It’s been more than eight years since Ubisoft first showed off Watch Dogs to the world and, since then it’s become a successful franchise for the company with two games under its belt and a third with the release of Watch Dogs: Legion.
According to Ubisoft, the game is about:
In Watch Dogs: Legion, London is facing its downfall. Amidst the growing unrest of a restless London, a mysterious entity known as Zero-Day has framed secret underground resistance DedSec for coordinated bombings across London. In the aftermath, criminal opportunists from every dark corner of London took hold and filled the void left by a defeated government. As a member of DedSec, players will be going up against criminal opportunists in Watch Dogs: Legion; sadists, mercenaries, cybercriminals, and more; they’ll have to be prepared for a variety of situations. Players must recruit members into their DedSec Resistance to take on these criminal opportunists, liberate London and uncover the mystery behind Zero-Day.
If you’ve played the past two Watch Dogs title, then the gameplay of Watch Dogs: Legion will feel familiar. You can use the sticks to move your character around, LB to hack objects and LT and RT to aim and shoot your weapon.
While past Watch Dogs games had you controlling one protagonist, Legion does things a bit differently. You now have the ability to “play as anyone”, yes that actually means anyone. Any of the people you see on the streets of near-future London, you can recruit to your team and then play as them.
Before you begin the game, you have the option of enabling Permadeath mode. Meaning after your operatives take lethal damage and die, they won’t be playable anymore.
If you enable Permadeath on your save, you can then disable it afterwards. But if you don’t enable it before a new game, it can’t be enabled for the same playthrough. The game will end once all your operatives die in Permadeath mode.
On the flip side, if you don’t enable Permadeath and your operative gets seriously injured, you’ll be asked to switch to another one to complete the mission. Operatives can be arrested or injured and sent to the hospital and you’ll have to wait anywhere from 30 to 60 mins before you can use them again.
But their time in jail or the hospital can be over if you have a medical professional and a lawyer in your list of DedSec operatives.
There are also three difficulty levels, Easy, Normal and Hard.
Each of the characters on the streets of London (i.e potential DedSec recruits) are fully voiced, so they’re not silent during cutscenes in missions. However, sometimes the voice actor for your recruit can sometimes not fit that great (i.e the face doesn’t match the voice).
These characters will become, as Ubisoft puts it, “the heroes of your game and the star of your story.” You can choose how they look, how they dress.
You can customize their outfit and buy new clothes at some of the shops around London with the ETO Currency.
There are a number of shops with different styles such as high-end and formal wear to street, punk, athletic and hipster. You can also change your character’s mask that they wear during combat (or when your press up on the D-pad). Ubisoft says there are around 5x more customization options in Legion than in Watch Dogs 2 and each clothing item you buy can be work by any of your operatives.
To earn more ETO, you can play missions or find hack into safes and ATMs or complete side activities like Darts, Bareknuckle Arenas and Parcel Fox deliveries.
Each new recruit comes with their own special abilities or weapons. Like for example, one of my characters, Rhonda who is a talent agent, can summon her luxury car to your location.
While Louise the construction worker can enter construction sites undetected while also using her nail gun to take down enemies.
Each of the NPCs you come across on the street is fully simulated with a detailed bio and daily schedule, you may also come across people like family members of your recruits and potential new recruits. They also have a memory, so if you save one of their friends or family, they’ll remember you.
To add to your roster of DedSec recruits, you can just talk to them and they’ll ask you to complete a mission and then they’ll join DedSec. These missions range from hacking into an office building and stealing data to driving an ambulance with stolen drugs for the potential recruit’s friend.
There are a few types of recruitment missions and can seem repetitive after a few times. As mentioned earlier, if you save people on the street, they might join your team without needing a recruitment mission.
There are some potential recruits that need some more work. Like if you’re trying to recruit an Albion contractor, they don’t like DedSec that much, so you’ll need to get them on your side by doing a task for them in addition to their recruitment mission.
To help you through the game, you’ll have the assistance of Bagley, an AI assistant that was designed by Blume and “hacked” by DedSec. He is helpful, witty, proactive and friendly, he’ll be able to find new potential recruits as you explore London.
In terms of actual missions in the story, they all follow a similar pattern, get briefed on the mission in the DedSec hideout, go to this place, hack into something and complete the puzzle etc.
One thing I did like is that the missions give you a number of ways to complete them. So you could infiltrate a location and take down enemies using your Spiderbot or you can use your Albion contractor on your team and walk right through the front door and walk out with minimal combat. Or you could just go in guns blazing like a John Wick type.
Hacking is still a big part of Watch Dogs: Legion but he has been improved over Watch Dogs 2. There’s a wide number of remote-controlled devices like Spiderbots, ambient and combat drones and more. As you progress through the game, you can come across Tech points which lets you upgrade some of your skills, weapons and gadgets for your recruits.
The game takes place in near-future London and is separated into eight Boroughs:
- City of Westminster
- City of London
- Islington & Hackney
- Tower Hamlets
- Nine Elms
Throughout the main storyline, you’ll be taken to various locations across the map. And to help improve DedSec’s presence in these Boroughs, there are a number of locations that have you taking down Albion that has taken control of London.
To get around the city, you can drive in a number of vehicles from sports cars and black London cab to a double-decker bus or even a cargo drone. Each vehicle feels different to drive like a double-decker bus drives much slower than say a motorcycle or coupe.
To take any vehicle for a spin, you just hold Y near a car and your character will enter it. But what I didn’t like was that holding the Y button is also the button to confirm things like entering a location or talking to a potential recruit and starting their recruitment mission. It would have been better if entering vehicles was just a press of Y instead of holding it down.
There’s also the option to fast travel via the London Underground subway stops via the in-game map menu.
One thing about that map menu I didn’t like was that there was no option to filter out different points of interest like just missions or shops or Underground stops. It’s pretty common in open-world games to have map filters and just seems like an odd omission in the game.
Another thing to note is that each of these Boroughs will be filled with different recruits such as lawyers and CEOs in the City of London to outcasts and artists in Camden.
By completing activities such as Borough Uprising in each area, you’ll be given access to better recruits such as TIDIS Beekeeper, a Spy, a Professional Hitman or a Drone Expert.
In terms of Gun Combat, you can choose to use actual guns or use non-lethal weapons like DedSec weapons that will shock or tranquillize enemies. There’s also the option to use melee combat, either by using your fists or if your character has a melee weapon like a baton or wrench.
One thing to point out is that the AI in the game is a bit buggy like people on the street will sometimes glitch through objects or just disappear completely. Another gripe I have is that sometimes the mission prompts in the game don’t give clear instructions about what to do to complete a task.
In addition to the main story, the game has a season pass that adds a new storyline that includes Aiden Pierce from the original Watch Dogs game and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2 as playable characters in Legion.
Aiden and Wrench aren’t the only new characters included in the season pass, there’s also Darcy, a member of the Assassin Order and Mina, “a subject of transhuman experiments, who possesses the ability to mind control individuals.”
You’ll also get extra DedSec missions, the original Watch Dogs Complete Edition (from 2014). The season pass for Watch Dogs: Legion is available for purchase separately or as part of the Gold, Ultimate and Collector Editions.
In 2021, Ubisoft will be adding more free content to the single-player mode such as new characters with new abilities, new missions and a new game plus mode. The Online Mode for the game will be added in early 2021, allowing you to play with your friends.
And for those of you picking up the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S or PS5, you’ll be able to play Watch Dogs: Legion on those platforms. If you own the game on Xbox One or PS4, you’ll be able to upgrade to the next-gen versions for free. The game supports Smart Delivery on Xbox consoles.
Update – November 25th, 2020: Ubisoft has announced that the online mode for Watch Dogs: Legion has been delayed from December to early 2021. This review has been updated to reflect that.
Like most games these days, Watch Dogs: Legion is running at 4K resolution with HDR on the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. For this review, I played the game on the Xbox One X.
The looks of the characters in Legion is similar to Watch Dogs 2 and other recent Ubisoft titles. The characters have a realistic look and feel but also slightly stylized.
Onto near-future London itself, the team at Ubisoft Toronto and other Ubisoft studios that helped with the game did a great job bringing London to life. While it’s not a true-to-life interpretation of London, it manages to capture the looks and feel of the city and the people and life in it.
There are all sorts of little details in the game like the people roaming the streets, protestors chanting with signs and even little things like pieces of litter floating in the air and sometimes on the roads.
Watch Dogs: Legion is a fun game that offers something unique with it’s “play as anyone” feature and perfect for fans of the past games or looking for something a bit different.
The game is available for Xbox One, PS4, Stadia and PC (via Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Store and part of Ubisoft+/Uplay+ subscription) for $79.99 CAD. The game will also be launching on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on November 10th and PS5 on November 12th.
An Xbox One review code of the game was provided ahead of launch by the game’s publisher, Ubisoft.
- Recruit any NPC adds some variety to the gameplay
- Missions offer a number of ways to complete them
- Near-future London looks great visually
- Missions offer a number of ways to complete them
- Recruitment missions can sometimes seem repetitive
- AI is a bit buggy and inconsistent