Title: Watch Dogs: Legion
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Genre: Open-World Action-Adventure
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Google Stadia
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: ubisoft.com
Release Date: October 29, 2020
The Watch Dogs series may not have the greatest reputation commercially and critically, but it’s easily one of my favorite series. I originally was skeptical regarding Watch Dogs 1 following its commercial reception, but choosing to take a chance was a choice I don’t look back on with regret. Quite the opposite in fact. It offered something new, along with a gripping story that kept me constantly intrigued. Watch Dogs 2 was great as well, with a different tone but even more enjoyable gameplay. Now, with Watch Dogs Legion Release out and giving players a taste of London, how does it fare compared to its predecessors?
Taking Back London in Style
Well, it’d be a crime to not start with Watch Dogs: Legion’s defining mechanic, the Play as Anyone system. This system takes a roguelike approach (provided you select a high enough difficulty) where if your operative dies, you lose them forever. I’m slowly becoming a roguelike fan, so seeing this make a debut in the AAA space is refreshing. The way Ubisoft has implemented this mechanic is done beautifully, to an extent I wasn’t even expecting. Each operative throughout London is vibrant in both gameplay and personality, letting them feel like a strong protagonist that’s impactful and easy to connect with. They don’t have as much personality as your usual protagonist would but given the context, you don’t notice or care much.
This is also supplemented into the supporting characters of Watch Dogs: Legion, more so than the previous entries. These characters have always been done beautifully, but I found myself connecting with the AI Bagley a lot more. Everything from his personality to his colorful language had me laughing out loud numerous times throughout my playthrough. The other characters were great as well, with villain motives being fleshed out and allies having some levels of depth. It wasn’t always perfect, but it did well enough to where it invested me in DedSec’s cause and the surrounding world.
Hacking Your Way to Success in Watch Dogs: Legion
When it came to enacting missions for DedSec, things were good in some areas but not others. Using the various recruits to execute Watch Dogs: Legion’s missions had its benefits. You could get to the roof of a hostile Albion fortress using a cargo drone as a Construction Worker, or look to sneak in as a registered Albion member. It becomes a game of weighing options to only enact one of them and see how it goes. Anyone who’s known me for some time knows I’m a sucker for player choice, so I was all over finding what worked best across the game’s missions.
The main issue isn’t the missions themselves but more in the way they’re implemented into Watch Dogs: Legion. Towards the end of the game, these missions can become rather repetitive. Things boil down to go to this place, hack this, maybe complete a hacking puzzle, and escape. The varied locations help with this considerably, but I can’t help but feel more variety could’ve gone a long way. Without that added variety, a lot of the missions don’t feel as memorable in the long run.
Drifting Through London at Breakneck Speed
When I say these areas are varied and interesting though, I mean it. Traveling through Watch Dogs: Legion’s future London is a pleasure, with stories to tell around every corner. It’s so good in fact, that I found myself wanting to drift through the streets rather than fast travel most of the time. Open worlds are becoming harder to design well, especially with their increasing size. While not the level of detail of a game like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it’s filled enough to be incredibly enjoyable. There’s plenty of secrets littered throughout the world for you to discover, which could leave you spending hours discovering them. For completionists, there’s plenty of content to tackle with added hours of enjoyment.
This is aided by some stellar sound design and music. There are solid tracks through the game’s radio stations (shoutout to the use of actually good EDM) but good mission music as well. Songs feel at level with the mood, with high tension scenarios feeling like a thrill ride thanks to intense beats. Even the guns and cars sound weighty, with everything from great drifts to assault rifle shots having that heavy kick you’d expect. Not once did I find something that felt unfitting, which is worth praise towards the Watch Dogs: Legion developers.
Watch Dogs: Legion is a Little Rough Around the Edges
As much as this game has its high points, there’s one area that I feel should be much better. That area is polished. The beginning of Watch Dogs: Legion is mostly polished well, but as the game goes on this deteriorates fast. Cars throughout London will all of a sudden start phasing through each other, hostiles will get stuck, and some missions will even need to be redone. It was strange just how bizarre this got over time, and I wouldn’t doubt I’m the only one. I’ve even heard reports of there being a save corruption issue which, while I haven’t experienced it, can be troublesome. While this isn’t anything out of the ordinary for a Ubisoft game, it doesn’t justify its inclusion.
As a final note, I’d like to touch on the options and accessibility offered by the newly Watch Dogs Legion release. I’m happy to report that for those who rely on accessibility, there’s plenty here for you to tinker with. There’s even the inclusion of text to speech for the visually impaired, letting more players join in. This transfers well to the options, with plenty to customize to your liking from graphical fidelity to gameplay modifications.
Verdict: Watch Dogs: Legion propels the franchise to new heights, with fresh takes on the classic formula. The new Play as Anyone system works beautifully, offering characters with diverse personalities and skills across the city of London. It creates a gameplay loop that focuses on player choice, making no two playthroughs the same. While repetitiveness and polish issues do mar the experience, a scarily realistic story and enjoyable gameplay partially make that up. For Watch Dogs fans new and old, Watch Dogs: Legion will hack its way into your free time.
- Play as Anyone system works beautifully
- Good story
- Chaotic and precise gameplay
- Plenty of options in missions
- Great world-building
- Solid sound design
- In-depth accessibility and options
- Repetitive missions
- Serious polish issues
Have you picked up the Watch Dogs Legion release? Let us know in the comments!