Honorable Mention #1: Watch Dogs 2
Features Editor Ishmael Romero: Having a predecessor that didn’t meet its lofty expectations didn’t Watch Dogs 2 any favors. It had a lot to prove thanks to Aiden Pearce rubbing absolutely everyone the wrong way and a setting in Chicago that was large, but mostly dead. Ubisoft went back to the drawing board when it came to the sequel’s world and protagonist, and what they came up with was one of the best games of the fall.
Watch Dogs 2 puts you into the kicks of Marcus “Retr0” Holloway, a young hacker who managed to join the ranks over at DedSec. He’s fun, likable, and has a good head on his soldiers as he works to take down Blume and free the people of San Francisco from their technological prison. That city, by the way, is full of life and possibility as players are able to fully explore it with a new sense of verticality, new hacking abilities, and some fun gadgets to make things interesting. There’s always something to do as you drive around and hack your way through the city. The crowded streets and the varied locales add a vibrancy that the first Watch Dogs was sorely missing.
Then you have the supporting cast. Other members of DedSec, government officials, and a clever antagonist that give the story more oomph. You aren’t some gruff guy seeking revenge for a problem you started in the first place. Instead, you’re a young man looking to make some positive change in the world, to help those who don’t even realize they are being wronged. And what’s best is that you’re given an incredible amount of freedom to decide how you do so. You can play however you want. Want to be stealthy? Go ahead. Want to use your gadgets for a bit of trickery? Nobody is stopping you. If you think getting lethal is the way to send a message, we won’t judge you.
Watch Dogs 2 allows you to leave your mark on the world, and not be forced to follow the machinations of a madman. Seriously, Aiden had some issues.