After two games of hacking, spying, shooting, and destroying the world with a cell phone, it was hard to believe Watch Dogs could come back with a unique and interesting experience. While there are flaws, Watch Dogs: Legion does provide a lot of fresh ideas with more pros than cons.
The main selling point about Legion is the players’ ability to gain control over almost every single NPC that you pass by on the street. If you can see the person, you can most likely add them to your team somehow. By doing a variety of different missions, players can recruit other NPCs to their “legion“ of rebellious hackers. Each character comes with a few items and abilities, which makes recruiting an interesting and important process. Each character in your crew can make certain missions easier or more difficult depending on their set of abilities and items available to them. Instead of having a character with stats that level up from beginning to end, players must choose between a variety of different abilities or characteristics in order to solve missions and problems. There are some abilities/talents that are universally transferable, so you don’t feel like you have to perfectly juggle a bunch of random people with no consistency in playstyle.
The actual campaign is somewhat engaging. Rallying a horde of random civilians and getting them to do interesting jobs to fight the government fulfills the dreams of the anarchist inside of each of us to some degree. But because the characters that you actually control switch around pretty often, there is a bit less weight in the emotional drive of the story and desire to take down enemies. Between mediocre side characters and an entertaining and witty A.I. that tie the legion together, the campaign is fine, but never really compelling. I think with this much of an open world it would’ve been more interesting to have more robust choices in choosing between stopping hackers, certain groups of your choice, or even supporting the government. That level of depth would’ve been really fun, but also extremely intense, deep, and a whole lot more work than we could ever expect any time soon.
The combat, hacking, and different ways to address missions still entertain even after two full games of already doing this. It really is the liberty and variety of tools and characters and their limitations that make taking on missions and causing havoc so much fun. I wish that there was a little better instruction on how to use all these tools. They weren’t difficult to use, but using them in effective ways would have been nice from the beginning instead of having to just use trial and error in missions and dying just because I didn’t fully understand my arsenal.
There are some pretty big issues with the game, and they do hold me back from recommending the game right now. The online game modes won’t be available until December, so that’s a huge chunk of the game missing right now. I’m sure it will be a free addition, but it would be nice if it was here now after playing the campaign. Also, there was a staggering amount of glitches, slow to frame rate, and long load times. I understand that I may not have the most powerful computer, but I found all of these issues appear in the game in its highest and lowest settings. I’m sure some patches and updates will happen pretty soon, but the game can still get really buggy or crash more than is normally excepted for a game of this size and caliber.
Watch Dogs: Legion is ambitious, that’s for sure. Letting the player wander through the city on foot, by car, or on a drone collecting upgrade materials, finding shops, and engaging in other events is quite entertaining. Also, letting the player play as virtually anybody and not run into almost any clones is extraordinarily impressive. Even with all these good things, I felt like they never lead to much or had a major impact. This is a great sandbox, I just think more direction inside of it would have created a more enticing game. If you are absolutely enamored with the other Watch Dogs games, then this game should be a delight. It is a great game and has a lot of great potential, but the lack of online play and technical shortcomings make it much less important to play it right now. Most other players could probably wait until December for its online mode and various fixes.