Review | Watch Dogs: Legion
There’s many variations of open-world games out there and each one of them tries to innovate in a certain niche. This leaves you options like being a pirate, a fierce cowboy, or even a street thug. Not only does this open new and incredible worlds to players, but it also gives developers a fighting chance against giants like GTA. When it comes to casual hacking, building a crew, and being the king of a dystopian world, the Watch Dogs series is first to mind. There’s certainly a lot of other games competing in the area, but they tend to be in quite different flavors. One big example being Cyberpunk 2077, which intersects a bit with Watch Dogs, but also adds a strong RPG element to the formula. Watch Dogs: Legion has more of an adventure game approach.
Leaving similar games aside, Watch Dogs: Legion takes place within an open world setting based on the great city of London. Previous games in the franchises took place in US cities like Chicago and San Francisco. While they were really fun places to explore, London will always have a special place in my heart. After all, it was the last city I visited before the entire pandemic year of 2020. Ubisoft Toronto did an excellent job at recreating the city into a dystopian future playground. The game enables players to visit the crowded city streets, including the most important landmarks London has to offer. Take a ride in The Eye, dress up as a Queen’s guard and take Buckingham Palace by storm, or board the popular subway. It’s your choice!
London is a robust area, and in times where there’s still travel restrictions around the world, it’s the perfect escape for players to embark on their own British experience. DedSec is back and bigger than ever, though that may not be a good thing for them. The opposing hacktivist group, Zero Day, frames DedSec for an act of terrorism, causing the British government to step in. They bring in Albion, a private military group set on restoring order to the fair city of London. Of course, things aren’t what they seem, and the city is now worse off than ever before. DedSec operative Sabine Brandt recruits you as the player to restore DedSec to former glory and clear their name.
The storyline will take players to several important places in the city, leaving a few hidden for the most curious. I would urge everyone playing this game to check out Chinatown. Not to spoil the surprise, but do prepare for an amazing visual experience. If you’re already a fan of the series, the same familiar style of hacking you are accustomed to is back. Hacking is a lot more fun in historical buildings such as the Tower of London, on top of the Tower Bridge, or in some of the tallest buildings in the city.
Due to the size of the city, the developer provides two helpful ways of quickly traveling between mission locations. One of these options is the subway, which is by far the fastest. You’ll just jump out in a quick loading screen and then you’ll arrive at the desired destination. The second one, which annoyed me a bit, is the auto drive feature of the cars. Since the game’s set in the future, all cars feature a new automatic drive mode, chauffeuring players from point A to B. Sadly, it’s in the most boring way possible. The car’s AI will follow all the traffic rules and do its best to behave nicely. This isn’t really an exciting feature in a futuristic open-world game. Just give me the most powerful and awesome electric car you have, and I’ll roam the streets endlessly. Of course, it’s nice to have multiple travel options.
The entire experience is boosted by the fact that Ubisoft brought a lot of local artists to the in-game radio. These artists range from smaller rappers, to well-known superstars such as Stormzy. It adds a lot of flavor to the presentation, and helps to immerse yourself more in this world.
Unlike previous entries, there’s no main character in Watch Dogs: Legion, as the protagonists will be everyone you manage to recruit. Every member of the team you build is playable, each one having unique skills and weapons. If you also decide to enable permadeath, every time you play with a character and they end up dying, then you would have to switch to another one until you run out of options. This makes recruiting even more important in the game, as running out of characters will result in failing the game. Thankfully, recruiting is easy, as it just requires you to do a different favor for each prospect. Having a big variety of skills in your team will enable you to more easily advance in the game. Medics will help injured team members, drone operators can summon cargo drones, and so on.
As in the previous Watch Dogs game, the character customization is quite extensive. Players will be able to buy clothes and accessories from a plethora of stores scattered all around the city. Weapons and car customization is also present, giving players cosmetics to apply on their guns and cars. It’s a valuable feature that we know many of you may enjoy in the game. I aggressively changed my character’s outfits multiple times throughout my playthrough, including the masks you can wear when doing unlawful things. Some of them are simple while others can be incredibly lavish, like a solid gold crown.
What I was most surprised about with Watch Dogs: Legion was the length of the main story. While I didn’t properly track my hours, my gut tells me it may be slightly shorter than Watch Dogs 2. The content amount between the previous game and this one also feels somewhat uneven. Of course, I remember doing a lot worse in the hacking puzzles in Watch Dogs 2. My experience with the hacking in the previous games may have prepared me for this sequel, hence why it might’ve felt like a breeze. Of course, there’s quite a big list of side missions to tackle in the game, making it a meatier experience. Even more content awaits those that happen to own the season pass too.
Sadly, at the time of this review, the multiplayer part of the game is not yet available. The official release is scheduled for December 3rd, promising an entirely different open-world experience. It will also offer a co-op mode for the regular game, allowing players to enjoy the game with friends. This is very similar to how Rockstar handles GTA Online and Red Dead Redemption Online, creating a completely different world for multiplayer instead of mixing it with the single player experience. Ideally, it would’ve been nice to have multiplayer available at launch, but I can respect the decision if the results meet expectations.
The post-Brexit dystopian London is exactly the right amount of craziness and fun I was expecting from a Watch Dogs game. Even though the original recipe hasn’t changed a lot in the past few years, you can see the progress they made with Watch Dogs: Legion, polishing the game with every iteration. While I still wish the multiplayer launched on day one, I have high expectations for it. Even without it, this is still a Watch Dogs game at it’s core, and fans should be in for good time.
Final Score: 8 out of 10