With a smartphone in hand, I hacked and flew in cargo drones, created electric traps, dumped the police, rescued informants from a heavily guarded building … all in the shoes of an ordinary person. I tested a demo of Watch Dogs Legion to Tecnoblog and, right away, I was struck by the fluidity of how you can switch between several characters quickly, each with their own specialties.
For this 3-hour preview, I was able to explore a fictional version of London – where the local government is using technology to control the population. The secretive hacking group, DedSec (who first appeared in Watch Dogs 2), is being unfairly accused of bombing the city. It is up to them to find out the real culprits for the attacks and clear the team name.
Several activities were unlocked for tasting, from some main quests, to recruiting missions (I’ll talk more about that later) and extras like: getting drunk at the bar and going drunk down the street, playing darts, making ambassadors, buying clothes, solving puzzles circuits (to access protected rooms and open doors), use vehicles, etc.
One more thing: this demo does not represent the final result of the game and my impressions, described in this article, may change when testing the complete game for the review.
Recruit your hacker army (without distinction)
What we can clearly see is that, apparently, there is no longer just one protagonist. The demo started at the prologue, putting me in control of a very well-dressed man who needed to infiltrate a government-controlled location and prevent bombs from being detonated by London.
He almost made it, but DedSec’s opponents were one step ahead and detonated the explosives. Surrounded, the hacker group member was neutralized by the guards.
After a cutscene, I found myself in control of a new member of DedSec, with new specific skills. From there, I was free to explore whatever I wanted. Immediately, I took a look at whether the playable character recruitment and switching system really worked. The result, at least in this demo, impressed me a lot.
Not that you can literally recruit any living being in front of you, but the number of different profiles of people you can try to convince to join your cause is enough for each player to create unique teams. From senior executives, construction workers and nurses to old ladies and guys who look like pimps.
Some of these individuals are already DedSec supporters, so just talk to them and invite them to the team (if their skills interest you). You can hack them first to see if the profile appeals to you. Other people are either afraid to join DedSec or have an aversion to the group.
In this case, if you really want these characters, you will need to solve some problems for them. Among some recruiting missions are: clearing someone’s name from police records, diverting a load of trafficking organs (which would go to wealthy people) to deliver to a hospital and so on.
If you’re in the middle of a mission, spot someone with interesting skills, but you can’t stop (at that moment) to resolve the person’s anguish and recruit him … No problem! Just save this profile on your smartphone and access it later, in the pause menu, to see what he / she needs to be solved. It is even possible to see the entire routine of the saved profiles and track all their steps. Kind of like Google already does with us.
Once recruited, the new member will go to the base of DedSec, but can be summoned through the menu. This is where a very positive point comes, in my opinion: you don’t have to go to the base whenever you want to change characters. Just call him on his cell phone. From there, the current one has a quick chat with the one he just changed and that’s it. You are already in control of the new character.
Of course, these exchanges cannot be made while in the midst of chaos, being chased by God and the world. And speaking of chaos, if he is shot, his recruited character does not die, but goes to prison and is unavailable to be chosen for a few minutes. You will have to select another one to continue the current mission (all over again).
Another interesting thing that I noticed, in this character exchange (I even changed three times in a single mission), is that all the members you control are dubbed and interact with NPCs and cutscenes normally, as if they were unique protagonists. Each of them have their own lines too. I keep imagining the work that must have been done dubbing dozens of different profiles for the same scenes and, still, adding some unique lines.
Gadgets, weapons and traps
Since the first game in the series Watch Dogs (which divides opinions to this day) his main weapon, being a hacker, is his smartphone. Of course, you can’t solve everything by sending grotesque photos to other people’s phones, as a distraction to escape, or by hacking traffic signs. Therefore, a good hacker also has some tech toys available.
In Legion, the traditional gadgets of the franchise are back, like spider drones (with lethal weapons attached or stun guns) perfect for infiltrating hard to reach places, flying drones (cargo ones can carry you too), among other accessories.
As there are several types of drones flying over London (cargo, ads and deliveries), hacking them represents a great advantage to help you have a better view of somewhere and, in the case of cargo, make life easier on the fly the escape. Only vigilant drones cannot be hacked in your favor (at least in this demo) and can only be disabled.
Perhaps the biggest news is being able to fly on some drones, even with very limited speed. Furthermore, apparently the pattern of gadgets is the same. This is also true for weapons. You have, as in previous games, lethal and non-lethal options. Everything goes according to your approach: if you want to be more stealth, choose stun guns.
What also hasn’t changed is the possibility of using the environment to your advantage. When trying to access a heavily guarded place, create traps from power boxes and other electrified structures, for example. Just hacking them directly or through a surveillance camera.
Visual and sound pleased, even in a demo
I can’t make many comments (yet) about the visual quality of the game, but for a preview build, the game was very presentable. According to Ubisoft, it was run on a machine with a GeForce RTX and ray tracing on. You could see some more realistic lights and shadows, even in moments of agitation.
The audio also played a good role, packing the action sequences and, mainly, on the radio – every time a vehicle was used. Some songs are even well known, even in techno versions.
Over the time I was able to test Watch Dogs Legion remotely (I haven’t been able to test the online mode yet) I realized that the great advantage of this game, in relation to the previous two, is the versatility of controllable characters and the fluidity of these exchanges. This novelty is the main marketing piece of the game.
If this is done well and continues to be interesting, from the beginning to the end of the campaign, the title promises (who knows) to step out of the shadow of other prominent AAA from Ubisoft, such as Assassins Creed and Rainbow Six Siege (or even resurrect Splinter Cell). I enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to assemble my team of old hackers! Ah, the game arrives on October 29, 2020.