STAFF REVIEW of Watch Dogs: Legion (Xbox One)


Wednesday, November 4, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Watch Dogs: Legion Box art I was a big fan of the original Watch Dogs when it released back in 2014. There was something so cool about being able to hack nearly anything and everyone with just a press of your phone. It laid the groundwork for its gameplay and sequel, and now we have the third in the series, Watch Dogs: Legion. With a new sequel comes a new gimmick, though I hate to label it that, as it’s actually quite game changing; allowing you to recruit and play as basically any NPC you come across in the game, from the homeless, beekeepers, grandmothers, adult film stars, street performers to your average person. I initially didn’t think this feature would be as big of a deal as it turned out to be, but I can admit when I was wrong, as it really impresses and changed how I thought about basic NPC’s and their virtual lives.

We first met the hacktivist group DedSec in the original Watch Dogs, set on fighting injustice and corporations like Blume that clearly have nefarious roots and schemes. DedSec operates all over the globe, and the setting for Legion is in good old London, abeit in the slight future where autonomous cars and drones are commonplace. Albion has taken over nearly every facet of the city after a massive bombing that left London in pieces that DedSec wrongfully has been blamed for. Not only has DedSec now hated by the public, but they’ve all but been exterminated or away in hiding for fear of being found.

You won’t stand for this though, and after choosing your first recruit, you aim to not only build DedSec back up to its former glory, but to take down those responsible for framing you as well. Doing so will be much easier said than done. You’re just one person though, so you’re going to have a long road ahead of you, attempting to recruit more to the cause and taking the fight to Albion and any others involved. Albion is a private security company that has taken over policing, has state of the art tech, drones, and is watching every one of London’s citizens, as well as searching for your group.


It would be too easy to simply blame Albion though, and as your uncover more information and find out who’s behind the bigger picture, the narrative becomes quite interesting. You’ll have to not only deal with Albion around every corner, but Clan Kelley, Blume and a mysterious hacking group that seemingly knows everything about you, Zero Day. Nearly every corner unveils a new threat and there’s a rollercoaster of events and twists that occur that keep you guessing right until the credits roll. The writing is done very well and actually makes you hate each of the antagonists, though beware, some of the events and themes can get quite dark in nature.

Interestingly, there’s not a set protagonist. Yes, you the player are the ‘hero’ per-se, but because you can be and choose anyone you come across in London and recruit them to DedSec, there’s no one centralized and focused character you’re forced to be at any time. I wasn’t sure how this would work, but surprisingly, it blended into the narrative so seamlessly that I really didn’t notice. Yes, I played my favorite character every chance I could and viewed them as the ‘leader’, but your game will be completely different based on who and how you play. Also, if you’re new to the Watch Dogs series, you don’t necessarily have to have played the previous two to understand what’s going on or to enjoy it, though you’ll obviously get a little more out of it if you are a fan and have played the prior entries.

Legion's main new draw is the play as anyone gimmick, and it works. Literally anyone you see can be recruited for DedSec, though some will need some more coaxing if they aren’t a sympathizer. Each player is unique not only in their backstory and daily schedule, but could have unique abilities, weapons and vehicles as well. If you see someone you’d like to convert you can tag them as a potential recruit and they’ll give you a mission when they are able to join your team. These missions are usually quite basic, such as getting information for them or a fetch quest of some sort, but completing it will then bring them into your team as a playable character. There are some unique characters you can get from doing special missions as well, so always keep an eye out for special NPC’s. A construction worker for example can enter an off-limits construction site and have a less chance at being noticed. The same goes for an Albion security guard, as they can wander around special restricted areas and will be harder to be noticed.

If you really want to care about your team, there’s even a mode where you can toggle on permadeath. With this enabled, any team member that is injured or dies is gone forever. That’s right, all that time and effort you took to get them on your team is now for naught because of a careless mission or bad car crash. Permadeath really makes you take care about your team much more and are more careful with your actions. Should you find that one of your characters simply aren’t that useful anymore, you can also remove them from DedSec just as easily to make room for better characters.

Being that Watch Dogs is about hackers, naturally a bulk of its gameplay also centers around this as well. If you’ve played the previous games you’ll have an idea what to expect, as you’ll be hacking countless CCTV cameras, drones, arming traps, controlling spider-bots and more. Many areas are enemy territory, so if you step foot within these buildings you’ll be spotted and attacked. Naturally, the answer to this is to remotely hack into their camera system, tag your enemies, set up traps and even have your spider-bot do the dirty work for you with its silent takedowns, as long as you’re within range of course.

I initially wasn’t using my Spider-bot ability very much other than when needed to unlock doors remotely, but once I figured out I was able to takedown enemies easily with it, I barely step foot in dangerous areas until nearly every enemy is cleared out. You’re able to pick up certain collectibles and interact with most panels with your spider-bot, so it’s an easy way to do many objectives while you stay outside the building in safety.


Drones are another way to scout or clear out enemies as well. Some are your standard mobile cameras, but others like the riot or counter terrorist drones also have weaponry included as well. If you’ve spend enough tech points into these (which I’ll delve into shortly), you’ll not only be able to hack and take them over, but you can even simply set them to betray your enemies, doing much of the work for you.

Every so often there will also be puzzles you need to solve. While not inherently challenging, you’re simply trying to make the whole network flow from the beginning to the end by rotating pipes in certain sections. These begin out easy enough, but eventually the puzzles will wrap around buildings, pillars and even take place during a boss fight where enemies are constantly surrounding you as well. Some of these will need to be done with the surrounding cameras or your spider-bot and drones, adding another challenging layer.

As you complete missions and explore every inch of London, you’ll earn two types of currency: ETO and Tech Points. ETO is basically the bitcoin of the Watch Dogs realm, allowing you to earn or steal it in a variety of different ways. ETO can be used to purchase new cosmetic items from numerous stores around the city, ranging from outfits, jackets, shirts, pants, backpacks, shoes, hats, glasses and more. There’s plenty of different clothing to choose from, but it was annoying that each store had its own variety (which I know makes sense realistically), but I’m sure I didn’t notice a bunch of different clothing cause I’d bypass many storefronts.

The other, and more important currency, is Tech Points. You earn these by completing missions or finding them hidden throughout the city, usually in dangerous areas. These are how you purchase and upgrade new abilities and weapons. It’ll cost a certain amount to unlock a new ability, like being able to disable riot drones for a short time, but spend more points into its tier two and three abilities and you’ll also be able to turn it against your enemies as well, or be able to AR cloak yourself. The best part is that all your unlocked and upgraded abilities are shared across your whole team, so while individual characters don’t progress or level, you’re constantly making overall progress.


The mission variety was a welcome change as well. While most will have you infiltrating an off limits building to hack into a server or download some information, there are some unique missions that broke up the monotony. Some have you needing to use a spider-bot to get through vents to access rooms you aren’t able to, others have you tailing enemies, and one mission has you controlling a nano-bot, but it’s so cool that you can play each mission in a variety of different ways. I stayed true to the hacking methods by floating above the area I needed on a service drone and using my spider-bot, but another friend went in guns blazing instead. Both are completely viable.

For as much as I enjoyed Watch Dogs: Legion, it did have some issues that need to be addressed. First off, I’ve had numerous crashes, even post day-one patch; not a ton, but enough that I had to note it down and include it in this review. I also had the game turn my Xbox One X completely off and said it overheated (it didn’t) after dropping to single digit frames in a specific mission that you may have read elsewhere, oddly enough on a mission called 404. Visually everything looks fantastic, especially the London night life, and this is simply on an Xbox One X, so I’m excited to see the improvements on an Xbox Series X shortly. My only complaint is that the lip syncing can be quite off, to the point of being a distraction. The writing and voice acting is great, it just doesn’t always match what the mouth is doing.

While multiplayer hasn’t yet been implemented, it’s due to come out next month in early December, and from the sounds of Ubisoft’s promises, sounds like I might be making a return to London once it does as I want to experience some four player co-op and pvp in the Watch Dogs setting.

Watch Dogs: Legion really impressed me with its ‘recruit anyone’ mechanic. While I wasn’t initially sure what to make a the non-central main character, it really didn’t affect things as a whole expected it to. The city of London is visually impressive and I’m constantly deep scanning NPC’s I come across to see if they’d make a worthy DedSec member. If you’re a fan of the series, Legion improves many facets of its gameplay, has a great campaign with clever writing and had me wanting to hack the planet by the time the credits rolled, even if the odd crash here and there frustrated.




Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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