The appeal of high concept games is giving players a new type of experience A focal point of Watch Dogs: Legion is how it is designed around a living world of sorts, you can build your own team and do just about anything. Old lady hacker that defeats some young ruffians or punk girl looking to do some good, you’re free to make that call and tell your own adventure. Giving Watch Dogs this new look makes sense and is a welcome change to the series, but is it enough to get players interested in the world, or is it too ambitious for its own good?
Watch Dogs: Legion has a general story that is both interesting and lends itself to the concept. It begins with DedSec looking into a situation that turns out to be more deadly than anyone could’ve imagined. Following an explosion, DedSec is largely gone and you’re tasked with recruiting new agents, performing various tasks to complete missions, and figure out what exactly happened.
Given this is an open-world adventure, one with countless stories to tell, the allure is really the city itself. Right off the bat, players are introduced to a number of concepts, without a lot of explanations. Things like cameras can be hacked and used to your advantage, either to locate threats or dispatch problems. Later you can arm bombs, remotely hack displays for keys and other useful resources, there is a drone that can explore a variety of areas and it makes for an experience with a lot of possibilities.
Between solving a wide variety of rather basic, yet engaging, puzzles or hacking things to get a better grasp on situations, is combat. Often times it’s better to finish things with as much stealth as possible. Takedowns remove a lot of risks and make things a lot easier, though oftentimes you don’t even need to do that. Failing to do so will often result in a fistfight, one that is typically more engaging than you might think. Enemies will block most attacks, so you either need to make openings or dodge and punish. It takes some getting used to, but there are a lot of both visual and audible cues to make the timing rather easy. But, when all else fails, guns, traps, explosives, and more deadly weapons come into play.
Unlike a lot of games, Watch Dogs: Legion rewards tactics and accuracy. A good trap can eliminate most, if not all, upcoming enemies, just like headshots will typically immediately end their threat. Many situations were actually easier when I baited the AI and then finished it off, either through a quick shot or getting them out of cover for an easy takedown. This proved fun because it felt engaging, without hitting an extreme in terms of difficulty, a concept that extended to a lot of things in Watch Dogs: Legion.
Similar to Assassin’s Creed and a few more recent titles, players can set waypoints, get in a car and set it to autopilot. This is great for anyone who hates driving or simply wants to end up at the right location with minimal effort. However, it comes at a cost. Instead of being able to take shortcuts, disregard a wide variety of laws and just go there, the autopilot will stop for pedestrians, other vehicles, and follow the road exactly. Still, for some, that is better than actually driving.
Where Watch Dogs: Legion makes some strides forward, it also occasionally takes a step back. Hacking can be a bit cumbersome, as there are a lot of options and it often requires reading and understanding what exactly needs to be done. Yeah, hacking a camera to distract a guard so you can walk past them or knock them out is cool, it just isn’t practical when I can also just rush them and do the same thing. Sometimes it requires a few more buttons than you might think, only to do a puzzle that really only exists to make things seem slightly more engaging. It won’t last long, a lot of this stuff is common sense, there is just a groove you have to get into to make the most of it.
Thankfully, missions are fairly diverse, oftentimes requiring you to go to a specific spot and complete some kind of task. Sometimes it’s messing with things using a drone to open a door, other times it’s hacking a terminal and occasionally it will be stopping a group of people. With this being a player-driven story, it has a personal feel and often has multiple options for people looking to use impressive tactics or those who just want to go in guns a-blazing.
Perhaps the thing that stands out the most in Watch Dogs: Legion is how alive the world feels. Every location looks unique, there is a certain charm to a number of places, each ally has its own niche, benefits and disadvantages, and more. Even basic things, like costumes, have a plethora of options. Just going to a couple of shops I saw a wide variety of styles that allow you to make this world your own.
Watch Dogs: Legion Review – Verdict
In a lot of ways, Watch Dogs: Legion gets the open-world game just right. There are seemingly endless things to do, outfits to try on and people to help. Some modern features give players the opportunity to remove annoying aspects like driving, making it a bit more accessible. Toss in a wide variety of tactics and there is something for everyone. Outside of some cumbersome mechanics, confusing prompts, and needless options, there is little to dislike here. So, if you want an open-world game to hold you over until the next major release, I strongly suggest looking into Watch Dogs: Legion.
[Editor’s Note: Watch Dogs: Legion was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]