✔️An imaginative, and innovative take on the city of London. ✔️The freedom of portraying multiple protagonists is sensational. ✔️Intriguing campaign narrative that sets the tone for the franchise future.
❌Some bugs were expected, but nothing a patch can’t fix. ❌Some bland/outdated textures, but we’re at the tail end of a generation so it’s nothing that I can completely fault them on.
The Watch Dogs franchise has had a weird rollercoaster between its initial entry that was met with a somewhat lukewarm reception, to Watch Dogs 2 being nominated for Game of the Year in 2016. The problem that Legion entails is living up to the success its predecessor saw, after its inaugural title failed to not only launch on its expected release, but also meet its high expectations the French-Canadian developer had touted. Watch Dogs: Legion deviates itself from the series’ fundamental blueprint, changing the core foundations by just a fragment that it almost strips the entire engine bare, then pieces together with an entirely new outlook in its campaign presentation, character arcs, objective system and narrative progression.
This isn’t your typical Watch Dogs experience, if anything Legion has enhanced every facet that had been improved upon within Watch Dogs 2, and amplifies it with brand new abilities. Omitting an integral protagonist in its campaign, for a more freeform approach allows players flexibility and representation that was not viable within the series’ prior releases. Yes, we all the know the meme. We all want to play as the Grandma and her Rocket Launcher. However, Legion’s campaign imposes a storyline that predicts an outlandish future within the city of London. It’s common knowledge that there is no other place on earth with as much surveillance as the bustling capital of England. With the highest crime index on the planet, it only seemed fitting for Watch Dogs’ next chapter to hail from the home of Big Ben.
Dead set on DedSec…
Watch Dogs: Legion displays heavy political themes this time, with its campaign reflecting London to have become a militia type, Police state overrun by power hungry politicians who plan to clean up the capital, and rule with an iron fist. Propaganda is blazoned across billboards and LED screens, striking fear into the hearts of every local that call London their home. The idea is set that Police are now owned by a private group, that are willingly able to access any and all private information of residents in the town’s capital. The goal is to make London the world’s most liveable city; a utopia for those looking for refuge. It’s real weird seeing this now, given the fact that not even a day after writing this, London have entered their second lockdown within the COVID-19 pandemic; but I digress.
Obviously with native’s fearing the worst for their lives and personal information potentially compromised, DeadSec London are ready for action. We begin the campaign with existing members infiltrating the Houses of Parliament in hopes of defusing armed explosives, in hopes of destroying London’s existing legal system. Dalton Wolfe, an operative guided by his leader Sabine Brandt is assisted by DedSec’s newly engineered Artificial Intelligence system, Bagley. The snarky AI system has the ability to detect enemies in the area, along with any potential arms or material they may be carrying. Bagley warns Wolfe of the mountainous bulks of explosives that had been armed within the hallow halls of Parliament, and instructs the DedSec agent in carefully incapacitating each member of the opposing militia.
Although Wolfe successfully defuses the landfill of explosives, Zero Day’s leader kills Dalton and detonates a backup system that destroys Parliament. This leads all DedSec agents to go into hiding, while Nigel Cass, CEO of the private militia Albion leads London officials in hunting DedSec members in hopes of regaining a stronghold over the capital’s private intelligence. With the political landscape changing drastically, Albion’s false promise of a utopia, turns London into a dystopian Police state. Flurries of Drones, Police scattered everywhere, and if the Metropolis ever had a chance to escape the lens, well it just doubled with a plethora of cameras installed on every corner.
While DedSec lay in wait, Sabine slowly begins to recruit new members to the international hacker group in hopes of running the team anonymously. This is where the fun begins. Beginning the game, you customise your first main protagonist to take on the streets of London, in hopes of liberating the overrun town, by recruiting more members to the group by taking on a myriad of tasks set by general members of the public. Upon engaging with them, they will assign you your objective to complete, then upon returning to them will join the resistance and fight alongside DedSec in taking down Albion. You may also portray each new member of DedSec, almost like how you were able to switch protagonists ala Grand Theft Auto V with a few caveats.
We are Legion…
Now, you may be asking does the gameplay differ in anyway from Watch Dogs 2? Yes. Each unique facet of its predecessor has been improved on, plus additional features such as the ability to manoeuvre vehicles, parkour across city skylines, and various dialogue options that dictate your campaign’s respective outset. The monotony of espionage action does tend to wear thin with some missions seeming to have the exact same goal in mind, but the action that elevates each scenario does help with complete engagement. While the narrative will progress part-in-part of DedSec’s restructure, the combat and gameplay will stay mostly the same with some minor differences between each respective representative of the hacker group.
Collecting an assortment of ranged weaponry, in hopes of attacking enemies from a distance, covertly sneaking behind an Albion agent and taking them down, or creating havoc in the streets to cause a distraction, all this is part of manic that is Legion. I would compare it almost to how Saints Row became. From its serious roots, to almost becoming an outrageous demonstration of its former self. Be weary of enemies that may come in swarms, this only sets off alarms for you to escape as quick as possible using self-taught methods, but also some of the most innovative and unique ones that I’ve seen in the series thus far. Using a mixture of your hacking abilities and parkour, you can easily escape on foot.
But of course, there’s always car theft. Jumping into a car and zooming off into the distance may also elevate your wanted status. The higher your status, the more Albion begins to give chase. Legion uses a level system, almost akin to an RPG that ranks your player from spy to adrenaline junkie. These labels are handed respectively given your experience within each encounter. Physical to ranged attacks will develop strength attributes while spy will allow you to enhance your technical abilities for faster hacking skills. Lethal ranged attacks, such as guns and arms stay pretty much the same throughout the title, but can be utilised in various ways, depending on which model you use. While you may not recruit every member, you will grow relations to certain members of the public in hopes of them gaining intel.
Appreciated is the choice of Permadeath, or non-permadeath. If the character is defeated but has permadeath disabled, they will only be arrested. But if permadeath is enabled then you lose that member of your party. Legion’s attention to detail is astonishing, with the bustling town’s terrain mirroring that exact same feeling as if you were traversing through the busy streets of the English capital. My only gripe has been its lack of depth in detail for its characters. You do get a sense of stock lines and cheap designs, but this is all part of a title that has limitless variations to run through, so I can appreciate the effort that has been put in. Some cinematics do deliver their intended suspense, while others aim for the jocular and light hearted moments to break the ice.
All-in-all, Watch Dogs Legion is an incredible follow-up to its predecessor. Watch Dogs 2 remains my personal favourite within the franchise, but Legion has shown promise. It’s a steady growth period while we transition to the next generation of gaming, and with the hardware capable of delivering lofty experiences, we’re sure in for another exciting entry into this franchise. The potential it has to enamour audiences with Legion only scrapes the surface of everything we could come to expect upon its next entry. However, Legion is exceptional. The free range flow of this foray into the world of London, the power you have to control every piece of tech, the hilarity of controlling a Police car at your fingertips, and the engaging scenarios that elevate the tension given in its campaign all deliver one of the best title’s of 2020, and a fantastic way to end out our current generation.
Watch Dogs: Legion - Ubisoft
Watch Dogs: Legion is a 2020 action-adventure game published by Ubisoft and developed by its Toronto studio. It is the third instalment in the Watch Dogs series, and the sequel to 2016’s Watch Dogs 2.