Watch Dogs: Legion is the newest game set in Ubisoft’s open world Hacker dystopia, aiming to break the mold of traditional open world games. Watch Dogs: Legion takes risks in game design, gives players a variety of methods in taking on various missions, and takes the “Hack Everything!” Mantra to all new heights.
The story of Watch Dogs: Legion follows a path of hackers trying to liberate London and rescue people from just about everything you can imagine going wrong in a Murphy’s Law type scenario. Organized crime, Political espionage, Terrorism, and mega corporations trying to take over the world are just a few of the overlying issues that create a constant sense of doom. It’s DedSec’s job to save London and I’m all for it.
Watch Dogs 2 felt like a modern day version of the old school Hackers movie, and Watch Dogs: Legion felt much more Hacker James Bond to me. The story is a bit larger in scale, touching on some really serious issues. The game features some very bond like villains to take down and finishing some missions made me feel like I was on top of the world.
I enjoyed the story and how ambitious the game’s overall experience is. The main story missions feature a wide breadth of new puzzles to solve. If you’ve played the Watch Dogs series before then these puzzles will be very familiar. Bouncing from cameras to drones, spinning bars, and connecting the dots to open new areas and progress through missions is very similar to the Watch Dogs 2 formula for better or worse. I always loved these puzzles, and think they’re quite fun but sometimes it can feel repetitive. They do however add a ton of new abilities and gadgets to add new methods to solving these puzzles. I found several times I had to move to different areas to complete these hacking puzzles, as they wrapped around I’d have to use drones and a spiderbot to access specific areas to complete the puzzle and progress forward.
From the jump, Ubisoft has pushed this hack everything and everyone sentiment with Watch Dogs. That didn’t translate well in the first game, but Watch Dogs 2 was heavily improved. Watch Dogs: Legion fulfills the original promise in an incredible way. DedSec is huge, it’s everywhere and while experiencing isolated storylines from the Watch Dogs universe was cool the first two times around, the idea of recruiting anyone in the city, learning about them, and playing as them seemed too much to actually accomplish from a development standpoint, but Ubisoft proved me wrong here.
Literally, anyone you encounter can be hacked to reveal special abilities, careers, what they’re doing, and whether they’re fans of DedSec. If you like what you see, you can attempt to recruit them. Some of the recruits require missions to be completed, some can be recruited for helping them when they’re in trouble, and some by liberating certain areas in the game. There is no main protagonist in Watch Dogs: Legion but the DedSec crew in London itself is the actual protagonist and swapping between many different hackers is key to progressing through the game.
This mechanic in no way felt optional. There are several missions in the game that can seem almost tailor made for an individual with a certain skillset. You can use different hackers for different things, like say you need someone with a special stealth skillset or a construction worker with access to an area allowing you to walk right past guards or even the more combat oriented individuals with heavy arms and melee weapons. This game makes you think a bit before tackling each mission to try and find the best person for the job. I found a couple of members that I really liked to cruise around and stick with, but as I got further, switching between each member in my crew was key and actually my favorite part of the game. The different skillsets of each individual also make the game feel fresh. If I get tired of tackling each mission the same way with one person, I make a point to switch it up, try someone with new skills and abilities. I may think of something, try it out, and see if the approach works, and when it does, it’s incredibly satisfying.
Ubisoft could’ve easily made recruiting people as easy as walking up to them and doing some generic and repetitive thing to recruit them. Watch Dogs: Legion has these incredibly elaborate backstories for so many of the individuals, and by the time I’ve completed them, I become heavily invested in my new recruit. They aren’t just another individual on a list with a different skillset, and this makes for a side mission structure that adds to the game’s story in a way I’ve never seen before. I should also mention that each individual is fully voice acted. This has its ups and downs. Sometimes the voices fit really well and it works great, but there are other times where the voices feel a little off on certain recruits. There are also some facial animations that don’t quite fit the expression or voice associated with the individual. It doesn’t break the experience really but was noticeable and I can see some people being taken back by it.
I’d like to touch on the open world London here. I have been to London myself a few times and spent a good amount of time there. I felt that it is really well represented here. I’m sure someone who actually lives in London can point out the differences between the map in the game and the one in reality. I recognized certain areas with incredible accuracy in the same way I did in Watch Dogs 2’s San Francisco.
Speaking of the map, Ubisoft is famous for the whole climb this or find this thing to unlock map areas, and while that’s still the case here, they added a bit of flair this time around. In Watch Dogs: Legion there are side missions that need to be completed in order to “liberate” areas of the city and unlock key map items. These side missions feature some great and interesting puzzles that once completed give a far greater sense of accomplishment than what I’m used to with previous Ubisoft games. Liberating certain areas of the map also gives you a new recruit which I found to be a great reward and incentive to completing all of the liberation missions.
Overall, Watch Dogs: Legion is a ton of fun. There is so much to do and experience in this game and so many different ways to do it. The hacking puzzles are familiar but still fun and sometimes challenging. The real star of this game is the variety of characters you can recruit and the backstories that come with them. This is a new thing that I’ve never seen done before, and I really appreciate when developer’s take risks in game design. In my opinion, those risks paid off in Watch Dogs: Legion and I’m definitely looking forward to playing more.