Watch Dogs Legion (PC, PS, Xbox)

Yes, my love/hate relationship with Ubisoft open world games continues. I actually enjoyed Watch Dogs 2. It had the fun, character and story that the first was missing. Legion doesn’t continue that upward trend.

Drone Hacking
Mini Drone Hacking

Legion is a fun sandbox. There are cool toys in there. It tries not to make a political statement but ends up making one. Movements need leaders to keep everyone on the same page, inspire the troops, and articulate their values. It turns out stories need the same.

Legion lets you recruit and then play most of the population of future London. If your operative gets captured or killed, you can continue on with another member of your team. That sounds great in theory, but it’s kind of a mess in action. Everyone is kind of generic and reduced to a collection of skills. Team members with the most and most useful skills are the ones you’re most likely to play. They also hurt more when you lose them.

Looking down on the little people

So, in a sense, it fails on two levels. The story isn’t as good or coherent without a strong point of view. You don’t actually gain much from trying to play anyone and everyone. So avoid at all costs, right? Not so fast.

It’s a good toy box. You have a large variety of tools and complex puzzles to use them in. The bad guys are a little too Snidely Whiplash, but they’re still fun to beat. I guess they’ve proven that the core mechanics are strong enough to make a good enough game. I have to wonder if their multiplayer hopes were the root of the problem. Everyone (including Rockstar) wants to make the next GTA Online. Clearly a game where you’re not tied to any one character would make that easier. However, nothing about the game or its mechanics made me want to take it online.

Lion Mask
Who can it be now?

The core gameplay loop is still fun. Sneaking around, getting the lay of the land by hacking cameras, maneuvering you mini drone to a key console without being spotted and ultimately shutting down enemy operations without any sign you were ever there remains thrilling. Little things like weapon feel and driving are tighter and more responsive. Direct combat is rarely your best option, but it’s nice that it works well when your plans fall apart.

Some of the story missions are a little too tightly scripted and take away from the fun of the try anything attitude of the rest of the game. Things can feel unfair when one of your best operatives is arrested/kidnapped while you’re using another agent. Thankfully, the game will automatically generate a new mission to rescue them.

Skills and gadgets

If you want to complete everything, many activities will get repetitive. Still, they’ve made London a visual treat. I wish I could say the same about the audio experience. The music is fine. The voice acting ranges from acceptable to awful. And there’s way too much awful. I realize there are limits when you have to potentially voice the entire city. However, there had to be a better balance than this. It’s a good thing that the best voice acting is the one in your ear most of the time, the AI Bagley.

Fire fight
That didn’t go as well as planned.

Overall, the game was fun enough but feels like a missed opportunity. There was a better game with this setting, these villains and fun gameplay. We just didn’t get it. Watch Dogs 2 fixed many of problems with the original game. I was hoping they’d continue the upward trajectory. As it was, it felt like a small step backwards. Recommended mainly for fans of the mechanics of the second game. There’s fun to be had here as long as you’re not expecting greatness.

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