Watch Dogs: Legion Review (PC)
In a world where everything can be done digitally, well… almost everything, you need to decide which side of society you will side with. Will you remain silenced, oppressed and semi-complacent or will you join a movement that not only stands to change the future survival of your family, but potentially the world as well? The revolution needs a spark to ignite that wildfire, and everything is in your hands. What say you? Will you be that spark?
Welcome to “Near-Future” London, where DedSec have intercepted a very disturbing plan to overthrow Parliament and have it replaced with an unknown “threat” to society. Operative Dalton Wolfe is on the scene attempting to discover exactly what is going on. During his covert investigation under the London Parliament, he finds that the whole area has been covered in DedSec identifiers… along with enough explosives to completely level the building.
This can only mean one thing. DedSec is about to take the fall for something really big. With the detonator counting down, Dalton hastily heads to disarm the trigger, when suddenly an attack is launched on the DedSec HQ by armed forces. With tensions rising and the countdown ticking, Dalton scrambles to complete his mission so he can return in time to save his crew… only to come face-to-hologram with the mastermind behind this coordinated strike on DedSec. While being confronted by Zero-Day on the roof of the Parliament Building, Dalton witnesses multiple explosions ripping through London, claiming the lives of countless innocents and comes to realize that the Parliament Building was not the only structure that was being targeted. Fade to black…
Even while being equipped with the most sophisticated and state of the art Sentient Artificial Intelligence Program named “Bagley” (“Jarvis” might be a tad jealous), DedSec was not prepared for what just happened and how things were about to change. Multiple casualties were suffered at the DedSec HQ and the only member to escape the massacre was Sabine Brandt, leader of DedSec. With the authorities hot on her trail, she managed to navigate the London sewers into Camden and with the assistance of a friend, she made it out of London, stationing herself “somewhere” up North.
Fast Forward. No Reset Tokens Available.
A few months later, once the dust had settled from the mass bombing event, the public started questioning whether it was indeed DedSec that were responsible for the attack on London, as it was a known fact that DedSec does not employ or condone violent acts to influence or to bring about change. DedSec was known to be more like a modern day “Robin Hood”, but unfortunately, Nigel Cass, CEO of Albion has made it publicly known that anyone associated with or even suspected to be part of DedSec, will be shot on sight.
Albion is a private security company, charged with the policing and security of London and have replaced the Metropolitan Police in the majority of their duties. Albion has the skies filled with Patrol Drones, Riot Drones, Anti-Terrorist Drones and has set up security checkpoints throughout London that scan each citizen’s Optik as they cross a checkpoint boundary. This scan delves into a person’s entire history, social and professional standing and also does a “deep scrub” to determine whether they have any ties to DedSec. It goes without saying that Albion’s version of defense is extreme offence and has got the public protesting against their “rule”.
Witnessing the progressive oppression of London, Sabine decides that it is time to “reboot” DedSec, and hacks into Blume Corporation’s Security Network, as they are the Communications Technology Corporation responsible for implementing ctOS and ctOS 2.0. With ctOS linking every individual to the London network via their Optik’s (small digital device placed on the temple, powered by bio-stimulated energy), Sabine is determined to find any surviving members of DedSec to assist her in building a resistance force. With all but one possible candidate not marked as either arrested or deceased, you are contacted and activated as the first operative to restore the ranks of DedSec, and ultimately hunt down Zero-Day to unite the City of London, not only digitally, but in positive spirit as well.
You make your way out of hiding and head to an abandoned DedSec HQ, near Central London, across from Big Ben, where you boot up Bagley and quickly find out what you unknowingly signed up for after a quick video meeting with Sabine. As the newest “off site” leader of DedSec, it is up to you to put a stop not only to Albion, but to Blume Corporation and Clan Kelley, a criminal organization in London that is known for human trafficking, drug manufacturing, loan sharking and even brutally murdering London citizens. To do this, you will need a team with a very diverse set of skills, both ethically and not-so ethically acceptable. Welcome to DedSec.
We Need The Skills To Avoid The Bills
After you have completed the introduction to Watch Dogs: Legion you get to choose the identity of your first operative from a randomized list of individuals who have various trade skills to assist you in your missions. These skills can include anything from physical items to passive abilities like light Melee Weapons, Shock Pistols, Reduced Damage, Additional ETO (in-game currency), Short Injury Time or even Shorter Bail Time should you be arrested.
Once you are in the “real world” you can begin chasing down missions or opt to build your active operative roster by recruiting random citizens to DedSec. To recruit people, you can profile them to see what skills they would add to your team by targeting them and hacking their Optik. If you like what you see, you simply add them to your recruitment list, start the recruitment mission and progress through their personal story to earn their trust. Each of the individual APC’s (All Player Characters) throughout London will have a unique task for you to complete before you unlock them as a DedSec operative. You can add as many APC’s as you want to your recruitment list but you can only have 20 active operatives at any given point, so choose wisely.
There are eight main sections (Boroughs) in Near-Future London where you can track down your desired operatives, namely Camden, Islington & Hackney, Tower Hamlets, City of London, Southwark, LambethNine Elms and The City of Westminster. Camden is home to cutting edge counterculture, and a bastion of artists, students and outcasts. It’s a good spot to find hackers with tattoos or body modifications. The City of London remains the beating heart of British finance, teeming with crypto specialists, lawyers and CEOs that can increase the revenue of your team. Brixton, one of most culturally diverse boroughs of London and home to many street artists and DJs. Hyde Park is the favorite spot of London’s pensioners but also of many athletes like pro wrestlers, football players and bare knuckle fighters.
I opted to seek out a smuggler, judge, paramedic, construction worker, spy, hacker, journalist, pensioner, police officer and magician first, which covered most of the basic skills needed to either negotiate, get out of jail, heal up my wounded operatives and even control construction drones to reach hard to get to area’s. Once I was done with a few of my operatives and needed soldiers and fighters, I could easily retire the operatives I no longer had need of and continued the main story with near to no problems due to lack of specialized skills required to complete each story arch.
Stir Up Defiance To Optimize Your Gear
There are multiple objectives to keep you occupied with in Watch Dogs: Legion, the Main Story Missions which will lead you down various mind bending and also ethically questioning situations, where your decisions influence and affect certain aspects and access to unique rewards and allies and also very entertaining Side Quests that also reward you with some non-essential but unique rewards that will earn you recognition once the Online Mode goes active in December. One of these Side Quests that I enjoyed spending time on, was Bagley’s “Bare Knuckle Challenge”, where the cheeky AI demands retribution for what happens in the game’s introduction by sending you to pummel people at secret “Fight Clubs” because, well, he can’t physically punch anyone… yet?
As stated above, there are eight Boroughs in Near-Future London, and you have the option to either push the citizens into a Defiant State by defacing Albion Propaganda, Neutralizing VIP’s, gathering Photographic Evidence to implicate Albion or straight up blowing up Albion Facilities. Once a Borough has been converted from “Oppressed” to “Defiant”, you will activate a Borough Mission, which is a very challenging Mission with a high reward, granting you a highly skilled Operative, as an example, a bio-chemist that controls a drone-bee swarm that can attack your enemies at will. You can use her to unlock an achievement if you kill ten Albion Soldiers with those bees, so it is well worth investing time in Borough Defiance.
Each mission will send you to a Restricted Area, which has a few additional and optional objectives hidden for you to find, like Audio Files, Text Documents, Relics but most importantly, Tech Points. Tech Points are your “Skill Points” that you spend on unlocking and upgrading things like weapons, hacks, skills and your gadgets, so these are very valuable and often times well hidden in hard to reach areas which requires you to use your trusty Spider-Bot. Once a Borough is Defiant, Tech Points will then be displayed on your Mini-Map and Main Map, making farming these a lot easier to gain the technological advantage and basically “faceroll” your way through the game as most of the Missions, Side Missions and Recruitment Tasks require you to hack Combat Drones to reach Hackable Camera’s to call in a ctOS Spider-Bot to control “Behind Enemy Lines” instead of you needing to run into a deadly area with your character, however this can only be done if you have unlocked the appropriate hacking skills with your Tech Points.
The City of Near-Future London is beautifully laid out and easy to navigate (apart from following the annoying European road rules), and from my experience is as closely replicated to it’s literal real world counterpart. All the Streets, Clubs, Coffee Shops, Pubs, Theatres, Tube Entrances and Exits as well as Landmarks are where you would find them if you were in London. I showed this off in my Twitch Livestream on Monday, 26 October 2020 while taking the viewers on a virtual guide of London and referencing each Borough with photographs I had taken when I was in London in December of 2018. I felt such nostalgic pleasure while exploring Camden Street in the game, because it is exactly the way I remember it being, which made me do a little experiment while playing the game. Instead of using the in-game map, I made my way to Piccadilly Circus and instead of driving around London, I headed to all the landmarks, and I was astounded with how precisely the game artists were able to replicate London because I had no trouble finding my way to The Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and back to Camden Market.
The game is Ray Trace Enabled, and I played it with all settings at maximum and even enabled DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) which upscaled the already glorious graphics of the game, making my visual experience pure bliss!
Most of the vehicles in Watch Dogs: Legion are driven by the ctOS AI and can be easily commandeered without you needing to steal or hijack a vehicle from a civilian, which I preferred, but I did not mind stealing Albion Armored Vehicles and running down Albion Soldiers.
It is also important to note that all of the APC’s will remember you if you or any of your operatives do something to them, like running them over in the road or accidentally assaulting them, which makes them harder to recruit later. It can be done via the Deep Profiling Skill (unlocked with Tech Points), which then allows you to gain more trust with these people who have a bad attitude toward DedSec with you doing them a “favor” before attempting to recruit them.
Operative Team Morale levels also seemed to be a factor in my playthrough, where unused operatives would tend to become very complacent if left alone in the DedSec HQ idle for too long, so be sure to cycle through them as often as you can, even if you develop a preferred operative. There are some really awesome Premium Operatives that can be purchased from the in-game store, but if you invest in the Season Pass you will automatically unlock them, along with Aiden Pierce, Wrench and an epic Ubisoft Crossover Assassin’s Creed Operative that stems from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood!
I was unable to play or review the Online Mode, which looks like it will be exceptionally fun when it launches in December. This mode will allow you to play Co-Op Missions and “Raids” with a team of three other real life Watch Dogs: Legion players. Every APC is completely customizable, not only with skills and weapons, but with cosmetics that can be found throughout London, purchased at clothing stores or by completing those optional Side Missions mentioned earlier, which will make it really fun to show off your in-game achievements during the Multiplayer or Online Mode.
Should you want to take a break from the main game progression, you can seek out a few mini-games, where you can visit pubs and drink a pint, throw some darts or even play some kick-up footie to freshen up your experience. There really is a lot to do in Watch Dogs: Legion so getting bored should never be a concerning factor. There are three Campaign Modes that you can choose to play in: Normal, Permadeath and Ironman. Once set, you cannot change this, so choose wisely, as Permadeath and Ironman will not return any injured or arrested operatives to your roster, they will be permanently unavailable, making for a nice “Game Plus” experience.
Watch Dogs: Legion is part of the original Watch Dogs Series and is rated PEGI 16 for graphic violence and strong language. Developed and Produced by Ubisoft Toronto, the game launches via Microsoft PC, Google Stadia, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on 29 October 2020, with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X releases set for 19 November 2020 in South Africa. At the time of this review, you can pre-order your copy from BT-Games for R1,199.00, after which the post-launch price will be R1,299.00: PlayStation 4 | PlayStation 5 | Xbox One.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing and reviewing the Campaign, and I am exceptionally excited to play as and complete the Season Pass Exclusive content as Aiden Pierce and Wrench, but most importanly, I cannot wait to play as the Assassin’s Creed Operative Darcy! I am also very excited to play in the Spiderbot Arena and enjoy some Old School Invasion, which are also part of the Season Pass contents and can be seen on the Post Launch Roadmap. With so many amazing launches heading our way this final quarter, along with the next generation consoles, Watch Dogs: Legion is without a doubt a great addition to new and experienced fans of the series. If you have never played Watch Dogs before, do not let that make you pass off this opportunity, as there is a built in Onboarding and Tutorial section to get you playing like a pro in no time.