UbiSoft’s Watch Dogs franchise had a rocky road. The original game was touted as one of the premiere games of the generation, but received mediocre reviews. While the second game was a marked improvement, it never really managed to recoup the hype the franchise originally had. The third game, Watch Dogs Legion looks to change that. Not only does it takes place in a different country with London, but it has the potential to be one of the best games of next year. We had a chance to check out a demo presentation at E3 and came out very interested.
Instead of playing as a single protagonist, Legion lets players play as different members of the DedSec agency. The most innovative feature of the game is how almost any NPC can not only be recruited, but is completely playable. In fact each one can have their own class and sub abilities that can be helpful in a variety of situations.
While walking in the open world, players can use a cell phone in order to analyze each NPC’s capabilities. Some have specific benefits, like inflicting more damage on robotics or faster hacking speeds. Once the player chooses the character they want to recruit, they’d usually ask for a favor before agreeing, like a lady who wants her criminal record to be deleted from the authorities. While it’s not 100% certain if every NPC will have their own individual recruitment mission, the sheer number of characters mean that the game won’t be short of objectives.
As mentioned earlier, each character can provide expertise in three different classes: Hacker, Enforcer and Infiltrator. Hackers, as the name suggests, can manipulate different electronics to their benefit. Scanning security cameras can scope the area and let players know where guards are located. Another cool trick of the trade for the hackers is a highly versatile spider drone. It can use a mini turret to suppress enemies and it even can face-hug them to death.
Infiltrators specialize in stealth. While the full version will have more abilities to choose from, the few choices available at E3 were already impressive. Lunge can increase takedown range and All-Seeing increases the radius in which enemies can be spotted. There’s even a shockwave attack that can stun enemies. They can even hack into a gaurds neural system in order to appear completely invisible. On top of that, a defeated enemy can be cloaked as well. Finally the Enforcer is a class made for the ones who want to get up close and personal. They are masters of firepower and can use proximity mines to cause havoc.
While it all seem fine and dandy to have a nearly limitless array of characters to play as, Watch Dogs Legion does have permadeath. This means if a character dies, they’re dead for good, meaning another will have to pick up the mission where it left off. That means players shouldn’t get attached to their characters, recruiting as many potential agents as possible. If the missions are as fun as they were in the demo, I don’t think that would be a huge issue.
My one concern with this concept of no central protagonist is the lack of a proper story arc. Obviously if characters die for good, they can’t progress the plot or have much of a character. Thankfully the writing and performances even from the simplest of NPCs was well done. The AI character Bagley will also be around to ensure the narrative has focus even if characters bite the dust.
Watch Dogs Legion is one of Ubisoft’s most ambitious titles to date. Even taking its revolutionary recruitment system out of the equation, having so many systems such as fighting, shooting, driving, hacking and more work in tandem is quite a task. The demo really put some of my concerns at ease. I do hope that once the game is out, it will be the marquee title we’ve all been waiting for. Watch Dogs Legion will release on March 6th, 2020 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.