Watch Dogs Legion, review of Ubisoft's third high-tech stealth

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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Watch Dogs is a very interesting series but which has not yet managed to find a square. Ubisoft tries to make the coup by entrusting the role of producer of this third game to that crazy Clint Hocking, or the man behind the most extreme ideas of the controversial but beloved Far Cry 2. Let's find out how it went with ours Watch Dogs Legion review!

In 2014, Ubisoft invents Watch Dogs, an action-drama set in modern times that immediately attracts the interest of the public thanks to a very special trailer. Things change when the adventure finally debuts in stores and is inundated with criticism, beaten by the public because it does not respect what was shown in the previews, at least from a graphic point of view. Despite the technical slip, to play Watch Dogs is not so bad, and in the plot he dwells on all the fears, then nascent, of an omnipresent technology increasingly devoted to the control of the masses. The fascination of being grappling with that Assassin's Creed finally set in the present day that we have never had remains intact: after all, Aiden Pearce is a bit like that Desmond kidnapped by Abstergo from whom, in the storyline that sees opposing assassins and Templars, he never managed to escape. Watch Dogs is ultimately, and despite everything, a good starting point that Ubisoft decides to raze with Watch Dogs 2.



All the colors of stealth

The sequel no longer has that melancholy tone that gave life to the progenitor, it is on the contrary crazy, colorful, and seems to be written by Skrillex and another handful of DJs too young to die and too cool for this shit. The cast is unbearable, for the younger ones who sense its lack of spontaneity and for the older players, orphans of that emotional depth that had brought them closer to the first Watch Dogs. And it's a huge shame, because from a gameplay point of view, the steps forward are enormous. Watch Dogs 2 is once again a hacking-based stealth, where much more freedom is granted in tackling the main missions, here built to offer a more complex experience than in the first game.



In short, Watch Dogs 2 takes a clear step back from the point of view of characterization, and a clear step forward in game design which, considering everything, however, is not enough to turn it into a clear success, both from critics and from the public. With Watch Dogs Legion, Ubisoft changes the cards again, this time by reconstructing the good things done in the second chapter around an idea that we can consider extraordinary: the possibility of interpreting about nine million different characters. Has the moment of consecration arrived for the series? Not entirely, but the step is undoubtedly in the right direction.

Which character to start with?

Watch Dogs Legion is a fun product, it's right to be clear about this right away. In the 40 hours of play switching between main activities and most, but not all, secondary activities, there has not been a time when we have felt the weight of repetition. The problem is not in the general vision, actually winning, but in an execution that turns out to be rather erratic, insecure very soon. Here, every beginning is different: once the introduction is over, the game will give us the opportunity to choose who to start with among fifteen different characters for each new game. Depending on thepurchased game edition, we will also be provided with predetermined agents with above average characteristics, for a nice extra but which you can still do without (indeed it is better to start almost from scratch, if you want a personal opinion). After a couple of more introductory missions, we can start recruiting new agents to flesh out the ranks of our group of computer revolutionaries.



Convince and enlist

There are about nine million potentials in Watch Dogs Legion playable characters: they are the inhabitants of London, and many of these are men and women with rather common or even non-existent characteristics, but among the citizens who populate the English metropolis you will also find characters much more interesting if not out of the ordinary. Enlistment is more or less easy depending on the opinion that the objective will have of the collective DedSec of which we will be part.

Before agreeing to join our group, a villager with a neutral opinion will usually ask to carry out a mission for him; a willing one could agree to be part of the revolution without further requests; those who do not love us will have to be encouraged by intervening in their daily routine, which will only be accessed after having unlocked a particular skill. You will also find those who hate DedSec to the point of rejecting any attempt at enlistment.

Memories and relatives

The system is truly surprising, done very well, especially because the procedural formula that creates the inhabitants gives life to lives that are always very credible that include jobs, hobbies and in many cases even family members who can be found around the city. A character could hate us because during our raids we hit a brother or a parent, or love us because we previously helped him while the militias of the Albion they were bothering him.



In motion there is therefore a system that will change the feedback of the city also based on how we will behave, deliberately or without initially realizing it. And as we go along these different connections between characters will be more and more visible thanks to indicators designed to show us, for example, that the woman in front of us is the wife of one of the inhabitants that we have already included in the list of possible candidates. The different characters can rely on certain special skills, passive and active, and on a form and a physical preparation that will make them more or less agile, and that will give them different sets of moves. Of course there is a good dose of repetitiveness in circulation, a limit that is also useful since it will give us the opportunity to find, if necessary, an archetype that we particularly liked.

Permadeath

Watch Dogs Legion also allows you to play with permadeath, a mode that involves the permanent death of a character. We know that for many this particular option may sound unacceptable, but we assure you that playing this way makes the experience much more exciting. Knowing that things can go extremely badly, pushes the player to think about every action, planning the escape routes in advance and choosing the best member to be sent to the fray.

Of course, if and when you lose a beloved character you will feel angry and sad as never before, but an action game must be able to convey different emotions from the usual and obvious excessive power of the protagonist. Even without active permadeath, some characters have gods along with bonuses malus which include an irreversible death, perhaps because they are sick, or devoted to a dissolute life; among these negative sides there are also effects that lengthen the hospital stay in case of serious injuries, or chronic hiccups that will make the stealth approach more difficult, if not impossible. And then there are the elderly, which make you laugh with their indecisive movements, the creaking attempts to escape, the sterility in hand-to-hand combat: a practically useless category except to have a laugh. Equally fun, but much more interesting characters like the living statue, who in his silver suit can freeze to escape from the enemies who are looking for him, and attract other people who in some cases will even offer him some money. In the course of our game we also got hold of one hitman able to instantly kill with a melee shot while holding a firearm: in combat the result is similar to John Wick's style, with holds that render enemies harmless and two final hits of Parabellum to knock them out forever.

Development aftermath

Le variants of the characters, although not infinite, they are still more than enough: there are boxers, drone experts, spies with watches able to disable the firearms of nearby enemies who drive cars equipped with missile launchers, drivers who at the wheel reduce the research level more quickly, lawyers who instantly free the imprisoned comrades, mahio who hypnotize the enemies, mimes who naturally camouflage themselves and so on. If there is ever a new chapter in the series, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, it is precisely this feature of Watch Dogs Legion that we must focus on again, perfecting it further. At the moment, however, there is a big, very big balancing problem: by collecting the technology points that we will find scattered in the most dangerous areas of the map, it will be possible to unlock various things, including skills that in many cases will overlap with those of our characters.

It's nice to initially use someone good with drones in missions where this type of threat is a constant, but if the same or almost the same skills can be unlocked for all the characters we have, that particular DedSec agent that we have tracked down, convinced and which we are also fond of, will end up being much less useful and interesting. In the first interviews, there was also talk of the possibility of increasing the level of agents along the way, a feature that does not seem to be present in the full game. The feeling is that the game has changed over and over again during development, and some of the more traumatic mutations have left aftermath that have made certain parts of the gameplay redundant or inconclusive.

Plots and conspiracies

A great pity, especially in the light of one film script very interesting, although it is a waste to have cornered the issue of privacy to leave room for a strong conspiracy footprint: there are also chips under the skin that cook you remotely like those that for some would activate Bill Gates through 5G. But this is not a bad story, on the contrary, this futuristic London after Brexit is a perfect backdrop for the plot that the writers of Ubisoft have put together.

The scenario of Watch Dogs Legion foresees the presence of several groups in addition to DedSec: there are the Zero Day who detonated several bombs in the metropolis making the blame fall on us, there is the Kelley Clan run by the criminal Mary Kelley whose role is initially not well known, a circle of assassins called 404 led by the enigmatic hacker Nowt and many other factions and characters, along with their plots, which we leave you the pleasure of discovering for yourself. The good work done in drafting the narrative plot, however, clashes with a decidedly poor writing, where each line of text seems to close with a ridiculous and very unrealistic swear word. This aspect becomes even less fun when interacting are the different members of the DedSec group, dramatically unable to avoid a "dick" every three by two. Moreover, having to give voice to thousands of possible characters, the general quality of the same is very low, both in the Spanish version and in the original one.

Compact and creative gameplay

Built on the more than good foundation laid with Watch Dogs 2, Watch Dogs Legion's gameplay fares pretty well, but even then there's a bit of flattening in favor of three virtually ubiquitous solutions: the use of drones. from cargo to fly over the chosen place, the abuse of the so-called spider-bot to hack all those stations that it will not be possible to use remotely and the search for cameras that allow us to interact with the scenario in order to pave our next and effective intrusion. From this point of view, although in the main missions Legion hides more than one surprise, Watch Dogs 2 offered much more varied solutions and more interesting challenges.

in secondary activities, Watch Dogs Legion instead has a rather schematic approach: each district of London offers three different missions which, once completed, will give access to one last decisive demonstration action. Each freed district gives access to different bonuses and to a new operator with a particular character. As anticipated, despite its limitations, Watch Dogs Legion is always a lot of fun, after all, how can it not be a game that always leaves you so much freedom in choosing the best approach? Furthermore, for once Ubisoft has given up the usual gigantism of its latest titles to offer a more compact and much better organized gaming area and experience. Yes, there are dozens of documents, masks and other amenities to be found and collected, but nothing over the top and defying the player simply by looking at the map, as has often been the case in the past.

Spiders, drones, cars and motorbikes

In action you shoot quite well, while stealth is set up by those who know the genre thoroughly, and it shows. Those who care particularly, will be happy to know that although it is not possible to move the body of landed enemies, to prevent sighting we can use a particular cloaking technology that will make them disappear from the sight of their companions and other security systems. The spider-bot, this particular electronic and remote-controlled spider, is particularly fun to use and will be the protagonist of some very successful platform phases.

The system parkour it's good but a few more animation would certainly have made it more satisfying. As for the driving of vehicles, the system closely resembles that of the second Watch Dogs, slightly modified to better adapt it to the narrow streets of the English capital. But how the bikes fold remains unbearable, today as yesterday. The use of drones instead it is a joy, and the maneuverability will depend on their type; drones can be used to take photos remotely, to explore particular areas and in the case of those transporters, larger than the others, also to load and unload loads in order to open roads, bomb enemies and climbing on them even make us flutter around for the city.

Straight to the point

Di minigames, an element usually characterizing in the open world, there are very few and of dubious quality: we will be able to dribble with the soccer balls that we will find around in a sort of increasingly difficult quick time event, have fun with darts in the pubs where we can also drink beer to role-play and activate special power-ups for some characters, or raise money by transporting DedSec packages around town. Then there is the clandestine boxing, which highlights a simple hand-to-hand combat system that is perfectly functional to the game. Also in this case, Ubisoft's will is clearly to "dry" the product in order to direct players towards what really matters, a choice that we feel we can fully support.

Mind the hack

La London instead of Watch Dogs Legion deserves only applause. The reconstruction is almost perfect in scale, very good in the feeling typical of the metropolis, while also offering several interiors of extreme quality, something that Ubisoft has already shown to be able to manage very well in the last The Division 2. Fortunately there is no typical London traffic, otherwise the vehicles would be impossible to use, but there is not even the underground subway, here only with its entrances on the road and usable for an anonymous but useful fast travel. The fact that the trains are missing is a shame, since I was a very important aspect in the first game, and above all because they are seen in some parts of the city but they are all sadly stopped in place. The NPC that populate the city, also representing the most successful gameplay dynamics, make the scenario more vivid than ever, with precise roles and a logical, credible positioning. We also liked the physics that will come into play when we collide with telephone booths and the other elements scattered around: nothing incredible is clear, but still superior to what we expected.

Technical aspects with nextgen reflections

Now let's go into the technical detail. We tried the game on a fairly armored PC, equipped with 2080TI and we were able to play with 80% of the options set to ultra and ray tracing pushing the whole thing in 4K and 30 fps. It is not a great result but not to be thrown away, but it will be very interesting to see how Ps5 and Xbox Series X will behave in this sense. Ubisoft has already said both consoles will be able to take advantage of ray tracing while maintaining resolution and frame rate identical to ours, but we must also see how the other options will be managed, such as the geometric quality of the structures for example. Ray tracing is particularly important here not only because it's the first time we've seen it in action in an open world and on so many surfaces at once, but also because without it the overall look of Watch Dogs Legion looks quite flat. The fault lies with a rather modest lighting system, to which the real-time reflections of this new but very heavy technology provide concrete help, giving the whole scene an unexpected and decidedly depth. nextgen. Thanks to ray tracing we will see the surrounding traffic projected on the shop windows, the legs of passersby reflected on the chrome of the vehicles and the glass of the skyscrapers swallowing the rest of the city exactly as in reality. A truly magical effect to which some may prefer the more agile and compelling 60 frames per second.

The game currently does not include multiplayer functions, not even the spectacular invasions of the first game, usually heralded by the turning off of all the lights in the neighborhood. However, the development team is working on a cooperative mode that at least on paper seems to promise very well, expected in the coming months except for last-minute delays, and in these cases they are not to be excluded.

Comment

Digital Delivery uPlay, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store Price 59,99 € Resources4Gaming.com

7.8

Readers (53)

7.2

Your vote

Watch Dogs Legion is a game that works, and that will honestly entertain you for many hours. The idea of ​​making every passerby a possible protagonist is truly extraordinary but would need several improvements. It is really a pity that the unlockable skill tree is so unimaginative and in some cases goes to break the uniqueness of the characters, as it was to see the approaches available to us reduce in quantity, and especially in variety, compared to the past. . Some main missions are very well thought out, but in Watch Dogs 2 we have seen much more complex situations than those proposed in Watch Dogs Legion. Fortunately, this game could really represent a new beginning, a restart point to build the first true masterpiece of a series that only today seems to have found its own precise identity.

PRO

  • Assembling your own clan is great
  • Honest and accurate gameplay
  • The first ray tracing in an open world
AGAINST
  • Poorly calibrated skills
  • Really poor writing
  • No multiplayer features like in the prequels
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