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REVIEW: Watch Dogs: Legion — DedSec Society

 
 
Overview
 

Published by: Ubisoft
 
Developed by: Ubisoft Toronto
 
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows (Reviewed) PlayStation 4 Xbox One Stadia Xbox Series X/S PlayStation 5
 
Genre(s): Action-adventure, Open-world, Sandbox
 
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer(in future update)
 
FG RATING
80%
80/ 100


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

Raves


More Sandbox. Roguelike Elements. Beautiful near-future London.

Rants


Post-launch Multiplayer. Performance Issues. Character Progression.


0
Posted October 28, 2020 by

Though the original Watch Dogs didn’t exactly topple Grand Theft Auto as king of cityscape open-world sandboxes, its novel idea and relative success set the stage for a much better sequel in Watch Dogs 2. But as good as the second game was, Ubisoft knew it had to keep the franchise afloat by delivering something fresh in Watch Dogs: Legion. The question lies in whether it’s more than just a novelty.

STORY

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The story takes place after the events of the first two games set in a near-future London. Prior knowledge of past stories is not necessary, and the game does well to put you up to speed naturally as you progress through the first act. Though you initially play as one of the game’s fixed characters, there no single protagonist this time. Rather, you play as a member of hacktivist group DedSec, out for revenge after being framed for acts of terrorism.

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Throughout the story, you’ll come across several villainous characters, all of which utilizing advancements in technology to enable their evil deeds. These situations are very real possibilities of the dangers of a future that’s more connected and much of these concepts you’ve likely seen several times before in movies and shows like Black Mirror for instance. Nevertheless, they work and are engaging to say the least, and it’s interesting to see Ubisoft not go for the silent protag route and actually invested in VO to voice the many different characters you might be playing during any given cutscene.

GAMEPLAY

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As mentioned, you don’t play as a fixed protagonist this time like Aiden or Marcus from the first two games. You play as anyone you come across in the world that you recruit into DedSec. This is Legion’s biggest departure from the original formula. You can hack into any NPC you see in the game and inspect their abilities and weaknesses. From there, you can attempt to recruit them by running a mission. Succeed and they’ll join DedSec and become playable.

The idea is that each individual is different, and some might have advantages over certain situations and encourages you to recruit based on your wants and needs. For instance, some NPCs that are in construction usually come equipped with a wrench and are able to summon a cargo drone which is big enough to ride, allowing you reach areas you otherwise couldn’t with a different character.  Customization is also through the roof. Though you couldn’t change facial features or your character’s haircut, you can dress them up with a vast pool of custom apparel.

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In terms of character progression, there’s a collection of weapons, abilities, passives, and hacks that persist across any of your characters and are unlocked using Tech points found throughout the world or by completing missions. That said, the characters themselves do not level up and their abilities pretty much stay as they are when you found them.

I realize this is done to encourage you to keep hunting for them perfect recruits, but it could have been great if you could invest in a character you really liked, improve upon their abilities, or eliminate their weaknesses. In fact, there’s no real tradeoff with weaknesses and no real reason to recruit anyone with them.

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In terms of what you can do and what activities lie in wait, they’re all pretty much the same kinds from the last two games. The biggest difference is that this time they are less deliberate and more open, allowing you to tackle any area or level as you see fit. You could use an agent that excels at hacking and complete a level without even stepping foot inside the restricted area, or you could recruit someone who works for the people you’re trying to infiltrate and walk right through the front door hitman-style. You could even go full rainbow six on a level and just use someone with lots of guns and the ability to do combat roll. The open-ended level designs keep the game fresh from otherwise repetitive activities, which by the way, still ends up feeling repetitive sooner or later.

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Repetitiveness is a symptom even the best sandbox open-world games suffer from, however, this could have been vastly mitigated with multiplayer, a feature that won’t be available until sometime in December. Worth noting if this is what you’re looking forward to about the game the most.  Unfortunately, we can’t really say much about the multiplayer as we never got to try it.

VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

The game manages to create a London sandbox that still feels familiar but with believable near-future designs thrown in. The contrast between some of the more victorian structures in London meshed with neon, tech, and overall shiny stuff is a sight to behold. No question the world looks amazing, but the problem lies under the hood (at least for PC).

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We ran the game on a 2070 S rig but still suffered considerable drops especially in areas that are most dense. Weirdly enough, there were hardly any gains in framerate when dropping the settings anywhere below ultra. The game also supports Raytracing, but gains were very, very unnoticeable even on ultra making it not really worth sacrificing frames for. DLSS 2.0 also didn’t seem to improve performance much despite the drop in quality being quite obvious.

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This could be due to the nature of how each NPC’s are being simulated, but it might very well be just an optimization issue that could be patched out in the future. Oh, and the in-game radio is by far the worst I’ve ever experienced so far, save for the one song from Architects that managed to make it into the game. Too bad I couldn’t really pick which song plays.

VERDICT

Watch Dogs: Legion takes the franchise in a welcome direction for sure. It might have missed a few marks and struggles to break past being good to being great, but there are over 40 hours of open-world hacking fun to be had in a single player. Note that multiplayer does not come out until December and that there are performance issues even on 20 series cards. Watch Dogs Legion is now more sandbox now than ever before. If the first two titles have you wanting for more, this is a definite buy. Newcomers will have lots to discover and have fun with, too. 


Dian Raval

 
Dian is a writer for Flipgeeks who, in his spare time, stares at a wall in his basement. If you'd like to discuss music, video games, or the infinite wisdom of concrete, follow him on twitter @iburnandfume or subscribe to his YouTube channel @iburnandfume. He's pretty much iburnandfume in everything. Apparently he... burns and fumes.


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