Quick Look: Watchdogs Legion

by Ben Kirby
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Ok, so a “quick look” type of article seems a little odd for Watchdogs Legion, doesn’t it? A massive Ubisoft open-world game, chock-full of things to do and see. The problem is, after about 10 hours, I’m struggling to find the will to carry on. That’s not to say it’s bad, in fact, the whole point of writing this is to highlight some of the good stuff.

As a big fan of the Watchdogs series, and almost an apologist for how much I actually enjoyed the first one, I’ve been really excited to have another story-driven, present future tech jaunt. All the joys of using your mobile phone to control the world in a scaled-down take on London itself!

Watchdogs Legion is actually alright, but it’s falling over itself to achieve things and it shows.

What’s it doing well, what isn’t it doing well and is it worth a try at least? Let’s take a look!

Watchdogs Legion - Select

The Good

I never ever want to slate or be rude about a game. People put their lives into these things and at the very least they deserve respect. Watchdogs Legion comes from Ubisoft, a studio (or studio collective at this point?), not untouched by controversy and internal issues. However, the staff that made the game, did the marketing, tested it, managed licencing deals etc etc, were all there doing their day job and likely nights and weekends too.

It’s important to me to highlight the good stuff here and share some of what I find most appealing about Watchdogs Legion.

Straight out of the gates, you’re in London, you’re playing protagonists with British accents, using colloquialisms and running past red buses. Ubisoft has done a great job of nailing the “feel” of London. I’m much happier hearing my character saying “bollocks” and “wanker” when it’s not forced into a script by an American putting an accent on.

Speaking of voices, the keystone of Watchdogs Legion is the fact that you don’t play as any single protagonist. More a “legion” of the freshly-resurrected Dedsec hacker group. Unique, random characters with random voices assigned to them. You’re recruiting new members all the time, and everyone becomes a player character.

This is a double-edged sword, and part of the reason I’m dropping off relatively quickly……I’ll look at the more negative side of it shortly, but on the positive side, Watchdogs Legion is trying something new and largely pulls it off. This makes sense narratively, it works really well, and helps you engage with the recruitment and growth of Dedsec. Hats off to Ubisoft for trying something new and doing a great job!

Watchdogs Legion looks and sounds great, too. The atmosphere, the city itself and the commotion of everything happening, living and breathing around you. London feels suitably alive and looks great.

Watchdogs Legion - Looks Good

The not-so-good

The double-edged sword of having no lead protagonist is unfortunately the strongest driver for me dropping out of the game before finishing it (that and bloody Bagley…).

Having no core lead, no core voice actor conveying emotion and helping you engage with the story means that it can be quite jarring when you’re initially seeing things through as an Asian lady, only to hit the next story beat as a cockney builder. It works, but it doesn’t flow, and Watchdogs Legion is too big to not have some kind of connective thread running through the middle.

Being so pulled away from any kind of immersion is such a shame and it genuinely is preventing me from caring about what happens. No well-written cast of characters, just random recruits with random voices and abilities. Honestly, it’s incredible that they took such a chance on trying something new, truly. But it’s not working for me.

The only other major detractor is “Bagley” the AI that is basically your only constant throughout the game. He’s scripted and voice-acted so poorly that every single time dialogue starts, I cringe and it pushes me even further away from any engagement I may have initially had.

Watchdogs Legion - Drones

Overall

I’m not here to crap all-over Watchdogs Legion, hell, I want to sing praises for the innovation and the fact that a company as big as Ubisoft took such a chance to de-centralise the protagonist role. I suspect with better all-around voice acting for all NPCs and protagonist-level dialogue, it might be less jarring.

The moment-to-moment gameplay feels decent. Driving is fine, shooting is fine, and hacking is fine. There’s nothing stellar here, but nothing bad. It’s not the next Watchdogs game that I wanted, but it at least tried and I highly commend it for that.

I just need something, anything, to help me feel like I can care enough, but unless it turns into a text-only adventure, I’m just struggling to engage. Then Bagley starts and totally misses the mark. If you love the series and don’t care about a narrative thread to tie things together, you’ll be fine here.

If you’re looking for an open world with some depth and an element of consistency, I don’t think Watchdogs Legion is the one.


For even more quick look reviews like this one, click right HERE.

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