Ubisoft got a smash-hit open-world third-person RPG on its hands with the "Watch_Dogs" franchise. The original Chicago-based "Watch_Dogs" was a great filler for the PC gaming crowd as Rockstar delayed the PC release of "Grand Theft Auto V." Unlike GTA, which is based around general criminality, "Watch_Dogs" is more specific - its world is built around the urban hacktivist culture, one popularized in other forms of art, such as the smash-hit "Mr. Robot" television series, a culture where being able to breach through cyber-security of big evil corporations is "edgy". Of course a 'hacker' in the real world could look like anybody and follow any way of life.
The primary weapons in the "Watch_Dogs" world are not firearms, but your ability to "hack" electronic devices with your smartphone or laptop. Game critics such as Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw criticized this as being not much different than waving a magic wand, and hacking something in-game is nowhere near as challenging as hacking in the real world; even if a gamer has no skills of actual hacking, they should have been replaced with puzzles that are equally challenging.
"Watch_Dogs 2" is set in San Francisco. It had to be this city because the San Francisco Bay Area is what makes up Silicon Valley, the cradle of modern computing and new technology. It's also one of the more scenic cities in the US West. Bringing SF to life is care of a new-generation Disrupt 2.0 game engine by Ubisoft Montreal, and the studio appears to have made special effort to make the production design as accurate to the marketing material as possible. Ubisoft was criticized for marketing the original "Watch_Dogs" with bullshots (marketing images that look like screenshots with more eye-candy than what the game actually ships with).
The story of "Watch_Dogs 2" is set in the same universe as the original, San Francisco becomes the second city after Chicago to install ctOS, an IoT operating system that connects all of the city's inhabitants to all its public infrastructure. Sounds pretty neat in theory, but like in Chicago, it has a dark-side to it, a power grab by evil corporations. Marcus Holloway (the protagonist) is punished for not upgrading ctOS on his devices to a security-patched ctOS 2.0 following the events in Chicago; by placing him on a watch-list. He then teams up with hacktivist group DedSec to make the system unravel itself. For the most part, the gameplay is identical to the original, with a few improvements to the HUD.
"Watch_Dogs 2" is being released in the era of 4K-ready game consoles such as the PS4 Pro and fabled Xbox Scorpio; and as such, its PC release has a lot more eye candy that rewards you for investing in powerful hardware. In this review, we are testing the game through a selection of modern graphics cards, in three key display resolutions - 1080p, 2560x1440, and 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160).
We tested the game using NVIDIA GeForce 376.09 WHQL and the AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5 Hotfix, which both were released yesterday specifically for Watch_Dogs 2.