Right at the start of Ubisoft’s E3 2019 conference, we got our first official look at Watch Dogs’ next entry in the series, Watch Dogs: Legion. In the third entry of the franchise, Watch Dogs: Legion takes us from Chicago and San Francisco in the previous entries to across the pond in London, England.
Watch Dogs Legion takes us to a political heavy, post-Brexit version of London. The implication from the reveal is that the United Kingdom in the game has separated itself from the European Union and succeeded but at a cost.
That isn’t the main focus of the game, however. London feels like a dystopian society, not because of Brexit, but because everyone’s privacy being disrupted by CToS in the Watch Dogs world. CToS is the operating system that controls and monitors what happens within the city, which is referred to as a ‘smart city’ in the franchise.
London in Watch Dog’s world is in a state of surveillance. On top of that, citizens and their activities are under the watchful eye of the private security company, Albion, which acts as London’s sole enforcement of the ‘law.’ I use that term very loosely because London itself seems like a prison to its citizens. There is no freedom for its citizens in Watch Dogs: Legion and you have to fight for that right as a member of the hacker activist group, Deadsec’s London division, takes down the authority that controls the UK in its grasps ever so tightly in Watch Dogs: Legion.
Seeing the 10 minute or more showcase of Watch Dogs: Legion at Ubisoft’s E3 2019 conference instantly put this game on my radar. I liked what I saw so much from this game I immediately bought Watch Dogs 2 – which was luckily on sale during E3 – to get ready for the game’s impending release in March. An interesting tidbit about this game, while Ubisoft Montreal was the lead developer on the first two Watch Dogs games. Watch Dogs: Legion is Ubisoft’s Toronto turn at the wheel.
It’s exciting to look at the new Watch Dogs game with an interesting lens. The original Watch Dogs was a game that felt like it took itself way too seriously. While Watch Dogs 2 didn’t take itself seriously enough, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It felt like a fun hacker game that had its serious moments; which didn’t take away from being a fun hacker guy with so much personality in Silicon Valley.
Seeing what Watch Dogs: Legion has to offer it seems it might be going back to that serious tone, but I hope they can balance it out with the fun aspects of what Watch Dogs 2 brought to the table. Splice in a few jokes that seem appropriate at the time, I mean it can’t be depressing in dictator ruled London all the time. Speaking of offering, Watch Dogs Legion gives us something they’ve never done before in the series.
The game doesn’t focus on not just one main character like in the previous entries, but more focused on multiple playable characters who can do one or a couple of skills well. Part of the game is where teamwork comes into play for the characters as the story progresses. Up to 20 characters can be part of your Deadsec team in good old London, which is an excellent decision on Ubisoft’s part because you don’t have to stick to one character through the whole game.
You don’t have to stick with playing a white guy only, whatever characters are available is at your discretion. If you want a Deadsec team full of only circus performers, then you can have that. To find new members to join your cause, you search throughout London. When you find a character you want to recruit, you’re required to do a mission to either get them out of trouble or change their opinion of Dedsec. By completing that mission, you’ll have a new member join your team’s roster.
I’m not joking about having a team of circus performers because in the game there are up to 9 million characters to choose from to join your 20-person Deadsec team. Which is a significant number in a game full of non-NPC; isn’t that a double negative? Watch Dogs: Legion is a world filled with All Playable Characters – or APC for short – to choose from in the game.
Even with that much choice in a game, there is a consequence to that choice Ubisoft Toronto made. There is no respawning in Watch Dogs: Legion. When you die in the game, your character is dead for good. Blitzco, The Clown, is no more, and that’s on you, his clown funeral is already in motion. You have to move on without him and recruit someone else to your team.
Watch Dogs: Legion is looking like Ubisoft’s most exciting game coming in the next nine months. The idea of playing any character in the game’s world is quite an undertaking. It’s the kind of thought that makes a member of the game’s audience feel more inclusive. Being able to play as someone you look like is something – without going through the customization ‘wheel of fire’ – I think more video games should do. At the same time, it’s more accessible then any other Watch Dogs or Ubisoft game has ever attempted so far.
The game looks fun and makes me want to explore what London has to offer in Watch Dogs: Legion. I don’t know what my Dedsec team will look like – probably not a group of circus performers – but I’m hoping I’ll have a fun time when I get my hands on it. Watch Dogs: Legion will be available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and the newest gaming platform, Google Stadia.