We spent about four hours immersed in the people of London revolution. Watch Dogs: Legion is keeping its big promises for now.
Ubisoft Forward has allowed us to know the current situation of several of the French company’s works for the current fiscal year. Watch Dogs: Legion is in that range of projects that, due to circumstances, have taken a new turn. These extra months of work have served to point to new horizons and fulfill, of course, with his ambitious plan: to control all the characters that swarm the streets of London.
The company allowed us to spend almost four hours in this utopian version of the English city. Because all the roads leading to Dedsec leave a trail of social criticism that merges with real life circumstances. We find a vision of the brand that embraces infiltration even more, that does not blush to borrow the hallmarks that have made it a hit with the public.
Spread the word
Those who collect the witness of Marcus Holloway break with the tradition of the unique hero behind the mask. Since its reveal at last E3 2019, Watch Dogs: Legion has been characterized by putting on the table an attractive idea on paper but tremendously complex in execution. Being able to control any character on the stage offers both developers and players previously unexplored terrain.
The revolution takes to the streets of London.
We say unexplored by the circumstances in which it occurs. Already in the past he flirted with the idea of immersing yourself in any other entity on stage. We saw it, in fact, in Ubisoft Reflections itself with the sometimes forgotten Driver: San Francisco. In any case, the ambition that results in the title at hand takes even further what we have seen so far.
Your mobile remains the central axis of the experience. It is through him that we manage to acquire an alternative universe of possibilities at the push of a button. You go to a cafeteria, you take out your smartphone and everyone around you is potential assets for your cause. It turns what was previously an anecdote into a vital piece of information for our operations.
Your smartphone is key to revealing what we don’t see with the naked eye.
We refer to the basic data of people. Next to his name will appear his current occupation, what features define him and at what time of the day he is. Forget pointing at others to steal their savings: now knowing those around us is part of the chain of mechanics that lead us to the success of the mission.
The London we are in is not exactly the ideal international image of freedom of thought. You cannot go to others simply by telling them if they want to risk their lives for the greater good. Absolutely. In fact, depending on the personal situation, the recruitment will take us through several phases until accepting it as a member.
Urban art blends with classic London architecture.
Special asset icons that stand out above the average will be highlighted on the map. As we approached one of them, it turned out that we had run into a former Secret Service agent. Having it, as you can imagine, is a necessary advantage for the objectives we will face. But it is not based on signing a napkin: we must help her escape from a gang that ravages a suburb of the city. We do not know if they will be shown in the same way in the final version.
To get to the moment of releasing it, we had to infiltrate a ctOS server, find its location, destroy the group and try to flee the den in a chase on the edge of the road. Having risked our integrity was proof enough for him to fight with us for a better future.
It could be an Aston Martin driven by James Bond.
Having an asset with special characteristics gives us unique and non-transferable elements. As long as we control it we will have access to a spy watch that inhibits enemy weapons within its radius, a ballistic pistol with a silencer and the possibility of being able to claim a proper vehicle worthy of Daniel Craig in 007, including missiles under the hood.
But, as in any rebellion, success involves uniting people of all kinds to form a common front. Not all your recruits have to have pretensions; any anonymous face can light the wick. Surprisingly, Watch Dogs has become a sort of Sim Life. Every NPC in the world has a series of routines that it performs in various time zones. If we go back to the cafeteria that we discussed paragraphs ago, the drunk on the corner or the always willing waitress at the bar can become your next ally.
Any anonymous face can be your next asset on Dedsec.
In those flatter faces are several of the best moments of the demonstration. That reiterative drunk may have a story behind that defines him in front of the rest. Our experience with that man well advanced in years was unusual. It turned out to be a Serbian immigrant persecuted for immigration. His papers had expired, if he went to a police station he would be deported in a matter of hours. Well, after knowing who the official was after her case and finding her whereabouts, we were able to hack her government files to keep the good lord in the United Kingdom. What did we lose in return? The possibility of acquiring her services. Do you want to do a good deed and build muscle on the team? Go ahead, but know that you will lose the access that the official could offer you.
To pay for his visits to the pub, the Serb earns his wages as a bricklayer. A basic profession becomes an opportunity to consider during our journey through London. As we opened the piece, the studio wanted to exploit the possibilities of infiltration. Until now, two very marked styles of play were sold to us, between direct action or passing without being detected. In Watch Dogs: Legion a new aspect is added, being part of those whom we try to hunt down. To be able to reveal the truth from within as one more.
Uniforms allow you to blend in with areas of the same theme.
As a bricklayer, we can make use of the construction suit, an equippable uniform that will allow us to infiltrate construction areas. As long as you don’t pass by nearby workers, we can move freely through these areas without raising suspicion. Saving the distances, think of a light version of Hitman. There are several archetypes attached to the craft of the characters. Police, military, doctors … we do not know the exact number of uniforms, but in our first contact we saw several. Do you need to retrieve a report from a police station? Recruit a policeman and enter it like one more day in the office.
Drones are part of the gadgets at your disposal. Hack the largest ones and use them as an aerial platform.
The jump between characters is practically instantaneous. A small loading screen will bring the character we want to control to the point where we were, allowing the previous character to leave the area in real time. Of course, you must raise your recruitment strategy. There are limits on the number of assets that you can have at the same time, which converge at the Dedsec base.
London, world meeting point
During the couple of storyline missions we had access to, we didn’t miss the presence of a hero who takes the narrative weight. It does not matter the Dedsec agent that you control at the moment of advancing the plot. There are main characters that monitor the progress we make from a distance, they interact with us in the same way that they would with Marcus or Aiden. It does not show loss of quality in this sense, perhaps benefited by these extra months of work.
There are core characters that interact with your Dedsec agents naturally to progress the plot. There are no marked heroes.
The London situation of Watch Dogs: Legion is far from the tourist stamp that we all have in mind. Its inhabitants are practically in a state of siege, repressed by the forces of Albion, a militarized faction that joins forces with the British government to ensure peace on its streets. They are led by Nigel Cass, an unscrupulous leader who firmly believes that the end justifies the means. This situation is preceded by a terrorist attack of unknown origin; As always Dedsec is at the center of the target.
Our visit to it has allowed us to see a medium-sized city, a complete urban area, where interiors are used more if possible to offer the much-needed variety. If you are regulars of his version in real life, there are moments when we can be guided by our memories. It is not a one hundred percent faithful recreation, there are moments of reinterpretation at the service of level design, but the most famous enclaves are usually surrounded by their real surroundings. If you go to Picadilly Circus, you can go perfectly to the same building where the Bethesda UK offices are located, for example. There are many recognizable enclaves of this nature.
That familiarity we alluded to focuses primarily on the playable features recognizable from the first installment. We feel the same hedge-based third-person action, mixing the use of lethal (and non-lethal) weapons with creative gadgets and the ever-recurring hack. We find familiar situations, the same effective arcade driving. The main playable variants come from the hand of those who recruit, either for their skills or athletic form.
We move directly to the Los Angeles event. Everyone remembers that grandmother with limited movements. The behavior of the person is defined by age, something that we must take into account to design the strategy to follow. In general lines, the characters are weaker than what we were used to in the saga, which humanizes them. We don’t control movie heroes, but anyone, including you. When we are defeated, we will lose access to that agent temporarily or totally, depending on the attacks it has received.
London hides secondary activities beyond its streets.
Promises kept… for now
The evaluation of our passage through Watch Dogs: Legion is positive, of that there is no doubt. The great promises that flew over the game months ago have been fulfilled, and it does so in a way that pushes further the formula that is familiar to us all. You really feel part of Dedsec, of a band made up of anonymous people under the same flag. What we could not expect is that at times it would become a Sim Life. All faces have a past, a life that defines them within society. Routines, jobs, goals, objectives, fears … It works. It remains to be seen how it endures the passing of the hours.
Given the solution to carry out the event in which we participate, we cannot give a real assessment of the graphic and technical degree it shows, although we are promised that it will use Ray Tracing in the new generation of consoles. These hours in London confirm that beyond the familiarity of situations and mechanics, the title offers a completely different way to enjoy the open world with the Ubisoft label.