Watch Dogs: Legion is here – Welcome to the resistance. Legion takes place in near-future London, a city under the control of Albion, a private military organisation, who operate under the pretence of keeping the peace following a massive terrorist attack. Your mission is to build a resistance and fight back against this authoritarian regime.
London has fallen apart, mass surveillance, private militaries and organised crime are the new normal. It’s time to end this oppression. As one of the few remaining members of hacktivist group DedSec, you’ll need to recruit a well-balanced resistance to overthrow the opportunists destroying this once-great city. The fate of London lies with you.
Watch Dogs: Legion gives you the option to recruit and “Play As Anyone”. You have the freedom to recruit anyone you see on the streets of London. There is no main character, so it is entirely up to you who will be the heroes of your game. Select your characters based on appearance, how they dress, how they act, or because of their gameplay abilities, skills and gadgets, all of which can help you take on Legion’s biggest challenges.
In an innovative twist Watch Dogs: Legion not only allows you to play as anyone but every person you see in the game is fully simulated with a detailed bio. They also have a memory and your actions can permanently impact their opinion about DedSec, making them easier to recruit or turning them into antagonists.
Once you’ve managed to recruit team members you’ll more than likely want to customise them. Legion includes five times more customisation items than Watch Dogs 2 and you can fully customise each of your characters by purchasing items with ETO, the in-game currency. ETO can be obtained in a few different ways. You can hack ATMs and ETO skimmers (hidden across the city), win it by completing activities like darts, kick-up, Parcel Fox deliveries or from secured safes hidden in restricted areas.
Hacking is at the core of Legion, letting players experience remote-controlled devices like spiderbots and drones like never before. Hacking also gives players access to London’s network of CCTV cameras as well as the Deep Profiler, a tool that lets the player learn more about characters’ secrets.
You’ll need to tackle each mission differently, choosing from a wide range of weapons and gadgets, a brand-new melee system or stealth abilities. The way you approach combat has consequences. If you use non-lethal force, the enemy will attempt to subdue and arrest you, an outcome that puts your selected character out of commission for a specific period of time. If you shoot to kill, you risk having your characters permanently killed.
Melee combat can be used as a primary play style, or as a way to avoid getting into a gunfight. Characters with strong melee skills like Bareknuckle fighters can also be useful for infiltration and can be found inside Bareknuckle arenas.
Getting around is aided by Bagley, a sophisticated AI assistant. Bagley can predict the behaviour of strangers, crunch cryptocurrency algorithms in seconds, and write a bestselling novel — all at the same time. His motivation to help DedSec is hardcoded, but he mostly treats administrating the resistance as an amusing hobby.
The city is filled with cars, motorbikes and other modes of transport including fast travel on the London tube. Vehicle handling is a little on the crude side but doesn’t ruin the overall experience.
There are two forms of progression. The first is expanding your team by finding and recruiting new characters with new abilities. The second comes from improving your tech by finding tech points. Tech points can be spent to unlock and upgrade weapons, hacks and gadgets. To get tech points you’ll need to complete missions or find them in hidden locations across London.
London’s boroughs are oppressed with Albion occupying them like a war zone and DedSec must inspire the residents to fight back. The ‘Borough Uprising’ feature allows players to experience the impact their growing resistance movement is having. By striking at specified targets, you weaken Albion’s presence in each of the boroughs and as each one becomes “Defiant”, Albion presence is reduced and that boroughs residents become inspired to resist. By completing these activities, you can also get some of the best recruits like a beekeeper, spy, professional hitman or a drone expert.
If you get your hands on the Season Pass it will add four new characters to your ranks: Aiden Pearce, Wrench, Mina, and Darcy. Each bringing something new and different to the party, and each is playable in the campaign and online. Ubisoft is only throwing four-player co-op mode into the mix post-launch on December 3, just in time for the holidays. Can’t wait to see what they do there.
Overall I think Ubisoft has successfully managed to deliver on their ambitious open-world ‘recruit and play as anyone’ mechanic. So whether you’re playing as a trained assassin or someone’s sassy grandma, Watch Dogs: Legion is simply stacks of fun play.
Reviewed on Xbox One. A review code was supplied by the publisher.