Human Conditions is pretty much the exact kind of campaign DLC you’d want from a game. It grows the world, adding new tricks to the toy chest with unexplored areas. It ties in and plays with your favorite characters—or at the very least characters you love to hate. Seemingly the only problem is that there just isn’t more of it.
That’s good considering there’s a surprising amount of pressure on its release. Sales were, well, “soft,” as Ubisoft liked to euphemistically put it, though it was critically well-received. I liked it a whole bunch, and if 2016 just hadn’t been a banger of a year for video games, it definitely would have made my own top ten list.
Ubisoft is going down a fair number of rabbit holes, in fact, to reinvigorate interest in the game. The last update—in preparation for Human Conditions—even gave a tease for the sequel with an extended ending and started some sort of new ARG. And it probably worked otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this and trying to decide if there’s enough meat here to buy for $15 (or indulge in the promise of the season pass for $40).
Granted, there’s not a lot here if you didn’t really much care for the gameplay of the stock game because it’s mostly just more of that. Despite some interesting expansions on base mechanics, it’s a lot of putting your quadcopter in the perfect overwatch position while your jumper goes off to do your remote dirt, and doing your best to clear the path when Marcus’ own hands are required. If you found that loop boring, then yeah, you’re definitely not going to like this, even with (or especially with) the added Jammer enemy type.
But there are some refreshing twists that the DLC wants to give a shot, too. In one set of missions, you encounter a throwback character from the first Watch Dogs and this guy, well, he’s fucking crazy and he loves shooting stuff and blowing things up. It, in effect, turns your stealth tactics into shrapnel and gives you such a wide open door to playing like a Rambo motherfucker that you’d be fool not to go along. It’s like they finally made good on the Wrench part of that character swapping bit at the end of the main game.
There are a few more surprises that I won’t ruin since this is a rather brief experience, but know that they do genuinely shake up the experience. (Also, can nobody pronounce “automata” correctly? It’s not that hard, guys.) More interesting that what they do with the gameplay, however, is what they do with the story.
The main story may spread itself a bit too thin on the broadest concepts of hacking and the implications of what black hats and white hats are want to do, but these DLC missions are incredibly focused and, as a consequence, relatively thought-provoking. One of them is begins with the premise that someone has installed ransomware on a bunch of hospitals’ servers, forcing doctors and nurses to revert to slower paper methods. But the game also peeks at why that’s effective beyond volume and into how technology has bolstered medical fields.
The same goes for the self-driving cars and the terrifying yet logical conclusion of its connection to the ctOS systems full of personal data. We even get a story that lets Josh shine who, among a full set of characters that I somehow ended up adoring despite them all looking like terrible and hackneyed clichés, instantly became my favorite in this DLC.
If you liked the shockingly robust online co-op missions, then the ones included here will tickle more of your fancy. The bulk of the meat, however, is in the single-player stuff, and as good as it is, it feels far too brief. I refused to fast travel at all and while this DLC took you all over the map, I wrapped it all up in maybe three and a half to four hours. I’d say that’s worth $15, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
Game Review: Watch Dogs 2: Human Conditions DLC
Release: February 21, 2017 (PlayStation 4); March 23, 2017 (Xbox One and PC)
Genre: Third-person action
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Available Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Players: Single-player, multiplayer