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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Permadeath feature available for extra challenge
Effective use of humor
Good attention to detail
Online play not available on release
Missions felt redundant
Watch Dogs: Legion lets you play as anyone in a visually stunning open world, but repetitive missions and a “been there done that” feel take away from the game’s replayability.
Watch Dogs: Legion is the latest installment in Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs series, and you can literally play as any character you encounter in the open world. Although Watch Dogs: Legion released without online gameplay (it will be available in December 2020), you can play the campaign mode on PC or console right now. Is this game worth the time and monetary investment? I played Watch Dogs: Legion for 30 hours to find out, evaluating its story, gameplay, graphics, to see how it compares to other titles.
Watch Dogs: Legion is set in a near-future version of London. The game accurately depicts landmarks, as well as the overall vibe of the city, but it’s a fictional version of London with a heavy tech theme. You have a few different enemies — a group consisting of private military, state operatives, and organized crime, as well as a hacker group called Zero Day. Zero Day pulls off a major terrorist operation in London. This causes the government to give power to a military group (Albion), and that group promptly implements a martial law type system of oppression.
You’re part of a group called DedSec, and you and your associates were framed for the terrorist act, although Zero Day were the real culprits. You now need to rebuild the organization, work to take down the multiple groups, and give London back to the people “V for Vendetta”-style.
In the opening mission, you play as an agent infiltrating Parliament. You set traps, fight a few guys in hand-to-hand combat, and shoot some bad guys with the goal of preventing the building from being blown to smithereens. The early tutorial type missions help get you acquainted with the game and its systems. The game takes you through the downfall of DedSec, walks you through the beginning of setting up the rebuilding of DedSec, and you select your very first recruit to your legion. There’s a pretty good selection of starting characters, and I selected a Board Game Designer who has the ability to summon a personal drone.
The story is a tale of a resistance group fighting against an oppressive government group. The story kept me interested, although the plot bordered on predictable. The game has quite a few protagonists, which added interest, but also caused the characters to lack depth. Of all the characters, I thought Bagley was the most fun— with humor and sarcastic comments that made me chuckle. I also liked the spider drone’s missions, and I jumped around saying “wee” as I played the spider missions.
Once you complete the opening scene, the game is presented like most open world games — pick a mission, drive to it, complete the mission, and repeat. There are plenty of distractions and side missions to take part in like collecting text and audio files, finding the tech points which allow you to upgrade, participating in bare-knuckle fighting, delivering packages, and drinking a beer, and applying paste-ups. You can also shop for clothes.
Watch Dogs: Legions isn’t exactly revolutionary, and most of it is somewhat run of the mill. There is a feeling of “been there done that,” but there were some exciting aspects.
Watch Dogs: Legion looks incredible, with great draw distances, and an incredibly detailed world.
Watch Dogs: Legion is an open world action-adventure game. I played on PC, and I used an Xbox controller. The controls were tight, intuitive, and consistently responsive. It felt natural to run through the world, climb, and drive. I was especially impressed with the vehicles, as you can feel the difference when you’re driving a sports car versus when you’re driving a bus.
Fighting is simple yet satisfying, with a dodge and counter system that feels realistic, and interesting finishing moves. Shooting feels pretty ok too— the aiming works well, and the duck and cover system feels natural. Cut scenes are very well done. They don’t feel arbitrarily thrown in, and they’re well integrated in the game engine.
The main storyline takes around 20 hours, but it’ll take much longer if you play all the side missions. However, considering the side quests are not that interesting, there isn’t a ton of replayability. This could change when multiplayer mode comes out in December 2020. There will eventually be co-op play with up to three other friends in the same world doing missions together. There is also a planned Spiderbot PVP arena coming, and down the road, there’s a planned Invasion mode. With the future modes coming, there is promise here, but the fact that none of this is currently available hurts replayability.
On the plus side, you can play as any character you encounter, and you can switch characters anytime you like, except in the middle of missions. When you do switch, the characters have a conversation that feels kind of like a hand off. I thought this was a nice touch. You can also customize characters with clothes and new masks. However, since I was switching characters so often and I wasn’t playing online, I didn’t have much motivation to customize specific characters. The clothing felt tacked on, like more of an obligatory feature in an open world game rather than an actual benefit.
The best part of Watch Dogs: Legion is the ability to use so many different characters. Many of the character’s weapons matched their occupation or theme too. For instance, the beekeeper attacks with a swarm of bees, and the janitor’s special power is to avoid detection by sweeping. The game had funny characters as well, like a construction worker who has trouble sneaking around due to flatulence.
The controls were tight, intuitive, and consistently responsive.
I did, however, encounter a few issues. I started to run into doppelgangers in the world. I came across people with the exact same faces and build, but different clothes and skills. The game actually provided me two characters with the exact same face as rewards for completing missions. This took a bit of the magic away for me. The game even crashed once while I was playing.
Most missions wound up feeling pretty redundant, especially after playing for a while. I’d approach a building, hack cameras and set traps, send in the spider drones for some easy knockouts, then go in and complete the area. There were some fun missions along the main story which offered some variety, but most missions are best completed with stealth, which can slow down the game sometimes.
Watch Dogs: Legion looks incredible, with great draw distances, and an incredibly detailed world. Everything visually works, and I really enjoyed looking at the people and landmarks in the world.
On PC, this game can easily eat a lot of VRAM, as the Very High setting almost maxed out my PC at 1920x1080 (with an Alienware Aurora R11 with an RTX 2060 graphics card). I could not run the game on ultra settings. On high, it looks great, running at a solid 60fps.
Watch Dogs: Legions sells for $60 for the standard edition. The Gold Edition sells for $100, and the Ultimate and Collectors Editions sell for $120 and $190, respectively. Everything above the standard edition comes with extra missions and a season pass, but these perks don’t really seem worth the added cost.
There’s just not enough multiplayer meat on the bone or story to justify paying that much more. The $60 price even feels a little high for this game. If you really love open world games, the $60 price might be worth it to you, especially since you can upgrade at no additional cost to the next-gen version if you buy the game on PS4 or Xbox One, but you might not get as much playtime out of Watch Dogs: Legion as you would other $60 titles.
The story kept me interested, although the plot bordered on predictable.
It feels as though Ubisoft is definitely going for a GTA vibe here—go see a person, start a mission, complete the mission, rinse, and repeat. In addition to its visually interesting world, Watch Dogs: Legion adds in the ability to play as anyone you encounter, and that’s perhaps its biggest draw. The next GTA may not arrive for quite a while, so for those who want a new open world right now, Watch Dogs: Legion might be a viable alternative.
Watch Dogs: Legion feels like a missed opportunity, with a “play as anyone” feature that’s cool, but not cool enough to compensate for the lack of novelty. The addition of online play may offer more replayability, but as of launch, there isn’t enough to keep us coming back.