Watch Dogs: Bad Blood DLC
It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to the Bad Blood, the Watch Dogs DLC made available to season pass holders on 23 September and the rest of the public on 30 September. Just as the original was a bit divisive, Bad Blood continues with not quite knowing what sort of game it wants to be. Let’s dive into the streets of Chicago again to try to figure out whether this DLC is worth your time.
I guess the first question is did you enjoy Watch Dogs? I know that whenever that question comes up for me my response is more of an uncertain noise than yes or no. The best way I can sum it up is that I liked Watch Dogs when it was offering what the advertising campaign suggested it would: puzzle solving (I certainly shy away from calling it “hacking”), dealing with enemies in ways that didn’t involve touching them, and parkour. Of course, the problem was that it just didn’t do this enough. I was okay with the overall experience but it did sting that it wasn’t what I was hoping for.
Bad Blood is set after the events of Watch Dogs. We leave behind original protagonist Aiden Pearce (thank god) and play as Raymond “T-Bone” Kenney. He’s got a bit more personality, which is refreshing, but it isn’t hard when Aiden Pearce had all the charisma of steamed cabbage. As we learned in the main game, he used to be a software engineer working for the Blume Corporation to build the ctOS. When he became uncomfortable with the level of surveillance and the amount of control it gave corporations and the government, he left the company, holing up in the countryside until contacted by Aiden Pearce. He was partially responsible for the blackout at the end of the game that caused many deaths and widespread looting.
At the start of Bad Blood, he is living in an abandoned silo and has almost finished his preparations for leaving Chicago and Blume behind forever, only to get a call from crazy old Tobias Frewer, who has been kidnapped by fixers as a result of his involvement with Aiden Pearce’s work a year ago. T-Bone decides he can’t just leave Frewer behind and goes to rescue him. Afterwards, he realises he has to make sure that fixers can never find either of them again. Blume isn’t the only enemy here, though. Remember Defalt, the guy causing all that trouble in the club? Yeah. That guy is still around.
There are 10 main missions to the Bad Blood DLC, which is reasonably hefty considering the price. Of course, it wouldn’t be a sandbox without lots of things to do on the side and Bad Blood has plenty. The map is constantly populated with Street Sweeps, which are simple side missions that can be completed in co-op. Completing some of these earns you small benefits in-game as well as XP, obviously. I did quite a few and, no matter what, they just kept popping up so it would seem they just keep cycling through.
There are two side investigations as well: Council of Daves and Fox Hunt. The Council of Daves follows those in charge of the group DedSec, who are in danger after rejecting Defalt as a member. The Fox Hunt investigation is part of T-Bone’s efforts to get in touch with Aiden Pearce to warn him how close others are coming to finding him. There are also cash runs and online bounties are still available. I was disappointed that the difficulty didn’t seem to increase very much as I progressed. I actually failed more at the start when I was remembering the controls than I did towards the climax.
So right now we’re sitting on new missions, different side content. The question is what gameplay innovations have been made. The answer is, unfortunately, not a lot. T-Bone uses the same guns as Aiden Pearce, which you have to unlock all over again. He moves the same way, which is interesting because he looks a bit heavier. It’s really just a new skin over the Aiden Pearce model when you get down to it. The skill trees are almost the same as well. Some of my upgrades remained from the main game but not all. You’ll also solve the same kinds of puzzles in different configurations and guide an NPC through a maze using cameras as your eyes. Far too much of the experience feels lazy.
That said, there are a couple of really cool things that have been added. T-Bone likes to tinker with scrap parts and build fun things so he carries around a little RC car with a mounted camera and stun gun. You can send it into vents to gain access in some places and sneak up on enemies. The bonus is not dying when the RC car is destroyed. I would have liked to use it more. The other thing that made me very happy was the guns on some security cameras. These only appear during a couple of missions but using them was incredibly satisfying. The only downside was that even if you took control of a camera on one side of the room and started shooting, enemies would instantly start moving towards your location. You just have to be quick.
Oh, and the cars still drive like there’s a panicking hippo on the bonnet. Sorry.
T-Bone is infinitely more fun as a protagonist and although it was obviously a shorter story than the main game, it was more immersive. I wanted him to succeed, in part because I knew exactly what he was after. I don’t know why, but didn’t feel hypocritical to steal money from unsuspecting citizens or listen in on conversations even though T-Bone hates the ctOS as well. Leaving behind Aiden Pearce’s quest for vengeance was exactly what I wanted and I cringed every time someone mentioned him or when T-Bone spoke to him on the phone. The writing lags a bit sometimes, with T-Bone offering a bit too much exposition, but it’s bearable.
There are a couple of glitches that sometimes got in the way. The small eyes indicating privacy invasions popped up on my map from time to time. I could go to the location and fiddle with some things but they aren’t supposed to be there so there wasn’t any reward for doing it. T-Bone also fell through a couple of solid walls during one mission.
When it really comes down to it, Bad Blood is really only going to lure you in if you liked the gameplay offered in the main game. It’s pointless to go into it thinking that any issues you might have had with the ratio of shooting to hacking would be resolved. It is a very small step in the right direction for the new franchise. I just wish they’d taken a slightly bigger one.
- The features added are really cool (see RC car and guns on cameras)
- T-Bone is far better as a protagonist
- Lots of side missions, some with co-op play
- Not enough skill changes made to suit different character
- Too many objectives simply copied over from main game
- Difficulty didn’t ramp up enough