When I played Watch Dogs Legion at E3 last year, the idea of taking over and playing any character in the world was one that excited me, but it felt a little bit half-baked. How would all of these characters play uniquely if there’s so many of them? After spending three hours with the game last week, the idea has been fully fleshed out and has me extremely excited to get more time with the game.
There’s not a lot of surprises at first with Watch Dogs Legion – it feels very similar to the previous game. Driving around London, despite the new setting, feels familiar. The general moment-to-moment combat hasn’t seen immense changes and the hacking still feels as seamless as ever, but it’s the new character recruitment tool that really elevates the game into something special.
As previously revealed, you can still recruit absolutely everybody in the game, as well as assign them with weapons and skills. But there’s something different now – the developers have created a set of skilled recruits who have their own unique sets of weapons and skills that can’t be found anywhere else.
One of these skilled recruits is a literal beekeeper who not only looks the part (even if they stick out like a sore thumb) but also has a set of killer bee drones. You can inflict them on pretty much any enemy, before then using an electric “overcharged” weapon to shock your enemies.
I also got some time to play around with the Football Hooligan, who can call his friends in to fight with him and takes less damage from melee attacks thanks to his passive “Tough Drunk” skill. The Construction Worker has the obvious uniform which allows him to appear less suspicious to enemies in construction sites, as well as a cargo drone that can be summoned to fly around the map. He has unique weapons too – a nail gun and a wrench that can be used as a melee weapon.
The game’s “recruit anyone” tagline still rings true in the sense that you can literally recruit everybody that you see in the world. The amount of work this must have taken to implement is unfathomable. Every person in Watch Dogs Legion has their own schedule, which will put them in a certain place performing a certain activity at a certain time, which you can follow using a recruitment scheduler. You’ll then need to complete certain tasks for that character in order to invite them into DEDSEC and take control of them.
Another major change is the fact that permadeath of your characters is no longer forced upon you. Rather than your characters dying permanently now, you can opt to have them disappear for a while – whether they be in prison or hospital nursing their wounds – with a 30-minute cool-down timer. If you have a Doctor in your squad, this time can be lowered. I loved the idea of permadeath, but it’s definitely not for everyone and having the option either way is welcomed.
The full-on skill tree has been done away with this time around, instead opting to let you upgrade guns, tech, and certain abilities in a tech screen. You unlock these abilities using a new form of points that can be found in the world, similar to previous games.
In terms of the mission structure (outside of the recruitment side missions), it follows a similar gameplay loop to Watch Dogs 2. For the most part, you’ll find yourself trying to stealth your way into a building in order to download files off a computer, get caught halfway through, and have to use your guns to blast your way out of there. There are a few new little hacking mini-games, which involve taking control of your spider-bot or hacking cameras, but it felt familiar in a good way.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Watch Dogs Legion is one of the most beautiful looking urban set open-world games. It’ll utilise ray-tracing on both next-gen consoles and PC, and even though I was streaming the game over the internet, it still looked absolutely gorgeous.
The world of London has a bunch of activities to take part in. You can play darts in your DEDSEC hideout, you can find soccer balls around the world to engage in a few rounds with, and guns can be 3D printed in your hideout.
Everything about Watch Dogs Legion feels like it’s been taken up a notch. The cars are crazier, the guns and characters are kookier than ever, the story seems absolutely ridiculous (yet strangely believable at the same time) and whilst it doesn’t re-invent the wheel from the last two games, everything just feels that little bit more polished.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 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.