Why so serious…? Ubisoft brings the funny in a sandbox designed for mischief
Real life getting you down? Don’t worry – Ubisoft‘s got you covered. In Watch Dogs 2 you can aim to misbehave in a virtual sandbox that’s all about having fun (or watching the world burn). Sure, there’s a story mode and missions, but rather than the relatively po-faced rundown of the first game, the series creators this time want to throw a little chaos onto the roulette wheel.
“As you play you gain more notoriety with powerful people so things do get more serious as the game progresses,” explains Colin Graham, Animation Director. “But it never loses that fun tone. And I think that’s what players want – they don’t want to spend a lot of time in a dark and depressing universe, they want to have a lot of fun too.”
With that in mind, take a look at why Watch Dogs 2 is certain to put a smile on that face.
1) Clothes maketh the wo/man
Customisable clothing isn’t new in games, but in Watch Dogs 2 you can truly make fashion a trolling statement. “Most of the clothing you see civilians in the game wearing, you can actually find in a shop,” says Andrew Kephalidis, Gameplay Animator.
“So if you see someone with a certain look you like, you can take a picture of them using your in-game phone for reference, and then go and buy it.”
Which in turn means you can rip off someone’s style, find them and then take selfie of your mocking fashionista triumph (which may well annoy the person in the shot).
There are literally thousands of vests, suits, tie-dye shirts, bags, secret items and more to style and profile in. “I like to go through some missions in Crocs and underwear,” admits Andrew.
2) Three-dimensional havoc
Being part of hacker and maker culture means protagonist Marcus Holloway has access to an advanced 3D printer, which he can create a variety of weapons with, such as grenade launchers and sniper rifles. And on top of that, he can also use it to skin his drones with a variety of patterns.
But your ground based remote control drone has more attitude than Twiki from Buck Rogers, equipped with a speaker to spout off insults to anyone of your choosing. Which can often create a variety of trouble.
Ironically, Marcus also has a more personal, lo-tech solution for people who mess with his creations. “Marcus’ standby weapon is essentially a pull ball and a string,” says Andrew. “But you can knock a guy out or choke someone with it.”
Yup, you can take out the mafia and potentially your friends with a mere kids’ toy. Perfect.
3) Ghost riding the whip
Vehicle hacking was the source of much joy in Watch Dogs, so its sequel elevates things to the next level. “You can still hack a car to move out of the way, but you can also remote control them,” says Colin.
“So we’ve had instances where players have hacked a car to begin driving, then jumped on top of the roof… and started to dance.”
“In one of our testing sessions, one of our players was even riding down the street in a super slow extendable power lifter crane, and every now and then they’d stop, take out a sniper rifle and take a pot shot at other players,” laughs Colin.
“The players at the bottom of the street were trying to work out how to get to him. So they were throwing bombs and then activated their drones to fly up and drop IEDs, so the sniper was trying to shoot those out of the air. All this happened while the cops were on the street trying to shoot everyone. It was pure chaos.”
4) Power to the people – or not
Each civilian in the game has a personality and mood, which gauges their reaction to your chaos. True, stealing a car may result in a typical response (whether that’s being attacked, the police being called or, you know, someone taking a picture on their camera phone) but maybe you’ve shot out the glass and jumped through the window to get in – which could result in bystanders cheering you on for your sheer moxie. It’s best to expect the unexpected.
“We had a tester who decided to punch a bystander in the game, who got mad and fought back,” says Colin. “But then our tester told the guy to calm down. The bystander started to walk away, but our tester then threw a verbal insult at him…
“The bystander came back and started to beat up the tester, but another person saw the fight and called the cops. They arrived and arrested the poor original bystander.
“So our player went over and took a selfie with the bystander being arrested in the background. I think he shared the picture, too.”
5) They pull a gun, you pull a… mobile phone
Let’s say the above scenario doesn’t go your way and that innocent (well, not any more) bystander draws a weapon. Rather than get your hands dirty, you can grab your phone and put out a hit on your aggressor immediately. It may take a few seconds, but before you can say “erm… isn’t this illegal?” a gang will roll up and put down your target.
Although their efficiency may depend on all the other circumstances you’ve set into play. “Usually any sort of gunfire will cause someone to call the police,” says Andrew. “But if they see armed goons on arrival they’ll hunt them. And if any dogs are there and feel threatened they can attack civilians, too.”
In short, you can quickly cause a scene of total bedlam. And the best part? As long as you keep your cool, no one will suspect that you started it. Heck, if you’ve got a camera, may as well take a few snaps, right?