Watch Dogs: Legion takes the foundations and concepts of its predecessors and expands upon them exponentially. The core conceit of Legion lies within the outdated adage of “strength in numbers,” which manifests within the sport letting you recruit and play as almost any character you come throughout, amassing a ragtag crew of freedom fighters. This open-ended stance to preventing the system is a big change for the franchise, and it is bolstered by improved hacking and social-engineering gameplay. Legion’s method, whereas admirable, does have some unintended points that make its highly effective message of unity waver at inopportune occasions, but it surely nonetheless manages to make a profound assertion about hope with its novel method to participant company.
Legion is about in a close to-future, extra technologically superior London. Longstanding hacker group DedSec has been framed for a collection of bombings within the metropolis, and its members are branded as terrorists. This, nevertheless, was all engineered by the mysterious rival hacker group often known as Zero Day. In the chaos after the bombing, London and its residents are successfully caught within the vice-grip of encroaching fascism and suffocating capitalism because of the occupation of Albion, a non-public navy group, in addition to prison and company enterprises benefiting from the facility vacuum. With many key operatives lifeless or lacking, DedSec London begins from scratch by crowdsourcing new members made up of like-minded residents desirous to liberate the town.
The London in Watch Dogs: Legion is offered as a extra superior and exaggerated model of the true-life London. However, this interpretation of the town nonetheless displays the current temper of 2020, albeit with extra of a cyberpunk-dystopia aesthetic. The metropolis’s historical past and its iconic landmarks are the backdrop for stark futurism. The majesty of Buckingham Palace and the bohemian allure of Camden are washed with parcel supply drones, holographic commercials, and self-driving vehicles that flood your line of sight. Of course, all of this additionally makes for an thrilling playground on your hacking antics.
In a sport with a number of playable characters, the one fixed that you will have throughout them is your connection to London itself. Each of the eight districts has its personal assorted cultures, demographics, and cultural stylings, making England’s capital metropolis an thrilling place to discover. It’s cool to see areas just like the Tower of London and Piccadilly Circus recreated with gorgeous element, and there is one thing to understand in how a lot effort went into presenting the locales by means of a dystopian lens. The sport manages to seize the historical past and the cultural range of London, whereas additionally juxtaposing it with the banality of evil represented by the presence of Albion, who detain residents in plain sight.
Much of the flavour and environment of the town is rooted within the now. With Brexit, weaponized social media, and much-proper ideologies going mainstream, Legion successfully portrays the inherent angst and bewilderment at seeing your nation fall slowly into chaos–poignant for the troubles of the current day. The essential story offers with subjects regarding nationalism, xenophobia, and which class of individuals must be in management. At occasions it may well get unnerving to see how actual life seeps into Legion’s story, particularly with regards to the inhumane therapy of immigrants.
The essential story of Legion is heavy in its material, feeling like a mixture of Black Mirror and Mr. Robot. It grapples with themes round nationalism, capitalism, classism, and naturally, policing. Although the execution is considerably scattershot, the moments wherein the sport chooses to shine a light-weight on these pervading points might be sobering. The most notable instance entails a visitor look by British grime rapper Stormzy, who provides a rousing and highly effective efficiency confronting systemic racism. He takes the stage and confronts the folks with a fact of Legion’s world, and it packs a robust punch as a result of it displays the realities of our personal. “I am the one they fear the most,” he says. “I’m a black man with money.”
Through textual content messages, podcasts, and different supplementary technique of delivering narrative, Legion lays naked much more of the problems plaguing society. Text messages reveal that Albion, successfully a police drive, is focusing on and harassing residents in public, and recalling this info as you watch folks out on the road fall sufferer to those practices can sting. Radio reveals mock the in-sport proper-wing ideologies which, when described, sound ridiculous and the stuff of fiction, however aren’t all that removed from what we hear in actual life.
What actually hits residence about Watch Dogs Legion is that, because the cartoonishly bleak world comes into focus, it turns into troublesome to disregard the fast parallels to our personal actual-world society. Sure, it may not interrogate the problems and discover the nuances with quite a lot of depth, however the broad strokes of the comb are sufficient to blur the road between fiction and actuality, and at that time it’s important to confront simply how far our personal society has fallen. Ubisoft video games have typically used actual-world politics as set dressing, however on this event, it seems like a real try to a minimum of determine the issues it’s leveraging as narrative milieu and current their chilly exhausting truths.
For essentially the most half, the principle narrative does an excellent job of tackling these subjects, however the influence is lessened considerably due to the open-world format of the sport. The sport’s scope is just too large to ship its messages in a pointy and concise method. As a consequence, the 25-hour essential plot can really feel prefer it drifts into the periphery because the core narrative turns into secondary to the second-to-second actions and occasions that happen when the open-world mechanics are at work. The knock-on impact is that the facet actions are left to do lots of the heavy lifting on exploring the nuance in these themes, which they do moderately effectively.
Like earlier video games, Watch Dogs: Legion hinges on the acquainted loop of open-world gameplay, which entails exploration, fight, stealth, and in-sport narrative occasions. While Legion makes use of a extra streamlined hacking system, it leans a lot additional into the systemic results of hacking and manipulating social threads to meet your targets. Depending on the way you make the most of the town’s ctOS infrastructure–which consists of cameras, telephones, computer systems, AI drones, and different machines you possibly can hack–you can accomplish a lot of your targets along with your enemies being none the wiser, supplying you with the sense that you simply’re at all times on a heist.
Watch Dogs: Legion reaches its highs when channeling components of immersive sims, the place a lot of your decisions can cascade right into a satisfying chain of reactions that yield the specified consequence. Hacking is your core connection to the world, and it opens up many intelligent alternatives with regards to determining tips on how to obtain your current targets. In one mission, I got here as much as an enemy base that had a car I needed to recuperate. While I may have snuck in, knocked out the guards with my non-deadly devices, and brought the car, I as an alternative went with a extra elegant resolution. Using the cameras, I used to be capable of remotely look at and obtain knowledge keys from their tablets to realize entry to the bottom’s gates. With the gates now opened, I hacked into the car and had it speed up ahead out of the bottom. I made a splash for the automobile and rode off whereas the guards had been left stewing of their confusion. All of this was carried out with out ever setting foot within the base, and it felt extremely satisfying getting the perfect of them. Coupled with the randomly generated playable characters, Legion presents many attention-grabbing alternatives to make the most of, and its core gameplay represents the prospect of the Watch Dogs hacker fantasy at its greatest.
Legion’s true stars are London’s residents, all of whom are randomly generated based mostly on varied professions, ethnic backgrounds, and different customized particulars. The earlier video games allowed you to be taught cursory details about residents round you, however in Legion, you should utilize this info to scout prospects. Depending on in the event that they favor DedSec, they will ask you to finish minor goals to seal the bond. In a intelligent mechanic, the residents of London will bear in mind and react to selections you make. For instance, I used to be stunned a possible recruit disapproved of DedSec as a result of a distinct character I performed as unintentionally hit them with a car–the sport even makes word of this of their file.
With such an enormous listing of characters, you will possible end up leaning on a choose few operatives as your A-group, particularly if they’re gifted with regards to hacking, driving, or melee fight. Still, Legion has a method of tossing in a curveball recruit that might be within the working on your new favourite. A selected standout for me was a gold-painted efficiency artist who may disguise in plain sight to finish his goals–and accumulate suggestions whereas he was at it. It might be weird seeing what kind of characters you possibly can pull in in your campaign, and it is stable enjoyable getting to make use of no matter expertise they’ve in some vital missions to succeed by the pores and skin of their enamel.
While every operative is succesful, missions can and can possible flip bitter after a mistaken choice, leading to all kinds of enemies coming down on you with assault rifles and fight drones. Even failing recruitment missions can set you again, prompting you to work further exhausting to get again into a possible candidate’s good graces. Adding to this stress is the choice to reinforce the marketing campaign to incorporate everlasting deaths on your operatives–meaning as soon as they fall in a mission, they’re gone for good. It’s a intelligent addition that provides a bit extra realism and a better sense of consequence to the marketing campaign, which might make among the extra daring missions really feel extra hectic, particularly understanding that dropping a favourite operative will depart an enduring sting. But even with out permadeath, the issue can nonetheless be fairly difficult, with failure taking your operative out of the sport for a set period of time.
I typically discovered myself falling down a rabbit gap to realize new operatives and discover extra of the town to finish the laundry listing of goals required to recruit them. In some circumstances, I discovered members of my group kidnapped by their very own private rivals, and I needed to bear an impromptu rescue mission–all of which was randomly generated. The sport’s fixed stream of characters and the alternatives that pop up definitely makes it inviting to interrupt off on tangents to fulfill the necessities wanted to recruit them. However, you will finally additionally fall right into a repetitive loop of recycled goals and dialogue set in all-too-acquainted areas, albeit with totally different voice overs. This repetition additionally makes London really feel a bit small, contemplating the quantity of floor you will need to retread always. As participating as it’s to always bounce round characters, over time, Legion’s many wacky excursions can even give rise to intervals of aimlessness with out a centralized viewpoint and construction to information you.
Watch Dogs: Legion does rather a lot to confront subjects like fascism, inequality, and the concept that new expertise exposes and amplifies outdated fears and hatred.
And whereas these characters have nice personalities on the floor, they’ll seem mismatched for the second and context of what is taking place. This can result in some sudden and weird shifts in tone. For instance, throughout one of many sport’s extra haunting plot threads, DedSec reveals an underground organ-harvesting operation, with its merchandise coming from kidnapped immigrants who’re stored in a detainment camp positioned inside London. On its personal, that is an extremely intestine-wrenching and profound second the place the sport’s drama and narrative chops are hitting its highs. However, I made the unlucky selection of utilizing one of many extra flashy characters within the lead-as much as this mission–a cosplayer who wears a shiny reflective jacket and glowing holographic cat ears. Seeing her stroll down the darkish and bloody hallways was jarring and undermined the second. When you couple this with the aimless construction, it may be straightforward to detach from what is going on on or not purchase into the sense of urgency the narrative desires you to consider there may be.
In moments like this, the general narrative and tonal points that Watch Dogs: Legion has can drive their option to the entrance of thoughts, however the core gameplay of hacking the world, making connections, and seeing your favourite operative succeed is satisfying sufficient that it makes it simpler to not get hung up on them. The essential story hits some spectacular highs through the latter half because of the aforementioned Stormzy mission and the podcasts, emails, and even chats along with your fellow DedSec members that deal with the heavier material. At its greatest, Legion manages to remain on message whereas retaining issues enjoyable and thrilling. And in some methods, the goofy absurdity of Legion’s characters and wacky facet actions seems like an acceptable match for the unhappy absurdity of Legion’s world.
In the previous, Ubisoft has had an unlucky historical past of lacking the mark with regards to using actual-world occasions, politics, and different scorching-subject points for the backdrop of their video games. However, Watch Dogs: Legion does rather a lot to confront subjects like fascism, inequality, and the concept that new expertise exposes and amplifies outdated fears and hatred. Legion not solely does an efficient job of exhibiting the banality of evil in plain sight, but in addition, in a extra optimistic mild, reveals how the residents look to London’s tradition and to one another to beat oppression.
Watch Dogs: Legion is an anti-fascist sport, and it is admirable that it sticks to that message and sees it by means of to a satisfying and affirming conclusion. It additionally bolsters the franchise’s intelligent hacking gameplay to supply extra creativity than ever. One of Legion’s extra profound messages is about what it means to be a real Londoner, and by the sport’s finish, you will have a DedSec crew fabricated from wildly various and disparate residents from distinctive cultural, ethnic, and financial backgrounds–all united of their purpose to revive their residence. If something, that is as highly effective a message for the sport as you will get.