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Watch Dogs 2: Everything We Know So Far

Watch Dogs 2 is on its way, and Ubisoft wants to make fans excited about the franchise again. The developer has a lot of work to do in order to convince jaded gamers to give it another shot, and shared a short video stream today (Jun. 8) to do just that. Ubisoft has revealed some very important details about Watch Dogs 2’s protagonist and gameplay upgrades, and it definitely seems like a step in the right direction.

What's new about Watch Dogs 2?

First and foremost, the game will take place in San Francisco rather than the first game’s Chicago. This ought to give the game quite a different vibe, as the two cities feature very different layouts and populations. Landmark locations like the Golden Gate Bridge appeared in perfect digital recreations in the stream, while the city’s iconic sea lions made a brief appearance as well. At the very least, Ubisoft is not just reusing the first game’s map.

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More exciting is that the game will feature a new protagonist. Aiden Pearce, the first game’s “hero” (in the loosest possible sense of the word), was not exactly a character for the ages. Marcus Holloway, Watch Dogs 2’s main character, at least has the potential to be. A young, black hacker from Oakland, Ubisoft hopes that Marcus will speak to both the youth hacking culture and racial tensions in his native San Francisco. Given how lily-white major franchises tend to be, it’s refreshing to see a young black man front and center.

Marcus is also not operating alone. Deadsec, the Anonymous-like group of hackers from the first game, will take center stage this time around. Along with Marcus’s help, Deadsec will dish out good deeds and outright trolling in equal measure, much like its real-world inspiration. This will also allow players to team up in drop-in, drop-out co-op as they explore the city. Friends appear to each other as other Deadsec members whenever both players are in the game and online, even if they’re not part of a co-op group.

How has combat and hacking improved?

Co-op isn’t the only new gameplay feature. Marcus will have an increased focus on melee combat, complete with an intriguing DIY weapon that combines a billiard ball with a sling. Marcus also has a few new hacking tools at his disposal, including an RC jumper and a quadcopter, both able to hack into nearby machines. Vehicles are back with improved controls, and Marcus need not actually jump behind the wheel to drive one. This time, you can take control of cars, motorcycles, forklifts and other vehicles right from your in-game smartphone.

When is Watch Dogs 2 launching?

Watch Dogs 2 will arrive for PS4, Xbox One and PC on Nov. 15, 2016.

Should I be excited for Watch Dogs 2?

While the characters and gameplay in Watch Dogs 2 definitely sound more promising, the first games had problems beyond just the story and mechanics. It had a grim, joyless attitude and a general sense of aimlessness and clutter. There was lots of stuff to do and see, and not much reason to do or see any of it. The second game will still have to address these if it wants to keep the series going, but it’s at least off to a good start. We should see lots more of Watch Dogs 2 at E3, so stay tuned for impressions.