System: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Google Stadia Developer: Ubisoft Toronto | Reviewed On: PlayStation 5 | Released: October 2020
Watch Dogs: Legion is the third entry into the series in which you are placed into a version of London set in the not-so-distant future. Ubisoft Toronto has taken the bold step to decide against a single protagonist but instead given the player the choice of recruiting any NPC in the game world.
In its opening mission, Legion does a good job setting the tone for the rest of the game. As special agent Dalton Wolfe of hacker group DedSec, you infiltrate parliament to try and stop armed intruders from destroying the building. It is here you are introduced to a group called Zero Day, that set off bombs around London. This brings about the dismantling of DedSec, who have been framed for the bombings and allows Albion, a private military company, to seize control of the city, hunting down DedSec operatives and using surveillance technology to control the citizens of London.
It becomes the player's job to recruit any NPC in the city of London, build DedSec back up, uncover the plot of Zero Day, and free the citizens of London from the tyranny of Albion.
Legion is an action-adventure, third-person game that gives you an open world to explore however you see fit. The map is split into 8 districts which you can liberate, once you take back one of these districts you are rewarded with a skilled operative that automatically goes straight into your team of misfits, as well as locations of tech points in this area revealed on your map. Tech points are what is used to upgrade and unlock special gadgets, hacks, non-lethal weapons and abilities to deactivate types of drones or hide bodies with AR Shroud.
The tech points and upgrades that are available are more focused on how you want to play, rather than benefitting your character, in previous instalments, you would upgrade the main protagonist as you progress to feel stronger and have more abilities to tackle the enemies, but in Legion due to being able to play as anyone you don’t feel overly powerful instead it forces you to create a team of unique individuals in order for you to feel that you can tackle any situation. Each character does come with unique skills and weapons that only those characters have, which is a nice change of pace as it makes you think before each mission who would be better suited, depending on how you wish to tackle the mission objectives. Do not get me wrong, my construction worker and spy characters I could have used to just mainline the story, but the game wants you to explore the possibilities within your chosen ragtag group and the fact I had a diverse team made me want to mix it up and give each mission, story or side, a unique feel, keeping the game fun. For the most part, the characters voices are different but as you build a bigger team, I felt some voices were reused but in different skinned models, this was not a deal breaker for me because the idea of what Ubisoft Toronto was trying to achieve for the most part worked for me and gave me real enjoyment seeing each character's personality especially when I spoke with a potential NPC recruit. It was a very rare occurrence that I noticed this. I must say, I did miss having a central main protagonist in this game and seeing how that character evolves over the game's story with their growth. Instead, Ubisoft Toronto did a good job making sure the story hit at the right times to keep me invested, and when things went bad, I feel that I felt it through the team rather than through one character.
I should say that the character Bagley, an AI program that is in DedSec’s hands, is a fun addition and was great hearing his witty banter during missions and just in general. The recruitment missions unfortunately did not have enough variety as the more people you try to recruit the same mission types you start doing over and over again.
For the most part, the controls, driving and gunplay remain fairly unchanged from its predecessors, these controls have always been solid enough and gave the game a good base to allow the developers to focus on making sure the character's in the game were diverse enough with their appearances and unique skill sets. Ubisoft Toronto did put in the unique feature of Permadeath, which added an extra layer to the game. With Permadeath active, it means any of your characters that die during a mission will be gone from your team for the rest of the game, unlike with the function turned off, if your character dies they are unavailable for a short time before being restored to your loadout. It was a great addition as again, it gave players more freedom to play the game, and role-play the way they saw fit.
There is a fast travel system by using the underground stations, these are scattered around the map and are very generous if you are wanting to get around quicker and not explore as much. The game is designed very well for allowing the player to play the game their way.
This version of London is beautifully realized, its nothing groundbreaking compared to some of the big titles out there but does a great job immersing you into its world and was a joy to travel around the map, that I very rarely used the fast travel system. The character models are satisfying enough, but not much of an upgrade from Watch Dogs 2, although each character you recruit feels unique in some way, when I look at my team of 22, they all feel very much their own character. Its when you want to recruit one type of character, like a group of DedSec granny’s, that’s when you may start to feel they look similar rather than unique.
The soundtrack in the game was very impressive, as you drive around London, the music is varied with plenty of UK artists which adds to the feel of the city and the talk show radio channel is done very well and adds a good dose of humour on your travels.
Over my 32 hours playtime, I managed to complete the main story and for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this world. The city was a joy to run around in, the diversity of characters made building my team engaging as it gave me more ways in which to tackle missions. I didn’t come across any major issues that disrupted my flow of the game, minus a few trophy tracking bugs, the game had its hooks in me with its highly enjoyable gameplay loop I enjoyed what they were going for in this game, it was different and for the most part, had me on board.
Overall Watch Dogs: Legion is a solid entry into the Watch Dogs series, that does carry on the improved formula of Watch Dogs 2 as well as take a chance on something drastically different. This new idea of no main character, recruit anyone you like made every citizen feel important and let you role play with different combat strategies. A fun, dystopian game that definitely deserves your time for the concept alone and getting lost in its beautifully realized world.