by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Copping the blame
Sabine contacted me. DedSec had been all but wiped out and I was one of the lucky team members who was still alive. I had gone to ground after we had been accused of the multiple bombings of London and had been quietly living an anonymous life since. If I’m truthful, I am not even sure how she found me, but it was great to hear someone from the team. Sabine was trying to find more of the squad so that we could slowly create a resistance to the military-like oppression that the citizens of London were now encountering under the Albion regime.
DedSec had been framed by an organization known only as Zero-Day, and Sabine had tasked me with finding out as much as I could about this organization that had been so destructive to the city. Whilst doing so, I found myself meeting other like-minded citizens, often too scared to speak out in case they were overheard by the Big Brother that is Albion. Helping them out with their troubles often leads them to joining our cause. Each of them, like me, has their own special abilities that can be used to some effect in some way against Albion.
Watch Dogs: Legion is a game that has players taking the role of a DedSec agent, attempting to piece together the events of the explosion, whilst rebuilding DedSec by recruiting citizens to their cause. The Watch Dogs series is known for it’s hacking, and this continues in Legion. All recruits have the ability to hack into security cameras and surveillance drones to conduct reconnaissance, hack construction drones which enable them to use as personal helicopter (or pick up large boxes to drop on unsuspecting Albion security forces) and even arm traps from afar. They are all handy with a weapon too, although brandishing a gun in public will draw the wrath of security forces.
Although Legion allows you to run and gun like a plethora of other third person shooters, it is best played when you use the multitude of gadgets available to the recruits and play in a more covert manner. These gadgets (once purchased) can be switched around depending on the type of mission that you’re tackling – as you can only carry one gadget at a time. Do you need to sneak into areas using the cloaking device, or do you require an Infiltrator Spiderbot to get into tight spaces and unlock some vital enemy information? Each of the gadgets have their purpose and the one you select will often determine your playstyle within the mission.
The gadget and weapons that are purchased can be shared across your team, but each of the recruits has various skills that they bring to the DedSec cause. This sharing of gadgets and weapons ultimately results in the operatives being somewhat expendable. When playing the Permadeath mode, this has some consequences, as the character and their skillset is gone forever. Some of the premium operatives bring with them a team-wide bonus, and losing these can be a slight annoyance. However, in normal play, they will just be out of action for a period of time and can be used again later. But even when playing the Permadeath mode, the consequences aren’t catastrophic, because there is often a similar type of character that you can recruit nearby.
Characters are particularly easier to recruit when an area (known as a borough) has been converted into a DedSec zone – or a 'Defiant' borough. Once an area has been converted and begins defying Albion, Tech Points (which are used to purchase and upgrade gadgets) from the borough add to your tally and skilled recruits will become indicated on the map.
Zero character progression
Having the ability to recruit nearly anyone is great, but this then leads to a lack of character progression and reduces their value. With every character having access to a high level of hacking and being able to use any of the unlocked gadgets and weapons, there is no real connection to any of them. Each has a back story, but it is never delved into any deeper than their recruitment side quest. The main story line in Watch Dogs: Legion is reasonably well written, and although it is quite linear, each of the missions can be played in numerous ways based on the skills of the operative and the gadgets they have in their possession. As mentioned, you can go in all guns blazing if you’re that way inclined, hoping that your skills with a gun can take out all the enemies before they get you, but hacking and sneaking around is often a safer approach.
Despite the dark undertones of the story and the homelessness that the bombings caused, London looks amazing. Although it is a city that I have not visited, it looks largely like an interactive Google Maps street view of the city. Famous landmarks are present and have been replicated in some amazing detail. Their locations are largely geographically accurate as well, so if you play enough of Watch Dogs: Legion, you’d be able to find your way around London in real life reasonably well. As make your way across the city, the days turn into nights and it is wonderful to note the contrast. During the day and into the early evening, the streets and roads are bustling, but deep into the night, there are fewer people and cars around. This gives the city a sense of realism.
Getting around London in a car in Watch Dogs: Legion can be a tad difficult depending on which vehicle you hop into. Some vehicles were especially sensitive when turning and as such I found myself driving into oncoming traffic or onto the footpath – endangering the lives of poor innocent civilians. You can Fast Travel to unlocked areas, but you’re not really notified when you do unlock an area. I often hacked into a construction drone to fly (albeit more slowly than a car) across London as a way of getting around. Many of the missions to convert areas into Defiant boroughs actually require you to be up high anyway, so it can pay to fly around the town.
What a hack
Watch Dogs: Legion does most things right. The hacking component works amazingly well, letting players infiltrate locations with minimal attention from guards patrolling the areas when done correctly. Sneaking around and using the available cover works satisfactorily too, giving players the opportunity to take out guards one at a time. The AI does a decent job too, with guards and drones alerted by fallen comrades or the sound of alarms and gunshots. And if you do happen to get into a gunfight, the shooting mechanics do an admirable job. Visually, London is stunning and the voice acting – even from the DedSec AI Bagley - brings a sense of urgency to the missions. The fact that the characters themselves have little involvement in the plot does reduce the need to carefully plan missions as much as I would like though as there is little consequence for being caught – especially when the next squad member has access to the same gadgets as everyone else and can hack like a pro whether it is their first mission or their hundredth.
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Multiple ways of completing missions
Characters are largely expendable