Watch Dogs: Legion is an action-adventure game, published by Ubisoft and is the third instalment in the Watch Dogs series. The game is set in a dystopian London in the near future and combines shooting, driving, stealth and puzzle based gameplay. Watch Dogs: Legion was released in October 2020 and is available for Xbox, PlayStation and Windows.
The game is set in a near future London and follows hacker group DedSec as they seek to clear their names following a number of attacks in London which they have been blamed for. At the heart of DeadSec’s conflict are Albion, an oppressive private military company, often found terrorising the civilians who populate London, whom work alongside London’s most powerful crime syndicate, Clan Kelley. The premise as a whole is quite interesting and progressively entertaining, despite the story lacking any real substance.
Watch Dogs: Legion is unique in the sense that the story doesn’t focus on one main character, instead players have the ability to recruit virtually any NPC found in the game’s open world. This mechanic made the game really enjoyable for myself, as the prospect of recruiting a random civilian to join the DedSec cause and then using them to cause chaos across London created unlimited possibilities. There’s a good variety of NPC’s to befriend and play as across London, ranging from a football hooligan all the way to a beekeeper, complete with beekeeping suit.
Each playable character is equipped with unique traits and skills, dependant on their background, for example a spy operative has access to a James Bond style spy vehicle. The differentiation and abilities between characters made recruiting operatives a fun task as I was constantly looking for someone with a new background to play as. Ultimately any of the missions in game can be completed by anyone, but there’s something to be said about breaking into the Tower of London as a retired pensioner, silently taking out Albion forces along the way.
Hacking and puzzle based tasks within the game are well polished and feel natural, but I was disappointed that there were a few abilities omitted from the game in comparison to Watch Dogs 2, for example the ability to change traffic lights at will, a useful tool when on the run. One new addition which I did really enjoy was the Spiderbot, which is effectively an upgraded version of the RC Jumper from Watch Dogs 2, with the added ability to silently takedown enemies. I often found myself using the Spiderbot to scope out enemy infested areas, whilst taking out a few unassuming enemies along the way.
I found the combat within the game to be rather mixed; I thoroughly enjoyed hand-to-hand combat, but often found gun fights to be awkward and difficult to navigate through. The awkward nature of gun fights compared to the highly satisfying fist fights often resulted in me opting for a stealth approach to missions, particularly when combined with the Spiderbot and other gadgets. There is a distinct lack of enemy variety in the game, with the most difficult coming in the form of riot drones, which are persistent in their pursuit of you and come equipped with powerful machine guns.
Ubisoft’s envision of a near future dystopian London is remarkably brilliant and I am hopeful it will serve as a catalyst for future open world games (Grand Theft Auto I’m looking at you!). It’s great to finally be able to explore some of London’s most famous landmarks and the combination of classic monuments as well as futuristic driverless cars, drones, virtual reality and augmented reality, make this dystopian city my favourite of the maps from the Watch Dogs series. With a mostly British soundtrack across the in game radio stations, you can see the depth Ubisoft went to in capturing the essence of London.
Whilst London’s design is fantastic, the voice acting within the game is pretty horrendous at times. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to playable characters in terms of appearance, skills and occupations, however when it comes to the range of voices within the game, it does feel quite limited. Too often I found myself recruiting an NPC with the exact same voice as the character I was playing as, which was annoying to say the least. Plus, of the voices that are actually within the game, they all feel far too ‘stereotypically British’, lacking any real diversity which would be appropriate for the City of London. The one exception to this rule is DedSec’s quirky AI, Bagley, who essentially helps to narrate you through the game and provides much needed comic relief.
Upon completing the somewhat short story in the game, there is a noticeable lack of things to do within the open world. After exploring all the major landmarks and breaking into Buckingham Palace a few times, I found of myself getting bored and lacking any motivation to find the remainder of in game collectibles. Hopefully the online mode which is set to be introduced to the game in March 2021 will hopefully reinvigorate my interest in what is a fun game.
Despite its lacking story, Watch Dogs: Legion is refreshing, wacky and bold with fun and new mechanics making it an entertaining and inclusive game.
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