Watch Dogs is a popular official game from Ubisoft. In spite of controversies, the franchise has shown what technology in the hands of the right or wrong person can have major consequences. Today, we will be taking a look at Watch Dogs: Legion that came out recently. We’ll dig into what players can expect when they play this new game. We’ll also compare it side by side with its predecessors.
What Is Watch Dogs?
The Watch Dogs series comprises two action-adventure games published by Ubisoft and created by their studio Ubisoft Montreal. These games are usually played from a third-person perspective. And players can explore the game worlds either on foot or through the use of a vehicle.
The first game of the series, Watch Dogs, is set on an alternate-universe version of Chicago back in 2013. It follows the story of hacker and vigilante Aiden Pearce as he looks for the people that killed his niece. Meanwhile, Watch Dogs 2 is set in San Francisco three years after the events of the first installment. The games also have online multiplayer modes that allow players to engage in co-op and competitive gameplay.
If you’re looking for other games you can play on PlayStation, here are our picks of the best PS4 games.
Central Focus as a Franchise
Games in the Watch Dogs series are set in the fictionalized versions of real-life cities. These cities are Chicago (Watch Dogs), San Francisco (Watch Dogs 2), and London (Watch Dogs: Legion). The gameplay is usually focused on open-world environments. Here, players finish missions to progress the overarching narrative and engage in various side quests, missions, and others.
Players will see the series around different hacker protagonists who find themselves involved with their city’s criminal underground even with their differing goals. The game’s main focus is usually on driving (for some missions) and gunplay. However, they also have access to what’s known as the ctOS (central Operating System). ctOS is a fictional computer network that links all electronic devices in any city into a single system, as well as storing citizen personal info. Hacking into the ctOS allows the player to gain control over various electronics. These can range from security cameras and electronic doors to traffic lights, bridges, and even bank accounts.
Impressions on the Watch Dogs 1 & 2
The original Watch Dogs was received well by both critics and gamers, and overall, sold incredibly well. The game sold over eight million copies two months after its release. The game was also the bestselling new IP in the UK. As if that’s not enough, it also landed as the 17th largest video game launch of all time in that nation. Overall, the game sold 10 million copies by the end of 2014, and the game was nominated for various awards on the 32nd Golden Joystick Awards and the NAV/GTR Awards.
Watch Dogs 2, on the other hand, didn’t have a good reception initially. Ubisoft stated that the game’s pre-orders were “subpar” when compared to the first game. However, when the game eventually released, it managed to gain quite a following and sales. However, the first Watch Dogs still had better sales in its first year. Watch Dogs 2 only reached 10 million copies sold come May 2020.
What’s New With Watch Dogs: Legion?
The new game of the series, Watch Dogs: Legion plays similarly enough to its predecessors. The player controls their character to do various actions. These include using their smartphones to control traffic lights and bridges. In addition, they can hack into various security systems, jam enemy communications, access citizen private information, and drain bank accounts.
The new game is going to be set in a fictionalized version of London (“New London”), which is an open-world environment that allows players to free-roam. Also, it has its own story. Players have full reign on the side activities that they want to partake in. The game also retains a day-night cycle and a dynamic weather system that changes NPC behaviors.
There’s also what’s called the “Play as Anyone” mechanic. This allows players to recruit anyone in New London, from the homebody granny to the officers of Albion and even Clan Kelley recruits. More on that in a bit.
As already mentioned, Watch Dogs: Legion takes place in a fictional version of London. The game’s setting has several noteworthy landmarks and cultural styles throughout the fictional city. An example of this is the political borough of Westminster. Ever since the events of Watch Dogs 2, the tech available to the masses has changed rapidly. This is due to the acceleration of automation tech as well as artificial intelligence (AI).
All this has improved Britain’s economy in the long run. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of almost all blue and white-collar jobs, as well as the British Pound being swapped with cryptocurrencies. Various AR and VR systems are everywhere in the city, with a marked increase in electric cars and working drones. All this is through the use of the ctOS, the centralized computer network created by Blume.
Unlike the first game, Watch Dogs: Legion focuses on DedSec – the game’s most famous hacker group that consists of varied branches globally. They fight against authoritarian regimes and groups that seek to use ctOS for their machinations, all at the expense of the normal citizenry. DedSec’s main antagonistic force includes Albion, a paramilitary company that took over as London’s law enforcement; and Clan Kelley, a vicious criminal enterprise that monopolized London’s underground scene.
With the aid of a newly crafted AI named Bagley, the London branch of DedSec, led by Sabine Brandt, detects an intrusion at the Houses of Parliament. DedSec operative and former intelligence agent Dalton Wolfe infiltrates the building to investigate. He quickly discovers a man from a group called “Zero Day” planning to detonate explosives within Parliament. Although he succeeds in defusing the explosives, he quickly learns more are planted around London.
Despite his best efforts, the leader of Zero Day detonates the explosives before murdering Dalton with armed drones. The resulting chaos leads to the British government contracting Albion into restoring order to London. Albion CEO Nigel Cass pursues DedSec who is blamed for the bombings. With most of her operatives out of action, Sabine shuts down Bagley and goes into hiding.
The Truth Behind Albion
A few months passed, and Albion manages to restore peace to London. However, they have now effectively taken over as the city’s law enforcement. Further, they’ve turned the city into a surveillance state through the use of Signals Intelligence Response (SIRS). SIRS is an intelligence agency that’s consolidated all of Britain’s intelligence network.
Sabine figures out that, as a result of this, London’s citizenry have liberties restricted severely. Their personal lives are monitored constantly. Organized crime is rising. And those that have the gall to question Albion’s methods either get arrested on the spot or disappear entirely. Those that disappear include those that are being processed for deportation to mainland Europe.
Recruiting a new operative through the city’s ctOS, Sabine has them reactivate DedSec’s London safe house and Bagley to investigate Zero Day and their motives for the bombing. With additional operatives brought in to help, DedSec finds evidence that links Zero Day to both Albion and Mary Kelley, the head of crime syndicate Clan Kelley.
A key mechanic of Watch Dogs: Legion is the perspective from which players get to explore London. Players now can recruit any of the city’s civilians into their DedSec branch, completely ripping the N out of NPC.
Recruiting fellow Londonites into the player’s ever-increasing group of DedSec resistance fighters, they can tackle missions. This is possible with a veritable cast of characters. From the drunkard on a bar to street magicians to professional assassins.
They Can Be One Of Us
All members that players can recruit comes equipped with their abilities, status effects, weapons, and/or rides. These can help or hinder your efforts to free London from the various competing factions that are currently capitalizing on the city’s societal breakdown. An example of this is the grandma that you might recruit. She can be an unassuming bystander with enemies passing her by, but her advanced age might ensure that she croaks at incredibly bad timing. The professional killer you have might be strong in killing everyone in his path, but he’s poor at nonlethal takedowns. The amount of variables that are in Ubisoft’s populace-generating algorithm isn’t endless, that’s true. However, they’re incredibly extensive.
As a result, your DedSec branch will be composed of an incredibly diverse and ragtag group of freedom fighters. It’s true that the limits of Ubisoft’s system can manifest in the way that certain perks and voices will sometimes repeat themselves. However, it’s always a really fun time to see a new archetype and then experiment and tinker with its unique playstyles and quirks.
In the usual Ubisoft fashion, players can approach almost all of Legion’s main story missions in their ways. Moreover, the dev’s trademark open-world design is only improved even more through the sheer variety and amount of individuals that players can choose to tackle them with.
London Bridge Is Falling Down
Future London also has way more gadgets to play with than the previous cities San Francisco and Chicago. An example of this is the ability to hijack and straight-up fly on drones.
The missions themselves, are part and parcel of the Watch Dogs series and are similar to the previous entries, with some of the so-so minigames and various environmental puzzles. There’s a lot of “sneak into this” and “steal this,” but the repetition can be alleviated. This is through minigames available in the world and other various content.
In this way, the game takes a few pages from another game’s playbook. Specifically, X-Com’s where players establish meaningful connections to the game world through the stories and personalities. Your playthrough of the game will be different from another player’s.
However, the game’s Play as Anyone mechanic is very much on par with Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system when it comes to ambition and originality.
When and Where Will Watch Dogs: Legion Be Available?
Watch Dogs: Legion is available on PS4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and PC on October 29, 2020. The game will also be available on the Xbox Series X/S on November 10, 2020, and the PlayStation 5 on November 12, 2020.
There’s also a Season Pass available that has several perks and new content. This includes the return of Aiden Pearce, and Wrench, as well as new characters like Mina, and Darcy. The latter is a member of a particular Assassin Order that fans of Ubisoft Games might find familiar.
Watch Dogs: Legion vs Watch Dogs I and II
Watch Dogs: Legion didn’t change that much when you compare it to its predecessors. The same tight, cover-based gunplay is there, as well as hacking mechanics from the past two titles. Also, the continuous story is there, following through the happenings of DedSec’s various recruits. This leads us to the biggest mechanic change in the game.
The “Play as Anyone” mechanic is a pretty big thing to see. You can play a security guard, a disgruntled employee, the drunkard on the pub, and others. There are a ton of characters that you can pick and use in your crusade to free London. Plus, you have full reign in how you do so.
Unfortunately, the game also has some microtransactions in it that might turn off some players. With some cosmetic items and operatives being only available in the in-game store. So for those that want to have a diverse roster, they might be put off by these revelations.
Why Should You Be Excited for Watch Dogs: Legion?
As for why people should be excited about the game? For one, the game is an incredibly cool sight when it comes to graphics. The streets of Neo London are incredibly vivid. Also, there is some pretty cool imagery to find and to create by creating graffiti on walls and other areas. What’s more, the “Play as Anyone” mechanic is a treat to play with. Just imagine finishing the whole game in the persona of grannies using taser guns. It’s a hilarious thing to see and do!
However, the in-game store and microtransactions might not be a good indicator for some players. They might not go for the game if this is a big factor for them. Don’t let this bring you down though, as the game shows to deliver the Watch Dogs experience.