An entirely original Watch Dogs Legion review, for an entirely original game

The Watch_Dogs franchise has returned, and much like with any Ubisoft sequel lately it’s been given a fresh lick of paint and a new location to familiarize yourself with as you go about doing pretty much whatever it is you did in the last game, except now with more added stuff from other games stitched onto it and lauded as novel and original.

Do you remember Spinal Tap? I feel like Ubisoft keep pointing to the same old Guitar Amp every few years but telling me its all-new because this one goes to 11. It’s set in London, you sneak about infiltrating locations, you can hack into camera feeds, and it has permadeath, and if your character dies another can take his place. ‘What, you mean like that other Ubisoft title you made in 2012?’ Yes but this one is Watch_Dogs.. I might be an amnesiac in nature, but even I remember ZombiU.

At this stage I feel like without playing Watch_Dogs’ latest entry I could harvest reviews from previous Ubisoft titles, Frankenstein stitch them together in some sort of wildly-untamed golem of plagiarism and just as Ubisoft continually seem to manage to do, get away with tricking everyone that I did something new.

In fact. I’m going to do just that.

The year is 1868 It’s the near future and England is gripped by the advancements of the Industrial Artificial Intelligence Revolution. At the top of the ladder is Crawford Starrick Nigel Cass, a telegraph tycoon PMC Albion’s CEO – and Templar ctOS leash-holder, of course – with a natty slick haircut and a twitching eye trigger finger. He rules the capital with an iron fist, oppressing the working class citizens in order to further his own financial political gain. The villain’s essentially David Cameron Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare with a hipster’s handlebar moustache hard-on for authoritarianism instead of underage boys, then – and it’s your mission to take him down.

Push Square Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review (2015)

Death in ZombiU Watch Dogs Legion is permanent, with that character and whatever they’re carrying remaining at the point they fell. You respawn back at Shadwell as the next survivor DedSec agent. You’re given their name, age and occupation; they’ll be wearing career-specific duds and have slightly varying base stats perks and traits. The latter distinctions are so slight they don’t make a substantial difference, but you’ll notice certain characters can sprint have limited mobility or have a stronger melee.

Eurogamer ZombiU Review (2012)

Only near the end of the game do they really begin to feel distinct. Jacob is One could be more of a brawler, Evie while another more focused on stealth..”

“… You can switch between them whenever you want in the open world..”

PC Gamer Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Review (2015)

In exchange for shelter or new technology joining up, most people wanted something from me. Their quests sent me deep into zombie-infested PMC controlled districts of London..

IGN Zombi Review (2015)

The vast majority take place out in the open world instead of a linear “dungeon” area. In most you’re pointed to a fortified objective, such as a movie studio or the headquarters of a Google-like company, and are free to go about it however you want. Usually I’ve seen at least two or three means of reaching the target by stealth using your drones, or if you decide to go in loud you can approach from any direction.

IGN Watch Dogs 2 Review (2017)

Other open world activities now calm individual areas of the map’s half dozen main boroughs, slowly pushing back Templar Albion influence until you trigger a boss Borough Uprising mission for final control, making London a real fight to completely conquer.

Eurogamer Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Review (2015)

You have to form a resistance in three different areas so you don’t have to fight an army by yourself. This involves the usual Far Cry stuff of attacking outposts sabotaging operations, as well as destroying cult Albion property, rescuing civilians, and killing neutralizing VIP targets. 

Push Square Far Cry 5 Review (2018)

It’s not a bad structure – the publisher wouldn’t keep recycling it if it was – but it’s so predictable at this point. The other problem is that the side missions aren’t all that fun: freeing children refugees from dangerous factories politically sensitive scenarios may seem like an honourable pursuit, but it grows weary after the tenth or so attempt.

Push Square Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review (2015)

Syndicate Legion offers up some other new toys and features, mostly cribbed from other open-world games but still enjoyable enough to freshen up the proceedings, at least for a while. There are horse-drawn carriages numerous vehicles all over London, allowing for GTA-esque hijacking, high-speed driving, and the comical bowling over of bowler-hatted Londoners.

PC Gamer Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review (2015)

This is a great open world map, and I’m not just saying that because was born in the Bay Area London and have lived here for almost my entire life. Watch Dogs 2’s Legion’s version is super condensed, with entire neighborhoods left on the cutting room floor, but it has all the major landmarks pretty much where they should be. (Thankfully the perpetually gridlocked traffic was omitted.) It’s a fun and diverse place to explore and run amok, and it’s surreal to be in a car chase and suddenly look up and see something like Moscone Center The London Eye, the Palace of Fine Arts Buckingham Palace, the Painted Ladies Big Ben, Fisherman’s Wharf Tower Bridge, or Stanford University St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’d recommend it as virtual tourism, especially if you’ve been here before and want a refresher.

IGN Watch Dogs 2 Review (2017)

The impressively bustling crowds become less captivating as you realize they’re just a collection of robots that spawn the same series of underwhelming crowd events like ‘catch the robber’ or ‘scare the bullies.’

PC Gamer Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review (2015)

it exposes how Ubisoft’s open world games have become slaves to a formula. In letting you mingle pieces from several franchises – the skyscrapers of San Francisco towering over the ruins of a daydream Tibet, the cannons of revolutionary France lifting rusted muzzles amid the splintered daylight of backwoods America – the editor reveals their basic interchangeability, the way all of these series default to the same broad framework of killing, conquering and unlocking. This is the apparently inescapable truth of Far Cry Watch_Dogs, a series that still has a lot going for it, but remains in serious need of a revamp.

Eurogamer Far Cry 5 Review (2018)

And sadly that’s what it needs to do, because this franchise is getting tired. London is a dense setting – the Thames borough, which can only be traversed by hopping between moving boats, is a particular highlight – but even though the bugs are kept to a minimum and the framerate very rarely chugs, there’s an air of familiarity pervading the entire experience that will make you feel like you’ve seen it all before.

Push Square Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Review (2015)

10/10

IGN Watch Dogs Legion Review (Probably..)

Watch Dogs Legion is available to buy today on PS4, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games Store. You could also play the game on Google Stadia, but you don’t use it. You’ll be able to play the game on Xbox Series X/S November 10th, and PS5 on November 12th.