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Watch Dogs 2's Bounty Mode Is Full of High-Speed Car Chases and Violent Standoffs

News Bot Aug 17, 2016

  1. News Bot

    News Bot Chaos Immortal

    Watch Dogs 2's Bounty Mode wants you to pull off awesome action movie stunts in a multiplayer setting. It encourages huge, explosive standoffs and thrilling car chases, replete with hacking, remote mines, and hijacking. It tries to create moments with other players that give you memorable stories to tell your friends later on. From my experience in the multiplayer mode, it hasn't quite reached those heights yet. But it's close.
    Ubisoft is positioning Watch Dogs 2 as a significant expansion and refinement of the original Watch Dogs formula. As a result, at its core, Watch Dogs 2 is still a game about hacking and roaming around a big, open world. Before I played Bounty Mode, I was able to try out the E3 2016 demo again, and I was reminded that wandering around a beautiful rendition of the San Francisco Bay Area is incredible. Driving wildly through the hilly streets near Coit Tower, power-sliding onto Pier 39, and stealthily infiltrating gang headquarters in the East Bay all felt good, made better by the precise detail put into the city.

    Then I transitioned over to Bounty Mode, and the polished open-world Watch Dogs experience was replaced with a less refined, more finicky side of the game. Bounty Mode pits two hunters against two hunted--one of the players on the team being chased has a bounty on their head, and the other must protect him from the pursuers. One of Ubisoft's goals for Bounty Mode is making a seamless experience, as you can trigger a Bounty at any moment and three other people can match into the game alongside you. It seems like a pretty good bet that hacking, driving, and shooting while also teaming up to battle other players in an uninterrupted experience would make for an awesome time. And, for the most part, Bounty Mode is enjoyable. But it's also rough.
    Watch Dogs 2 is still a few months from release, so I definitely won't fault the game yet for technical issues. But I also wasn't able to see the full potential of Bounty Mode because a lot of mechanical problems got in the way of playing it. I'd get into a car and tear off after my adversary, only to suddenly eject from the car even though I hadn't pressed the exit button. Or I'd hit a flimsy box on the side of the road, and instead of bursting through it my car would come to a screeching halt, caught on the geometry. One time, I pulled off an almost perfect stunt--utilizing remote mines to blow up my enemy's van--but the van glitched out of existence and my enemy appeared behind me. I couldn't tell whether these problems are pre-release bugs or the inevitable result of a massive open-world game.
    Normally, I wouldn't point out glitches like these in a preview. However, Bounty Mode relies on the creation of flow and rhythmic combat. To achieve the feel of an actual car chase, driving needs consistency and reliability--otherwise, you can't trust your car enough to let loose and take risks. You need to be able to have faith in the enemy remaining where he appears, so that you can try crazy things instead of just reverting to your guns.

    Watch Dogs 2's controls only underscore this need for reliability. As you chase or are chased in Bounty Mode, you attempt to perform a ton of actions at once. The game revolves around your ability to hack most things in the city, so you constantly look for cars to trigger, lights to explode, or water mains to break--even while you roar down the streets at high speeds. This requires deft response, as you must be able to have awareness of your player in space while also hacking when necessary, throwing bombs when an enemy is near, and knowing when to turn sharply to get away. It's a lot to handle, and while I played, I struggled with some of the necessary button presses because of my split attention. When the game was working right for me, though, this complexity provided a challenge that felt incredibly satisfying to overcome.
    There were moments during my time with Bounty Mode that were jaw-dropping and spectacular, after all. Occasionally, everything would come together, and my group of players would have a round that looked and felt as high-octane, tense, and exciting as any good action movie. During one round, when I was a hunter, I sped off on a motorcycle after an enemy in a sportscar. As he began rounding a corner, he hacked my cycle, throwing me off the trail. But I anticipated this and hacked him back, causing his car to lurch violently into the building wall in front of him. Just as he crashed, a police car appeared and t-boned his car, pinning him against the wall. It was an easy matter for me to jump out and finish him off.
    Later, I was a hunter again and the enemy decided to post up and make a stand--a risky move, but one that'll bring in a lot more followers on social media (social media fame is the game's makeshift currency). He had barricaded himself in an alleyway, rigging the walls with proximity mines. Broken police cars already littered the entryway by the time I found the player. But I drove up in a van, parked right outside the alley, and put a bunch of mines on it. Then, running away to a safe distance, I hacked the van so it drove straight at the barricaded enemy and then detonated the mines when the vehicle hit him.
    [​IMG]Bounty Mode should be this sort of cool-story generator, creating memorable moments that are made even better because you're playing with other people. It's a lot like the Cops and Crooks game mode in Grand Theft Auto: a focused, intense, and chaotic mode that often ends in hilarity and destruction. But Watch Dogs 2 also has several advantages that GTA's mode does not. Having the ability to hack cars on the streets and create remote-controlled car bombs significantly changes tactical calculations while you're playing.
    And at its best, hacking abilities make the game mode amazing, granting a lot of choice and opportunity in the moment-to-moment gameplay. But it still needs a lot of polish before its full potential can be realized. At the moment, Watch Dogs 2 and Bounty Mode still have enough of the bad sort of unpredictability to make me second-guess the good feelings I had about the mode. However, I keep thinking about those amazing moments of action-movie insanity, and I fervently hope that the technical issues can be ironed out in the full game.


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