For the first two games in the Watch Dogs series, Ubisoft has focused on a central narrative following a single protagonist. While the first outing with Adrian Pearce, who was a bit of a wet blanket, had its growing pains, the second game with Marcus Holloway was well received with a much more interesting protagonist and storyline. For Legion, Ubisoft has chosen to shake up the game play and give the player an open world of protagonist to choose from. Did this gamble pay off or was it a bust?
On paper, making just about any and every NPC a playable character is a great idea. The world the Watch Dogs has set up is perfect for pulling in literally random people off the street and recruit them to your cause. And to Ubisoft’s credit they did a good job a making a variety of different NPCs to choose from. Of course there will be crossover in perks you get or descriptions of people, but for the most part there is a concerted effort to make these NPCs feel like actual different people living in this world. The voice work deserves credit, it’s difficult to make a bunch of different characters fit the story cutscenes, while being able to respond uniquely with a variety of different voices. And while some cracks do show, for most part it’s well done. As for the story itself… well that’s a different issue.
I won’t beat around the bush, I didn’t really care for this story. It’s not bad by any means, just not as inspired as the concept for the game. While not spoiling anything, it’s a pretty by the numbers story with your general overreaching police state and betrayal. It may have benefited more with a central protagonist to attach to so that when certain story beats happen I’d care more. The villains as well didn’t feel very note worthy. They were the typical villains you’d expect from this type of story with nothing about their personalities really standing out. Watch Dogs 2 had great characters and I felt that was really missing here.
The biggest standout for me was the gameplay, there wasn’t much different between Legion and previous titles but MAN did I get a glitchy copy of the game which I just can’t overlook. Every session I played crashed at least once and that was on a good day. Usually, I was plagued with multiple crashes, enemies glitching out, and mission failures because enemies thought random NPC A wandered into their territory and the game mistook them for me. These constant issues really took away from the experience of the game. When it worked, the gameplay was solid like past iterations and I would imagine that the Next Generation versions would run a lot smoother and cut down on the long load times, but I did not play that version.
Because I was experiencing so many issues with the game I asked a fellow BNP contributor what their experience was like. Here is an excerpt from Khadjiah.
“Watch Dogs Legion originally started off as something immersive and impressive. It did exactly what it said it would do by challenging the idea of ‘NPCs’ by making almost all ‘NPCs’ playable characters. It felt like a rush in the beginning getting thrown into this dystopian world that did not feel so far away from us, but slowly I started questioning ‘the point’. The story started getting murky and I felt less inclined to continue the missions and rather just ride around and enjoy the open world for what it was. Riding down the street, scanning everyone imagining how they’d help me on the missions that I didn’t feel motivated to do. The story starts off as interesting, then gets kind of murky. Then, because of the bugs coming in every now and then, it pulls you out of this well-crafted world; it gets annoying pretty fast. For what it was so far, I enjoyed my ability to become the lazy hacker. It improved my awareness and puzzle skills, maybe when the multiplayer bit opens it will be an even better experience. But for now, Watch Dogs Legion feels like a wonderful way to start chaos to a corrupt government and honestly, that’s some real fun after a hectic day.”
While Khadjiah enjoyed the game more than myself, we both experienced issues with game glitches and felt the main story was lacking (mores me than her). Somewhere there’s a gem of game somewhere here, perhaps some more refining and being made from the ground up for next gen consoles and this can make a great Watch Dogs 4. But as it stands now, it’s only so-so. People are going to have varying experiences with this title and I would recommend renting it first before plunging in to see if it’s worth the full price tag for you. For me, it’s only a rental.