Watch Dogs: Legion First Impressions

Watch Dogs is officially a trilogy! Just last week, Ubisoft finally released the long-awaited third game in the series. Since its release, I’ve been traversing all over occupied-London to prepare for my official review for Cinelinx.com. As of this writing, I’m still exploring and navigating the overall campaign, but I wanted to share some first impressions I’ve had with the game so far. Here is everything I’ve liked and disliked with Watch Dogs: Legion.

Like: The Opening Mission

One of the golden rules of gaming is to set the tone for a game in the first scene. If done right, it can pull in gamers to want to experience more. If not done right, it can ruin the whole experience for the player. In the case of Watch Dogs: Legion, they absolutely nailed it.

With Watch Dogs: Legion being set in London, Ubisoft kicks off the game with an awesome bang. You start as a former MI5 agent infiltrating Parliament to prevent an unknown terrorist organization from blowing up the place. The high stakes action mixed with the playful banter made this opening scene feel like it was ripped out of a James Bond story. 

I wanted the rest of the game to feel that same way, but unfortunately that’s not how Watch Dogs: Legion rolls. Instead of feeling like a really fun game inspired by 007, it falls back into the normal rhythm of a Watch Dogs game, recruiting members, liberating zones, hacking stuff, etc.

Dislike: Vehicles & Fashion

Obviously, I’m still making my way through Watch Dogs, but so far I can say that I have yet to find a vehicle or any sort of clothing I really like in the game. That will likely change with new vehicles being unlocked and fashion discovered, but early on it’s just not great.

For vehicles, not one vehicle (be it car, truck, motorcycle, van, etc.) has felt comfortable. They’re either too slow or can’t turn for the life of them. I haven’t found a vehicle that has that healthy middle ground. It makes sense to make supercars ridiculously fast, but it doesn’t make sense to make them outright uncontrollable. There were plenty of times when I would drive around, not going very fast, and then suddenly I’m almost spinning a full circle just making a right turn. It makes driving supercars almost not worth it.

With other vehicles, it usually feels like you’re driving through mud until you go downhill or simply have enough momentum. I’m still trying to find the vehicle type that I prefer that’s both fast, but also controllable. 

I’m also hoping to find a fashion style I like. When I’ve gone shopping at a variety of stores, I’ve just found the stock of clothing to be just so meh. It’s usually punk or some neo punk style that isn’t quite what I’m looking for. Furthermore, I haven’t found a style that matches any of my NPCs outside of the clothes they were recruited in. The new clothes all just look weird and out of place on them. Also, there isn’t much customization for your NPCs outside of just changing their clothes. I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon, but I do hope to find some clothing that works well with my favorite team members.

Like: Recruiting NPCs & Unique Combat Styles

One of the biggest selling points of Watch Dogs: Legion is how you can literally play as anyone. It’s also one of my favorite parts of the game. Throughout my initial playthroughs, I’ve found myself running around, scouting NPCs, and recruiting to DedSec through individual missions. Unfortunately, the missions are often repetitive in nature (i.e. go here, download these docs, destroy this thing, get a document, bring it back, etc.). 

However, what makes these missions and recruiting so worthwhile is that you can find some characters with amazing perks and abilities. For instance, you can find a banker who can you make you even more money, a lawyer who can get teammates out of jail easily, a doctor who can rush characters out of the hospital, game developers who can hack a system effortlessly, the list goes on and on.

Moreover, some characters have their own unique combat styles. I was so surprised when I learned this. I had just recruited this gynecologist character, because she had awesome perks and a tranquilizer gun. To try out these perks, she was given a test run in a mission to try to sway an Albion NPC to the cause. That’s when I happened to stumble upon an underground fight club. My first instinct was to switch her to a character that has perks that are better suited to fist fights. Then I just figured, “Why not see what the good doctor could do?”. The answer, she kicks ass.

She was throwing rapid-fire haymakers at every single opponent and actually did a ROUNDHOUSE KICK for her counter attack. She ended up winning the tournament and also won the starting job as my main in Watch Dogs. It was even more amazing when I saw what her stealth takedown maneuver is. She literally takes out two SHOCK PADDLES and shocks unsuspecting enemies to unconsciousness. It’s so awesome.

Dislike: Repetitive Cut Scenes and Overly Aware Characters

The biggest downside to recruiting characters are without a doubt the cut scenes. They happen almost every time you select to recruit a certain character. The worst part about them is that they’re pretty much the same every time. 

Me: “You look like someone who wants to take back your city.” 

Recruit: “Oh, hey you’re DedSec right? That’s great! Do me a solid.” 

Me: “Uh ok what can I do?” 

Recruit: “Go here and steal this data for me and I’ll make it worth your while. I always pay back my debts.”

First of all, how does everyone know I’m DedSec. That seems like a major security problem. Also, in this world where everyone wears a privacy-limiting neural device, it doesn’t seem like the best idea to just say out in the open that someone is DedSec. Seems like that would be a keyword Albion would be listening for.

Like: Permadeath

Ubisoft really raised the stakes with each NPC in Watch Dogs: Legion by adding a Permadeath mode. With Permadeath on, if your NPC gets eliminated, that’s it. They’re no longer in this game. This adds a layer of danger that I enjoyed. It made me reconsider using my favorite doctor NPC in certain missions for fear of losing her.

The one bummer is that you can’t switch it on if you start the game with Permadeath off or if you start with it on and turn it off. I get that you wouldn’t want players to exploit this function, but if a player was afraid to turn it on at first and wants it on later, I wouldn’t see the harm in letting them turn it on and off one time.

Dislike: Inability to Retry Recruiting Missions

Speaking of Permadeath, I found out the hard way that some missions are permadeath, as well. When I was doing the steps to get an Albion contractor to flip, I had to steal a van full of weapons from the faction Clan Kelley. When I got to the drop off spot, the van was raided by Clan Kelley members and a couple of Albion drones that appeared to be fighting them. 

Unfortunately, I got caught in the crossfire and my character died. Then, the game said “Mission Failed”. When I got back up with my new NPC, I looked for the mission and it was gone, which meant that all that work was literally for nothing. On the one hand, it is cool that there are consequences for failing a mission. On the other, it’s about 30 minutes to an hour of hard work down the drain, which is maddening.

Like: Immense Replayability and Exploration

Making London the setting was one of the best ideas Ubisoft has had for the franchise. I had liked San Francisco more than Chicago in the first two iterations of the series. However, I think London blows both of them out of the water. This sprawling metropolis has so much to offer. You can get drunk in a pub, dribble soccer balls, deliver packages, and perform fun missions in some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, of which there are a lot.

Between the massive amount of exploration and the ridiculous amount of team members you can recruit to DedSec, you can easily spend hours upon hours in Watch Dogs Legion. 

Dislike: Unobservant Enemies

The last Ubisoft game I reviewed was Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. One of my biggest issues with the game was how dumb the enemies were. Watch Dogs: Legion is a step up from that game, but honestly not by much. 

In missions, if the enemies are alerted to your presence, they’ll stay on alert even if they can’t find you, which is a plus. However, not all of them will stay on alert. Also, they don’t really inform others if they’ve seen me. Due to this, I usually just knock them down and then suddenly I’m in the clear again. It makes no sense. 

Furthermore, in this London that is occupied by peace-keeping drones and soldiers, it is remarkably easy to get away from them during car chases. They have a crime measurement system that’s similar to Grand Theft Auto, in that the more heinous crime will dictate what peace-keeping mech they’ll send out to apprehend you. I haven’t gotten above a 1 star yet because it’s just so easy to flee car chases. Even when I’ve been cornered by officers, I quickly stun them and shut down their drone and suddenly I’m in the clear again. It’s just so unrealistic and frankly annoying.

Overall, I am enjoying my time in Watch Dogs: Legion, but with all the good, there are a lot of issues I’ve found with this game so far. I’ll share more of my thoughts when I release my official review. Stay tuned to Cinelinx.com for more.