Ubisoft are back, boasting their biggest and most ambitious Watch Dogs game since well the first time when they over promised and under delivered. Does the same thing happen in Legion? Can you really recruit NPC? No and YES! After spending 40 hours exploring London and repairing Dedsec’s reputation (and recruits!) Legion is the most serious of the three titles with the whole of London there to explore, staying on top of the main campaign is often hard to do. The big you can recruit anyone gimmick does work (and really well!) allowing you to curate a roster of different personalities with different weapons and abilities just waiting to help you complete that certain mission that needs their special set of skills. It is worth nothing that this review was done on the Xbox One X and represents the current gen version of the game. A full article outlining the differences and upgrades will be released when the Xbox Series X comes out in a few weeks.
The game is set a couple of years in the future, DedSec has been disbanded and the city is now under the control of Albion, a militia group with a strong military presence both on the ground and policing drones that rule the skies. There are a series of bombs that have destroyed important sites across the city and the group must now act as a underground operative and build back the trust of the public who are now turning on Albion. If that wasn’t enough there is a third group Zero Day, a rival hacking group are making it very hard for DedSec.
Play wise the main campaign is 15-20 hours long depending on the difficulty you play on. That being said there is a ton of side missions, tech points to collect, weapons and skills to upgrade and a ton of the cities landmarks to marvel at. Albeit they are covered in neon graffiti and digital billboards from Albion. You can visit areas like Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus and the London Eye, all of which have been lovingly digitised. Travelling around the map is easy, you can approach any vehicle that is parked to hack access and drive pretty unobstructed to your destination.
Choosing which character best in your roster is key to completing each mission successfully. During the early hours of the game I tried to recruit a wide variety of Londoners with different weapons, occupations and special items that helped assist in missions later on in the game. If I hadn’t of done this (according to other players) you are distracted from the main mission to go find specific characters (like construction worker) to help you complete that all important next mission. As the game evolves, the story falls a bit to the wayside and the open world of London feels more exciting and intriguing that completing the missions.
The tone of this game is definitely a lot more bleak than the previous game. The bright and bustling world of San Francisco feels a completely different world from the dark and grungy version of London in Legion. This isn’t to say that this is a bad thing, it is definitely a noticeable difference. There is definitely a larger focus on freeing random citizens who are being arrested by Albion officers. Be prepared if you intervene,, the police, drones and Albion soldiers will all pursue you so it is best to have a vehicle waiting ready to jump in for a speedy getaway.
Speaking of vehicles, there are a huge amount of cars to choose from. Any vehicle that is parked, you are able to enter and use without needing any hacking apps or be at a certain level to get into. While this has been a feature in previous titles, it felt a little too easy here and was clearly inspired by the GTA series. All of the cars have a customisable radio station with some licensed tracks from Lily Allen and other UK artists. There is a guest appearance in the game from UK artist Stormzy who brings the message of systemic racism into the story. It is a powerful point in the game which takes pause to reflect on what is happening in our world today. While this is explored, as the main missions are spread out it can somewhat feel a little staccato, more of a mini-series rather than one long movie.
Choosing your weapon really depends on the character you choose. I played the majority of the game as a fabulously flamboyant asian pimp who was the leader of my squad. Focusing on hacking as opposed to melee is my way to play the game, however when I recruited the construction worker who used a paint ball gun, this was definitely my weapon of choice on unsuspecting enemies. You can also sneak up behind characters and knock them out stealthily. There are so many ways to get through waves of enemies and using a combination of hacking, stealth takedowns, melee and using your weapons helps keep things feeling fresh.
Graphically the game looks spectacular on the Xbox One X. I wasn’t privy to any of the over-heating issues plagued by other players and I didn’t notice any dips or crashes during my time with the game. The detail on each of the vehicles is immaculate and you can also switch from cars to motorbikes to scooters. Depending on how far you have to travel, a car is not always the easiest way to get to your destination. If you can definitely head to the river and jump into a boat. Cruising around the River Thames in a boat really highlights the beauty of the city and how much detail has gone into recreating this space.
Watch Dogs Legion is a triumph for Ubisoft. It is a massive leap forward for the series by reflecting things that are happening in our world right now and fusing them with a view of the future that after this year isn’t outside the realm of possibility. The mechanic of being able to recruit any player you encounter works spectacularly well and lives up to the promise. Transporting players to London showcases a new location outside of the USA for the series and is a welcome breath of fresh air. Watch Dogs Legion is the clear best of the three games with a clear message about trust and technology.
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