Watch Dogs: legion, the third instalment in Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs series. The focus of the game is all about hacking and recruiting members for DedSec, a hacker group that has had its name tarnished by being framed for multiple bombings. This takes place in a futuristic private military ran London, where fear and oppression rule.
Getting to grips with all the different aspects of hacking in this game is quite daunting. However, the first mission acts as a tutorial in kind, guiding you through the hacking process and really explaining how to utilise it to the best of your ability. This mission is well planned out and throws you right into the deep end with the use of gadgets, stealth, and combat. Things can get intense extremely quickly, finding yourself surrounded by multiple enemies in a short space of time. You will need to use a combination of hacking, gadgets, and guns if you are to escape with your life.
In terms of the game’s recruitment side, this is incredibly unique and not something that I have seen in many games, at least not to this extent. The whole world is your oyster, anyone you pass by in the street is a potential recruit. Some may be harder to convince than others but there will be a way to persuade them into joining you. You may be required to complete tasks for them in order to do this, or simply hack into their phone to see their schedule or interests and this may provide clues into ways that you can sway their decision. You can recruit anyone from a paramedic all the way up to a government official. Each character comes with their own unique skill sets, weapons, and perks. My favourite find so far has been a spy, which allows you access to high tech gadgets and even a car with invisibility cloaking and missiles, in typical James Bond fashion. You really can be anyone you want in this game, even if that’s being and elderly person, you’ll find the perfect use for them to help your cause.
London looks incredible in Watch Dogs: Legion, especially during the night when all the lights are glowing, and you are speeding through the city in a hurry. Ubisoft have done a really good job accurately representing London. You’ll be able to go and see famous landmarks such as the London Eye and Big Ben, and it gives you an immense sense of immersion as you can recall these landmarks, especially if you have had the chance to visit London in real life. The city is full of drones flying above you, some being simple delivery drones, while others are private military group Albion’s security drones. As you roam the city you will see these drones stopping pedestrians scanning them for any criminal activity and then either letting them go or start security proceedings. You will also see Albion security harassing people in the street for no reason, this is another opportunity to recruit someone to your team. If you rescue the people that are being harassed, their view towards you and DedSec will improve and you could potentially bring them into DedSec. They will remember what you have done for them and have a positive opinion. But on the other side of that, if you treat someone badly, whether that be beating them up or stealing their car, they will remember, and you will start getting peoples backs up and their opinion of DedSec will plummet.
Coming onto the actual storyline and mission aspect of the game. The whole map is split into different sections known as districts. The aim is to bring peace to each of these districts and bring order back. You do this by completing missions and side missions within each district, essentially this will reduce Albion’s presence and influence in these areas. Unfortunately, after the first few missions, realisation kicks in that the whole process is rather repetitive. This includes hacking into data at a specific location, taking out a specific person, breaking into an enemy building, and so on. It feels as though there is not enough variety, and it leaves the experience a bit lacking. Some of the main story missions are fun and well thought out but this is not often enough to bring the excitement fully into the game. One mission in particular that really stood out for me was “Coming home”. Here you are faced with uncovering transhumanist Skye Larsen’s past. Her goal is essentially to turn people into computer programmes to save the human race. You must infiltrate her secret underground lab. Upon entering you are welcomed by the labs AI, which takes on a woman’s voice. Searching through the rooms, you discover a spiderbot (one of the games gadgets) which is barking like a dog. You soon make the grisly discovery that Skye had implanted her dogs mind into this spiderbot’s Ai. Through AR reconstruction within your hacking abilities, you are able to see that Skye had previously been keeping her mother here, in a bid to save her from her worsening condition. You see that Skye administers sedatives into her mother against her wishes. After the footage ends the AI voice says, “perhaps you would like to go downstairs and join the others”, the way in which this was said gave off a creepy vibe and made me feel uneasy. Upon entering the basement “now entering another of your sick creations” is delivered from the AI, but now the voice is glitching and changing tones, which was very unsettling. Scanning an AR reconstruction of the room reveals that Skye was performing a neural operation on her mother. After the surgery is completed successfully her mother passes away after two minutes, but then realise that Skye has placed her mother inside of the labs AI, leading to a moral decision where you help the mother to pass away by shutting the AI down. This mission had me on the edge of my seat, and really bought to the forefront the issue of technology keeping people alive that are in critical condition, with no regard to how they are feeling.
There are a few negatives about this game aside from the repetitive nature. Firstly, the driving is not smooth. A minor adjustment left or right will send you flying off course. Vehicle control is dreadful, especially if on a motorbike. The whole driving aspect just feels lazy and not really considered as a big part of the game. This is an issue as most of the time you will be in a vehicle trying to navigate to your next mission, and this just seems more of an obstacle than anything. Secondly, combat, particularly guns. Aiming is extremely difficult and at times almost impossible. There doesn’t appear to be much if any aim-assist to help lock onto a target. This makes it hard to hit anyone whilst they are moving and running around. As a whole shooting just feels clunky and restrictive. Another issue is smoothness of the gameplay. While on the Xbox Series X we do have Raytracing, making use of the Series X advanced technology. The game is capped at 30fps when running at 4K resolution. This is an issue when engaging in an intense firefight or driving at high speeds, as the image will lag making it difficult to do anything accurately. This is disappointing considering the power that the console holds, and just raises the question of why Ubisoft didn’t optimise the game better and at least have a 60fps cap at 4K resolution. In one instance where I entered the safehouse, my game froze for a few seconds and then shut my console down. Whether that was a game problem or the console I am unsure, but what I do know though was that it was very annoying.
Overall Watch Dogs: Legion leaves a lot to be desired. There are a lot of areas of the game that could have been executed better, and for such a big company as Ubisoft, who are no stranger to creating big open world games, this is all a little disappointing. There is still fun to be had, but it is not a game that I would play repeatedly.