When Ubisoft revealed Watch Dogs Legion to the world on their stage this past week, it would be easy to be skeptical of the innovative system the developers were touting that permeates throughout the entire game – you can play as anybody.
After a 30-minutes playthrough of an E3 build, consider my loyalty to DedSec lifelong and well-earned.
There is no one protagonist in Watch Dogs Legion, who you play as and who you recruit is entirely up to you. From the sympathetic to those that outright hate DedSec, they can be persuaded to join the cause.
Take Abigail Miles as an example, full of contempt for DedSec for allegedly hacking her sister’s phone. She is also in some trouble with the law, and owes a debt to a bookie. You could easily ignore her, but her skills as an Enforcer (one of three classes in Legion together with Hacker and Infiltrator) makes her too good to pass up.
So you start helping her out, taking care of the investigator on her tail, settling her debts, essentially reforming DedSec’s image in her eyes, and ultimately create the opportunity to win her over to the cause. A hater to a believer, all through your own hard work.
Abigail is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of potential recruits, each with their own personal and unique backstory, traits, relationships, and skills. They live their lives on their schedule, and should you disrupt said schedule, the simulation will provide an answer to your actions.
No matter who is at the helm, the story of Watch Dogs Legion carries on. The different personalities, perspectives, and outlook of the world all combined with other factors to create characters that react differently and authentically to the same situations. The people in Legion are not just palette swaps.
All this wooing and continuity within the narrative of the world of Legion creates an attachment between player and the character, and with permadeath now a thing, there will be plenty of feels if you push too far and lose an operative.
Simply put, Watch Dogs Legion‘s biggest hook sinks in hard, and it works wonderfully.
In a futuristic London gone mad after Brexit, automation is now the norm and the people are oppressed by a regime that has no qualms with using violence. DedSec faces off against the private security corporation, Albion, and the strife in the city is evident to see at every corner.
Those familiar with the city will immediately notice a close resemblance of this digital London to the real deal, albeit covered with more neon and futuristic wonders sitting diametrically opposed to protestors and the people of the city.
With eight boroughs, including Camden and Westminster, to explore, liberate, and take over, it points towards a staggering amount of content already.
To help you out, every new operative recruited can be put into one of the three classes, the first time ever in the series. Go for the gun-focused Enforcers who are armed with sticky mines, or keep it quiet with the melee-focused Infiltrator with advanced AR cloaking tech that renders you invisible. Of course, you can always go high-tech with the Hackers and their spider-bots/turrets.
Upgrade trees exist for all of them, with a variety of perks to choose from make every operative a truly unique individual. With a full roster of 20 people at a time, there is plenty of firepower and technical expertise to unleash upon Albion.
The fight to liberate London takes place over 60 missions and five different storylines, and no matter your approach to things, be it stealth or an all-out war, Watch Dogs Legion takes care of you and lets you play how you wanna play without diminishing your efficiency.
Hacking objects around you feel better than ever, with even more to tinker with, and sending cars careening into each other at a distance never feels old. Gunplay and melee combat feels satisfying, and the class types add another layer of strategic play into the mix.
In Watch Dogs Legion, the people of London are the stars of the show, you are supposed to care for them, get invested, and you have a very tangible stake in their wellbeing.
The fact that the story and the underlying simulation recognises all of that is astonishing, and if the entire game performs without a hitch, this will be a tremendous win for the Watch Dogs‘ franchise, as well as Ubisoft.
The potential of Watch Dogs Legion went from pure marketing to capturing my full attention in just a short span of time, and is easily the best time and experience I have had at E3 2019. At this point, it is simply too hard to imagine it not fulfilling its vast potential come March 6, 2020.