I hope I’m not too late on this discussion train, but I keep trying to play watch dogs 2 and realize how not interested in it I thought i would be. I’m not sure how many people felt the same way but I wanted to give it a shot. Maybe it’s because of my own bias, the realism, and a mix of other things. Idk.
I just couldn’t get into watch dogs 2 the moment I went past the intro tutorial level.
Everything felt so cool, the environment around marcus was set and I immediately got who he was. Then he 3d prints a gun and they force you to have one all the time and I was turned right off.
I feel deeply uncomfortable having a gun or even driving haphazardly like I was playing gta in this world. At first I wondered if it was the fact that I was in what felt like an affluent area of California with technology that felt too modern and geek culture-y. Maybe it was that I felt like I was in an actual world with decent people. I didn’t even feel okay shooting at the gang members.
Or maybe it’s because dedsec is a fucking hacker’s organization with people who look like woke college age teens trying to fight the system. It just does not feel right that this hacker kid is okay with stealing cars and shooting people up in the GTA style that he has every option to do. I can understand that this game probably focuses way more on stealth but for me every time I accidentally press the left trigger and this kid with the dopiest innocent smile I’ve ever seen pulls out a sniper rifle that he 3d printed I feel so disconnected from the world his aesthetic is trying to connect to.
Is it me? I’m 23 and I’m not even from California, idk why I’m reacting this way. But also, have you SEEN that doofy innocent smile he gives whenever you dress him up? Put down the 3d printed leopard print sniper you don’t know how to use, marcus.
I absolutely get where you’re coming from with this. For my part, I forced myself to play the entire game nonlethally and as “legally” as possible (not stealing cars or breaking traffic laws if I could help it or unless it made sense in that moment of the story, doing everything stealth/taser/hacking only…) and had a really good time. I had to save scum a lot as I was making the game harder, but I feel like it was worth it.
It’s made worse because everyone, everyone, immediately goes straight to shooting you. There’s no escalation of conflict in this game, it’s so binary. Even GTA cops have degrees of aggression - they only go straight to violence if you do. I know Hitman (2016) is a different kind of game, but both games have a ton of infiltrating places you’re not supposed to be - FBI HQ, research facilities, the Google campus, etc. All these places have people who shoot on sight, which feels fucked up - this is in a city! A real city, not a made up one! The notion of there being constant shootouts in the city of San Francisco, California, is bonkers.
The player is given all these options, but you should probably just shoot everyone because that’s how this game was made. It feels like there was a point in this game where they had a different idea of how AI would work, because there’s points in the game where your friends start warning you that “there will be guys with guns here,” when that’s been the entire fucking game. It’s disappointing.
I’m not gonna disagree with you about the gun: i havent even played the game and I know that shit isn’t right. But I do have complicated feelings about ‘behaving’ in an open world - that is, not pushing people around, not driving like no one else’s life matters, etc. I understand the urge to fully role-play by walking, pausing to look around, petting dogs, and beyond that, driving well, obeying traffic laws, not stealing cars, and so on. However, I, like many players, am also a bit impatient. I want to get where I want to go ASAP. Maybe I want to play a nice guy, and I want to pet that dog across the street, but I’m not waiting for the light to change. I’m just gonna dash through traffic before the dog despawns. I want to get to the next mission, so I’m just gonna drive down this busy sidewalk.
I want a game to properly incentivize being a nicey, rather than disincentivize being a baddie. Like, Mafia (the first one) wouldn’t let you drive over the speed limit because if you did, you’d get ‘pulled over’ and forced to watch a cutscene in which a cop writes you a ticket (plus you’d have to pay the fine, I believe). Beyond the extrajudicial process of giving your money directly to the cop, it was just annoying to be made to take your time because hurrying was punished. How could they make driving the speed limit rewarding, rather than a rule?
It seems like the consensus here is that WD2 does not incentivize playing as the kid they portray your character to be. How could they? What gameplay or mechanical changes could they have made to reward this kind of roleplay?
I pointed out the driving bits to be more of a slight exaggeration, I’m not really that much of a wary driver in that game, or any game. It just feels a little more uncomfortable than most games because I feel like an everyman and not a criminal driving recklessly in a seriously lived in area. At least, it comes off that way to me.
In general, marcus literally looks like a friend I could have grown up with or went to class with. So much is exaggerated for sure but the aesthetic just doesn’t match for me. I don’t play GTA games outside of Chinatown wars (my only favorite gta game) and Saints Row, which has clearly exaggerated to the point of silliness in a way I don’t feel bad about anymore.
They could make it so that the environment does not immediately try to murder you, for one thing. I think consequences or fail states that aren’t simply death would be super useful. There should also be more non-lethal options. There are… 3 nonlethal weapons, maybe, among 30+ guns. The stealth is not robust, from what I remember, because it’s just as binary as everything else. I’m pretty sure once you’re spotted, it’s shootout time and that’s it. Using your nonlethal weapons in a full on fight is not fun. Often if you try to run away from a firefight the cops will get on you, even if you’re fighting, say, a biker gang.
I don’t even necessarily need roleplay, but there are too many aesthetic choices that feel antithetical to having big gunfights. Marcus being a nice dude and the game being set in current-day San Francisco, a real ass city, just makes gunfights and the AI’s quickness to murder feel completely out of place.
If you’ve downloaded all the updates. You can ditch the first gun pretty much immediately and use the printer to make non-lethal weapons that have the same effects but no kill. You have to scroll a bit to find them. But Ubi included them with the game updates. A stealth play through is very viable compared to launch and the non-lethals give a bit of a tactical edge because you can injure guards and instead of going on alert immediately, they will call an ambulance.
You’re not the first one to have the complaint though. The community on Reddit asked Ubisoft to make more non-lethal weapons viable because they didn’t like the idea of college age teens weidling guns either and were surprisingly on board with people wanting it to be way more stealth focused and non-lethal. It opens up way more to stealth play when you have the RC and Quad Copter and you get way bigger XP bonuses for stealth/non-lethal runs as well. Problem is, There always is going to be that disconnect when you have a game where you can do a lot in a sandbox. And driving in a game is probably never going to be perfectly replicated (Less fun, but the side-missions based on Marcus’ actual job as a ride-share driver were super fun). But then it’s a unique game where the fanbase has said “We don’t really want guns unless they are non-lethal paintball guns” that when the inevitable W_D3 comes around, Ubi might have ditched guns altogether. That would be really refreshing.
They did a huge injustice not returning the “Vigilante/Psychopath” morality system from the original where your actions would influence the “public perception” of you, though. That would have played out far more interestingly in W_D2 than the first.
I played mostly non-lethal, besides my lethally bad driving where I was running down pedestrians during car chases. I had no issue with stealing cars, as I was “furthering the cause” and because it’s expedient to do so.
But playing co-op with randos is not recommended: Everyone I played with shot to kill GTA-style. I was running around with one guy who randomly walked into a cafe and shot up the place. I nipped right out of the session after that, I just don’t want that shit in my life, even in a video game.
Exact same problem as you my man. When I played for the first time at launch I lasted an hour before I was turned off by everything. Earlier this year I decided i’d return to it and play the game as Marcus, a guy my age who has no ability or reason to be carrying a gun let alone murdering folks. So I played like many here, no violence at all, obeying laws within reason (Yeah I skipped the odd red light and parked where I shouldn’t) and my experience was all the better for it. It’s likely going on my GOTY list for 2018.
I also decided Marcus was a keen photographer which made me explore the open world a lot more because it meant I got most places on foot hoping to catch a good photograph which also added to the experience, which led to me creating a Watch dogs photo diary.
My advice would be to equip the taser so you dont need to see a real firearm if you accidentally hit LT, and play using your drone and car and hacking ability. It’s a really rewarding experience
It seems unlikely that any major publisher would greenlight a AAA GTA-alike without guns, so I can see why they’re in the game, but I also felt they were out of character for Marcus so I played most of the game without using them.
I played Watch_Dogs 2 after spoiling myself reading Austin and Cameron’s Postscript regarding a character death, so I was prepared to play in a very specific way: non-lethal for 90% of the game, lethal for one mission, carrying a firearm for the remainder of the game post that mission (though I never used it)
The game doesn’t tell you this or make it very clear in the UI, but you can un-equip any firearm you might accidentally purchase from the 3D printer in your home base (as well as the tutorial handgun) so if you’re willing to suspend some disbelief Marcus never really carries a gun until you tell him to.
Playing the game like that really improved the experience for me. The latter half of the game wants you to use guns so badly and it gets tricky, but if you’re patient and methodical about the stealth it can be pretty rewarding. I also found that it improves the narrative slightly. The act of and context of Marcus carrying a firearm becomes important, even if you never actually use it. It heightens the impact of Marcus’ friends death and signals that shit has actually started to get real.
This is exactly what I tried to do, to varying degrees of success. The late game really wants to force you into full-on shootouts, and gives you increasingly ridiculous amounts of firepower to tempt you.
I think the real problem with the Watch Dogs series in general is that trying to shoehorn GTA into an actual real world setting doesn’t work well at all – because people actually live in the real world, and doing typically goofy GTA shit takes you right out of the setting. We see this in the very first mission of Watch Dogs 2, where server farms apparently have their own private militias guarding them. It doesn’t make sense for Marcus to be Rambo or The Professional; hackers aren’t trained assassins or soldiers. It’s one of those things that’s totally obvious to anyone who isn’t a AAA game developer, and yet because it’s an open world game, and because GTA 3 was the first game to popularize the genre, we’re stuck with this.
This happens when you play Marcus full non-lethal stealth, too. It’s less of a problem to me but still a problem. It’s Marcus as Sam Fisher instead of John Rambo. Still acts like a trained soldier just in a different way. I really think Watch_Dogs should be that scene from Mr. Robot when Elliot has to sneak into Steel Mountain instead of a traditional open world game.
I don’t remember ever really getting into a shootout, but only because I was being equally lethal by clearing everyone out with drone bombs. There are stun bombs as well, but I’m bad enough at games I don’t need the extra hassle of dudes getting back up. My head canon is I just had really super effective sleep/KO bombs ok? dont @ me.
On a more positive note: the tagging missions are fun little puzzle platformers that lean into the hacking side of the game, and you should do all of them. The payoff in the last tagging mission is well worth it.
Agreed, because I played with no HUD it added another layer to these missions because I had to hunt for where the prompt would appear. With the last one I missed the first 2 prompts and had to head back up.
The drone is definitely the best part of the game. It’s just so satisfying to drive up, pull out your laptop, drop the drone, and finish the entire mission without ever even having to go inside a building. There’s a few things you can’t do with the drone, but I’m so glad that they let you use the RC car to pick-up items, unlock doors, and hack at least 90% of all the mission objectives.
For anyone trying play non-lethal or minimum-violence, all the drone upgrades should be a priority. Even the explosive upgrade is important for a non-lethal playthrough: some later missions feature objects you need to destroy using guns or explosives.
And I definitely agree that the game needs a “wanted” level in-between “unseen” and “shoot to kill”. Especially when you’re sneaking around office buildings, it feels like there should be a point where guards say “Hey, you can’t come in here without a security badge!” before they pull out machine guns and open fire.
Sleeping Dogs got pretty close. 90% of the enemies are only armed with fists or melee weapons, the main character can’t buy weapons or ammo, and IIRC even when you do pick up a gun you drop it as soon as you climb, punch, drive, etc. Also, if you bring a gun to a melee fight, it will immediately escalate when the gangsters/cops call for heavily-armed backup.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst also had a pretty good open-world city with (mostly) non-lethal force. Faith can’t use any weapons. In the early part of the game, you fight unarmed guards, baton guards, and taser guards. When the game finally throws you against paramilitary troops with submachine guns, it feels much more serious.
Yeah the borderline-binary nature of the stealth has aged pretty poorly pretty quickly. The further you push away from traditional gameplay, though, the less half-baked it feels.
There’s a really tight and unique stealth game in here where these two drones are like, extensions of your body, liberating yourself from your own physical vulnerability and usable as a tool to push back against those who benefit off many groups of vulnerable people; where you’re patiently puzzling out (mainly through cooldown timer management, which surprisingly makes the drone playstyle far more elegantly/interestingly designed than any other) how to create your own windows of opportunity through the unassuming premises of an interwoven, casually exploitative system you’ve cathartically turned around on itself…
…Also you can drive down the sidewalk to your objective, running over people and sometimes literal puppies(!), steal from the underpaid/destitute people your blue square upgrade says to rob (can’t give 'em a dime, tho!), equip a grenade launcher and silly-named 3d-printed automatic ancap wetdream and mass murder on a whim, with zero feedback to your mass murder besides the immediate screams of the frightened, dying people with faces and names and small usually-innocent stories.
Ubisoft’s relationship with toxic and way too normalized tropes is truly fascinating, and by that i mean consistently frustrating and disappointing even in their best games.
I’ve been playing way more of it and have to agree, though the drone upgrades didn’t seem as important to me. Maybe I’m kind of… breaking the game but it’s really easy to beat missions one of two ways if it gets too crazy: get the police or gang on a target, then step in the restricted zone when the arrive and let the police get caught in the line of fire and I guess I kinda start gang wars. Hmm…
OR, just as fun, you can just get caught, flee into the forest where the ai stupidly chases you down and knock everyone out when you vanish and they slowly amble back to the base from wherever you last hid. or you can just outrun them back to their base and sprint to wherever you need aha. I did that for the new dawn base only because after beating it once I fell down the elevator.
In all seriousness though, it’s a fun game and thanks for all the advice! The only time I kind of enjoy the gun play is when I’m playing online because it ends up feeling like a break of character anyway the way some online players handle business