I’m still in awe of it though, and it made an uninspired demo more interesting. My hands-on was standard Watch Dogs stuff—break into a building because some guy with a voice modulator said so, then hack a computer. Then there was a shootout in Oakland. The most I can muster for that side of the game at the moment is a “We’ll see.” I’m encouraged by the goofy tone of the trailer, hoping that maybe this won’t be as self-serious white-bread as the original Watch Dogs. But again: I have no inherent faith in the series. What I played wasn’t so radically different as to get me frothing for more.
Yeah, I’ll take more of that world, though. I just want to drive down a curiously traffic-free Embarcadero, or take walks through the Presidio. Why? I don’t know. I honestly can’t fathom why digital tourism fascinates me so much, especially when it’s of cities I’ve already visited—let alone currently live in.
My only guess is it scratches some techno-lust about video games. It’s a concrete point of comparison. Sure, we all know games are getting prettier, they’re getting bigger, they’re getting more complex. But I’ll never visit Cyrodiil, or French Revolution-era Paris, or Velen/Novigrad/Skellige, or Azeroth. Neither will you. There’s no way of knowing how faithful a recreation those digital worlds are.
I know San Francisco, though. I can walk outside and look at it, then boot up Watch Dogs 2 and see how well it translates. It’s something I can latch onto and say “Damn, video games really are amazing these days—at least on a technological level.”
Digital tourism's absolutely not enough to make up for a mediocre story or tedious mechanics, however, and Watch Dogs 2 will need to do quite a bit to convince me it’s not just More Watch Dogs a.k.a. Assassin’s Creed. But I’m looking forward to taking a walk through my neighborhood just the same.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.