Watch Dogs: Legion is a continuation of the Watch Dogs series in every sense. It started with the personal vendetta of protagonist Aiden Pierce early in the generation in 2014. Then the sequel presented players with a larger DedSec crew, and now Watch Dogs: Legion again escalates the number of DedSec potential recruits to essentially everyone.
The reason for this escalation is because the London cell of DedSec is almost destroyed. A terrorist attack with unknown origins (aside from a mysterious Zero Day antagonist), decimates the movement and spurs the rebuild of DedSec. This translates as the new “play as anyone” feature, with anyone you fancy as a potential recruit just moments away from joining DedSec. Each character has a select group of specialities and personality types to offer some uniqueness to your rebel crew. However, due to the nature of such a mechanic, characters also start to become very samey. Even with slight differences, I realised early on that my recruited crew would use the same lines when recruiting more characters. Many characters were also arbitrarily gutter mouthed, and this homogenization of characterisation did have a habit of hurting immersion.
Recruiting spies or other activists usually lead to a dull group of people. What I found more enjoyable was to find the most obscure person for the job, which sometimes was recommended by the game itself because I lacked a recruit with a certain speciality. My favourite character out of all the characters I accumulated became a stage magician I found. Their special ability was a pocket watch, which allowed them to hypnotise the enemy, causing them to switch allegiance to fight for you. Another character I liked was a football hooligan who had the ability to rally up a little mob to help them out. I also enjoyed characters with unique weapons, such as the street artist I found with a paintball gun. Ultimately if you play less like you want your own personal Person of Interest team, and more like you are playing Saints Row, you’re going to have a fun time.
The world of Watch Dogs: Legion makes more sense when you compare it to the bizarre nature of the later Saints Row titles. While grounded in reality, its near future present nature and methods for hacking tread the line to the surreal more closely than I was expecting. The bombing targets for the terrorist attacks feel like a James Bond villains idea, and the game even rewards you with a beekeeper at one point. Overall, the game shines as a less serious light on the progression of technology, which is fun, but the previous two entries did have some interesting things to say about technology and it feels like Ubisoft has consciously moved away from that so people don’t take the game too seriously this time.
One chapter that does present new ground for the series is the chapter on the antagonist Skye Larson, whose research pioneered a lot of AI in the in-game universe, but has lead onto research in human conscious and digitising humans post-life. Of course in true Watch Dogs fashion, this post body ideology is riddled with unethical scientific experiments. This being a more science fiction idea at the moment then many of the concepts with AI already in the universe, continues the feeling of a less serious than previous titles might have presented. This is further evident by the level design choices during these missions.
The critic was provided with a copy of this game for review.