One of the Best and Worst Games From 2020 in its Own Ways
Watch Dogs Legion tries to make one of the most immersive game worlds we have ever seen, but another delay should have stopped it from happening in 2020. I will not be diving deep into the story besides a few basic things so you are safe from spoilers.
The first fifteen minutes of the story introduces you to one of my favorite characters in the game, who I would have liked to see as the main protagonist if there actually was one. This character is Dalton and he is a badass spy who unfortunately has to depart from the story. Besides from that, the next best character is Bagley, who is your AI companion that is filled with sarcastic jokes and witty humor which surprisingly doesn’t feel cringe. There are a few other characters that are pretty good but Dalton and Bagley hold the top spots for me. After the introduction mission, you are thrown into the sandbox world of futuristic London. Main missions are divided into chapters that focus on different characters who are sources of terror in London. The story after that is mainly dull and uninspired, concluding with a predictable plot twist. However, there is one storyline that was much better than everything else. Without going into too much detail, it includes a dog. That’s all you’re getting from me on that note.
The Streets of London
Watch Dogs Legion was advertised as a game where you could play as any character that you see in the open world. However, there are a few that you can’t take over due to story reasons (they can’t give you missions if you take their character and get them killed). When you walk the streets of London, every character has a set schedule that they follow. You can find one of your very own characters shopping, at a bar, or even meeting up with a family member. Later in the game, you will have random encounters where potential recruit’s relatives are being arrested by Albion (London’s version of a private police force). If you save them, your recruit will end up liking you even more and may even join DedSec. You can also recruit characters by doing missions for them which are usually pretty repetitive. They usually involve stealing a van or deleting some blackmail off a computer. I would also like to note that there are a lot of hippies in this game. I know a decent amount of people preferred the original Watch Dogs over the sequel because of this, so I thought I would at least mention that most of your recruit options are going to be hippies. However, if you really need to cherry pick, you have the option to recruit whoever you want, so nothing is stopping you from going with an army of white collar grandpas. There is a team limit so the game does stop you from going overboard on characters being recruited to DedSec, but you are allowed to kick old players out to make room for the new ones. I never had to do this because even though my team had around 20 or so members, I stuck with the same five because that is all I really needed from them. There is a permadeath option but I decided against turning that on so I wouldn’t have to keep recruiting new players due to those missions being repetitive. Operatives can also be kidnaped, arrested, and more so there are some cool missions where you have to go save the day as another operative who you may not usually use. I also need to mention that I didn’t really see any grannies. Watch Dogs Legion showed off having a grandma on your team constantly but for some reason I never really saw any in the open world. Unfortunately, this is where any sense of immersion ends.
Pretty much every single building is non enterable. You will see characters walk out of its doors, but behind them will just be a black invisible wall. The only buildings you can enter are mission related areas where enemies are at, bars, and your safehouse. You can’t even enter clothing stores anymore. Your character literally changes in the street. Could you imagine walking through London and just seeing some dude drop his underwear on the sidewalk so he can try another pair on? Remember the characters who felt immersive due to having a schedule? Well go talk to them and that immersion goes right out the window. Due to the crazy amount of characters that they would have had to voice as a potential protagonist, Ubisoft decided to use an AI to modify the voices of every character. Since there are nine million different characters you can pick from, that would be a lot of money to voice them with real voices. Majority of these voices sound terrible. Don’t get me wrong, some of them sound real but so many of them sound like a robot from the 90s. This is my main issue with Watch Dogs Legion. Ubisoft tried to be to ambitious with the game and it hurt them. Obviously doing this game without the AI would have been impossible, but some of these voices make certain recruits unplayable. Watch Dogs Legion also gives a ton of lore and sets up a nice backstory. The setting of London is amazing and it portrays a future that doesn’t feel that far away. The theme of AI and robots taking away jobs is something that is already happening in real life and I loved the fact that it was showcased in the futuristic version of London. There are letters and audio logs all over London for you to read/listen to if you really want to learn everything about its world. One final note is that the characters in the world will react as you start to free sections of London. Civilians will start to fight back against Albion and that doesn’t exclude you if you are wearing an Albion disguise.
Watch Dogs Legion was a slight step up in the gameplay department compared to Watch Dogs 2. Most of the time gunplay feels really good but there are a few enemies who are extra bullet/taser spongey. As mentioned earlier, some of your recruits have disguise that they can wear thanks to their actual jobs. For example, the character I used the most had an Albion outfit that he could put on which made going into enemy locations easier. The game tells you to walk slowly and to avoid getting to close to other people inside. Guards and drones are way to sensitive and detect you very fast. The real benefit of the Albion suit is that it allows you to go through cameras and detectors without causing the alarm to go off. Though, the second someone sees you, you need to get out of their sight or take them out. Coming off of just recently playing Hitman 2, I really wish they took more inspiration from IO Interactive. In Hitman 2, if you have a disguise on, normal enemies won’t realize that you don’t belong there. However, there are higher ranking members that can detect you which is a much better system. Hacking is pretty identical to how it was in the previous games. I guess don’t fix it if it isn’t broken but I would have liked to see a little more variation. They do have a few unique missions with parkouring as your spider robot or going through the inside of a computer as a drone in the form of an obstacle course, but for the most part normal hacking feels the same.
Driving felt really sensitive for me, but I am not sure if this is because I just got finished playing Mafia: Definitive Edition. Obviously cars from 2030 are going to feel a lot less sluggish compared to cars from nearly a century earlier. I should also note that there are microtransactions in the game. They lock clothing behind a second type of currency. You can earn currency by playing the game, and you can find free clothing in the world at random locations but I know some people would like to know about this so that is why I am mentioning it. One final note is that a lot of the side missions and recruitment missions reuse enemy locations from the main story.
Watch Dogs Legion LOVES to crash on PC. Like it was happening multiple times a day. It wasn’t even like it was crashing during intense gun fights or car chases. All of my crashes were related to either interacting with an object in the game world or using the map to fast travel. I had at least 10 crashes which would force me to restart my PC every time since my audio would end up breaking from it. The rest of my tech issues weren’t game breaking but they are still issues. For some reason, Watch Dogs Legion loves to make things invisible. My character went invisible after getting hit by a boat while swimming, a main character went invisible during a cutscene which led to my character fist bumping an invisible guy, and finally my spider bot ended up clipping through the ground a few times after being thrown at odd angles which leads to, you guessed it, an invisible spider bot. This next one isn’t much of a tech issue but more of a flaw with the AI. When driving, characters love to just jump in the way of your car. For example, if you end up going on the sidewalk a bit to move around a car, they will dive towards the road rather then away from your car which leads to you hitting them. This means they now dislike DedSec which makes them harder to recruit in the future. The final flaw that I had was just general optimization. FPS really tanked while driving and the optimization of this seems to be a step in the wrong direction because I felt like Ubisoft was finally getting good at making games run better on PC.
In the end, I had around 26 hours of game time for the main story and all of the non-repeatable side content. I’m not going to score this game because I really don’t know how to score it. It does a lot good and makes some strides for the future of gaming but there are way to many flaws for me to go give it a good score. So I am going to rate it a little bit differently. If you have a PC, Stadia, or Luna, and you don’t mind essentially renting it, go buy a month of Ubisoft+ for $15 and beat the game. When your done with Watch Dogs Legion, go play Assassins Creed Valhalla. You are essentially paying $7.50 for each brand new game. I can’t even comprehend how good of a value that is. If you are on Xbox, PlayStation, or you just want to own the game on PC, I would recommend waiting for a sale. There are way to many good games coming out in the next few weeks to go rush and get this for its full price.