Watch Dogs, the third: After the open world series about the happy hacker life sent us to Chicago and San Francisco in the first two games, Watch Dogs Legion is off to the old continent, more precisely to London . In the near future, a malicious militia called Albion has made itself a little too comfortable there: On behalf of the corrupt government, it has transformed the British capital into a surveillance state, including direct access to the quasi-omniscient operating system ctOS, which was already used in its predecessors for chaos has taken care of.
The main target of Albion: We, in the form of the hacker group DedSec! We have been charged with a devastating attack that made Albion's takeover in the first place possible. Now is the time to prove our innocence and put an end to the nasty machinations of the usurpers.
Source: PC Games
The indefinite "we", which we like to use as a salutation in our articles, was seldom more accurate than in the case of Watch Dogs: Legion (buy now € 58.19 ). Because there is actually not one hero in the adventure, as we were able to find out when we played again for hours. Instead, theoretically, every NPC in the game world can be convinced of our cause, so that they join us, regardless of whether they are a divorced father, grandmother playing bingo or hipster with poorly fitting pants.
How can you tell me you're lonely
Does this approach work? It is clear: We will not develop a strong emotional bond with our heroes in Watch Dogs: Legion. It does not tell the personal story of an individual, but rather those DedSecs as a collective. This is definitely brave, but not necessarily a loss in view of the protagonists from parts 1 and 2, who are not exactly sparkling with esprit. But you can still glorify the past a bit and the return of Aiden Pearce from the first Watch Dogs in the first post-launch DLC proclaim as great news. Oh well.
Source: PC Games
The effort put into this "Everyone is a Hero" feature is definitely obvious. At least so far we haven't noticed any massive cloned NPCs, so there is actually variance. The characters all look different, they have various activities and also sound different – on the one hand simply because of the numerous different speakers with different British accents, on the other hand because they work with voice distorters, as was explained to us when we first played at E3 2019.
There are also clear differences in terms of skills, and thanks to the massive postponement of the title from the beginning of 2020 to the end of the year, these have now been made even clearer. Depending on age and origin, our figures are more athletic or less agile, have different running speeds, climbing talents and other skills and limitations. In the case of seniors, it can even be that at some point they simply drop dead without any action on our part because old age has carried them away – macabre, but interesting! If one of our characters crosses the virtual Jordan, we access another from our selection until our first choice can be used again after a certain period of time. Alternatively, there is also a permadeath mode, so you just have to accept the loss of your NPC.
Source: PC Games
We see the various characteristics of the proto-heroes when we access the characters' bio with a smartphone hack at the push of a button. There are also other differences, for example in terms of the weapons available. Pacifist NPC natures use the taser pistol, if you have no scruples, you can also start with the shotgun.
In addition, there are perks that everyone has access to, unlockable via the corresponding points collected in the world and in missions. Then we get the opportunity to make ourselves invisible for a short time, to summon small, controllable auxiliary drones, to throw grenades or to activate other technical helpers.
Source: PC Games
How do we convince the NPCs to join our cause? Once we have decided on a new addition, we have to complete a small mission for him. Depending on how positive or negative the chosen one is towards us, these tasks are more complex or easier. Then a target person has to be switched off, we have to steal an object or otherwise act to help.
At least when playing these missions were not repeated. However, logic dictates that there cannot be an infinite number of types of missions. We are curious to see if and if so, when the innovative hero mechanics will turn negative and start to get on your nerves because you have to do the same thing over and over again.
Let me take you by the Handy …
Source: PC Games
How does Watch Dogs Legion play? Now that this is a Ubisoft open world game, it definitely cannot be denied. So we move through the city, rattle icons, do missions, collect stuff and take areas for DedSec. Often the tasks come down to the fact that we have to break into areas somewhere. What the adventure works well and what sets it apart from many other genre competitors is the very open approach in these moments: That means: There is not always much variety in terms of the missions, but they seldom feel the same.
So it is up to us whether we just want to run into it with a gun in hand and shoot. Then we have half of London hanging on the cheek within a very short time and make our life quite difficult, but it is possible. Or we go undetected, knock out enemies or just avoid them.
Source: PC Games
The high number of variants is achieved on the one hand by the gadgets we carry with us, on the other hand by the fact that we can hack countless objects. The system has been properly expanded since the first Watch Dogs and allows us to do simple things such as driving up obstacles and steering cars, but also manipulating enemy headsets and of course looking through the eyes of the countless security cameras in the city. In the first Watch Dogs it was almost a game in the game to use cameras to get a digital route to a destination, and that still applies in Legion, of course.
In short: Hacking is a great feature and clearly enriches the gameplay. Another plus is that it is really very easy to do. Very few features require more than two or three buttons, and maneuvering yourself across the Thames on the back of a huge drone is definitely stylish.
… and hack you through the streets of London
We have already hinted at it: Aside from hacking and the freedom that comes with approaching missions not only, but also through it, Legion has so far looked like a pretty safe bank. The NPC feature is very exciting, but doesn't change anything about this fact.
That's not bad and the open world gameplay is fun. The cars steer themselves nicely arcade-heavy and smashing through the area with a red double-decker bus is of course fun. But you always have the feeling that you've played all of this before. Get drunk, play darts, equip yourself with new clothes – the mini-games and other activities also ensure déjà-vus.
London feeling in Corona times
Source: PC Games
It helps that the makers have once again outdone themselves when it comes to designing the game world. Ubisoft doesn't always manage to fill the open worlds with the most interesting stuff. But since the created places are always wonderfully designed, just exploring is a lot of fun. The virtual London is thus an impressive pavement full of different areas, understandably built, not too clean, wonderfully illuminated and impressively realistic. Walking between brick walls, hanging around the London Eye, admiring typical British architecture, all of this creates a lot of atmosphere.
Over the years, the Ubi worlds appeared more and more like not only pretty, but also lively places thanks to comprehensible NPC routines, and Watch Dogs has been at the forefront since its debut. The little background stories without exception of all characters give the virtual London an additional point of credibility.
The well-known streets and alleys
Source: PC Games
Conclusion: Watch Dogs Legion will probably not be a revolution for the open world genre, but in many ways it is walking on the well-trodden path. The fresh NPC feature and the tried and tested hacking distinguish it, however, and so friends of well-groomed rummaging will probably have a lot here that they enjoy.
Whether it is smart to launch Legion almost at the same time as the in-house open world competition Assassin's Creed Valhalla (November 10th) and Immortals: Fenyx Rising (December 3rd) remains to be seen. Despite the very different settings, there are of course a lot in common and not all players will have the desire or time to make three large open worlds their home game within a short time.
It is also questionable how aggressive the real money shop in Legion will be. We didn't have access to it in the demo, but we expect Ubi-typical skins, "time savers" and more.
After the games, we are definitely curious to see what else awaits us on the streets of London and of course the next-gen versions of the game, from which we do not expect technical marvels, but classic cross-gen food. In a few weeks we will of course take a close look at all of these points in our test.
Watch Dogs Legion will be released on October 29, 2020 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Implementations for PS5 and Xbox Series X will follow shortly after the respective console launches.
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For me at least so far the potentially most interesting part of the series
Before Corona pressed the switch, I was in London many times due to work and I learned to appreciate the city more and more. The great architecture, the different districts, simply the unique flair – I like it! When I set my virtual foot in the Watch Dogs Legion version of the metropolis for the second time after the original unveiling at E3 2019, I was very impressed by how well the atmosphere of the city is captured here. No question about it, Ubisofts can do open game worlds! I was also entertained playfully. The principle of being able to determine every NPC as a character seems to work and the differences between the potential protagonists seem to be big enough so far that the feature is not just a gimmick. I also like the fact that you can approach almost any task in different ways. In short: It looks very nice, that thing! We'll know in a few weeks whether this is still the case after many dozen hours of play.
Watch Dogs Legion in the preview: The final check before the test (1) (Source: PC Games)
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Games current 09/2020: Watch Dogs: Legion, AC: Valhalla
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