Reviews

‘Watch Dogs: Bad Blood’ Review

Watch Dogs Bad Blood

Platforms PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Publisher Ubisoft Developer Ubisoft Montreal

Genre Action-Adventure Platform Played PlayStation 4

Earlier this year I reviewed Ubisoft’s highly anticipated open-world title, Watch Dogs. Though the new IP didn’t revolutionise the open-world genre, it provided some unique mechanics, solid gameplay and was, overall, tonnes of fun. Watch Dogs Bad Blood is a story driven piece of downloadable content, which allows us to take control of T-Bone, a hacker extraordinaire who we met throughout Watch Dog’s original story.

Bad Blood doesn’t greatly alter Watch Dogs’ original product, and the same core problems that I had with the original release are still present. We take control of T-Bone within the same city, housing the same reputation meter, with access to the same activities, same digital trips and an almost identical upgrade skill tree to Aiden Pearce; T-Bone’s animation is also quite similar to Aiden Pearce himself.

Watch Dogs Bad Blood is more Watch Dogs, with a few new features. If the base game didn’t click with you, Bad Blood won’t alter your opinion. However, if you have been wanting to scratch that Watch Dogs itch one more time, Bad Blood is the perfect way to satisfy the craving.

Following the events of the main Watch Dogs story, we follow T-Bone who has invaded Blume one last time in order to clear his name from their data and allow himself to escape the city of Chicago for good. It doesn’t take long until an old friend named Tobias Frewer contacts T-Bone seeking his help, halting his plans to leave the city in the process as he finds himself wrapped up in a new conspiracy.

T-Bone is a hacker with an outlandish personality, while Tobias has found himself addicted to anti-depressants in order to try and keep himself sane. These two personalities are completely opposite, which allows for some genuinely laugh-out-loud dialog exchanges between the two. Their friendly banter works well and within the 10 mission story and I found myself connected to both individuals, genuinely caring about their well being. Bad Blood’s overall story is interesting and kept my attention throughout the entirely of the campaign. Though the story isn’t anything memorable, it did allow for a handful of memorable missions that try to introduce new aspects to gameplay.

Most missions within Bad Blood follow the same structure from the original, and you will find yourself guiding characters through areas riddled with enemies, tailing enemy vehicles and completing more puzzle-based hacker activities. When Bad Blood does include new gameplay features, it shines. T-Bone has access to Eugene, a remote controlled car that can stun enemies, allow hacking from afar, and provide an explosive end for any foe in its vicinity with a simple press of a button. Controlling Eugene adds an interesting new dynamic to missions, as T-Bone can take down enemies from afar even if there are no cameras in the area. The long distance approach to attacking keeps T-Bone out of the line of fire, while you can also deal a lot of damage to your enemies.

Watch Dogs Bad Blood Eugene

Bad Blood continuously tries to keep these new missions fresh, adding elements such as controlling cameras with mounted weapons, utilising a new selection of T-Bone-Traps to take down enemies, and one mission in particular adding a great sense of open mission structure. This one mission easily stood out as the gold standard of this DLC content, as it allowed freedom for me to tackle the situation from all angles. Move in guns blazing through the front door, slowly pick off enemies while I make my way to my objective, or simply avoid everyone completely. Despite Watch Dogs’ open-world nature many missions felt linear, this new freedom to approach the mission as I wanted felt fantastic and emphasised the potential openness the series can provide.

Following the success of Gang Hideouts, Bad Blood introduces its own version if interesting side missions. Known as Street Sweeps these missions surround three different street gangs, completing enough missions related to each will offer new bonuses and gameplay additions. For the most part these missions revolved around me entering a restricted area to do one of a handful of things: either download documents while I defended an area, knock down a specific enemy without killing anyone, or destroy a set number of objectives. Optional objectives are also included within each mission. For example, you may be challenged to complete the mission without being detected or without using a weapon, which adds a unique challenge and certainly will test your stealth abilities.

Street Sweeps are fun distractions from the main narrative, but the addition of being able to tackle these missions with a friend via the new cooperative mode, brings with it a whole new bevy of strategic elements. Players can join random users online to complete these missions, or set up their own private lobbies if they choose. Tackling these missions from two angles, or utilising your hacking abilities while your teammate focuses on gunfire is excellent. Jamming an enemy’s communications just as they are about to end your partners life, in order to turn the tables on their opponent is simply one of the new strategic elements these cooperative missions provide. Having enjoyed the competitive multiplayer within the original game, I was surprised that I found the cooperative nature to not only rival, but surpass the level of enjoyment I originally experienced.

Watch Dogs Bad Blood

Online Street Sweeps are not without their problems. The respawn system in-place can be completely unfair, as it will continue to respawn you in a certain area despite that location swarming with enemies. There were many times I was caught within a spawn loop as I found myself gunned down upon re-entering the mission. There were also minor technical problems. For the most part everything worked smoothly and there were no connection errors, but there were over half a dozen times where enemies wouldn’t appear on the map or objectives would simply not exist, forcing us to restart our mission or leave the party.

Certain Street Sweeps also contain leaderboards, with these ever-rotating daily missions keeping a tally of how much damage you received, how fast you completed the mission and more. When these missions expire you can earn tags that will unlock new outfits for T-Bone. Despite the addition of leaderboard-based missions the incentive to replay them simply isn’t there. New outfits are fine, but when the DLC experience is the only place to showcase these attires, the effort doesn’t seem to fit the reward. Investigation missions also return, which provide additional story elements regarding the Watch Dogs universe.

verdict

Watch Dogs Bad Blood is more Watch Dogs. In essence Bad Blood feels like a condensed version of the original title, and your enjoyment of this new content will be based on how much you enjoyed the original release.

T-Bone and Tobias’ relationship provides some interesting and hilarious moments throughout the half-dozen hour campaign, but aside from the small number of fresh gameplay mechanics, most mission structures will feel reminiscent of Aiden Pearce’s adventure. Cooperative gameplay provides an interesting new way to play Watch Dogs, allowing a new strategical element when completing Street Sweep missions.

Watch Dogs Bad Blood is an enjoyable addition. Though I would have appreciated some of the original core problems with Watch Dogs to be addressed, Bad Blood introduces some interesting ideas and some memorable moments. Those who want an excuse to re-enter the city of Chicago will find this content perfect, though those who didn’t take to the original release, may not find their original impressions dashed.

The Good

  • Cooperative gameplay adds new strategical elements.
  • T-Bone and Tobias’ interplay.
  • New gameplay additions.

The Bad

  • Majority of missions feels very familiar.
  • Problems from the original release still exist.

The Score: 7.5


Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can like them on Facebook, follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA, and his videos on YouTube.

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