Our Rating: 8.5/10
Since the premiere of the first installment in 2014, the Watch Dogs saga has been one of the series with the most personality in the Ubisoft catalog.
Now comes Watch Dogs Legion. It rebuilds on the basis of the previous ones. It takes us to a futuristic post- Brexit London, but with an interesting twist. Here, there is not a single protagonist.
Rather, the revolution in the face of the militarized police forces, the constant governmental and corporate surveillance, and ultimately, in the face of fascism, comes from the people.
DedSec’s ranks are filled with every London citizen we can recruit at any time. It is an ambitious and interesting proposal, but does it work in terms of tone and ideas? And most importantly, does it work at the playable level?
We find an open-world stealth action-adventure that follows almost point by point the mold that Ubisoft has accustomed us to in the last decade. The main story is complemented by a good number of secondary missions and a scene full of activities.
The central plot takes us to London; plunged into chaos for which a single baddie is responsible. Albion military company has taken control of security in the British city. This technology corporation knows everything citizens do thanks to the implanted chips that replace today’s mobile phones. The Kelly clan mobsters enslave the most vulnerable. Blinding the eyes of a powerless police force and a dysfunctional government.
The futuristic London is divided into districts. The influence of one or the other of these very bad baddies is noticeable. They will have to be killed to bring freedom back. It is not a scale interpretation of the city, but a generous interpretation (by size) of the city with the most iconic places represented.
The main story in Watch Dogs Legion is interesting enough to have you stuck for a handful of hours. To put DedSec propaganda on a huge screen in central London, you have to hack the security cameras on the street. Going from one to another until you reach the top of the building where the screen is.
Controlling the spiderbot, you will move across the terrace to identify a construction drone platform. By hacking one of those drones, you will be able to get the boxes blocking a ventilation grill out of our way. Again, you control the spider and with it, you can hack access to the screen’s server.
Other situations pose the typical pipe puzzles (electricity or data conduits) that you have seen in hundreds of games, but with an interesting three-dimensional layer. The puzzle may be surrounding a building and it will be necessary to control a drone or the nearby cameras to solve it.
The security cameras of a building have a code that allows you to access the central server. You can also sneak in with your spiderbot in the vents while you take down all the security guards blocking your way. Additionally, you can hack their armed drones to clear a location before entering.
The design of missions, although it can be crossed out as something repetitive (except for specific moments of the main story), presents each situation as a puzzle. We first observe the different pieces through the security cameras, the drones, or the robot spider. These pieces are the possible routes to the target. The paths are taken by the security guards and the different traps that you can activate.
Afterward, you get to decide how to approach the situation. Since most objectives do not require your physical presence, you will have to think. You can get a construction drone to fly over the building and enter from the top (usually with less security). You can also complete the level by moving through the conduits of the stages by using the spider drone.
Addressing situations not only occurs in the main and secondary missions but in the rest of the open-world activities. The citizens of the different London districts resist the military and technological control of Albion and the company. To encourage them, we can hack the screens to show revolutionary messages. Paint graffiti in specific areas, destroy servers, and more.
The Good, the Bad, and the Overall Experience
Something that sustains Watch Dogs Legion over more than twenty hours, is the variety in the way of approaching the missions. Something that may also depend on the agent that you carry at all times. Going unnoticed by infiltrating stealthily or through other methods in locations full of soldiers and drones; in fact, both ranged and melee combat is unsatisfactory and very simple.
Despite the fact that the world design and the way of structuring the experience are very similar to the rest of Ubisoft’s open-world games, it feels playable and different. Attractive enough at the controls that it catches you so that you couldn’t stop playing until the credits. Not only that. You would also want to go back to get all the improvement points. Do the secondary missions that you may have left, recruit more agents, and obtain more text and audio documents. Especially the latter.
The city is alive
The work that Ubisoft Toronto has done both artistically and graphically is spectacular. The city is alive. Whether on the ground with all those autonomous cars, pedestrians, and the military doing raids and arresting passersby; or in the sky, with drones flying over the streets.
The design of the Watch Dogs Legion characters is varied. In certain cases, loaded with personality. There is enough distinction of vehicles that there is no monotony. There are areas of the city that will leave you speechless. Their screens, their lighting, and their attention to detail are impeccable.
There are numerous bugs. Enemies that get blocked while walking against a wall, pedestrians who jump into the subway mouths. Coffee glasses that float because the person holding them has not loaded them, and NPCs that drop the same line of looping dialogue.
Despite this, it is technically surprising for an open-world game. The detail of the characters and their animations are not at the level of some blockbusters that we have seen. However, the lighting in the day-night cycle, the shadows, the reflections. It is a game that is much more picturesque at night than during the day.
In addition, with ray tracing, everything gains more packaging with a number of reflections. Sometimes reaches the absurd when you are in a building where almost everything is reflective glass or ceramic. But if you are going to play it on a computer, a warning: it is very poorly optimized and it takes a very powerful box to move it above 40-50 fps.
For some reason, it throws a lot of processors. So if you have a mid-range PC from a few years ago, wait for a possible patch. Otherwise, play the game being aware that you will have the same fluidity as in the console (30 fps).
As for the sound, we cannot fail to highlight the soundtrack. It delights fans of punk and the alternative. Here are songs from Foals, Alt-J, Bring Me the Horizon, Blur, Gorillaz, The Libertines, by MUSE.
A soundtrack that has encouraged us to travel the city for minutes by car enjoying the music quietly. They have embroidered the ambient sound. It’s really immersive to be driving through the streets of London while you hear the propaganda drones, the protesters chanting their proclamations, the military detaining passers-by for no reason, the diegetic music, the podcasts that can be heard through the speakers.
The reenactment of London, at a visual and sound level, is at times incredible. Although more or less common bugs make the result dirty. But it is that risky and functional idea of not having a protagonist, that differentiates it. This gives it a playable and plot personality.
Watch Dogs Legion is the best game in the series and a step up from Ubisoft. It distinguishes it from its many similar open-world propositions. It is a game with a message and a focused and interesting tone. A plot attractive enough to catch you until you see the credits. A design of missions and activities, based on hacking and in the different ways of approaching the same situation, which will make want to return until you have cleaned all the icons on a map that works in a similar way as in other games of the brand.