After spending the past week getting every moment with the game that I can, I've now completed the main quest line in Watch Dogs Legion, a game I've been very much looking forward to playing for some time now. Anyone who knows me will know that I absolutely love the Watch Dogs franchise, and especially Watch Dogs 2.
So you can imagine how I, as a Brit, was excited for a Watch Dogs game set in London - especially given the huge leap in quality seen in Watch Dogs 2. How could you go wrong?
To give some background, Watch Dogs Legion is a game all about hacking into big corporations and stealing data, uploading rootkits, and generally trying to hack the world. It rewards stealth gameplay and the use of gadgets to make your way through secure locations to achieve objectives, and really, it's an awful lot of fun.
Where Legion differs from its predecessors though is in the characters. I couldn't tell you who you'll be playing the game as, as every starting character, and every subsequent character you recruit into DedSec, the Hacktivist group and main protagonists of the game, are completely unique. Indeed, you can recruit and play as literally any NPC you may encounter in the game world.
It's deeper than that, though. Each NPC has its own name, set of skills, job, and a schedule that they'll actually follow. They'll re-occur in the world and they even have relationships and relatives. Accidentally run over a random pedestrian? That might come back to bite you if it happened to be the brother or sister of that really awesome looking guy you wanted to recruit into your crew a few hours or days later...
That kind of attention to detail, and just the way this game effectively has no NPCs, is insane, and really is ambitious. The problem is this very concept is what, for me, really lets this game down compared to Watch Dogs 2.
Because, unlike that game which was brimming with personality and amazingly fun characters and storylines, this game feels, well, like you're playing as a bunch of NPCs. The voice acting, specifically, is pretty dire for the vast majority of the playable characters. Marcus, Wrench, Sitara, and crew from Watch Dogs 2 were lovable, believable, and well-performed - they made you feel really invested in the story.
In this game, the voice acting is just wooden, and dialogue is reused so often it really breaks your immersion into the game. Your characters just feel like, well, disposable NPCs - and it's a real shame because so much has been lost as a result. The only real character in the game is, ironically, an AI named Baguley, who by far in a way steals the show with his wit and well-performed dialogue.
But there's no character interaction, no sense of family that you had in Watch Dogs 2, and even the first one to an extent. As a result, it just feels like you're completing a set of missions because the game told you to, with no real investment in the story.
And that leas me to the missions - for the most part, it's the typical Watch Dogs affair, although some aspects have been refined and tweaked. You now have to consider not only how you're going to approach each mission, but who you're going to take, and which gadgets you want to equip before heading in. This is critical if you want to avoid a super-hard time, as each of your recruited operatives has unique skills and buffs that you'll need for certain situations.
Unfortunately, like the characters, the missions are incredibly repetitive and seem to be taking place in the same 5 or 6 locations repeatedly. Watch Dogs 2 was full of new areas, exploring the diversity of San Francisco, whereas, in Watch Dogs Legion, I felt I had gone into the same handful of locations at least 5 times each.
This problem is worse when you're doing recruitment missions or the randomly generated "404" missions - as these often spawn in similar situations and locations that only add to the feeling of repetitiveness.
London itself, however, is an absolute marvel and a wonderfully accurate re-creation of the city, albeit modified slightly for scale. Hats off to the developers here - it really feels like London, and it's great to see a game give the city some true justice in a video game for once. It looks visually stunning.
Unfortunately, performance is not so hot. I'm running the game on a Ryzen 3900X with an RTX 3080 GPU, and I cannot get a consistent 60FPS at 4K - even without Ray Tracing. With settings at medium-high, it's possible and smooth enough on foot, but when driving, the game frame rate drops into the '50s, and for whatever reason, any frame rate below 60 is really noticeable.
If you want to enable ray tracing, as spectacular as it is, then forget it - you're not getting anywhere near 60fps. The developers did only promise a 4K RTX experience at 30fps, which is more achievable, but unfortunately as mentioned, for whatever reason, low frame rates seem very choppy and jarring to me, beyond the typical 'cinematic' look.
All in all, Watch Dogs Legion is still a solid entry into the franchise, and if you enjoy the gameplay of the previous two games, you'll be right at home here - however, if you were hoping for some of the charm and personality of Watch Dogs 2, you'll be sorely disappointed. The good news is that a future DLC promises to return both Aiden Pierce from Watch Dogs 1 and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2 - so hopefully some of that missing charm will return in the future.