Watch Dogs: Legion Xbox Series X Review

December 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox Series X

Publisher: Ubisoft  Developer: Ubisoft Toronto  Genre: Action Adventure

Other console/handheld formats: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S

Players: 1  Age Rating: 18+

I can’t start a review of Watch Dogs: Legion without first tackling the most cringe-inducing aspect of the game – the spoken dialogue. When most outsiders think of Britain, they think cucumber sandwiches, cups of tea, crumpets, and that everyone speaks eloquently, like Helen Mirren or Judi Dench. That’s not entirely the case – there are people in the UK who do speak in the heavy Cockney accent largely portrayed in Legion, but for the characters actually doing the talking in game, it doesn’t suit them at all, and feels forced. A lot of the characters look as though they are in their late 30’s, yet sound like youthful, urban 20 year olds, and it is incredibly cringe-worthy. It’s yet another example of a game trying to appeal towards a particular demographic, and failing.

The London environment is also a bit of a sore point with me. While graphically it looks great, it doesn’t seem the same effort has been put into smaller details, such as shop names, and the fact there are a multitude of buses all heading to the “City Centre”. Do the developer’s believe the UK consists of one city? And considering there are smaller regions of London on the map, why do all the buses say “City Centre”? They could have said “Camden” or “Tower Hamlets”, but no, all buses are heading to the city centre. It’s a minor annoyance, yes, but it makes the city feel less realistic (and with my partner having just played Spider Man: Miles Morales, it seems it’s not the only game to neglect minor details that isn’t fan service). Why couldn’t there also have been more plays on companies that actually exist? Okay, there are some, such as Parcel Fox potentially being a pun on Parcel Force, but Parcel FOX? It’s very unimaginative. It wouldn’t have took much to look at a thesaurus to find alternative definitions of “force”.

Aside from this, there’s still a lot to like about Watch Dogs: Legion. It’s overall enjoyable to play, and I liked driving around the city – or better yet, riding around on top of a construction drone over the skyline – and admiring the futuristic vision of London, as bleak as it is. Holograms light up the night, and vehicle designs look sleek. It feels like a Watch Dogs game and plays like one.

Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the first games to use ray tracing on the next generation consoles. Road reflections look lovely, as do all the reflections in the shiny near-future buildings.

Dedsec are going up against several evil foes here, including Albion (a corrupt military police force), Zero Day (who frame Dedsec for a number of bombings that take place around London), and Clan Kelley (who use the darkweb for illegal transactions such as human trafficking), amongst others. Your job is to basically break into these criminal gangs’ hideouts and stop their corrupt goings-on.

You do this by using a plethora of hacking equipment, your mobile phone being your main weapon of choice. You can hack cameras, ctOS hubs, cash machines, drones and turrets, vehicles, computers – you can do everything with your phone except use it to make calls or send texts. Strangely you can’t hack traffic lights this time around, but that’s no big loss. Of all the equipment you’re given, you’ll likely make most use of the Spiderbot, which you can use to scope out areas before you enter them yourself (if needs be). You’ll also make use of some basic guns, such as a non-lethal pistol, shotgun, machine gun and even a grenade launcher, but they are last resorts. Each character (yes, there’s a huge selection this time around) comes with their own customisable loadout, and can take in numerous gadgets, such as drones and even a cloaking device. From your map, you can see highlighted red areas which indicate they are restricted, and it’s in these locations that missions take place.

Stealth is very much encouraged; if you raise the alarm you can expect things to get rather heated. Enemy drones will seek you out and won’t leave until you either take them out (resulting in them attacking you), disable them (and hide), or leave the area and allow things to cool down. Human enemies will also seek you out and may even challenge you to a fight. If I remember correctly, there was some melee fighting in the previous games, but here fighting has been given more depth, with characters taking on a fighting stance as they face off one-on-one (or you vs however many come to help their comrade). You can punch, dodge, block and unblock your opponents moves, and there’s some slick animations if you time your moves correctly. The only issue is if things get too heated and you are in fighting mode, it can be a bit fiddly to get out of, likely resulting in an arrest, and the need to switch to another team mate.

A major change in Legion is that this time you can literally recruit almost anyone with the introduction of permadeath. While the game has a few main characters, such as Bagley, an AI that helps Dedsec, and Sabine, the leader of Dedsec in the UK, mostly the characters you play as are random people recruited from off the streets. Think of the ZombiU game for WiiU, in which you play as a character, but if they die, they permanently die and you need to switch to someone else. The same premise is here in Legion, except you have the option of turning permadeath on or off. I played with it off, and the only issue is that doing this doesn’t encourage you to play as a multitude of people, only a select few. As many as 45 people can be recruited, and there are characters with special abilities, such as a disguise they can use to infiltrate certain restricted areas unnoticed, à la Hitman. You can recruit lawyers (called solicitors in the UK!), judges, paramedics, landlords and more, and all lend their specialist help in some way.

Feel like James Bond by using a rocket-firing car. You can hire spies and other characters with special abilities.

The only issue with recruiting so many people is detachment from the characters, especially with permadeath turned on. This means every character is disposable, and unless you have a certain group of characters that you use for a long period of time (like I did), it’s difficult to get attached to any, and there’s no true team dynamic either. I kind of missed having a main lead character that you play as throughout. I understand that recruiting random people is all part of the game’s theme of revolution and rising up against oppressors, but I missed having a main character whose story arc, and journey, you follow. Plus it’s a bit silly when you can play as an elderly person taking on a multitude of armed military personnel and only being able to slowly jog away from the fight, and also means that all characters that inhabit London are hacking experts? You’ll definitely need to suspend your disbelief a bit.

As well as main missions, side missions and recruitment missions, you can also take on opportunities, which all helps to liberate the various London boroughs. You can disrupt local propaganda broadcasts, neutralize VIPs, photograph or collect evidence, rescue a captured fellow freedom fighter, and more. You can even enter some fighting tournaments if you wish, and can recruit some hardened fighters if you win.

The autosave bug that plagued the game has finally been sorted out in a recent update, and Legion can now be played without any save issues. The biggest flaw of the game now is definitely not having a main character – there’s a certain disconnect present that makes the game feel like it is missing something. Each character you recruit is forgettable – I can’t even remember the names of any of the characters I currently have on my team. None have their own personality traits – the main enemies have more character. This is because the main character here is Dedsec itself, but as mentioned, the team dynamic is missing. Watch Dogs: Legion, whilst certainly not the best in the series, still has everything that we have come to expect from a Watch Dogs game, which is definitely fine by me.