After our hands-on time with Watch Dogs: Legion, we got to chat to Lead Producer, Sean Crooks. We spoke about how the team have utilised the extra time that came with the delay, how next-gen has helped the game look even better and the ‘Play as Anyone’ feature that will let you play as absolutely anyone.
The game was delayed earlier this year. What has the team been able to add and polish since?
So for sure, there’s a lot more polish. One of the big changes that we made that we’re proud of we had a lot of feedback from the players at E3 last year and some of the journalists about just what people expected from ‘Play As Anyone’ and what it was delivering. So one thing we wanted to do was you wanted to make sure that we added more like differences and particular abilities to people to create more differences than, than say an RPG system would. So we moved all of the abilities and characteristics to be more action adventure oriented. So now we created a whole bank of new abilities that you can find on characters like additional weapons or combat perks or stuff like that to make them more discreetly different.
For example, another feedback we had was a lot of players wanted the jobs to kind of matter back when they joined Dedsec, they would leave their their job but now, say I’m a construction worker, when I leave and join Dedsec I can use my construction worker outfit, and I can enter construction sites with what we call uniform access. So I can walk around in plain sight without immediately being picked up by guards. So now you can look around to find people who might work in particular positions, and they can get you access to different locations in the world, like hospitals construction yards and that kind of thing, so it’s allowed us do a lot of that stuff and it’s a lot of it came from just the reaction from the fans last year.
We also added something called Borough Uprising which means that your actions as a resistance movement have a bigger impact on the world, as you kind of progressively, you know, move to fighting back against Albion the opressors. We basically created the Borough Uprisng system, which is a bunch of resistance activities you can do in a particular London borough. And then once you’ve completed those is a very unique kind of finale mission that you play, which is very unique per Borough When you’ve done that, all of the Albion propaganda, the density of Albion on the streets, on the roads and on drawings, all kind of suddenly reduce, the area becomes a much happier place, there’s less oppression, and also any people in that in that borough of London who would now maybe unsure of Dedsec, all of a sudden you become pro Dedsec, so it’s a lot easier to recruit and find people who are happy to join Dedsec, so there’s a huge benefit to doing that. That’s another thing that we wanted to do that we were able to do with the delay.
My favourite part of playing through were definitely the skilled recruits, so I was glad to see them added from the last time that I played the game.
Yeah, they all come with a bank of abilities. So for example, if I take a street artist, right, a street artist has a mask, so they have defense against smoke, they have paintball guns, they have paint grenades, they have sprain can takeouts, right. So that’s kind of like the top end of the spectrum but those abilities can be chopped and changed within any other ability and spread out in many ways, so the other end of that spectrum is if I find a nail manicurist in the world, they’ll be able to throw paint grenades because they have a bag full of nail polish, so it is not about creating one off archetypes it’s about curating little fantasies of people.
Could you tell me about the Deep Profiler? It said it was still a work-in-progress?
So the Deep Profiler is our tool to kind of dive into something we call census. So basically, everyone in the world has a pre scripted life, so the second you interact with them, anything they do at that point follows that schedule, so you can look into their lives and if you tail them around, they’ll actually physically validate that schedule. They’ll go to work when it says, they’ll meet that blackmailer,they’ll go to that home and sleep when it says and where it says. So that all stuff is pretty cool. I think going forward, we’ll debug that for sure and we’ll add a little bit of extra polish here and there, but the functionality wise, you’ve experienced a lot of it.
How do deaths work in the game? I noticed that recruits have a 30 minute cooldown but are permadeaths still a thing?
That’s a great question. So last year, I think we talked about having permadeath. So you can select a new game, and choose whether you want to enable permadeath or not. So if you enable permadeath, your guys, you will lose them as exactly as you would think. However, in the non perma death mode, depending on what happens, if they get killed or arrested, they’ll either go to jail or to a hospital, for example, and then the cool downtime is there medical treatment or as they as they run through the legal process in jail.
However, the cool thing about the changes we made to ‘Play as Anyone’ is for example, if you go into a hospital, you could go in the world and recruit a doctor or an EMT, on your team and they they all they all have different abilities, but they all have a shared ability which allows you to speed up the healing of your characters. We’re currently in hospital, so say you have a bunch of people injured, you might want to rush out and quickly recruit an EMT to try and speed up that heal time. Same as if if you had a character in jail you could go find a politician who has some political sway or a barrister who has legal skills right and that might speed up the processing in the legal system and get them out way faster.
There’s no skill tree in the game like there was in Watch Dogs 2? Why the massive change?
The skill tree became two things. There is actually a tech tree in the tech tab in the menus where basically that’s all Dedsec hacking and gadgets. So that’s like your skill tree, there is tech points in the world, so as you explore the world, you’ll see these little kind of diamond green icons that you can collect and then purchase Dedsec upgrade. So for example, you can enable the ability to have spider bots that go and cloak, spider bots that turn into turrets, some LTL weapons ,shotguns, launchers, you can have the ability to hack things like the riot drones, although the crazy hard to defeat CT drones or turrets that around the automated turrets. So you have this rank, this rank of stuff that you can unlock and then also equip on your different characters, because every single character has a gadget slot that you can edit and a weapon slot that you can edit and you can swap these in and out once you unlock them in the tech tree.
Obviously the game is set in London. Will we get to see the Royal Family?
So the Royal the royal family is mysteriously missing. So this is a little part of a side mystery.
Will we see any previous characters from previous games?
No, we we haven’t added any of the previous Watchdogs characters in Legion.
There was a moment in the game where you jumped off a building and sort of an Assassin’s Creed cinematic and music played. Is that just a cheeky nod? What was that about?
It was a cheeky nod. The game is full of little cheeky nods like that if you pay attention, you might spot a few more.
It was mentioned that the next-gen versions have raytracing. Could you talk a little bit about that how next-gen has helped push the open world forward?
The the ray tracing technology and chips in the next gen platforms is actually a great technology. You’ll know if you if you looked closely when you were playing well, you’ll have seen some of the ray tracing technology in the demo. It’s really well purposed for London we’ve been partnering with Xbox for the Xbox Series X to get perfect ray traced reflections and things like puddles and windows and car shaders and things like that. And the cool thing that makes it really useful in London is that because we have a system to kind of model rain and puddles and things like that, after a fresh rain shower, you get a beautiful reflection across the floor and especially in nighttime when we when we light up the city with a lot of the AR projections of holograms and stuff like that the ray tracing just looks beautiful.
Watch Dogs Legion launches on October 29th for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. It will also launch on Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X later in 2020.