Last week brought news that Watch Dogs has now shipped more than nine million copies. (Not sold; game companies don't talk about that as much). It's another sign that Watch Dogs 2 — and probably Watch Dogs 3 — is inevitable. Well, Ubisoft people, if sequels will be made, we have some requests...
Figure out what Watch Dogs is actually about. Sorry if this sounds rude or like some awful time-wasting brainstorming exercise. And, yes, obviously you already started making Watch Dogs 2 a while ago, but the problem fellow Watch Dogs player Kirk Hamilton and I had with the game is that it doesn't seem to have a strong core identity. And, look, he's finished the game. I've just played into Act II and all the way through the DLC.
People — including you guys — compare Watch Dogs to the imperfect but promising first Assassin's Creed. They suggest it's a blueprint for an Assassin's Creed II-level magnificent sequel. If so, what's the blueprint? Assassin's Creed was distinct from the get-go: a stealth-killer hero climbing buildings in cities in the past. What's Watch Dogs? A game about a hacker who drives like he's in a Driver game, climbs and sneaks a little like he's in an Assassin's Creed and doesn't really have that much better command of guns and gadgetry than Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell? We're not sure what you've got in the series that you can build on. We're not sure there is an essential Watch Dogsness to Watch Dogs. (We could be wrong!)
- Please let us hack more stuff! That is what the game is about, right? Can we hack other cars on the highway? Old people's pacemakers? Surely there's got to be other stuff we can hack. Um.... maybe your game should be set in the future so there's more stuff to hack? Let there be gameplay consequences, too. It's fun to hack cell-phones, but if all that's going to do is let us read people's text messages, what's the point?
- Can we have a protagonist who has more personality than a grilled cheese sandwich? We know Aiden Pearce might not be back in Watch Dogs 2, so here's hoping he's replaced by someone a bit more interesting. Why not give the new protagonist a motivation other than revenge? One of the easiest ways to set Watch Dogs 2 apart from other Ubisoft games will be to have it star a character entirely unlike Assassin's Creed or Far Cry. Fewer cliches overall would be awesome.
- Better non-shooting ways to win. The whole "hacking is your weapon" thing is a neat idea, but it fell down in the actual game. Watch Dogs featured way more stealth and cover-shooting than it did nifty hacking. For the sequel, can you make it possible for us to complete every single mission in the game without firing a gun?
- This is more of a Kirk one: Improve driving, or lose it. We're not sold on the fact that Watch Dogs needs to be an open world game, but if it does, the driving's got to be significantly improved. Car chases shouldn't be nearly so irritating, and cars need to handle better than horse-drawn buggies. At least, this is what Kirk says. I live in New York City, so I don't remember what driving a real car feels like.
- Make it current-gen only. Remember when Watch Dogs was the harbinger of the next generation of gaming? It wasn't all that long ago. Here's hoping that Watch Dogs 2 cuts last-gen gaming systems loose and embraces the power of the new consoles. Not just graphically, but in terms of the game's world and the variety of gameplay.
- Better sidequests. We don't need a chess minigame in Watch Dogs. Hell, even though it was fun, we also don't need a spider tank minigame. We need good sidequests that actually make sense in the context of the game. So: Hacking, infiltration, data-mining, that sort of thing. Make them fun, make them worth doing on their own, and make them feel coherent with the rest of the game.
- More with the online stuff. How's that for a specific, useful tip? Dark Souls did it before you, but you still did a good thing with all of that strange-player-invades-my-game thing. You made it about stealth, hunter and hunted, hacker and hackee. More of that. Hmm. Want to go crazy? Let the invading player "hack" my game. Like change the gravity physics or the colour of the sky. Stuff like that. Or not. It's your game.
Again, we figure you're already well on your way and we hope you can get an ACII-quality game out of the next effort. Good luck!