We reviewed Watch Dogs 2 at the end of last year and enjoyed it. It was fun, quirky and felt so fresh after the wet dish rag of the first Watch Dogs. I particularly liked playing using stealth and gadgets to my advantage; I don’t think I ever fired a single round in my entire play through, and that’s part of what I loved about it. Human Conditions offered some more story DLC in the form of three new missions, and they offer more of what made Watch Dogs 2 such fun.
Each mission tackles something that feels far too relevant in our current age. Think self driving cars are cool? But what if the car knows who you are and what you do, and decides if your life is worthwhile or not? Or how about nanotechnology – it might be the future of medicine, but not if trials aren’t conducted ethically. Then there’s the issue of privacy and safety in an increasingly connected world; if a hospital is hacked and held ransom, lives are at stake.
With such heavy and important issues, you might think that the characters would be somber or on edge. Instead, they are still having a lot of fun while saving the world. These missions focus a lot more on the relationships between Marcus and Wrench as well as Marcus and Josh, and they are a joy to revisit. Wrench and Marcus are seriously entertaining with their banter, and I really appreciate the way Josh is treated by the other characters. He acknowledges that he’s different as a result of his Aspergers, and yet it is not only okay, but even embraced. He can still be funny and intriguing, and it helps normalize the idea that people with personality disorders can still live interesting lives, have friends and even enjoy their unique personalities.
Speaking of unique personalities, Jordi Chin was one of the best characters in the first installment of the franchise, and he returns for a mission in this DLC. He is as crazy, violent and explosive as ever, although unfortunately the mission with him is the least compelling of the three. It’s not to say it’s bad; it just feels a bit too action-oriented for a game that I’ve enjoyed most when playing in a more cerebral way.
The mission with Lenni has an interesting twist on the usual approach in the game. After the initial steps in the quest chain, you actually end up playing in “co-op” with her, as you work together to hack, sabotage and steal. Just like other co-op partners in the game, she can sometimes be helpful and sometimes cause more harm than good. It’s quite a fun approach to the level, and could serve as proof to single-player fans that trying out the co-op in Watch Dogs 2 is worthwhile. Or, it could just hammer home the idea that co-op isn’t necessarily easier.
There is also a new co-op mission in the DLC, for those who are looking for another new challenge to take on with friends or strangers from the internet.
There is also a new enemy in this DLC content, a jammer. These characters walk around with jamming devices on their backs, blocking all hacking activities within a certain sphere of effect. While they can cause some inconveniences, they didn’t really add any extra difficulty to the maps. I usually travel around with my jumper, and when I encountered a jammer I just used my drone to hack them and carry on doing what I wanted. Just make sure that Marcus himself doesn’t get stuck in that area of effect, or you will be left pretty much powerless.
If the best parts of this DLC are the interactions between favorite characters and the opportunity to do more of the stuff you enjoyed in the first game, the worst parts are the same as those in the core game. Random NPCs feature some really poor voice acting and dialogue, and getting around the map still feels like more of a chore than it should. Even while doing the Driver SF mission (essentially Uber-styled activities), driving lacked any real fun or excitement. And I still hate trying to lose pursuers in vehicle-based missions, particularly because the use of overt violence never feels right with such a fun, relatable protagonist. Additionally, if you have already reached max level before this DLC launched, you obviously won’t be able to level up any further. This makes watching the rising follower count at the end of the mission feel a bit silly, but should help those who haven’t completed the game before playing the DLC reach max level more easily.
I just wish the female characters featured a bit more in the DLC. While Marcus, Wrench and Josh are a joy to watch on screen, it ended up being five hours of gameplay with almost no interaction with female characters other than Lenni. For a game that is so self aware and even jokes about DedSec being “woke” hacktivists, it’s a bit surprising that the female characters get almost zero dialogue.
Even for all the minor gripes, I was just so happy to jump back into Watch Dogs 2, and the extra hours in the game didn’t feel long enough. I suppose that’s just a testament to how much fun the missions were.