I was very, very close to advising you not to bother with Watch Dogs' big downloadable episode Bad Blood. I was in a weird predicament, because, up until a couple of weeks ago, I'd barely played any of Watch Dogs, even though it came out back in May.
I'd heard about (and read) some pretty negative takes. Then I started playing the game. I ignored the story and mostly just played side-quests, as I tend to do when I start a new open-world game. I was having fun with it.
Watch Dogs is a long game, though. By the time Bad Blood, the new 3.5GB downloadable expansion to Watch Dogs came out for Season Pass owners on September 23, I was still maybe a mere six hours into the game.
I was still having a grand time ignoring most of the main Watch Dogs game's story missions. I was busy figuring out how to climb up to ctOS towers. I was dedicating myself to hacking traffic lights just in the nick of time in order to stymie any of the cop cars chasing me. I think I'd just gained the ability to blow up steam pipes in the road. Or had I just attained the hacking skill that makes guards' earpieces squeal?
I'd already figured out that a lot of the side games were a waste of time and that the Spider Tank missions, while cool, were content filler. Watch Dogs, unlike Assassin's Creed, didn't seem to have a core theme that could stretch far enough to satisfyingly fill its open world — not in this first game, at least (they should have gone for a more spartan open world, a la L.A. Noire, methinks).
I therefore did not feel that I needed any more of Watch Dogs. I did not need to play this Bad Blood DLC. I had too much of the main game to still play.
I realised, however, that this was no use to you.
You, perhaps, finished Watch Dogs in June. Or July. Maybe in August?
You, I thought, might be fiending for more of Watch Dogs.
You, I reasoned, might be intrigued by the promise of a several-hour long expansion starring T-Bone, a tough-talking supporting char-hack-ter (can I get away with that?) from the main game. No more Aiden Pearce to play as. Play as T-Bone, who comes auto-leveled about halfway up Aiden Pearce's skill tree! Run around the same open-world map of Chicago with maybe a new small mission zone up north and some new interiors. Wear some new outfits. Watch some new cutscenes. More Watch Dogs for Watch Dogs fans.
Dutifully, I stopped playing the main Watch Dogs game and started playing Bad Blood. What I found didn't dazzle me.
T-Bone may be a different character than Aiden Pearce, but what he does and how he does it is pretty much the same. Here I am as T-Bone shooting and hacking my way through a mission:
T-Bone's big new move is his ability to control a radio-controlled car. This is, in fact, cool. It gives the Watch Dogs player the ability to stun guys from long range by driving the little car up to the enemy and zapping him while your character hangs back behind cover. Observe:
What could I tell you, though?
Bad Blood has 10 main story missions. Some of them add some twists that I don't believe are in the main game. For example, there are missions in which you can hack security cameras that have guns mounted on them. In one mission, you have to lead a guy through a maze at one point, switching through different cameras to spot where he should go next. That's cool. Oh, wait. I'm informed that something very similar to that happens in the main game, too. Darn.
That's not enough, though, really. T-Bone's 10-mission adventure to help his buddy Tobias Frewer out against... oh man, the main game's evil DJ character....certainly qualifies as more Watch Dogs. But better Watch Dogs? Different Watch Dogs? Not really.
Bad Blood pales compared to some recent, similarly-large and genuinely-distinct DLC offerings: GTA IV's The Lost and Damned expansion switched the car-centric gameplay of the first game to a game that thematically and gameplay-wise was about biker gangs. Mass Effect 3's Citadel expansion offered a mission that united every notable character in the game and then ended with an incredible interactive party. Assassin's Creed IV's Freedom Cry turned a pirate game into a game about slavery. Infamous: Festival of Blood turned Infamous 2 into a horror story, as did Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare.
I was ready to tell you not to bother unless you were fiending for mostly more of the same. More shootouts. More car chases. A handful more missions involving hidden audio logs. There are a possibly infinite amount of Street Sweep missions, which are narrative-light missions involving either hacking a few computers while enemies swarm in to kill you, sneaking into enemy areas to blow up a few crates or other stuff like that. Your performance in at least three of those missions is ranked online. You get special tokens if you're among the world's best.
But even that's not all that cool, not in a game that is bursting with similar missions already.
And then it happened. Then I discovered the reason to tell you to bother with Bad Blood — huge caveat: if you already have and kind of like the basic gameplay of Watch Dogs. My discovery was this: You can run, hack and shoot through some of the game's narrative-light missions online with a second player.
You can play the game in co-op, and even though Bad Blood's designers don't introduce any co-op specific gameplay systems, it turns out that core Watch Dogs gameplay works nicely in co-op. I'll hang back and hack cameras and enemies while you sneak in. I'll shoot these guys and grab this intel while you get that other stuff. I'll drive down the highway while you, um, stand on my car.
See here (warning... the first two minutes consist of arguably-amusing driving, then the mission begins):
Fun as that was, the game's main story missions are not in co-op. Oh well.
Is this the kind of thing you'd pay $US15 for? Some co-op in Watch Dogs' massive and lovely-looking Chicago? The value of your dollars may vary, but this co-op is what makes me think that Bad Blood is worth your playing time. Like the rest of Watch Dogs, it's a bit raw and will likely be better in the sequel. Proceed with caution. Play Bad Blood with someone. You'll have fun.