Like the two installments before it, Watch Dogs: Legion focuses on hackers attempting to take down ctOS, a security system that invades people's lives. Though this series entry doesn’t stray far from the Watch Dogs formula, it breaks from the past by letting you play as multiple characters found in the open world. This design choice prevents you from bonding with the protagonist, but it serves the greater narrative of people uniting to stop an oppressive power. Combine that with the series’ trademark hacking mechanic, and you have the strongest Watch Dogs title yet. Unfortunately, the PC game suffers inconsistent frame rates.
Big Brother Watches
Watch Dogs: Legion’s London is a police state in all but name. Though citizens go about their normal lives, the city’s cameras, drones, and countless other surveillance systems connected to the ctOS network watch their every move. DedSec, a hacker group, fights to undermine the ctOS' proliferation. However, DedSec's efforts become increasingly difficult when it's blamed for terrorist attacks across London. As a result, the group not only fights to destroy an oppressive regime, but to clear its name.
The ctOS system robs London’s citizens of their freedom, but it aids your quest to thwart the Albion corporation that manages the security system. Using your character’s smartphone, you hack into security cameras, hijack drones, control spiderbots, disable security alarms, and arm traps. As before, hacking is easy. All that you need to do is press the dedicated hack button when you see a prompt over a hackable object. Hacking a camera instantly shifts the game perspective to its point of view. The same applies to spiderbots and drones. In terms of gameplay, you effectively become the object. It’s entirely possible to complete some missions without ever moving your character. Hacking a camera and using spiderbots and drones to complete objectives stealthily is extremely satisfying.
Hacking into systems won’t be enough to complete particular missions since some doors and barriers carry added security. In these instances, you must download a key to open barred doors. Other times, you must find a door’s power source and disable it. These challenges often require you to physically find keys or power junctions. In addition, you may need to solve puzzles or complete mini-games to advance. This may include maneuvering a spiderbot through ventilation shafts or remotely connecting electric lines. All of this keeps the game fresh, as each mission contains its own set of unique challenges.
Power to the People
Whether it's an unassuming businessman, soccer hooligan, fashionable bar hopper, or construction worker, you’re free to recruit almost anyone walking London's streets. After scanning a citizen with your smartphone, you'll see that person's personal profile and special abilities. Some are expert hackers, while others excel at reconnaissance. If a mission requires stealth, you’ll want someone with infiltration skills. When going up against armed Albion security, a weapons expert sees you through engagements. Should your character fall in battle, you must switch over to another recruit. Some recruits, such as lawyers and EMT workers, can help jailed or injured teammates quickly rejoin your roster. Though each of the characters deliver the same lines of dialogue during cutscenes, they all have distinct voices, accents, and mannerisms. What you lose in a central protagonist you gain with a roster of characters who have a stake in London’s affairs.
Each area has citizens that specialize in different fields. You’ll find hackers in Camden, lawyers and CEOs in the City of London, and athletes in Hyde Park. Need a doctor? Scout hospitals. A construction worker? Scope out a construction site. Green icons on the world map show the locations of skilled individuals. When you liberate a borough from Albion's influence, you’ll gain access to the best recruits available.
You’ll sometimes find citizens who are against DedSec (indicated by a red thumbs down when you scan them with your phone). To recruit these folks, you must perform a deep profile on them (more on that in a bit) and complete a series of missions to sway them to your side. Other citizens are antagonistic (indicated by two red thumbs), and may try to kidnap your operatives. This only happens if you injure that citizen, or someone they know, through your actions. You may want to think twice before driving recklessly into an innocent group of bystanders. It may come back to bite you later.
You can fully customize a character’s appearance by purchasing clothes (using in-game money) and accessories from a number of shops across the city. Clothing and accessories are purely cosmetic and do not affect gameplay. Still, if you want your characters to look good while bringing down an oppressive security system, then you’ll want to deck them out in eye-catching threads.
Another store lets you buy items using WD credits purchased with real-world money. There are cosmetic bundles, individual clothing items, boosters, and new recruits. Boosters reveal the location of hidden items on the world map and let you purchase additional in-game currency. Prices range from $4.99 for 500 WD credits to $49.99 for 7,250 credits. The game’s $39.99 season pass is also available from this store. A free multiplayer mode is slated to arrive in December, 2020.
Like its real-world counterpart, London has its rough areas. Sometimes, you must dispense enemies with physical force. The game offers numerous lethal weapons, such as pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, and grenade launchers. Conversely, you can keep the body count to a minimum by using non-lethal variants of those same weapons. In other instances, good old fashioned brawling is in order.
The fighting mechanics are simple, but effective. You can punch, grapple, and dodge, with that final combat option slowing time down when performed before an attack lands. Executing this perfect dodge followed by a counterattack never ceases to impress. Mowing down waves of foes with a light machine gun is also a blast. You won’t engage in combat often, but the game is no slouch in this department.
Progression takes on two different forms. The first comes by recruiting skilled citizens. The second is by upgrading your tech by spending Tech Points. You can upgrade hacks, weapons, gadgets, and unlock abilities like the Deep Profiler (necessary for recruiting antagonistic NPCs). You’ll receive Tech Points by completing missions, but the majority are hidden across London. Upgrades and unlocks are important, so you’ll want to find and collect as many Tech Points as possible. The upgrade system isn’t deep. However, considering the number of recruitable characters, it’s better to have streamlined upgrades that apply to every member of your group. Plus, finding Tech Points is a blast as it gives you a chance to further explore the world.
London is a massive, sprawling city filled with classic and modern architecture. This is true of the real-life version, but the contrast between old and new is magnified when you have holographic signs plastered across old castles and churches. The in-game mini-map and waypoint system do an excellent job of getting you around the city. That said, it’s sometimes best to disable those functions and explore London as if you were actually there. Like Grand Theft Auto V and Yakuza 0, Legion boasts a city that feels alive. Citizens walk the streets, enter shops, argue, and sometimes fight. Traffic builds up around urban centers, while tourists clog historical landmarks. Ubisoft did a phenomenal job with its digital depictions of Chicago and San Francisco in the previous installments and London is no different. Just remember that Londoners drive on the left side of the road.
As with any open-world game, you’ll find a host of different activities scattered across the map. The most important are “Borough Uprising” missions. These see you attack Albion by defacing their holograms, disrupting security networks, stealing/destroying equipment, and other activities. Completing all the Borough Uprising missions culminates in a final mission at a famous London landmark. Liberating a borough reduces Albion's presence, makes it easier to recruit citizens, and unlocks unique agents with special abilities. You’ll also unlock the locations of all the hidden Tech Points scattered throughout a borough. Borough Uprising missions are every bit as exciting and satisfying as core missions.
In most instances, recruiting citizens requires you to complete a number of objectives. These quick missions entail anything from downloading incriminating evidence from the police to dumping vehicles in the River Thames. The many allies that you meet give you missions to complete. More traditional open-world side content includes playing darts and getting drunk at bars. There’s even an underground martial arts arena to test your melee combat skills.
People who've never visited London will feel as if they’re actually there thanks to the intricately detailed buildings, streets, vehicles, and historical monuments. Lighting plays a big role in bringing this digital London to life, especially at night when neon, holographic, and street lights cast their radiance over the world. It’s a shame the same attention to detail didn’t translate to characters. Main characters and NPCs aren't particularly well-designed. Character models aside, Watch Dogs: Legion is a bloody good-looking game.
To play Watch Dogs: Legion on PC, your gaming desktop or laptop needs at least a 3.2GHz Intel Core i5-4460 CPU, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 GPU, 4GB of RAM, 45GB of storage space, and the Windows 10 operating system. You can enable ray tracing if you have a Nvidia RTX GPU. The minimum requirement for that is a 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, 6GB of RAM, 45GB of storage space, and Windows 10.
I played Watch Dogs: Legion on my PC, a rig that has an Intel Core i7-4790 CPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU. Graphically, everything looks fantastic. Unfortunately, the inconsistent and low frame rates prove disappointing. Whether I set the graphics to Ultra or Low, I frequently see frame rates hovering between 30-45 frames per second when driving in the open world. When inside of buildings, the frame rate hovered at the 60fps mark, only occasionally dropping into the 50fps range. Even with the game set to deliver unlocked frame rates, I never saw frame rates go above 60fps unless I visited the world map. There, the frame rate jumped to 144fps.
The display options include texture filtering, motion blur, bloom effects, anti-aliasing, and other expected PC gaming features. Ubisoft packed in a number of accessibility options, including fully customizable button mapping, aim lock-on, audio captions for sound effects, and colorblind UI presets.
Watch Dogs: Legion supports both mouse and keyboard inputs, as well as game controllers. The game utilizes the notorious Denuvo anti-piracy software. It has achievements and cloud saves via Uplay. The game is available for purchase from Epic Games Store, but not Steam.
Free Your People
Watch Dogs had a rocky start at the current console generation's onset. With Legion, the franchise has finally found its identity as we head into the next console cycle. Whether it’s hacking security systems, exploring London, completing missions, or recruiting citizens, Watch Dogs: Legion serves up thrilling, anti-authoritarian action. With an upcoming season pass containing new story-based content, and a free multiplayer mode, the game should have strong legs—unlike Marvel's Avengers. It’s a smashing good time, despite frame rate issues.
Watch Dogs: Legion (for PC)
The Bottom Line
Watch Dogs: Legion delivers an immersive open world where nearly any character that you encounter can become a high-tech freedom fighter. Legion's unique hacking mechanics and mission variety make it an excellent series entry.
Watch Dogs: Legion (for PC) Specs
|Product Games Genre||Action|
|Product Price Type||Street|
|Product Games ESRB Rating||Mature|
|Product Games Platform||PC|
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