Watch Dogs: Legion Review, A beautiful mirror that builds up on its predecessors
The plot of the game picks up from where it left off in the previous game. Interested players can head to the official stores to make the purchase to get their copy of the game as they read this review. For the ones on the fence, let’s see ifWatch Dogs: Legion is worth your hard-earned money here.
Ubisoft launched the third installment from its popular “Watch Dogs” series, the “Watch Dogs: Legion”. The game serves as the sequel to Watch_Dogs 2 (or Watch Dogs 2) that launched back in 2016. Looking at the launch details, the game is available on PC through Uplay Connect and Epic Games Store, PS4, and Xbox One at launch. The versions for Microsoft Series X, Series S, and PS5 will launch next month. The plot of the game picks up from where it left off in the extended ending of the previous game. Interested players can head to the official stores to make the purchase to get their copy of the game as they read this review. For the ones on the fence, let’s see how the latest AAA game, Watch Dogs: Legion fares in our review here.
The storyline in Watch Dogs: Legion
As noted above, the game picks up from where the second game left. The story is set in the near future in a slightly futuristic version of London. This version of the city is not far off from the reality it could have been in a COVID-free world. The city is complete with delivery drones, self-driving cars, a hyper-connectivity, and more. Talking about the plot, we are back with DedSec, the hacking collective that has been the centerpiece of previous games.
Legion moves to a new, 'Play as anyone' style along with an engrossing storyline.
Legion also introduces a rival hacking group called “Zero Day” which frames DedSec as a terrorist organization. Zero Day attacks the DedSec HQ and eliminates almost all the members of the collection at the very beginning. This pushesLegion to focus on rebuilding the organization while taking on Zero Day and Albion, a private military firm that controls London. Beyond this, the player also takes on multiple private and criminal entities that have taken over multiple parts of the city.
The way Ubisoft goes about to execute the plotline of rebuilding DedSec is a sheer stroke of brilliance. It departs from the usual way most AAA games have progressed in the past. As revealed during the launch, early preview walk-through, and more, the game allows you to play as any character you like in the game. This aspect is what Ubisoft uses to differentiate Watch Dogs: Legion from the crowd. In fact, this game mechanic will be fully realized in the multiplayer mode of the game launching in December.
On paper, the idea looks simple enough that you can change characters and play as anyone in the game. However, this is not like the usual RTS games where you have a few primary characters you can use to fight the enemy. Instead, it borrows the idea and adds it to this open-world action-adventure. The open-world aspect of the game brings back missions, upgradable skills, customization options, and “almost” unlimited hacking. To craft this new type of gameplay, Ubisoft had to simulate hundreds of characters in the game with a proper bio and meaningful schedule. These players also have a memory where actions at the beginning can have long-term consequences. It is worth noting that the 'Play as anyone' works as advertised with exceptions on some of your key allies or rivals in the game.
Beyond rebuilding DedSec, the story also focuses on Zero Day, Albion, Skye Larsen, and Clan Kelley. You will get hints about Skye and Kelley in the radio broadcasts and other news telecasts while traveling in the initial stages of the game. One can recruit members from multiple organizations and institutions such as Albion, Clan Kelley, MI5, the disbanded police force, and more to make things easier in some of the missions. Recruiting each member means undertaking a side-quest but sometimes it is essential for the main plot. Most if not all characters come with their unique set of equipment, skills, and more. It took us about 28 hours to complete the game. However, this does not include all the side-missions and other aspects of the game. So, Legion has enough content to last weeks in one go with different modes.
The big picture
Watch Dogs series has always focused on important topics and themes including technology, user privacy, social equality, freedom, and more. Beyond this, the games also cover topics of hacktivism, surveillance, and corporate control. So, shifting to the increasing economic gap in our society, social media, fake news, and disinformation was a natural progression. The game also focused on themes of oppression, clamp down on rights, use of AI as thought police, human trafficking, drug trade, organized crime, and anti-immigration sentiments.
Clint Hocking, the Creative Director of the game rightfully notes that the game “is not a cautionary tale” like most things it warns about already exist. Watch Dogs: Legion touches on multiple themes that are extremely important in the current situation around the world. This multi-layer narrative provides a beautiful portrait of our society in the future.
Switch between multiple characters at will.
In addition, the fundamental difference of recruiting anyone around for the cause makes the game unique. It is impressive how the team managed to strike a careful balance as it is the easiest thing to mess up. Also, this balance of offering different characters just enough personality beyond unique skills and abilities while not making things boring, repetitive, and chaotic is something that I can’t emphasize enough.
Interestingly, this “play-as-anyone” is not something that can be easily described in many words except for it just works. Beyond this, “Borough uprising” is one of the rare ‘big picture’ features that make the game feel both realistic as well as easier in the latter half of the game. The game also reminded me of other pop-culture elements like Mr. Robot but without any hard limits on who can be part of the group.
Watch Dogs: Legion improves on its predecessors by making the gameplay less repetitive and more interesting. In addition, it keeps things ticking across the city by slightly diverting from the traditional formula of the Watch Dogs series. Players can scan their surroundings to locate security cameras and other hack-able elements like cars, smartphones, and other personal devices. Legion also gives them the opportunity to hack nearby drones to scout restricted areas during a mission.
In-game tech options for progression.
For game progression in terms of customization, Legion depends on three different in-game currencies. These include Tech Points (green rhombus or diamond-shaped item) for upgrading tech, EOT (in-game bitcoin currency), and WD credits (purchased with real money). Players can use WD credits to get new operatives, ETO, and other in-game items. Talking about the progression, it is interesting (and refreshing) to see that the upgrades are not locked to the specific character that you are using in the game. Instead, the upgrades and purchases you make are available to all your characters.
Mechanics-wise, the usual navigation, hacking, and gun battles have not changed much. However, Ubisoft has noticeably improved aspects like driving cars, bikes, cargo drones, and spider bots. Beyond this, the company continues the path of encouraging non-lethal gameplay while emphasizing stealth and preparation. However, this does not stop anyone from going all guns blazing in missions to achieve their objective. Though, personally, I found that one could be easily overwhelmed in gunfights. I would like to specifically mention how fun traveling via bikes is in the game along with occasional cargo drones (even-though quite slow in comparison).
Bikes are one of my favorite modes of transportation in the game.
The new and the old
Given that the game focuses on multiple characters, it has also introduced some new options to spice things up. Here, we are talking about the optional “Permadeath mode” which comes with three settings. These include “Off”, “On”, and “Ironman”. In the “On” mode, the game will end if all your characters (operatives) die or are arrested at the same time. The death of an operative permanently removes it from the game. You can toggle this mode on or off depending on the level of challenge you desire.
However, the “Ironman” mode takes away the ability to disable the “Permadeath” mode in the game. This mode is interesting as well as good for a game where you can play in a team of 40 different characters. Recruiting the characters involves talking to the players, in some cases “deep profiling” them, following, observing, or even doing favors.
The city is divided into 8 Boroughs including the City of London, Tower Hamlets, Camden, City of Westminster, Nine Elms, Lambeth, Southwark, and Islington & Hackney. Considering the future, we also get self-driving cars, but they are not perfect (mirroring the present). This wider scope introduces a problem of following one single character or story. At the same time, it offers a slightly solitary experience, but I guess that is more by design instead of a flaw.
The company has removed some elements that were present in older games. You can no longer hack traffic lights or even blow-up sewage lines. In addition to the new, some aspects of the game are identical where you have to hack CCTVs, find closed circuits, arm traps, attract guards, distract them, or even jam their guns.
Watch Dogs: Legion Graphics and cinematics
Watch Dogs: is okay at its worst and stunning at its best.
Visually, the game is a treat to play regardless of the actual in-game graphics or the cut-scenes. It may not look the cutting-edge next-gen especially when it comes to facial expressions of the characters but the open-world in the game sure does make up for it. Ubisoft has also introduced a high-resolution texture pack which is essential if you want to play the game at 4K. The game also introduces a picture mode where players can freeze the game and take pictures of different scenes. This feature will encourage gamers interested in the “in-game capture” segment for some stunning art. Looking at the hardware requirements and the technology baked in; Watch Dogs: Legion offers comprehensive options to players.
On the top end, it comes with Nvidia DLSS for 4K or 8K gameplay along with ray-traced reflections. For some context, we got an average of about 74 at 2K resolution on Ultra quality with all the additional details. The game used about 8GB video memory and the temperatures hovered around 85 degrees Celsius on the air-cooled GPU. Obviously, all these aspects will depend on your hardware and ambient temperatures. The cinematics is top-notch as any other Ubisoft game.
We do need some improvements and bug-fixes in the game.
Last but not the least, we did notice some bugs in the game regarding slightly dipped frame rates, minor graphical glitches while playing and in cut-scenes, and even a crash on one occasion. Though the game did not crash after that one instance so I would chalk it up to something with the OS. None of these bugs are a cause of worry as they can be easily fixed with future game updates.
Verdict: Should you get Watch Dogs: Legion?
Watch Dogs Legion is an interesting evolution of the series
Overall, Ubisoft has managed to create a good sequel with Legion while introducing an impressive game mechanic. As noted above, the game developer aced the execution of a concept to “play as anyone” without making it boring, chaotic, or repetitive. The plot of the game is interesting enough both for casual as well as serious gamers. It gives a mix of some of the most relevant themes to craft a compelling story with a not so repetitive experience. There are some bugs around the corner, but the game is fun, to say the least.
The company is offering three different editions of the game including the Standard, Gold, and Ultimate edition. The standard version is priced at $ 43.99, Gold at $73.99, and Ultimate at $79.99. Talking about the differences, the Gold comes with the season pass which includes one expansion with two episodes, extra missions, four “iconic heroes”. The ultimate version comes with additional digital content, and four-week VIP status in addition to everything in the Gold edition.
Ubisoft Store offers standard at Euro 59.99, Gold at Euro 99.99, and Ultimate Euro 109.99. For PlayStation 5 (and PS4) Standard is priced at Rs 3,999, Gold at Rs 6,499, and Ultimate at Rs 7,149. Xbox Series X, Series S, and Xbox One users can get the standard version for Rs 3,999, Gold at Rs 6,499, and Ultimate at Rs 7,999. Looking at the price, you have two options to get the game. First, you can get the standard version or wait for sales on the respective stores on the platform that you own. Second, you can subscribe to the UPlay+ (soon Ubisoft+) service to get the game after paying Euro 14.99 per month or Rs. 1,306 per month and finish the game in that month.
Editor’s Note: Ubisoft and e-xpress Interactive Software provided a copy of ‘Watch Dogs: Legion’ for review.