Watch Dogs Legion Xbox One X Review

Watch Dogs Legion is more of what the first game should've been and a step back from Watch Dogs 2

By Grayshadow, Posted 30 Oct 2020

Watch Dogs has had an interesting history. The first game was full of problematic stories involving a downgraded PC version and a game full of bland repetitive missions with poor rewards. The second game was a huge step forward in the right direction by offering a new diverse cast of characters, cleverly crafted missions, and a more engaging story as technology is used to control the populist in realistic ways such as tracking their health and daily lives. So where does that leave Watch Dogs Legion, right in the middle? Well, yea. The game's concept of recruiting London citizens off the street to fight against the tyrants who run the city sounds amazing until you get halfway and realize that the random collection of NPCs that make your team are just that, random NPCs. Instead, Watch Dogs Legion is more of what the first game should've been and a step back from Watch Dogs 2.

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Watch Dogs Legion places you in London during a time of rampant uncertainty and calamity. 4 powerful figures have the city and the citizens under their thumb, either using them for their own needs or pretending in their own warped reality that they're helping people. Each one uses their position of power through either wealth, connections, or intelligence to command this level of authority forcing those with the will to fight to rise up.

That's where you step in as an agent of DedSec's London branch. After the organization is blamed for a massive terrorist attack you take control of a random citizen who is charged with recruiting more members to London's resistance while also attempting to purge London of its tyrants. The primary antagonists within this adventure all have dedicated reasons for why they're doing this. Either for fear of something that is inevitable or a traumatic incident. I cannot say for spoilers what these are but the reasons behind their actions all have reasons to them and most of them are warped, leading to the events of Watch Dogs Legion.

The biggest Despots is the gang called the Kelleys led by a ruthless leader called Mary Kelley and the private military group Albion. Both control the citizens of London and anyone speaking up is taken away or executed, sometimes in broad daylight. Not everyone is willing to rise up due to a massive PR campaign along with the fear that prevents most citizens from fighting back. Only some have the will to fight and DedSec is leading the charge.

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As the random citizens of London, anyone can be recruited to the cause. Like previous Watch Dogs games you get a basic profile of the NPC but this time a collection of skills are also shown along with their opinion on DedSec. Depending on this will determine whether you can recruit the person and if possible you'll have to undertake a mission, or missions, to gain access to that person. Once done you can control them and use their skills to aid in the journey.

This sounds great on paper, recruit citizens based on their skills, and use those skills to help in missions only it's not necessary. More times I would just cycle between 2-3 operatives since most of their skills were shared between everyone and none of them really had a significant benefit. For example, the Cargo Drone can be used as a platform to fly through the skies and you can find these very easily so you can evade a lot of the fighting. Since anyone can hack these you don't need a construction worker to call one in. The game encourages you to use a variety of citizens but you don't need to. You can get a professional hitman with better weapons but the standard weapons available worked just as well.

Another example is sneaking into complexes using double agents. In one mission you're shown you can recruit members of Albion to better infiltrate their bases but the sneaking system is very poor. It works like Hitman where you cannot get too close without the enemy recognizing Agent 47 but in that case, he was a foreign element since the workforce would recognize that person never worked in that location. However, in Watch Dogs Legion you would expect people not to be suspicious of someone who does work for the organization you're sneaking into. Since this limits the player's moment, especially the first time you do this time of the mission, and the range of which these NPCs can see your part of DedSec despite you also still working for saying Albion it becomes an unnecessary hurdle.

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On a technical level, this is incredibly impressive. Every NPC is voiced and can trigger cutscenes, offering their own unique interaction depending on the voice acting playing the part. This doesn't mean scenes play out differently, they have the same context going in and out. Some missions do require specific NPCs but most of the time I already had them in what I needed in my Legion despite spending about 30 minutes recruiting.

While recruiting the best London has to offer is appealing, building your Legion and seeing them in the open world, they lack the personality that the previous Watch Dogs had. Marcus, Sitara, Josh, Horatio, Wrench, and even Aiden Pearce had reasons for their destructive hacking sprees that went beyond helping people. They had personal reasons for being on the path they were on and in Watch Dogs 2 saw as each of DedSec connected through missions and dialogue. While saving London is a great start it's just so basic, which is what a lot of custom characters in video games tend to fall into. Since all of these NPCs are just a random collection of assets they have no identity other than the most basic of things. They mostly just serve as tools for DedSec, which does make DedSec similar to the very organizations it's fighting against, but I never felt connected to any of my Operatives or them to one another. In the end, their purpose for saving London was just I recruited them and now they have to serve me. You can try to add some customization to them by purchasing clothes but for some reason, they will default to their original outfits when you're not controlling them. You never feel like you're part of a huge team, just a series of random Operatives.

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The open-world itself lacks a lot of colors compared to Watch Dogs 2's San Francisco. It's more like Chicago from the first game with a lot of mute colors. Getting around is pretty easy thanks to the array of cars available and Ubisoft has improved their fast travel system. Instead of having bases or towers to unlock fast travel points you just unlock them by traveling through the city. But Ubisoft's formula is still here with lots of optional tasks such as collecting Tech points littered throughout the area and completing repetitive optional tasks where you head into a restrictive location, do something, then get rewarded. Leading up to 1 final mission to take back the area.

The NPCs will walk around, sometimes get into trouble with Albion, and that's basically it. Compared to Watch Dogs 2's NPC variety in terms of interaction with the environment, it's lacking. You'll often see NPCs coming out of spawn points from their homes and just wander around. It's almost like you're in a simulation the way they move and act.

The world is patrolled by Albion, who are terrible at their jobs. I would often run people over and wreck the city during hectic objectives to little consequences. When Albion did chase me avoiding them was as simple as breaking line of sight and waiting. That or summon a Cargo Drone, fly up and disable the hostile drone.

Tech points serve as the game's universal leveling system. This access all operatives access to certain gadgets and weapons that can be swapped out when outside a restrictive area. You can equip 2 weapons and a gadget which is on a timer. These gadgets include EMP bombs, cloaking, or my personal favorite a custom Spider-Bot. Levels are designed with multiple avenues of entries allow for a lot of ways to approach an area but often staying outside the restrictive area, sending in your Spider-Bot, and finding the objective works. You can use the cameras to locate passkeys and find a way inside but since enemies cannot detect you outside the restrictive area you can use this disadvantage to your benefit to clear areas. That or fly above with the Cargo Drone and gather what you need. And you'll do this over and over again.

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Most of the game has you going to a restrictive area, find a way to the objective, usually solve a hacking puzzle, and then escape. This was the same problem the first game had but was complemented with repetitive areas with the same layout. While that is true for some of the areas in Watch Dogs Legion this game lacks the creativity of the second game. In Marcus adventures you were constantly hit with new areas to explore, distinct missions like stealing a prized car, and so much more. Here it's just more or less the same thing over and over as you go from one part of London to the next searching for keys and data. There's only 1 mission that tries to mix things up as you navigate a microchip but most of the missions repeat the same process. 

Hacking still serves as a key part of the gameplay. You'll hack your way to saving London but after the 3rd game, it's starting to lose its luster. It isn't much you haven't done in the previous games but controlling the various robotic spiders and drones is still fun to a degree. Third-person combat and sneaking are adequate, it's nothing special and serves its purpose. Weapons can feel a bit floaty compared to games like Gears of War and the NPCs are not too smart so crafty players can easily outsmart them. Since takedowns are always possible regardless of the enemy's rank or gear just sneaking up on them and taking them out works.

The game does have its fair share of issues, as expected with open-world games. During my first playthrough, prior to the October 29th patch, the game would crash every time I swapped Operatives and crashed during stream. NPCs were seen floating, I leaped dozens of feet, and a car got stuck mid-air. Even after the patch issues still lingered like texture pop-ins, character models clipping through their clothes, and drops in the frame rate especially during one of the final scenes.

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Like previous Ubisoft games, there are time savers and microtransactions. You can't purchase Tech Points for gameplay advantages but you can get money for cosmetic gear. With a lot array of options locked behind microtransactions that require fake currency to buy.

Watch Dogs Legion simply doesn't have the same level of comradery as the previous game. Since these are just accidental NPCs coming together with a collection of randomizing assets they never feel like a team. Rarely do they work together in large groups, help one another in missions, or build that personal connection that made every member within Watch Dogs 2's main team have that profound connection. As you head into the dozenth restrictive area full of enemies and complete another mission that brings you closer to ending London's nightmare you'll start into the repetitive cycle of things. The story does have some profound moments with the antagonists but these are fleeting. Watch Dogs Legion fell into the same holes that the first game suffered from and while small improvements to the open-world formula are here this latest adventure of DedSec doesn't have the same fire that the previous game lit.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Ubisoft
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Hacking
Release Date: 2020-10-29

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