All open-world sandbox games from Ubisoft have felt the same in some ways. One of the main reasons why is because of their tower system. It made sense in the beginning – you were an assassin completing weird climbing puzzles to get to the top of a tower, reveal the map and then do that awesome dive into a hay stack. KAKAAAAW! But then the tower mechanism made its way into every game and became a bit tired, especially as cleaning up side objectives started to feel like a chore you needed to do to tidy up the map. So we’re getting something new in Watch Dogs 2.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Watch Dogs creative director Jonathan Morin explained that towers are gone, replaced by something a bit more organic.
It’s not a game where you open your map and everything’s there. There are no towers. You just explore the world.
[…] Players start with a few followers in [hacker group] DedSec but pretty soon you realise you’re going to need more if you want to pull off big operations. So you start free-roaming. Every time you get followers, it’s like you’re unlocking the DedSec hivemind. You’re also unlocking new knowledge, new operations, new co-op missions. And then organically you hit those end-game milestones.
I really like that idea. It makes more sense as a human to simply get to know your city in a new way, discover new things that you can do (alone or with others), and eventually move through an experience without being pushed through a main story with side objectives. Now everything can feel like an objective, and it’s up to you to do the things you think are important.
I’m curious how the follower thing will work, but I like that it feels like that “influencer” idea. I know, it’s a marketing buzz word these days and plenty of people hate it, but it does feel real. Any of us have our network of friends, colleagues and weird social media acquaintances. Those networks grow over time, and we like to interact with our virtual tribes on a range of topics; I often use social media to find out important news, if I should spend money on movies or games, and what weird trends or memes might be interesting or entertaining. So why not use those same virtual tribes in a game?
Watch Dogs 2 is really determined to also make your experience seamless, whether or not you play alone or with others:
You can barely touch the story. You have many different operations which give you followers, which guide your progression, but mathematically you can unlock everything else through co-op or free-roam.
[…] You can play the whole game by yourself, including the co-op content, although I think that’ll be quite difficult,” Morin laughs. “Still, there’s always someone spectacular out there who can, so why not let them?
What we’re pushing for is having a seamless online, and integrating co-op into it. You can play different operations and choose to not even play the story. Activities will scale appropriately. And there is further progression so players stick around after the main story arc, if they want.
Now that would be something – if the city and the characters are interesting enough, and the gameplay is fun, it would actually be nice to want to keep playing after the story is completed. Maybe I’d even stick around just to help others with the co-op section. Oh no, what have I become? Am I… a sun bro?