Watch Dogs: Legion Review, An Oxymoronic Beautiful Dystopia

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Screenshot by Gordon Tuomikoski

One of my operatives sneaking through a restricted area wearing a cardboard box as their mask.

Gordon Tuomikoski, Editor-in-Chief

Taking place roughly fifteen years in the future after technology became increasingly futuristic and a fascist military coup took over, Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs: Legion” is an open world technological dystopia that feels straight out of a George Orwell novel.

“Watch Dogs: Legion” takes the Watch Dogs franchise a hemisphere away to London, a stark contrast to Chicago and San Francisco where the first two games took place. After a rival hacker group commits a terrorist attack across London, blowing up five populated centers and even rigging the famed Parliament building, killing over 10,000 civilians, this group frames the hacker group Dedsec the organization the player is a part of. The British government calls in a private military organization, Albion to hunt down Dedsec. This organization turns London into a dystopian hellscape with camera drones, profiling and Nazi-esque banners and logos hanging from every other building promising security in return for rights. The player must rebuild Dedsec and seek revenge on the terrorist group that caused all of this with help from a brand new ability never seen in the series prior.

A screenshot from the intro cinematic. (Ubisoft)

GAMEPLAY:

In order to rebuild Dedsec after nearly all of its members were killed or arrested, the player must recruit civilians. This new gameplay ability allows you to play as any procedurally generated civilian on the street. Anyone from construction workers, bartenders, old ladies, royal guards, to police officers, any NPC in the game can be recruited into Dedsec as a playable character with their own abilities, background, interactable family members and friends, and custom animations. 

My first recruit was Gwallter Driscoll, a 60 year old Welsh banker who has a private phone line with the Police Commissioner, making him useful for calling off police. He’s not the most physically in shape, and he can hardly sprint, but he can hunt in style, and boy is it fun seeing him in a fist fight, especially with Legion’s new melee combat system. Other than the new recruiting system, Legion brings many new hacking skills and revamps many of the previous entries’ introductions. “Watch Dogs 2” introduced the ability to hack into vehicles. This feature returns, but much more useful and controllable in “Watch Dogs: Legion.” Other new hacking abilities include hacking into flying drones, deep profiling, and a new robotic spider. Legion’s gameplay is unique, rewarding and exciting.

My first procedurally generated operative, a wealthy Welsh banker. (Screenshot by Gordon Tuomikoski)
Ridable cargo drones were added to the series. (Screenshot by Gordon Tuomikoski)

GRAPHICS:

Being used as a benchmark for Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 series of computer graphics cards, “Watch Dogs: Legion” certainly blows this category out of the water. Utilizing Nvidia’s ‘RTX’ ray-tracing technology, reflections in the game are photorealistic, because it emulates the way real light photons refract and reflect off of surfaces. There are times, especially when it’s raining, that I can’t help but stop what I’m doing in-game and admire the beautiful graphics. Featuring 4K textures for objects, and high resolution decals on top of the incredible reflections, “Watch Dogs: Legion” really is a next-generation title off of graphics alone. The only criticism I have of the graphics in-game are the shadows. They are buggy and may flicker around especially when in bright sunlight, it can be quite jarring and take out of the experience.

An SUV in Watch Dogs Legion, showcasing the raytraced reflections. (Screenshot by Gordon Tuomikoski)
More raytraced reflections. (Screenshot by Gordon Tuomikoski)

THE WORLD:

“Watch Dogs: Legion” features an almost 1:1 scale of downtown London. From the Palace of Westminster to the market of Camden, much of the heart of London is featured in the game. Obviously, many iconic landmarks are tainted in dystopian reminiscent banners and mottos like “Keeping you safe,” which just adds to the world design of Legion and its themes of dystopia, post-future technology and loss of security. The world, while appearing small on the surface, feels exceptionally huge when you take into account how long it takes to travel through London’s ancient windy roads. This is remedied by the addition of fast travel through London’s Underground metro system. You can fast travel to any Metro point to get to an area faster, before hacking into and stealing a car.

THE VERDICT:

Being the forefront of a brand new console generation, “Watch Dogs: Legion” is truly a showcase of technology. It is beautifully crafted and enjoyable. In its current state however, it is not without its flaws. It faces numerous crashes and bugs in the current state of the game; however, I’m sure these issues will be fixed in the future. Multiplayer is being added into the game next month, which I’m sure will add even more fun experiences into this rich game. “Watch Dogs: Legion” is an experience any gamer should play.

8.5/10