Assassin's Creed Origins has confirmed, once and for all, it takes place in the same shared universe as fellow Ubisoft series Watch Dogs.
The theory both series are connected is not new. Ubisoft has played with the idea before, and slipped references to each into the others' games.
Assassin's Creed Easter eggs feature in both Watch Dogs 1 and 2, while Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag includes mention of Watch Dogs' fictional evil corporation Blume.
The next free update for Watch Dogs 2 introduces a four-player party mode, allowing players to free roam San Francisco with three friends.
I enjoyed Watch Dogs 2, but one of the things about it that rubbed me up the wrong way was how the game's plucky hacker crew could use deadly weapons to murder a bucketload of people.
Ubisoft has outlined its revised DLC plan for Watch Dogs 2, which includes a key change.
Did you know that in 2015 more people died while taking selfies than were killed in deadly shark attacks? I don't know how many people typically die in deadly shark attacks each year, and I've wasted enough of Google's time this week to bother finding out, but it makes for a snippy tabloid headline, or barstool factoid -- providing nobody asks too many follow-ups. Like a furious and lonely baby boomer in a Daily Mail comments section, I'd be tempted to judge the unfortunates behind the statistic were it not for the fact that, earlier this week I fell out of a tree while trying to photograph bird eggs.
The very first time I went hands-on with Watch Dogs 2, I expected to hate it. I'd been burnt by the first game, and the sequel trailers that I'd watched so far tried too hard, in my opinion, to capture a Hipster-ish vibe that just wasn't my cup of tea.
Watch Dogs 2 has been updated with a new scene that plays out after beating the game - and some fans think it teases a future location for the series.
The change comes as part of a 10GB patch (14GB on PC) which updates the game's world with new areas, fresh dances and emotes, new clothing and other bits and pieces to prep Watch Dogs 2 for its incoming season pass content.
Everyone gets all the extra content regardless of whether they buy the season pass or not - and a friend can enable you to play through it all in co-op without buying it yourself.
Watch Dogs 2 launch sales have been described as "soft" compared to expectations by publisher Ubisoft - but it sounds like the company will stick with the franchise.
Longer-term sales of the game have been strong due to positive word-of-mouth, Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot explained in a just-finished financial call. It's good news - at launch, Watch Dogs 2's sales looked very dicey.
The continued healthy sales of Watch Dogs 2 were important for the "long-term" future of the franchise, Guillemot continued, of which Ubisoft was "happy".
Watch Dogs 2 now has a free demo on PS4 that lets players check out three hours of Ubisoft's latest open-world adventure.
Ubisoft will put out a patch for Watch Dogs 2 later this week that addresses one of the more annoying aspects of the open world hacking game.
Previously, when the San Francisco police were hot on your tail (because you've probably clipped a poor pedestrian - "he came out of nowhere, guv!"), you'd end up hearing a cop boom through a megaphone: "This is the police! Pull over now!"
Fair enough, right? Well, the cop in question was pretty insistent, and barked the same "Pull over now!" line so frequently you ended up wanting to chuck your controller at the screen in the hope it would shut her up. (I referenced this annoyance in my Watch Dogs 2 post-launch impressions article published in November.)
Here's what's clear: big console game sales are down. Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2 and more all failed to even match the sales of their predecessors at launch. People I've spoken to in the UK retail business are in panic mode. The PS4 has been a huge success. Xbox One is doing well. What's going on?
I've seen plenty of theories, some better than others. Writing on Eurogamer's sister site, Gamesindustry.biz, Rob Fahey puts forward one of the better ones: that the rise of digital means fewer physical game sales are in people's hands to trade-in. Certainly in the UK, which has a huge pre-owned video game market, that makes a lot of sense.
Fahey also suggests more and more games are designed to keep us playing week after week and, as a result, we're not interested in playing as many new games. Think Destiny or Minecraft or FIFA. Again, I agree this plays a part. I played Destiny for pretty much two years solid, tuning in each week to the detriment of trying out new games.
Hackers have shut down the payment system for San Francisco's public transport, and in doing so gifted free rides to thousands of passengers.
UPDATE 25/11/16 09:55am There's an ongoing price-matching battle between different retailers, and Amazon has now nudged down some prices and increased a couple of others. Dishonored 2 and FIFA 17 are now down to £29.99, there's a pound off the 1TB Xbox One bundle with FIFA, Forza and Force Awakens, and Just Dance 2017 is now unmissable at £19.99. Titanfall 2 is down to £28 - but that's nowhere near HMV.
UPDATE 24/11/16 3.45pm: Watch Dogs 2 developer Ubisoft has brought a second round of multiplayer features online, for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One:
Bounty Hunts can happen seamlessly without the Multiplayer App
Seamless Hacking Invasions
UPDATE 3.05pm Like the wagging appendage of a real-life canine, Watch Dogs 2 publisher Ubisoft is hoping its game's sales will have a long tail.
The publisher has issued a statement to address the low launch week sales of its open world hackathon sequel, as reported earlier today.
Ubisoft has acknowledged Watch Dogs 2's slow start - and the trend of lower-than-expected sales for follow-ups from other publishers too, which we detailed below. It is, however, hoping that strong continued sales of the game in subsequent weeks will make up some of the shortfall:
Watch Dogs 2 certainly isn't shy when it comes to Easter eggs. You can spot them in its mission titles, in the character dialogue and even squirreled away in the background scenery. The sheer quantity of cheeky references in this game is truly impressive so, for one last time, I've invited my kale-loving alter-ego Ian Hipster to show off eleven of his favourites.
The speculative fiction of videogames is generally no more capable of predicting the future than horoscopes or US election polls. Occasionally, though, a game predicts future events with the spooky foresight that would have gotten you burned as a witch in the 16th century.
Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft's latest open world adventure, annoys the hell out of me. I can't stand the characters, the dialogue is cheesy and the hacker culture the game portrays is 20 years too late. I mean, hacking was cool in 1996 when Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie were trolling each other in high school. Now, 20 years later, I listen to DedSec characters Marcus, "Wrench", Sitara and Josh chat about hacking the planet in the basement of a board game shop in San Francisco and I can't help but think of that "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme. For me, Watch Dogs 2 is an eye-rolling hot take of a video game. It tries too hard to be cool.
Five top Ubisoft executives are in hot water over claims of insider trading - a serious legal matter now being investigated by the French stock market regulator.
Despite all the excitement that built up before its release, I think it's fair to say that Watch Dogs was a bit of a disappointment. What once seemed like such a promising game was marred by dull gameplay, an unlikable protagonist and some underwhelming hacking mechanics.
UPDATE 16/11/16: Ubisoft has apologised for one "particularly explicit" example of NPC genitalia visible in Watch Dogs 2, and said it would be patched out.
Three weeks before Watch Dogs 2's release, hackers co-opted millions of connected devices around the world - principally security cameras, but also other web-connected domestic devices - and combined their power in an attack that took great swathes of the internet offline. For most of us, the attack, by perpetrators whose identity remains unknown, was both a short-lived inconvenience (Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and even the UK government's website were successfully brought down) and a sobering reminder of the risks of installing wifi in a kettle. The game's development team, by contrast, must have been giddy with satisfaction. The news story precisely mimics the plot of the game in which you play as a member of an elite Bay Area-situated team of hacktivists known as DedSec, a name that echoes real world groups such as GhostSec and LulzSec, who plan to takedown a prying corporation ("Like Big Brother and Little Brother all rolled up into one") by using the internet of things.
Watch Dogs 2's online troublesDuring the early days of reviewing Watch Dogs 2, the game's seamless multiplayer, which ambiently draws players into each others' worlds, allowing them to team up for co-op and competitive missions, was working. This functionality came at a major cost, however, causing the game to periodically lag (especially while driving around the city at speed) and even crash the game entirely. Recognising the problem, Ubisoft temporarily disabled seamless multiplayer, instead requiring that players manually connect for these missions. A patch to fix the issue and re-introduce seamless multiplayer has, Ubisoft assures us, been found and is currently in certification by Sony and Microsoft, although it will likely not be ready in time for launch.
Your character, Marcus, a black twenty-something wunderkind hacker (his race is not incidental; it's sometimes used to lightly comment on bigotry) is DedSec's newest recruit. His aim is to inspire as many people as possible to install the group's malware-riddled app on their phones in preparation to issue the mother of all DDoS attacks. Watch Dogs 2's timely theme is not entirely a fortuitous accident. This is an open word adventure that liberally cribs from recent headlines, barely bothering to disguise recent tech-related scandals as it recasts them as missions. From chasing down a rap-loving pharmaceutical company executive, widely hated for raising the price of leukaemia drugs, to hacking into the emails of film studio executives, Watch Dogs 2 is that rarest of things: a blockbuster video game that threatens to have something to say.
UPDATE 2.30pm: Ubisoft has deployed a patch for the game's online modes - which are currently, er, offline.
UPDATE: Our review for Watch Dogs 2 is now live - and despite its online problems it's a massive improvement over the original.
ORIGINAL STORY: The embargo for Watch Dogs 2 reviews has just lifted, and having spent quite some time with the finished article with Ubisoft having given out final code last week it's looking like a sizable improvement after the first game with a new sense of personality and purpose. Right now, though, there are crippling issues with the seamless multiplayer that have the potential to impact performance for all players, sending the frame-rate plunging and causing hard crashes.
We've got a little more detail from Tom Phillips who's spent some time investigating the problem, and Ubisoft is aware of the issue and is working on a fix, with the multiplayer presently offline - but right now we can't in good faith publish a review of a game that's not currently working as advertised, and would advise caution until the problem is properly fixed. We'll be keeping an eye on the situation and reporting back, and hopefully it won't be too long until we can bring you our final verdict.
UPDATE 15/11/2016 8.51pm: A new report suggests the Ubisoft sci-fi game teased within Watch Dogs 2 is real. There's only one problem: it may never come out.
Watch Dogs 2 isn't officially out until Tuesday, 15th November, but there are already copies in the wild.
Annoying hipster simulator Watch Dogs 2 launches early next week but I've been given the go-ahead to stream a couple of hours of gameplay on our YouTube channel at 3pm GMT.
Watch Dogs 2 has a season pass, because of course it does.
It's no secret that Watch Dogs 2 is a departure from its predecessor. It's been obvious for a while, just from glancing at trailers, that this sequel will be brighter and more playful than Ubisoft's previous crack at a hackable open world. Now, after nearly four hours with the sequel, it's clear there are big changes in how it feels, too.
The first Watch Dogs didn't have a lot of humour. With an angry main character, a dark and moody setting and a pretty monotonous plot, there wasn't much time for scripts and giggles.
Ubisoft's open-world hacking game Watch Dogs 2 has been delayed by two weeks on PC. It's now due on 29th November, a fortnight after the PS4 and Xbox One versions arrive on 15th November.
Welcome to your weekly round-up of the video happenings over at Outside Xbox, where this week we have been playing Ubisoft's memetastic hack-'em-up Watch Dogs 2.
I wasn't a fan of the original Watch Dogs. I was super excited for it when it was announced but, like many other people, upon playing it I found it rather dull and I lost interest pretty quickly.
Thankfully, Watch Dogs 2 has learnt a lot of lessons from its predecessor and after spending a couple of hours exploring the streets of virtual San Francisco, I came away feeling pretty positive about the whole experience.
Ubisoft has poured masses of personality into the game this time round, not just into the colourful streets of its open world but also the campaign and side missions which are far more varied and imaginative than the ones from the first.
Vivendi has now gobbled up more than 20 per cent of Ubisoft shares, as its concerted effort for control in the family-owned games company continues.
If you've ever played a Ubisoft open world game then you'll know the score. Assassin's Creed features towers to climb which unlock missions around you. Far Cry features towers which, again, unlock missions around you. And - guess what - Watch Dogs 1 features towers which unlock missions around you.
We already know a fair amount about Watch Dogs 2, but Ubisoft has used this E3 to showcase an impressive infiltration mission.
It shows off all the various upgrades from Watch Dogs 1 - the drone, the robot with the little BB-8 arm, remote digital infiltration from across a rooftop via CCTV cameras... And then an actual infiltration and a zip-line away at the end.
It's stylish, and a noticeable step up from the original. Is that enough for you?
Yves! Aisha! French quirkiness! Live from 9pm BST.
After all the leaks, Watch Dogs 2 is now officially out in the open.
You've probably seen the leaks. Watch Dogs 2 is set in San Francisco and features a new main character. It's also coming this year, on 11th November.
UPDATE 8th June 2016: Another Watch Dogs 2 leak - this time from Twitch.
A short Watch Dogs 2 trailer was spotted as a part of a Twitch advert overnight. You can watch it in the tweet below.
The video doesn't tell us anything new, really: the San Francisco setting, the main character and the release date have all leaked already.
An LA-based motion capture actor has apparently spilled the beans on Watch Dogs 2's protagonist.
Ubisoft has confirmed that a second Watch Dogs title will be out before 31st March 2017.