Ubisoft Montreal is switching things up in Watch Dogs 2 and taking the second game to San Francisco which will focus on a brand new protagonist, one who's equipped with powerful computer-hacking skills that gives players fresh ways to explore and infiltrate the open world.
The first Watch Dogs' starred Aiden Pearce, an Irish-American who's task it was to hack and take down members of the organization who murdered his niece. Watch Dogs 2 on the other hand follows Marcus Holloway, a young African American originally from Oakland who becomes an expert hacker after being thrown in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
In time he is forced to join the underground hacker organization Deadsec, in a bid to clear his name while taking down the shady characters who use ctOS 2.0 technology to oppress the people of San Francisco, a system Marcus is determined to take offline for good.
Not only is Marcus able to hack the system but he also has other abilities which give players the chance to tackle the game in a number of ways. Not feeling confrontational? Then use Marcus' stealth skills to silently put down enemies with taser technology or you can go in guns blazing, Ubisoft has left it in your hands.
In the original game there were objections to Aiden Pearce being it's main protagonist as some people felt that the character was "boring" and generic, a statement that wasn't so far from the truth. Ubisoft took note and gave us Marcus, a younger, cooler and less grouchy hacktivist.
Aiden Pearce was meant to be the inclusive, cookie-cutter anonymous white man who people atypically associate with proficient hackers. That was his story and now it's a wrap. Marcus in comparison is the kind of social activist who appears tailor made for this era.
Some gamers seem to have a problem with Marcus on a personal level going by the comments left on the YouTube trailer, Steam forum and other online communities. Nearly every discussion featuring Watch Dogs 2 is about Marcus’ race or the way he dresses, labelling the character as nothing more than a shoehorned 'hipster.'
This isn't the first time a black character has caught flack for being introduced as the protagonist of a leading franchise. In 2004 when Rockstar Games first revealed Carl Johnson as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' main star, some gamers lost their shit.
This still happens even to this day. Recently, when EA revealed that their latest war game, “Battlefield 1” would take place in a World War I setting. The announcement was met with controversy because the character portrayed on the front cover was Black. Which goes to show gaming culture still has a race problem.
Either way we have to give it up to Ubisoft for going with something different this time round, rather than sticking to the same tired formula. Some might not want to hear the story Marcus has to tell, but it’s precisely the kind of story that major video game companies should be giving more spotlight to.