Watchdogs: Legion Review
Published November 2, 2020 | 326 views
Dystopian storylines have always been a common theme within the media and not coming off as cliche can be a testing challenge. However, this would not deter Ubisoft from trying their hand at it anyway. The developer would take the real-life location of London, the business capital of the world, and tweak ever slightly to offer a vast landscape that is completely recognizable; yet twisted to form a post Brexit nightmare that we could easily see happen in the coming years. This coupled with an intriguing concept for the plot, a ‘play as anyone’ mechanic and the hacking mechanics the series has built its fanbase through, the game promises to be a real smash hit. However, does it live up to these promises? Let’s find out in our review of Watchdogs: Legion.
We’re Here to Take Over
Let’s begin with the plot and the setting. The post-Brexit London setting is genuinely one of the strongest assets of this game, hands down. The recreation of London is phenomenal and detailed. Take the Camden markets with subtle details like the shop that mimics the iconic Cyberdog outlet in real life or the attention to detail such as NPC’s walking out of unused buildings, adding to the immersive feel of the city. You can visit all the big attractions, take it all the self deprecating and inherently British conversations of the city’s residents and you get to drive on the left hand side of the road for a change. What isn’t to love?
As for the story, we are as thrilled with it in all honesty. Don’t get us wrong, the concept is brilliant. The idea of taking down an Anonymous-esque terrorist group with your own ragtag rebellion army is fantastic. However, it’s the execution that is lacking. Throughout the story, there really isn’t any sense of urgency to complete the main storyline, the pacing is well off the mark and even when you are right in amongst the action, it has a tendency to feel very flat and repetitive at times.
There are moments of brilliance mixed in with the duller ones, such as the encounters with the villains of the game who are easily the most interesting characters. Mary Kelly is a classic Barbara Windsor gone bad; whereas Cass, the leader of the privatized police force, Albion, is your typical power-hungry fiend. It’s really such a shame that these moments are so few and far between and you’re left to do stale, repetitive missions and talk to your allies which are lifeless drones in comparison.
So, as many who have followed the marketing for this game leading up to its release will know, you can play as anyone. You don’t play as a protagonist, but rather an entity. You round members for your anarchic group, Deadsec, meaning that any pedestrian on the streets of London is a future hero. It’s a concept we have seen before through the Nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor however, this system fails to hit the heights that its predecessor did. You can recruit anyone, however, there is never any real reason to do so.
Most people will immediately think to themselves, it’ll be a laugh to get old Ethel and Beatrice on the squad and initially, it is rather novel. Seeing them struggle to clamber up ledges, fall on their ass when sliding down a pole or taser someone who threatens their new lease of life is humorous. However, the funny aspect wears off and you soon see how shallow the whole system is.
Each NPC can have a unique trait, some good, some bad. Plus they can have their own personal weapons and vehicles buts that’s about it. When you eventually land on a recruit who is physically able and can get the job done, you likely won’t swap to anyone else throughout your run because there really isn’t any need or want to do so. It’s a concept that delivers on what it promises but in a more ‘No Man’s Sky’ on a technicality kind of way. It’s a shame really.
Ambitious to a Fault
This game does some things that really merits its price tag but then offers other aspects that immediately has you questioning your decision. This flip-flopping will pretty much continue throughout your run until you reach the conclusion. The attention to detail such as the multicultural array of accents on show throughout post-Brexit London, the scenery and the humor all help the player to see this games true potential. However, the extreme rag-doll physics, the repetitive gameplay, the lack of direction for the player at times and the issues with frame rate and sound quality all undo this good work and show why this game fails to meet said potential.
This game is far from a ‘Game of the Year’ standard title. What we would say is that if you are a fan of the series or a fan of open-world sandbox games, this will probably scratch an itch for you. However, for those coming into this game believing that this one will utilize AI to provide one of the most intuitive game experiences in modern times, be really for a world of disappointment.
Watch Dogs: Legion Pros
- Incredibly well-realized post-Brexit London setting.
- Hacking gameplay and sandbox feel remains intact from Watchdogs 2
- The game is clearly in touch with British culture.
- Has moments of brilliance in the main story missions.
- The soundtrack is banging.
Watch Dogs: Legion Cons
- As a whole, the gameplay is stale and repetitive.
- ‘Play as anyone’ is a shallow gimmick and not what it was built up to be.
- Frame rate issues, physics problems and poor sound quality.
So that’s our review of Watchdogs: Legion. What did you think of this one? Does it deliver on the hype? What was your favorite aspect of this game? Do you think the online features coming in December will help improve what is on offer at the moment? Let us know in the comments. Also, a big thank you to Ubisoft for providing a code for this title and we look forward to working on future titles. Thanks for reading!