just highlights that it’s not an issue that can be so easily dismissed.
Whether the light-hearted dialogue and constant humor from the characters in Watchdogs 2 actual work is a matter of opinion, but there is undeniably a clash between this and the sometimes violent gameplay. While the darker tone of Watchdogs increased the suppressive threat of ctOS, Watch Dogs 2its tone no doubt pulls it down a bit.
Watch Dog 2’s hacking set a new standard for video games
While there are many great games for a different type of hacking, it’s fair to say that computer hacking is usually relegated to a small and often forgotten mechanic even in more futuristic video games. Therefore it was amazing how Watchdogs the series actually made hacking one of its main selling points.
But, Watchdogs 2 is on another level even from Watch Dogs 1. While there were still complaints about the limitations of hacking with one, 2 actually gave the player freedom to try different things and complete missions in different ways using the given hacking tools. Ultimately, the downside is that it makes it harder to accept that hacking is relegated to a scripted minigame in every other futuristic game.
Marcus Just Isn’t Watch Dog 2’s version of Aiden
Aiden Pearce may have been something of a divisive protagonist, but it’s fair to say he remains one of the defining characters of Watchdogs series. Serious, morally ambiguous and willing to do anything after losing his niece, Aiden set the standard for Watchdogs‘ main characters, and that’s precisely why Marcus couldn’t really live up to it.
Marcus exemplifies Watch Dogs 2his new, lighter tone and sense of humor, which is why he’s perfect for the game. Unfortunately, replaying the title reveals why Marcus hasn’t really come to represent the franchise as a whole in the same way that Aiden did, lacking the grit and intrigue that made the latter compelling.
Watch Dogs 2 takes too long to start
While Watchdogs begins with a massive story moment that makes it easy to be instantly hooked, Watchdogs 2 opens with a thrill, Mission impossible-set burglary mission. It might not seem like the biggest difference, but it’s the lack of any major hooks that makes it easy to start flagging around the 1-2 hour mark for a replay.
Of course, Watchdogs 2 rewards the player for their patience by being a significant improvement over the entire game’s history, but it’s a shame that some may never have experienced the best of what it has to offer due to its more low-key opening.
Watch Dog 2 has a forgettable story
Watchdogs 2 is a distinctive and memorable game in a number of ways, but there was one crucial aspect where it failed to quite excel. While it may be unfair to compare it to its more story-focused predecessor, it’s hard not to watch Watch Dogs 2its narrative unfavorable in light of the first game’s success.
While the story of Marcus’ technological revolution is fun, it lacks the highlights needed to make it stand out. Likewise, there is some satisfaction in seeing the bad guy come to an end, but it could easily have been a much more dramatic moment.
The humor of Watch Dogs 2 falls flat too often
Although comedy comes easily to some video games, there’s a reason why humor is often considered more difficult to write than serious drama. In an attempt to leave behind the dryness of its predecessor and give players something to laugh about, Watchdogs 2 took a risk by including more jokes in the dialogue.
Although it is easy to forget afterwards, to play through Watchdogs 2 again making it abundantly clear why it isn’t exactly considered a comedy masterpiece. Many of the jokes and dialogues that are clearly aimed at a younger audience simply fall flat and can be painful to listen to at times.
Watch Dogs 2 doesn’t give the characters enough
Despite its more light-hearted tone, Watchdogs 2 does a respectable job of giving its central characters interesting backgrounds and explaining how they ended up on the front lines of a technological revolution. From Sitara, who rebelled against her own wealthy family, to Josh, who had been discriminated against for being on the autistic spectrum, the game gave plenty of reason to be invested in these characters.
Unfortunately, it rarely delivered on its promise and ended up not giving its best characters many moments to shine. Perhaps the worst example is Horatio, who seemed like he could be one of the more likable characters in the game before he was unceremoniously killed off before anyone could really latch on.
Watch Dogs 2 has too high expectations for the series
Watch Dogs: Legion may have pleased fans simply to finally provide a sequel to the massive open world series, but it’s fair to say that the overall reception was lukewarm and much of the reason for that is just how many ways Watchdogs 2 was superior. Replaying the game now shows how much of a challenge it was to live up to it.
With the hacking mechanics refined and offering a ridiculous amount of freedom, Watchdogs 2 is still the pinnacle of open-world hacking games, and Ubisoft had little choice but to try something drastically different with it Watch Dogs: Legion. With the franchise seemingly on hold, it’s hard not to wonder if Watchdogs 2 set the series to disappoint.
Watch Dogs 2 is best for younger players
With its light-hearted tone and creepy, irreverent dialogue, it’s hard not to feel like Watchdogs 2 is aimed at a slightly younger audience compared to the first title, although they received the same age certification. Of course, games aimed at younger players have impressed adults for a long time, so there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that.
But anyone replaying the game now who played it when it first came out is inevitably significantly older than they used to be, and that makes it a completely different experience than the first playthrough. While it’s still fun, it’s undeniable that some of the thrill of playing has faded over time.
NEXT: 10 harsh realities of replaying Red Dead Redemption 2