Watch Dogs 2 (stylized as WATCH_DOGS 2) is a 2016 action-adventure game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the sequel to 2014’s Watch Dogs and the second installment in the Watch Dogs series. It was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows in November 2016, and Stadia in December 2020. Set within a fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area, the game is played from a third-person perspective and its open world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Players control Marcus Holloway, a hacker who works with the hacking group DedSec to take down the city’s advanced surveillance system known as ctOS. There are multiple ways to complete missions, and each successful assignment increases the follower count of DedSec. Cooperative multiplayer allows for competitive one-on-one combat and connecting with other players to neutralize a player who is causing havoc.
Ubisoft Montreal studied player feedback from the first game to assess what could be improved in Watch Dogs 2 and the setting was researched by making frequent trips to California. Ubisoft Reflections was responsible for overhauling the driving mechanic. Real hackers were consulted to validate scripts and game mechanics for authenticity and references to real-life hacktivism were fictionalized, like the Project Chanology protest. The original soundtrack was composed by Hudson Mohawke. The game was released to overall positive reception from critics which praised the game for improving upon the original Watch Dogs in areas like the hacking, setting, characters and driving. However, character inconsistencies, firearms, and frequent technical issues — later patched — were cited as imperfections. Watch Dogs 2 had sold more than 10 million copies by March 2020. A sequel, Watch Dogs: Legion, was released on October 29, 2020.
Similar to its predecessor, Watch Dogs 2 is an action-adventure game with stealth elements and played from a third-person perspective as Marcus Holloway, a young hacker. The game features an open world set in a fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area, an area more than twice as large as the Chicagoland setting from Watch Dogs. It consists of four different areas: San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, and Silicon Valley. Players can navigate the game’s world on-foot or by the various vehicles featured in the game, such as cars, trucks, buses, cable cars, motorcycles, quad bikes, and boats. The driving mechanic was overhauled and designed to be more accessible. The player can shoot their weapons while driving. Marcus also has improved acrobatic skills, and the ability to parkour around the city. The player can use different methods to approach the game’s missions, choosing between the aggressive approach, in which they defeat enemies with guns which are made with a 3D printer; explosives, like mines; or Marcus’ own melee weapon, a billiard ball attached to a bungee cord. Alternatively, the player can use the stealth approach, in which they can evade enemies or paralyze them temporarily with Marcus’ taser. Watch Dogs 2, like its predecessor, places a particular emphasis on using environmental apparatus and the terrain to Marcus’ advantage. For example, a player may hack an A/C unit to produce an electric shock when an enemy nears it. Marcus may also employ his own modular taser devices and explosives to use tactically against enemies. When law enforcement witnesses the player committing a crime, or is alerted by a non-player character (NPC), police officers will attempt to arrest the player. The game upgrades system is a returning feature, with items being divided into three categories: Ghost, Aggressor, and Trickster. Upgrades can be customized according to playstyles.
Marcus can hack into various electronic devices connected to the ctOS system with his in-game smartphone. For example, Marcus can modify the personal information of NPCs to have them arrested or attacked by one of the various gangs such as the 580s, the Tezcas, the Auntie Shu Boys, the Bratva or the Sons of Ragnarok, hack and manipulate every mobile phone featured in the game, disrupt traffic by hacking cars and traffic lights, hack into monitoring cameras, and carry out “mass hacking”, which hacks the electrical equipment of a large group of people. The player can also gain multiple options while hacking the same object. For instance, if the player attempts to hack a car, they can gain direct control over them, or have the car lose control and crash in a random direction. Unlike Aiden, the protagonist of the first game, Marcus has an arsenal of advanced equipment, including a quadcopter and remote-controlled car, both of which can be used for remote hacking and scouting. Marcus’ apparel can be customized with over 700 articles of clothing, available for purchase in stores that maintain fashion styles unique to what is worn by the denizens in each area. The game features several main story missions, and side-missions known as “operations”. Once completed, Marcus’ follower count will increase.