Outside of discounts and the like, there are sometimes other perks to purchasing a game’s Season Pass. Watch Dogs is a prime example of this, as those who put a deposit down on the title’s DLC have been given the opportunity to play its Bad Blood expansion one week prior to its official release date. Say what you will about the practice and the idea of passes in general, but at least Ubisoft is giving players an added reward for pledging their support.
As the first piece of bonus content for a game that released to a lot of buzz and some mixed press, Bad Blood acts as an opportunity for its developers to further prove that Watch Dogs is a sustainable franchise. For that reason, there’s a lot riding on its 3.5 gigabyte shoulders. Unfortunately, though, the add-on doesn’t ascend to the heights that many were hoping it would, and is rather ho-hum overall.
This new storyline takes place approximately one year after Aiden Pearce’s exploits ended. He’s long gone — or so it seems — but his friend T-Bone (aka. Raymond Kenney) is still up to his old tricks. In fact, we’re reintroduced to the eccentric hacker as he’s doing his thing inside of a heavily guarded building, and must fight our way out or risk dire consequences. It’s supposed to be his last job, you see, but that doesn’t end up being the case.
Shortly after concluding his job, returning home to an abandoned silo and deciding to catch some sleep before heading out on a cruise, Mr. Kenney is awakened by a phone call from an old friend. It’s Tobias Frewer, another eccentric that Aiden met in his campaign, who has gotten himself into a precarious situation. He’s been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a car, which seems to be charioting him towards his demise. That is, unless his old pal T-Bone can come to his rescue.
The unexpected phone call during the wee hours of the morning is what officially sets Bad Blood into motion and kickstarts its ten mission-long run. That number excludes the prologue, though, so you’re essentially getting eleven campaign missions as opposed to ten. The problem is that they’re all quite similar and become repetitive rather quickly, so get used to infiltrating guarded buildings and engaging in firefights, because that’s pretty much all you’ll do.
In true sandbox fashion, you’ll drive from one section of the map to another to complete quests. Along the way, the story unfolds and makes an attempt to make you care. To be honest, I didn’t identify with T-Bone, or really become immersed in his plight. Near the end, things started to come together and become more interesting, but it wasn’t enough. Throughout a lot of the experience, I was simply a bit bored, with feelings of deja-vu running through my head.
It’s true that new elements are introduced within, but they’re few and far between, with the most interesting one being Eugene. At first, I thought the name belonged to a person, but it doesn’t. Instead, it’s the moniker that our dreadlocked protagonist has given to his trusty RC car, which he uses to electrocute or blow up guards, and can use to remote hack computer terminals. It’s a bit Bond-like and adds to the experience, but it’s nothing revolutionary. The same is true of newly-introduced turret cameras, which combine the game’s standard surveillance cameras with high-powered machine guns.
Outside of the core campaign are different types of side missions, some of which tie into a brand new online mode called Street Sweeper. Playable in single player or with a peer, these Street Sweeper missions task T-Bone with infiltrating guarded environments to either hack phones, steal information or physically knock out targeted enemies with his trusty wrench and taser combo. They’re nothing special, and are flanked by some driving missions that aren’t exactly great either. I mean, Watch Dogs‘ driving was never one of its strong suits, so asking players to speed through the city and hit checkpoints with no room for error becomes frustrating quickly.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention certain story-related investigations that pop up throughout this expansion. There are seemingly three of them, and they make players scan QR codes, collect leads and so on. I tried to instigate one of these scenarios, but the QR code simply wouldn’t scan when I zoomed in on it with a camera like the game told me to. Perhaps I did something wrong, but it didn’t seem like it, as there were no other cameras with that line of sight.
Now, since this add-on runs off of the core Watch Dogs experience, its presentation facets won’t be a surprise. It looks good, runs well and has pretty solid voice acting, but T-Bone and friends can become a bit annoying. They simply talk too much.
To conclude, Raymond Kenney’s Bad Blood campaign is a tad forgettable, thanks to repetition and a storyline that doesn’t gain traction until close to its conclusion. Those who liked Watch Dogs a lot will still want to pick it up, so as to find out what happened to one of its more memorable characters after the credits originally rolled, but others won’t miss much by passing on it.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the DLC, which we were provided with.
Bad Blood won't win Watch Dogs any new fans, but those who loved the main game will want to give it a shot.