Watch Dogs: Legion Review (Xbox One X/Xbox Series X)
- Score - 8.3/108.3/10
An ambitious undertaking.
Release Date: Oct. 29th, 2020
Reviewed on: Xbox One X and Xbox Series X
Available on: Xbox S/X/Series S/Series X, Playstation 4 and 5, PC
Imagine your world turned upside down, not just by armed forces, but a mysterious behind-the-scenes entity that will do everything in its power to frame you and your ideals for all the wrongs in your society. Your organization is in shambles and little hope is left. But what if you could rebuild? What if you could find the strength to reassemble with literally anyone of your choosing and take on the thread head-on? The premise is lofty, yet Ubisoft found a way to make it a reality in Watch Dogs: Legion. Unfortunately, their lofty goals are thwarted by a lack of memorable protagonists and buggy open-world mechanics.
If you recall from the previous games, DedSec is a vigilante organization that uses hacking to make the world a better place in their eyes. As mentioned before, DedSec was framed for a devastating terrorist attack. The organization is essentially on its last breath as armored forces maintain strict law and order, hunting down any and all DedSec members. After the start of the game, you get a group of characters that you can choose to start your game with. And don’t worry, if none of the generated characters float your boat, then the recruiting mechanics will fix that in a jiffy.
You see, the name of the game to enlist anyone with the skills that you need to bring DedSec back to power and fight the oppressive forces in London. Using your phone, you can essentially scan anyone walking the streets of London and see their skill levels. From this point, you will have recruitment missions to complete in order to win their loyalty. Missions vary in size, but you typically do the same type of hacking/stealth missions to bring them to DedSec.
Once that’s done, you have the option to switch to any of your members throughout the game. It’s easy to pick a particular skill set for each mission. The problem is caring about the character. There is some backstory to every recruit, but the lack of depth and world-building prevents you from caring too much. Everyone easily becomes expendable, especially if you can just recruit anyone you wish to take their place.
Part of this problem stems from the mechanic itself. Ubisoft should be commended for creating this unique mechanic in the game. And yet, it’s next to impossible to write meaningful conversations and backstory to make you care about the character. Plus, the things your characters say can be a little grinding on your ears. It feels like the writing team stuck to using too many stereotypical British phrases, almost making it hard to believe anyone would talk this way.
Some of the background characters are fun to root for, like the DedSec A.I called Bagley. And yet, he comes across as a little too silly due to his smart-alec phrases and slang that he uses. Again, I want to emphasize how cool the recruiting mechanic is. But the sacrifices that come with the mechanic are very noticeable.
I think there could have been a better way to utilize this mechanic and make the characters more memorable. Perhaps having a narrower focus on who you could recruit would have given the writers a better opportunity to flesh out each character and make us care about them. Perhaps Legion could have taken an Ocean’s 11 approach, where you recruit specific people, keep the team to a small group, then have the chance to interchange between a smaller group of people. I would love to see the development team refine this concept if another game is made.
Control-wise, Legion plays pretty well. The controls are fairly easy to master. Shooting and stealth mechanics are pretty much on par with other Ubisoft games that you might have played. The driving mechanics are a little touch, in that it doesn’t take a lot of pressure on the joystick to send your car flying into pedestrians or buildings.
The game does a pretty good job preparing you for missions and helping you choose the right character for the job. If you use characters with the wrong skill set, then the A.I. becomes exponentially harder. So recruiting and picking which character to play is very important, especially if you use the permadeath option in the game. In permadeath, you could potentially lose a character with unique skills, so be very careful with how you plan and execute missions.
Much like the recruiting mechanic, there are pros and cons to having an open world London. The pros, obviously, are how full of life the streets are. London is a busy metropolis, and kudos should be given to the team for bringing so much life to the world. Of course, there are bugs that come with open-world games like NPCs behaving oddly, characters colliding and being stuck to inanimate objects. Eventually, these bugs will get worked out, so just give it some time.
Legion was one of my first games I ever played on the Xbox Series X. And let me tell you, the visual and technical upgrades that you get for playing on the Series X cannot be denied. The load times are cut practically in half on the Series X. The console is so much quieter than when I played Legion on the Xbox One X.
And the graphics are such an improvement. If you are unsure if ray tracing is necessary, just play this game on the Series X. The reflections are so noticeable that I can’t even fathom playing a game that doesn’t feature it.
There are a lot of things to like and dislike about Watch Dogs: Legion. If anything, the development team should be applauded for being ambitious and giving us the ability to recruit anyone in the game. With that mechanic comes the downside of not having a main protagonist or two that you can really cling to and care about. The open world is stunning on the Xbox Series X, and there is a lot of fun chaos that can be had in the open world. Part of me wishes Legion could have been released in Spring 2021.
Not only to give the team more time to develop their ideas but to keep it away from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which launched a few weeks after Legion. Either way, Watch Dogs: Legion isn’t the home run like we wanted, but there are enough enjoyable moments to warrant a recommendation from me.
“Editors note, the patch released on 11/26 improves many serious bugs, including the lack of a game save option. Score has been raised accordingly.”
Note: A review code was provided by the publisher.