REVIEW – In the latest Watch Dogs game, London turned into a great open world that is hard not to have fun with.
London is subject to the power of a corrupt government that has shielded itself with a brutal and ruthless police force, which does not care about your rights or your privacy. This is the dystopia that Ubisoft faces us in another great action and stealth video game in the open world that is darker and more interesting than could be expected in the plot, and as you will see in this analysis of Watch Dogs Legion, also really funny for its freedom of action and the crazy things it allows to do.
Those who should protect the innocent are dedicated to beating, threatening and kidnapping with total impunity while freedom of expression, and the privacy of citizens, is diluted more and more under the protection of laws typical of a dictatorship. No one is safe, no one escapes the control of the powerful, so to defend against this threat it is necessary to create an army of citizens. And this is the great revolution that proposes us to lead a Watch Dogs Legion that has made me enjoy a lot with its open-world action; with its gunfights, stealth, puzzles and exploration of an interesting and beautiful scene such as the city of London. It is true that many of its game mechanics are inherited from its predecessors; that when it comes to facing its challenges it does so without great news, without any surprises, but what it does it does so well, and its level design is so good, that it is hard not to have fun testing the system with gadgets, weapons and special abilities of our protagonists. And I speak in the plural, yes, because this is undoubtedly the great contribution of a video game that stands out for its enormous freedom of action.
Any citizen of London can join the fight, be part of DedSec, and although it sounds crazy, and also a nice advertising slogan, the truth is that it is something that works very well in the action of Watch Dogs. The figure of the charismatic protagonist is lost, there is none; It will be difficult for you to connect in that way with the hundreds and hundreds of characters that you can embody in the same game. But in return, you gain freedom and new ways of doing crazy things and having a great time being more thug than ever; or more precise in the shootings, or the greatest expert infiltrating without a trace. It all depends on the characters you control, as their unique traits bring a welcome new strategic nuance. that at some points has reminded me of the Hitman saga. Do you need to sneak into a hospital? Play a toilet and it will be easier for you to go unnoticed. Does the mission take place in a construction zone? In the commissary? You already have an idea of who you can turn to infiltrate. Or not! Because you also have the option of shooting in causing chaos around you or using a hacker who is not even forced to step on the field of operations, or fly over the place and assault it from above, using the verticality of the scenarios in your favour.
The Watch Dogs series has always bet on giving us freedom when it comes to facing each one of its missions, but this new video game from Ubisoft goes one step further, refining the formula, perfecting its level design so that you always find new ways of raiding the targets and having a blast in the process. And that I have done during the nearly 40 hours that it has taken me to complete a trip that has also surprised me, and a lot, in the plot, with a darker story than you could imagine watching so many colourful, wacky, hooligan trailers like Watch Dogs Legion has used to promote itself. So if all of this has caught your eye, stick with me because what comes next in this review is even better.
London downtrodden: the revolution has begun
Far removed from the colourful and thug style of Watch Dogs 2, Legion takes us to a grey, cruel scene, in which the enemy is the State itself, which has ceded the safety of its citizens to a large military corporation called Albion that … well, to put it mildly, he has lost his hand. Indiscriminate beatings and arrests, checkpoints scattered throughout London, and the promise to extend their power with more and more security measures; to continue growing and expanding its power with new ways to appease terrorism, even if this implies completely violating the privacy of all citizens. This is where DedSec comes into play, although it does so at a minimum, with public opinion against it, and with hardly any agents capable of fighting against this enormous threat. You have to start from scratch, from the bottom, and turn to the thousands of ordinary heroes that are each and every one of the Londoners oppressed by the System.
This is the perfect excuse to make sense of that possibility of recruiting any citizen, but to what extent does it affect the game itself? In essence, all characters can wield weapons, hack and infiltrate anywhere, but not all of them will do it with the same effectiveness, and that is where the nuances begin to shine. If you control a former military man, and you will know it because each citizen of London has his own life in Watch Dogs Legion, the most likely thing is that you are lethal in the use of firearms, that you even have an exclusive weapon! On my team, I had hackers capable of stealing data without the need to be close to targets, and other agents with the ability to run without making much noise, which made them the best option to infiltrate behind enemy lines.
There are lots of unique traits, exclusive abilities, and characteristics that to a greater or lesser degree modify the way DedSec agents act, thus making the action more fun and varied than ever. As I say, nuances are everything, to the point that there are characters capable of knocking out their rivals in a matter of seconds, while others take their time for whatever reason: they are not trained for hand-to-hand fighting, they suffer from Some injury, or it is possible that you are controlling the already famous grandmother of Watch Dogs Legion, and that with her you can not run, or parkour, or even use covers. So why would you want her on your team? To give you a laugh? Sure, but also, she might be ruthless using drones, or a skilled pilot, or she could hack devices at high speed. That is why I have liked the new Ubisoft so much, even though at the moment of truth, I have resorted to the same agents for the simple comfort of knowing their virtues well.
However, I have seen how others play, the crazy things they are capable of provoking with wit and bad slobber, and I can only applaud the work done by the authors of Watch Dogs Legion. “All citizens have something to offer,” they have said on more than one occasion, and it is true; even if it’s just a few moments to laugh and that’s it. Because it’s hard not to laugh with some of the situations that you can live in London as someone with a flatulence problem, which makes it practically impossible for him to infiltrate without being detected, or a drunk who needs to drink a lot of alcohol to hit harder. There are so many fun things to do and discover, that again it is easy to think that the story and the tone of the adventure are in the vein of Watch Dogs 2, with a lot of humour and a lot of jokes; Nothing could be further from the truth.
The story is dark, to some degree realistic, with a dystopian society left with hardly any weapons with which to defend itself from the power of the state. It begins in style, with a brutal threat, and although after this shocking prologue to the game it takes a bit of time to get interesting, once it begins to unfold its themes, to present its great enemies, the story wins and gains prominence until it catches you and does not let go of you several tens of hours later. There’s a lot of black humour, a lot of British-style irony and that spy movie scent how well it suits the game; but there are also disturbing scenes, moral dilemmas, a strong political charge and even several surprises that make you enjoy the fast-paced action of Watch Dogs Legion even more.
How do our characters fit into this story? All of them are protagonists and we will all see them intervene in the cinematics and conversations, with the one we control at that precise moment having more weight; and although they are not particularly charismatic, rather they are not charismatic at all, they fit well into the story and the message it conveys. The society as a whole is the protagonist of an adventure which nevertheless ignores the interesting characters, there is, with intelligence Bagleytaking all the limelight. It is he, with his jokes, with his fine irony, with his way of speaking, the best narrator of a story at times very interesting that never forgets this great peculiarity; of this collective protagonism. What happens if one of our characters dies? If you have activated permanent death, as is my case, it’s over; there are no second chances. That citizen disappears, you will never be able to recover him, and you will see his companions mourn his loss, Bagley himself dedicating a few words to him, or even anonymous citizens being affected by this and other losses.
An open-world designed to make you enjoy
For years open-world games seemed more focused on showing off square miles than offering a fun and memorable experience, but from the beginning Watch Dogs Legion has bet on density and variety in its open world, and it is something that feels great. . Exploring the streets of London is a real treat; No matter where you look, there is something to do, a collectable to obtain, a minigame to hang out with, a new agent to recruit, side missions to solve, or some precious monument to visit. And you don’t get tired of going from here to there, shooting, driving and hacking everything that crosses your path, there is no downtime no tedious trips from one end of the map to another. You may be in the middle of the main mission and with just a little detour you can carry out sabotage missions, necessary to liberate the districts of London from the oppression of Albion, or perhaps, with a few more minutes, you will get all the scattered extras across the map. And that’s the reason why I’ve hardly used fast travel.
I wanted to explore, I wanted to put my ingenuity to the test by solving the puzzles that are in themselves many of the scenarios through which you move. And while the game repeats the same patterns over and over, I haven’t felt its action become tedious or overly repetitive, which speaks volumes in favour of the great level design featured in this new work from Ubisoft Toronto. It’s incredible the freedom of action it provides for you to act as you please, whether it’s shooting like a madman or beating each mission without making your presence known. To achieve this you have a good handful of gadgets and weapons that are already familiar to any fan of the Watch Dogs universe, with the spider as the main novelty -inspired by the stroller from Watch Dogs 2-, but I insist that at the end of the day it is your imagination that will make the difference.
Wherever you look, there are electronic devices, traps, vehicles, and obstacles that you can use to your advantage in many possible ways. And when things go well … it’s incredible. It’s hard not to get excited and laugh maliciously when you’ve ruined multiple enemies by dropping an explosive charge, guided by a drone, or eliminating your opponents in a car chase using the barriers on the stage itself, or better yet! hacking your vehicle to turn in the direction a bus is moving. And there is an accident and an explosion, and you go about your business feeling like the king of London. I could spend hours telling anecdotes, bragging about my infiltration tactics, but I am sure that soon after you would make a fool of me by talking about even more spectacular and incredible situations. Because although it seems that you are always doing the same thing, and the design of missions does not offer many changes, there are so many alternatives when it comes to meeting each objective, so many possible paths to follow in the same scenario, that it is difficult not to have fun with Watch Dogs Legion.
It is also a game that allows you to quickly adapt to new combat situations without feeling that all is lost. Has your infiltration plan failed? Find cover, think fast, and act by taking advantage of your characters’ unique abilities. There are galore! I have seen citizens immune to gas that some rivals use to stun, and others that at any moment can call on a drone equipped with weapons to protect them, or the spies, of course, who have a dedicated car with missiles, and even a watch capable of blocking enemy weapons. The nuances are important, I said before, and they don’t have to always be related to the fight, or be entirely positive. Some citizens get money by knocking out an opponent, and others who constantly spend it on bets and other games. And all this gets you more and more into the action of a video game that, yes, is conservative in the design of the missions. I commented on it lines back.
In general, Watch Dogs Legion always poses the same missions, with the same challenges, varying, of course, the design of the scenario and the dangers that converge on them. So time and time again you will find yourself rescuing someone, hacking a computer or eliminating a specific target. And it is a pity that it does not go beyond that, because when it goes a little out of the norm; When the narrative takes control or you face challenges like driving at full speed because the car is going to explode, the game becomes even more exciting. But it is that not even the recruitment missions they bring more variety to the action, which has made me sometimes think twice about whether or not it was worth the effort. Then it’s a couple of minutes; a few comings and goings through the streets of London learning more about the lives of these characters, but when you’ve been behind your back for many hours … you’re looking for something that takes you out of the routine.
That’s why I’ve enjoyed the district conquest missions so much. All of them are different from each other, providing new ways of playing with the gadgets at your disposal. More of these would have contributed to making Watch Dogs Legion a more complete and varied video game, although I will not tire of repeating it, despite this, it is tremendously fun and even if you are one of those who hate open worlds, I think you can find it here a very good action and stealth game with which to have a great time. It is no small thing.
Many other details have surprised me a lot in Watch Dogs Legion. For starters, you can recruit any citizen of London, and this includes the mercenaries of Albion, however much they consider you their enemy. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick, but there are methods of persuasion that can work the miracle. It is also incredible to see how each citizen lives his own life and has his relationships, which in practice means that if you run over someone, and kill him, his family and friends will hate you. And vice versa, of course. If you save someone from certain death or prevent them from going unjustly to jail, you will have won a new adept for your cause who will gladly join your list of 20 active agents.
During the game, you can look at anyone and add them to your contact list if you think they fit your team, but Ubisoft does not force you to do such a laborious task to configure the best group of hackers in London. Some missions reward special agents, with more powerful abilities; and then also, regularly and for a limited time. As many special agents with abilities will appear on the map … curious to say the least. So it is up to you whether or not to have a magician with a top hat included in your team that does not serve much, but makes you laugh, or control a retiree with heart problems who can die at any moment. There are so many characters, so many unique and funny traits, that just for the laughs you sometimes gladly face these challenges.
When facing the action, the change from one character to another is quite fast, although we can only carry it out in a safe area and not in the middle of the enemy territory. All of them can equip any gadget and generic weapon, then featuring exclusive variants and other unique gadgets that are unique to certain character classes. That is to say. Your firearms expert may use mechanical spiders, cloaking devices, or electric bombs, but not the spy’s watch, or street performers’ paint guns. It’s more. As I told you before, there are characters more prone to hand-to-hand combat, those who knock out faster, and even those who can be equipped with two simultaneous weapons or gadgets. Freedom of action is everything in Watch Dogs Legion, and all these small details, these slight variations between the two characters, contribute to improving those feelings. There are no characters more powerful than others, someone, who can with everything in every imaginable situation,
There is also the classic skill tree with a good handful of passive improvements and new gadgets with which to expand your combat and stealth options, including mechanical spiders with firearms, new drones, greater resistance to damage, the ability to hack enemy turrets to control them directly, or more non-lethal weapons like shotguns and submachine guns. Some of these advantages include levels of improvement, which in specific cases such as spiders will allow you to add camouflage or even a double jump. That said, it is important to make it clear that all these improvements apply to all of your characters, so if one dies in combat, the only thing you will lose is their specific abilities and not their general ones.
Outstanding debts: driving, fighting and shooting
The hours have flown by with Watch Dogs Legion but certain details are still not at the expected level. I have already told you about the little variety in the missions, and now it is the turn of driving, which is once again one of its weaknesses. Not that it’s bad, but the absence of a realistic weight in the vehicles means that you don’t feel comfortable, especially in chases. Cars seem to fly through the streets of London, and when you want to execute precise manoeuvres, you usually end up running over someone or destroying street furniture. To top it off, the artificial intelligence of pedestrians is somewhat peculiar, in the sense that they have suicidal tendencies. I know how innocent I have killed because, when they see the car appear, far from jumping onto the sidewalk, they jump towards the car. Sometimes it’s funny because they run a very funny animation, but when the one you have run over is one of your best agents… the joke is not so funny anymore.
Also, the enemies have somewhat irregular behaviour. It is not logical to expect rivals with the ability to detect you at a minimum. They have to be a “bit dumb” to keep the infiltration magic intact, but in the case of Watch Dogs Legion, they are sometimes too easy to fool them. At least, yes, when things get ugly they make you feel the real fear since they go for everything, they call for reinforcements, and in a matter of seconds not even the best of your gunmen will be able to with so many drones and thugs. At this point, I think playing with permanent death is a wise move. It is not a particularly difficult video game, but it does make you feel the fear of death. It still hurts my soul to have lost my spy on his first mission! The poor thing did not have time to prove that she was the best in her field. But that’s how tough the fight against Albion is.
Shootouts, with the support of hacking and traps, are very fun and few problems can be put beyond the fact that until late in the game, no new enemies appear that force you to use new combat tactics. I am talking, for example, of invisible rivals, or those who are equipped with weapons that kill your life with a couple of shots. There are not many weapons to choose from, but I do not think they are necessary for a game that focuses more on stealth and the use of hacks than the fight itself. As a final point, because I feel that I have spread a lot, the melee fights they are not bad at all. They are not very complex, but there may be lots of movements are, especially when there are several simultaneous enemies and you must combine the blows with the dodges. Besides, if you do not control a character that defends well in this kind of confrontation, when you run into a tough opponent you will have a pretty bad time. So … why don’t you run away? Sometimes this is also the best tactic.
With all this, I think I have made it very clear that I have enjoyed a lot. Watch Dogs Legion, and much of the blame is also on the city of London itself, which is a setting that is a joy to explore. Its streets are designed with great taste and wherever you look there are small details that denote the care with which Ubisoft has given life to this new open world. The great monuments of the capital of the United Kingdom, its streets, its buildings or even the design of the streetlights, with a sickly level of detail, makes you enjoy every step you take through the city, where of course you will find dozens of pedestrians making their own lives. Homeless people are begging for money, street musicians performing before an audience that reacts to their music; there are police checkpoints where you see people calling for help, and depending on the area you are moving through, you will see very different styles of clothing.
it is amazing the amount and variety of voices that have been used to give life to the Londoners. Already in our impressions of E3 2019, we highlight the titanic work that Ubisoft had done, and after playing it, we can only praise this sound work, which is accompanied by a varied and good repertoire of licensed songs for cars, and many others ideal for threatening action. I do not want to end this text without talking about the new generation … or rather, call on you that later we will carry out a specific analysis of Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. At this point, Ubisoft confirmed that we will be able to transfer our PS4 and Xbox One games to the new generation, platforms where the game will be updated for free, so those worried about starting the game now and not being able to continue later can breathe easy.
Touring the streets of London in Watch Dogs Legion has been the most fun experience, with lots of action, good stealth, lots of secrets to discover and the feeling of being in front of a large open world that makes the most of its design, so you can watch Wherever you look, there is always something fun to do, no tedious journey to take. The pity is that the objectives, in general, are always the same, and although the variety is provided by you with your ingenuity and creativity, it would have been great to have more elaborate missions that put our agents to the limit. For them, there are also good words, because although they do not have the charisma of a protagonist to use, their subtle differences contribute to give more joy and variety to the action of Watch Dogs.
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+ The city of London, which is a contained open world, very beautiful, with a lot to do without stress
+ The design of the maps is spectacular, with multiple alternatives to solve each one of its missions
+ To be able to recruit any citizen and notice their subtle but sometimes very important differences
– A greater variety is needed in the objectives it proposes
– Driving is still the weakest part of the Watch Dogs experience
– It could have gotten more out of its villains
Genre: open-world action-adventure
Release date: October 29, 2020