Earlier this month, Watchdogs 2 was confirmed for a release date of November 15th, and was featured during E3 coverage more recently. The media who covered it at E3 gave it high praise, but is that enough to sell a game? It was back in 2014 when the predecessor released to bugs, mixed reviews, and controversy, and gamers haven’t forgotten.
The biggest issue for some players seems to have been the graphics that got markedly worse between the preview videos at E3 2012 and the released product. Come to find out there were hidden graphics files that were ‘turned off’ and once enabled through a mod they seemed to not only make the game look better, but run more stable for many users. The standard PR response was given by Ubisoft, and even supported by some of the games media, but it still sits with players as an example of a company not being entirely honest about the product. Adding the delay in release, and some very mixed reviews with critics and gamers, it’s easy to understand why people are skeptical of the sequel.
The game got its best reviews on Playstation 4, but even there it was very mixed, and not so great among gamers themselves. On the PC, it was even worse. Gamers simply did not like the game and panned it widely on the PC release. The games media seems to be split across the board, with most larger review sites giving it high praise, while the smaller and lesser-known outlets were lukewarm on the game. There may be a reason for that. It seems that at the Paris event for Watchdogs attendees, game reviewers were given Nexus tablets as gifts. Many gave them back, didn’t take them, or gave them to charity, but did they all? Did any that kept the tablet disclose it? We really don’t know because so few reported on it until after the fact.
Now we move on to Watchdogs 2 and gamers are understandably hesitant. A lot of people like the original, but a lot didn’t, and many felt the developer dropped the ball. Of course, for some unknown reason the media has taken to putting down any criticism with accusations of racism. The links could fill a page, just google “Watchdogs 2 racism” and see how some of the major game sites and bloggers are covering it. It’s a marketing tactic, in my opinion, that we have started to see recently and will probably keep seeing for the foreseeable future. Criticism of the game gets labeled racism because the protagonist is black.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t awful people who play games. I’m sure there are racists out there that want nothing to do with a black protagonist in a game. Does anyone really think there are enough though to effect the sales of a game? Enough to warrant several articles in our community’s press? I don’t think so, so it begs the question, why? Why is the press so focused on this narrative that paints the gaming community in such a horrible light? I talk to a lot of gamers online, read a lot of gaming forums and press, and I haven’t seen a single person that cares what the skin color of the guy on the cover of Watchdogs 2 is. Hell, I’ve talked to gamers that didn’t even know until I asked. The vast majority of gamers do not care about that, they care about whether the game will be fun. They care if the game will be buggy, and if Ubisoft is going to engage in the same sort of shenanigans they did last time. Gamers care whether the game will be worth their time and money.
Will Watchdogs 2 deliver? It’s certainly pretty, but so were the initial videos out of E3 in 2012. We don’t yet know if they will deliver on time, and it’s impossible to know if we’ll see a release that’s relatively bug-free. The media isn’t making any of the gamers I talk to more comfortable, and many are wondering if this is a tactic to either shame gamers into buying the game anyway, or get people to buy the game in some righteous fight against racism. Will it even matter now, or will it become more about the ignorant politics around the game rather than the game itself?
For my part, I hope it does come out to be a good game. I think it sounds great, but I’m skeptical as well. I didn’t play the first, and didn’t have much interest after seeing the reviews. I like the idea of the game, the concept, and even what little we know of the story so far. I just hope it doesn’t get overshadowed by more idiocy from the media.