Being the third entry in the Watch Dogs series, many things will feel familiar to any players of open-world games. What is new to the series however, is the ability to recruit any non-playable character (NPC), at any time and make them key player in your journey through the story.
Watch Dogs: Legion’s story, sees the London arm of the hacker group DedSec, framed for a bombing attack across near-future London City. This attack leads to the Private Military Company, Albion, given powers by the government, allowing them to gain control of the city. Albion begin to hunt for remaining members of DedSec, while having an iron grip on the general public and their behaviour, causing a dystopian rule to emerge.
The story itself isn’t anything revolutionary, but does see you interact with other hackers, resistant fighters, big technology corporations, crime families and agencies with dark secrets, as you progress. You will even have to discover the mysterious organisation, called Zero-Day, which are responsible for framing DecSec.
You will be given missions to infiltrate top security areas, hack into computer servers, stealth your way into gangland facilities or even rescue those who are in danger. Depending on your character’s inventory or skill, you can have multiple opportunities to plan and execute missions. Sneak into buildings in-person, use one of your drones or spider-bots to complete objectives or go loud and use heavy duty weapons to take care of enemies.
There is also an abundance of side missions or optional objectives that litter the world. These range from disrupting propaganda driven displays, destroying data servers, painting graffiti on walls and rescuing capturing teammates. All missions are varied enough to keep the gameplay fresh and none are overly long or drawn out. You can even change out your character, in the most part, if someone else’s skills would suit
Time To Resist
To help you take on the dangers of the world, you the player, must recruit and take on Albion, as well as the other threats that have sprung up across the city. Instead of creating a character from scratch or taking control of a standalone role, the world of Legion is populated by thousands of character, each with their own set of skills, items and personalities. Recruiting others will be crucial to the success of your mission to save London.
Players can walk up to anyone, and we mean ANYONE, find out information of their stats, abilities or personal attributes. Completing a favour or short mission for them, will see them join your team. You could even save them from a situation or peril, which convinces them to join you in gratitude too. There is enough diversity between characters, to make it interesting in your search of creating a perfect hi-tech resistance group. If you are playing on permadeath mode, recruiting new people is advised, as if any operative from your team gets killed, you cannot get them back or reload a previous save.
If you recruit a construction workers, they have access to a flying drone, that can be used to access out of reach areas and they have the ability to enter building sites unnoticed. Medical crew can be recruited to help injured members of your team. Some newcomers have connections to law enforcement, leading to the release of your resistance members from jail, if arrested. Some characters have faster hacking abilities or can hijack certain pieces of equipment and use them against others. You can even get Albion soldiers to join your resistance, which allows you to enter restricted areas without much suspicion. This unique take on the open-world progression, gives a refreshing twist to the genre. Although you don’t learn drastic new abilities or level up your character in a conventional sense, you can bolster your resistance operatives with new equipment, clothing options, drones and weapons, which can be swapped out at any time before missions.
Living In A Tech World
Technology plays a huge part in the world of Watch Dogs and Legion’s setting of London, showcases this more than ever. Cameras are on every corner, automated cars litter the roads, drones are used to police the people, for work delivery parcels or even information points for citizens on the streets. People are even connected, via optic interfaces, to this global network called ctOS, which tracks everyone’s movements, habits and even what they see or hear. This intrusion into life, allows Albion to dictate the habits of the population. Resisters to this policed regime are arrested, while others are placed in holding blocks, depriving them of freedom, some deported and some are subjected to much worse.
This abundance of technology, allows you to easily hack into to and control cameras, drones or devices for your needs. Use them to survey an area or as a distraction for enemies. Hijack weaponised drones to take out objectives or use cars and automated machines, to block or hinder pursuers. All this is easily accessible through your phone interface. Aim at what you want to hack, bring up the hacking menu and chose your input. These inputs become second nature to players. There were some issues connecting to particular items, when you are in large gunfights or when the screen is littered with attack drones. Thankfully, these were few and far between, never becoming too frustrating.
Should You Join The Resistance?
Overall, Watch Dogs: Legion is an enjoyable experience. London’s nice to explore, with varied boroughs, people and personalities.Graphically it looks nice throughout, with beautiful vistas during the day/night cycles and the city glows at night, with an abundance of lights, holograms & electronics glint in the world. The sounds of the world have been captured, giving a diverse feel to places and people. There’s some decent licenced music, while sound effects have an electronic, tech and futuristic flare. Weapons and vehicles can feel a bit flat, with zaps and electric hums, but suits the aesthetic. It’s easily recognisable to does that know London, but the world has a hi-tech twist to known landmarks.
Gameplay is solid and varied enough between missions to keep players engaged. With a mix of hacking mini-games, gunplay and traversal easily to master. Driving can feel a bit slippy however, as traversing the world can be a bit tight, as the smaller, winding roads of London, are certainly a contrast to American based games and geography. I found it easier between missions, to fast-travel using the underground train system.
Some downsides would be the loading times between certain missions, fast-traveling and transitioning between your teammates. They lasted a bit long on my PS4 playthrough, which slowed down the action at times. I did have a couple of issues with loading saves and framerate was a bit choppy when missions were cluttered with enemies, but the overall presentation was slick enough to enjoy.
You’re looking at forty plus hours of gameplay, if you were to do all missions, side missions and options objectives, so you do get bang for your buck. It’s worth a pick-up if you enjoy open-world games. Online and co-op play will release later this year on December 3rd, but as of this review, only the single-player was playable.
Watch Dogs: Legion is available now for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Stadia. It will be playable on Xbox Series X|S from November 10th and PlayStation 5 from November 12th. If you have the current-gen versions, you will get a free upgrade to your consoles next-gen counterpart.
It was an enjoyable time with Ubisoft's latest installment. The recruiting mechanic kept the gameplay fresh, as you played to each member's advantages, in your team. Looks and plays well for the most part, with a decent array of missions to keep you busy.