Bad Blood picks up after the events of the original Watch Dogs game, where Raymond Kenney, known by the alias “T-Bone” has some unfinished business to clean up in Chicago following Aidan Pearce’s subversion of ctOS and Blume Securities hold on the city. Despite the events of the main game, almost nothing has changed in Chicago and you’d be forgiven for thinking it took place at the same time as the original game. Still, Aiden has disappeared and is laying low while T-Bone is left to clean up his mess and finish up some loose ends for his own benefit.
T-Bone’s story treads familiar ground and while the conclusion it reaches is rather predictable, I can’t fault it too much because it was still genuinely intriguing. It does attempt to reincorporate some characters from the original game into its story to better flesh them out, but this feels quite forced. As you’d probably surmise if you played the original game, T-Bone is a much more charismatic protagonist than Aidan Pierce but he also errs the line between legitimately humorous and cringe worthy stereotype.
Since the original game, nothing has really changed here. Chicago looks just like it did in the original game. The city has a lot of action to make it feel believable and alive, but definitely looks better at sunset and night time as opposed to the day where colours look less vibrant and instead washed out. T-Bone himself looks great in terms of modelling and animation, even if he does borrow a few from the main game and Aiden.
As with the original game, there’s some very nice subtle lighting effects here and there – like the glow of T-Bones smartphone dynamically lighting up parts of his body if he’s holding it while running away from a group of enemies or his tasers glow as he beats up enemies up close. All in all it’s a game that looks great, but is still a far cry from the original reveal of the game several years ago.
From a sound perspective, the original score here is a step up from the original. The new pieces that are played during missions, whether high tension or ambient slower pieces, really fit the theme of the future that Ubisoft is trying to portray in Watch Dogs. Voice work is similarly an improvement – with John Tench easily outclassing Noam Jenkins (Aiden) in his portrayal of T-Bone.
Bad Blood really is more or less a Watch Dogs expansion pack, except barely anything here is new. While Ubisoft claimed the game featured “new locations within Chicago”, many of these were unfortunately just new areas within buildings that already existed. A major issue I have with the lack of expansion of the map (heck, even adding a new district might’ve been nice) is that it removes that sense of exploration from the town. As such, all your fast travel points and your map is fully viewable from the get-go. The core structure is similarly still like the original game – there’s a whole bunch of icons on the map, of which some advance the main story and others start optional content.
The main story missions themselves are pretty varied but still, at their core, provide the same experience that Watch Dogs did. There are a few missions that feature new (indoor) locations but they as a whole are pretty unremarkable. Most of the missions involve you having to raid an indoor location, hack something, and then leave or kill everyone in the area. It’s not a terribly bad experience, it’s just too close to home with what we’ve already experienced in the base game.
The biggest new addition to the game is Eugene, a small remote controlled car that T-Bone can use to infiltrate areas and scout out locations. Completing side missions will eventually outfit Eugene with a stun gun as well as explosives too, making him a little bit more useful than when you first pick him up. The idea of Eugene is a pretty small and yet simple way to make things feel different, but in his present state he’s hideously overpowered – being able to take down even heavy soldiers with a quick stun shot and no recovery time. He’s also, disappointingly, only usable during certain moments in the game (largely within missions themselves and not during open world free roaming).
The other new addition is the “Street Sweep” missions, which are more or less optional missions that further a minor storyline in the game. These are pretty run of the mill – including having to stand near a computer while hacked files transfer, taking out a certain target without harming anyone else and racing through a selection of checkpoints before a timer elapses. They’re apparently procedurally generated, but they’re so dull to the point where I wasn’t surprised to discover this. On the plus side, these missions can be tackled co-operatively with a friend, which is a nice touch and is much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
As you’d expect, the ten mission run of Bad Blood is easily over within three to four hours but there’s a wide breadth of optional content to wade through to further extend the experience. Whether this is worthwhile, however, is a whole other issue. To unlock absolutely everything the game has to offer, you’ll have to complete at least sixty procedurally generated missions on top of the ten main ones, which quite frankly feels like the worst kind of padding possible in a game like this. Sure, it’ll easily extend the experience from a four hour one to somewhere between six and eight, but it’s simply too dull to warrant it.