Watch Dogs: Legion: Ubisoft’s newest hacking game for the new generation
Watch Dogs: Legion takes the foundations and concepts of its predecessors and expands upon them exponentially. The core conceit of Legion lies within the outdated adage of “energy in numbers,” which manifests within the sport, letting you recruit and play as practically any character you come throughout, amassing a ragtag crew of freedom fighters. This open-ended stance to combating the system is a major change for the franchise, and it is bolstered by improved hacking and social-engineering gameplay. While admirable, Legion’s method has some unintended points that make its highly effective message of unity waver at inopportune occasions; however, it nonetheless manages to make a profound assertion about hope with its novel method to participant company.
Legion is ready in a near-future, extra technologically superior London. Longstanding hacker group DedSec has been framed for a collection of bombings within the metropolis, and its members are branded as terrorists. This, nevertheless, was all engineered by the mysterious rival hacker group, often known as Zero Day. Within the chaos after the bombing, London and its residents are successfully caught within the vice-grip of encroaching fascism and suffocating capitalism because of Albion’s occupation, a non-public navy group, in addition to felony and company enterprises profiting from the facility vacuum. With many key operatives lifeless or lacking, DedSec London begins from scratch by crowdsourcing new members made up of like-minded residents eager to liberate the town.
The London in Watch Dogs: Legion is introduced as an extra superior and exaggerated model of real-life London. Nonetheless, this interpretation of town nonetheless displays the current temper of 2020, albeit with extra of a cyberpunk-dystopia aesthetic. The town’s historical past and its iconic landmarks are the backdrop for stark futurism. The majesty of Buckingham Palace and the bohemian appeal of Camden are washed with parcel supply drones, holographic ads, and self-driving automobiles that flood your line of sight. In fact, all of this additionally makes for a thrilling playground for your hacking antics.
In a sport with a number of playable characters, the one fixed that you will have throughout them is your connection to London itself. Each of the eight districts has its different personal cultures, demographics, and cultural stylings, making England’s capital metropolis a thrilling place to discover. It is cool to see areas just like the Tower of London and Piccadilly Circus recreated with the gorgeous element, and there is one thing to understand in how a lot of effort went into presenting the locales by way of a dystopian lens. The sport manages to seize the historical past and the cultural variety of London, whereas additionally juxtaposing it with the banality of evil represented by Albion’s presence, who detain residents in plain sight.
The principle story of Legion is heavy in its subject material, feeling like a mixture of Black Mirror and Mr. Robotic. It grapples with themes around nationalism, capitalism, classism, and naturally, policing. Though the execution is considerably scattershot, the moments wherein the sport chooses to shine a lightweight on these pervading points could be sobering. Probably the most notable instance entails a visitor look by British grime rapper Stormzy, who offers a rousing and highly effective efficiency confronting systemic racism. He takes the stage and confronts the folks with a reality of Legion’s world, and it packs a strong punch as a result of it displays the realities of our personal. “I’m the one they worry probably the most,” he says. “I am a black man with cash.”
Watch Dogs: Legion reaches its highs when channeling components of immersive sims, the place a lot of your decisions can cascade right into a satisfying chain of reactions that yield the specified end result. Hacking is your core connection to the world, and it opens up many intelligent alternatives in the case of determining tips on how to obtain your current targets. In a single mission, We got here as much as an enemy base that had a car I needed to recuperate. Whereas I might have snuck in, knocked out the guards with my non-lethal devices, and brought the car, We, as an alternative, went with an extra elegant answer.
Utilizing the cameras, We used to be in a position to remotely study and obtain knowledge keys from their tablets to realize entry to the bottom’s gates. I hacked into the car with the gates now opened and had it speed up ahead out of the bottom; we made a splash for the automobile and rode off, whereas the guards had been left stewing of their confusion. All of this was completed without ever setting foot within the base, and it felt extremely satisfying getting the very best of them. Coupled with the randomly generated playable characters, Legion presents many attention-grabbing alternatives to make the most of, and its core gameplay represents the prospect of the Watch Dogs hacker fantasy at its finest.
Legion’s true stars are London’s residents, all of whom are randomly generated primarily based on numerous professions, ethnic backgrounds, and different customized particulars. The earlier video games allowed you to study cursory details about residents around you; however, you should use this info to scout prospects in Legion. Relying on in the event that they favor DedSec, they will ask you to finish minor goals to seal the bond. In an intelligent mechanic, London residents will keep in mind and react to the choices you make. For instance, I used to be shocked a possible recruit disapproved of DedSec as a result of a unique character I performed as by chance hit them with a car–the sport even makes observe of this of their file.
With such an unlimited checklist of characters, you may doubtless end up leaning on a choose few operatives as your A-team, particularly if they’re gifted in the case of hacking, driving, or melee fight. Nonetheless, Legion has a method of tossing in a curveball recruit that might be within the operating to your new favorite. For us, a specific standout was a gold-painted efficiency artist who might conceal in plain sight to finish his goals–and accumulated ideas whereas he was at it. It may be weird seeing what kind of characters you possibly can pull in in your campaign, and it is stably enjoyable getting to make use of no matter expertise they’ve in some crucial missions to succeed by the pores and skin of their enamel.
And whereas these characters have nice personalities on the floor, they will seem mismatched for the second and context of what is taking place. This may result in some surprising and weird shifts in tone. For instance, throughout one of many sport’s extra haunting plot threads, DedSec finds an underground organ-harvesting operation, with its merchandise coming from kidnapped immigrants who’re saved in a detainment camp positioned inside London. By itself, that is an extremely gut-wrenching and profound second the place the sport’s drama and narrative chops are hitting its highs. Nonetheless, I made the unlucky alternative of utilizing one of many extra flashy characters within the lead-up to this mission–a cosplayer who wears a vibrant reflective jacket and glowing holographic cat ears. Seeing her stroll down the darkish and bloody hallways was jarring and undermined the second. Whenever you couple this with the aimless construction, it may be straightforward to detach from what is going on or not purchase into the sense of urgency the narrative needs you to imagine there may be.
In moments like this, the general narrative and tonal points that Watch Dogs: Legion can power their strategy to the entrance of thoughts; however, the core gameplay of hacking the world, making connections, and seeing your favorite operative succeed is satisfying sufficient that it makes it simpler not to get hung up on them. The principle story hits some spectacular highs throughout the latter half due to the aforementioned Stormzy mission and the podcasts, emails, and even chats together with your fellow DedSec members that sort out the heavier subject material. At its finest, Legion manages to remain on message, whereas retaining issues enjoyable and thrilling. And in some methods, the goofy absurdity of Legion’s characters and wacky facet actions looks like an acceptable match for the unhappy absurdity of Legion’s world.
Previously, Ubisoft has had an unlucky historical past of lacking the mark in using real-world occasions, politics, and different hot-topic points for their video games’ backdrop. Nonetheless, Watch Canine: Legion does loads to confront subjects like fascism, inequality, and the concept that new know-how exposes and amplifies outdated fears and hatred. Legion not solely does an efficient job of exhibiting the banality of evil in plain sight. Additionally, in an extra optimistic gentle, it reveals how the residents look to London’s tradition and to one another to beat oppression.
Watch Dogs: Legion is an anti-fascist sport, and it is admirable that it sticks to that message and sees it by way of a satisfying and affirming conclusion. It additionally bolsters the franchise’s intelligent hacking gameplay to supply extra creativity than ever. One among Legion’s extra profound messages is about what it means to be a real Londoner, and by the sport’s finish, you may have a DedSec crew product of wildly various and disparate residents from distinctive cultural, ethnic, and financial backgrounds–all united of their objective to revive their dwelling. If something, that is as highly effective a message for the sport as you may get.