Review: Watch Dogs Legion

Ubisoft releases seven games in just three months, kicking off these crazy times for them is the third installment for the Watch Dogs franchise. Over ten million copies were sold from Watch_Dogs 2 so Ubisoft is expecting a lot from Watch Dogs Legion. I was expecting a lot from this game too and oh boy.. it doesn’t disappoint! Who am I to question the strategy behind Ubisoft’s release plan, right? However, I do wonder if releasing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Far Cry 6,ย and Watch Dogs Legion so closely together isn’t going to cannibalize their own sales. All of them are huge open-world games and let’s be honest who even has the time for that? I hope that after reading this review you’ll rush to the store or download it at lightning speed because this game is really worth your time! And just like the first Watch_Dogs it introduces a new console generation too, as the Xbox Series X version will introduce ray tracing and 4K visuals.

Watch Dogs Legion future
Important to know is that we couldn’t test the online modes, as this only launches for everyone on December 3rd. This separate multiplayer online world will be a crucial part of Legion’s future. It will feature competitive multiplayer too, players will battle with customized spider bots for example. Missing is the loved Invasion mode but additional PVP modes will be added in the future. Not into all that online stuff? No worries as Ubisoft has you covered. Aiden Pearce is making a comeback and Legion will have an Assassin’s Creed crossover too.

We will regularly give you updates about Watch Dogs Legion on our social media and we will obviously review the online possibilities and upcoming DLC!

What we liked!

  • Play as everyone: what makes Watch Dogs Legion stand out, or really impressive is the recruitment mechanic. Every. Single. NPC. Yes, every one of them is playable and have unique routines in London. At E3 2019 Ubisoft mentioned 9 million different characters. I honestly didn’t believe that at first and thought it was typical marketing crap. Here is my official apology Ubisoft, you freaking nailed it. Every NPC has work for example, from video game designers to dominatrix, everything is included. I am even completely jealous as the Watch Dogs Legion NPC’s meet up with friends in pubs or other social activities, something that is hard to do with Covid nowadays. If you are interested in a particular random NPC you can start a recruitment mission to get them inside your DedSec organization. Every NPC is voiced, show up in cutscenes and you can customize them with new clothes and accessories. Making this impressive feature even more impressive is that most of them have unique abilities too. It makes total sense that a spy has better fighting skills, right? And that he has a spy car with missiles! Even famous people can be recruited and they will get recognized by pedestrians. Most NPC’s have something that sets them apart, this isn’t just a gimmick but truly a genre-defying mechanic that makes a fun game even more fun to play. I was utterly shocked to see that what you do in the world has consequences too, wear an Albion uniform for example and people start to insult you. Routines from NPCs change on the fly too, if you kill a friend they will actually be sad about it. The potential is huge and Ubisoft lives up to the high bar of expectations!
  • London, a big and detailed open world: Bold statement but this futuristic and automated London is one of the most detailed open worlds that’s available to play on Xbox. Ubisoft’s open-world games always look good but Watch Dogs Legion is something else entirely. It might not be as interactive as the world from Witcher 3 but every borough, every street corner and every building looks different and with incredible detail. You can literally do sightseeing as most of the known London tourist buildings are present. The London Eye, Big Ben, and much more. I do have to mention that the sky looks really awful, a total bummer compared to the rest of the visually stunning game.
  • London, a varied world with detailed indoor areas: Something I wasn’t initially expecting was how beautiful the indoor environments would be. Textures from the walls and even floors are remarkably detailed with some brilliant use of HDR-technology. Visiting a pub to play a darts game, a dark underground mining station that is used for human organ trafficking, or a flashy mail delivery storage. You never know where you will show up next, the variation is high and it simply looks incredible. You could totally fool me and say this was an Xbox Series X game.
  • A fascinating story with story elements that emerge while playing and with cutscenes: DedSec is accused of terrorist attacks, and most of the team is captured or killed. Organizations, for example, a private military force called Albion has complete control over London. This force, which is basically a criminal take-over doesn’t care much for London citizens. Legion does an extraordinary job of letting you feel the oppression from the citizens by backstories or memorable missions. Tension, unexpected plots, and seriously fucked up situations make the story something really special. Audio files and documents show how much detail Ubisoft made for making a believable and truly unique experience when it comes to world-building. Story characters are plagued a little with a lack of consistency in quality with voice-work but it remains impressive that every random NPC is voiced, to begin with. One fixed voice-actor, the one from your helpful and really funny AI Bagley is fantastic though.
  • Visually asks the utmost of your Xbox One console: The visual richness and the quality of indoor locations are outstanding. Almost unbelievable that a regular Xbox One or PS4 can run this, I do have to say I played it on Xbox One X so I hope that the basic Xbox One doesn’t blow up while playing Legion. I can’t wait to test this on my Xbox Series X with ray tracing and 4K visuals. (We will write an updated Xbox Series X|S review later!)
  • Memorable missions and forcing you to think about futuristic problems: I consider it special when a game grabs you by the throat. Legion managed to do that a few times and one particular example happens when you infiltrate the house of an evil protagonist and meet up with the artificial intelligence from the house. I am not spoiling anything else but this mission gave me the creeps for multiple reasons. That brings me seamlessly to something that Ubisoft did astonishing, letting players think about the technological future. Self-driving cars, dangerous work done by drones are all fine examples of how to improve humanity but it takes a darker turn too with kill switches in human brains, autonomous work, eternal life, digital extortion, or increasing privacy issues. This future-London gives a fine look into what could be us in a few years.
  • Hacking mechanics lead the way but the gameplay loop is seriously fun and addictive! Missions can be tackled in different ways, it depends on many things. Abilities from operatives, how you approach the mission, circumstances created by the routines from NPC’s or hacking solutions. Everyone will play the game a little different, some will focus mainly on infiltrating bases with the Spider-bot, some will look for openings by hacking camera’s or security drones, some will go in unprepared with a machine gun and hope for the best or try to be completely unnoticed and stealth their way through, it isn’t in line with the mindset of a hacker but who cares, right? For me, Watch Dogs Legion is the next big thing after Splinter Cell. A bit wrong to compare them but the stealth gameplay has some serious Sam Fisher vibes and that’s how I preferred to play. (Just be careful not to play as a flatulent NPC, that will ruin your stealth approach) As with previous Watch Dogs games it is all about hacking stuff with your phone, or what I like to do a lot manipulate a car to drive backward for example. It continues to set this game apart and truly gives gameplay mechanics that no other game has. Everything is done with a press of a button too, making hacking much easier compared to the two previous Watch Dogs games.
  • Replay value: Because of the recruitment mechanic you can honestly keep playing Watch Dogs Legion forever and ever. You will start to notice a few returning missions but so much effort and variation are used that you can lose yourself for hours building your perfect team of operatives. Add all the collectibles and silly mini-games and you easily have a game that will last over 100 hours. You can play darts at pubs (only a 301 mode), fight in fighting tournaments all over London, deliver packages with time limits or try to keep a ball up by pressing timed button inputs. Watch Dogs Legion is huge and upcoming free content is only going to make it even more huge.
  • London’s sound atmosphere: Let me get the epic soundtrack out of the way first that you hear in cars or by passing clothes stores. Great artists like Pendulum, Disturbed, Alt-J, and more give a varied variety of different genres. Stormzy even has an in-game mission! But the most impressive thing is the atmosphere sound while walking or driving around London, Oh and the fact that every random NPC has voice lines in cutscenes, how impressive is that? The voices don’t always match up with the character but that is easily forgiven.

Somewhere between

  • Drone gameplay: It helps to keep the game unpredictable but personally I wasn’t really a fan of all the platforming parts from the Spider-bot or navigating the small flying drone. As the Spider-bot has to crawl in limited spaces the camera isn’t always in the most convenient place. The field of view is regularly obscured by walls or low ceilings and the pace doesn’t always feel right. I mean, at one specific part you are forced to play as a severely damaged spider-bot that is missing a few legs, this obviously means that the poor thing (Yes, even robots have feelings) moves slow. Together with a few clumsy jumps, this part took a lot longer than it should have. Our spider friend is an unlockable ability for all DedSec operatives but I shied away from using it, except for some collectibles around London. Please don’t get me wrong though, as you can seriously kick some ass with your spider drone friend or in general with your hacking skills.

What we disliked

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  • Performance: As I previously mentioned it is incredible that Xbox One can run this game. You clearly see the console’s limit though while you drive in one of the many available cars. The performance is all over the place when you reach a specific speed, with noticeable frame drops and cars that disappear in the not so far distance. Or worse, cars that appear in thin air making it always impossible to avoid. I know this sounds bad but I have to immediately add that it doesn’t ruin the overall experience. The game isn’t like Mafia or Grand Theft Auto that places gameplay heavily on car chases or car missions. Sure, you drive around to get to missions and try to escape the police force but that’s about it. Who needs a car anyway when you discover the ease of the fast-travel metro or the flying drone. It has some frequent and lengthy loading times too. This should be massively different with Xbox Series X but it is worth noting that the Xbox One versions don’t have that fast-loading benefit.
  • Getting stuck: On a few occasions, I got completely stuck as I entered a room with strict access and no way out. This can be an annoying gameplay disadvantage of the large sandbox, it happens very rarely but it is annoying nonetheless. The first time it happened was on a rooftop, I got on the roof with my big package drone, followed an enemy I could takedown without realizing that he entered a restricted room. Sure it is my mistake that I followed him without checking if I could leave but the game shouldn’t be putting me in situations like that. I couldn’t hack my way out, didn’t have a Spider-bot that could help me, the only solution was abandoning the mission by selecting another DedSec operative.

Rating:

89%