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“Watch Dogs 2” How Ubisoft Keeps Its Legacy Alive

written by Jason Marcano September 26, 2016

Watching the most recent video of Watch Dogs 2, narrated by Mikel Reparaz, over on the Ubiblog got me thinking; Not just about how much better this one looks, but how Ubisoft is keeping the legacy of its various franchises alive.

The video, which highlights ten ways in which Watch Dogs 2 is better than the original, shows a game teeming with concepts from Ubi’s catalog. That’s not to say it isn’t coming up with ideas of its own.

Watch Dogs 2 and Splinter Cell

The new gadgets shown in the video, namely the drone, are straight from Splinter Cell. Sam Fisher had a drone he used to scan his surroundings, ID targets and enemies, it was even capable of light combat. The Tri-Rotor was an extremely valuable tool in Sam Fisher’s bag of tricks.


The drone in Watch Dogs 2 has been tweaked to fit within its world, but functions nearly identically. It is used for surveillance and some combat. Where it differs is that the drone here can also hack vehicles among many other electronic devices. When a vehicle is hacked Marcus Holloway can remotely control said vehicle. Many of Marcus’ other gadgets are analogs of ones from Splinter Cell: Sticky bombs, the hacking device, etc.


Another feature similar to Splinter Cell are the stealth mechanics. The take downs, you can even go none lethal with a tranquilizer gun, and cover-to-cover movement are techniques frequently deployed by Fisher. Marcus moves silently, and with his “Thunder Ball” can choke out enemies without alerting nearby guards. The Thunder Ball comes into play in the next way Ubisoft is innovating on itself and keeping its good ideas alive.

Watch Dogs 2 and Assassin’s Creed

The Thunder Ball.


Described in the video as essentially a billiard ball attached to a lanyard, the Thunder Ball is a lethal, mid-range, and versatile weapon. Using the lanyard as a garrote allows Marcus to silently dispatch enemies as described above. When things get up close and personal the Thunder Ball becomes flail of sorts. As you can see in the image, it’s good for breaking jaws.

Marcus almost dances, flinging the Thunder Ball around him with deadly precision. The combat flows smooth, much like the lauded combat in Assassin’s Creed. As Ezio, or any of the other Assassins, you parried and countered enemies using your agility to break through their offense and deliver a killing blow. The sword fights had a distinct, visceral rhythm too them in the Assassin’s Creed series. The close range combat in Watch Dogs 2 is a spin on the one used in the AC games.

Sailing is another feature to creep into Watch Dogs 2.


Not only is this heavily reminiscent of sailing the pirate ships in Black Flag, but Reparaz even says: “It’s just like Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and that means it’s awesome!” If you’ve played Black Flag, then you know he’s right. You’ll have to use the wind and the motion of the ocean to navigate effectively while sailing.

Even dog petting makes a return.


Watch Dogs 2: Still Its Own Game

While there are a lot of parallels you can draw while comparing Watch Dogs 2 to the titles of Ubisoft’s past, it is still very much it’s own, unique game. When Mikel Reparaz uses the phrase: “Far Cry-esque” to describe how the arrows that appear around Marcus look, that doesn’t mean WD2 will be devoid of originality.


Ubisoft borrowing from and innovating on their own ideas is them learning from history. What worked, what didn’t? What can we use from this game that will work in and make this other one better? It’s a way to keep their legacy alive. Even if a series is on hiatus or dead and buried, Ubisoft will keep using the mechanics from them in new and unique scenarios, thus keeping the hearts and souls of those games with us.

When/if you play Watch Dogs 2, you’ll see these flashes of history and it probably won’t register it’s from another game. It’ll just be what happens in WD2. That’s a sign that Ubisoft is learning from their past and using that knowledge to craft a beautiful future for gamers.

Are you geeks ready to hack the San Francisco Bay area? Watch Dogs 2 will be out on PS4, PC, and Xbox One November 15, 2016. Let us know if you’re a fan in the comments below.

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