Watch Dogs Legion Review - Gameplay, performance, story and our verdict

Ben Rayner
·7-min read
Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy
Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy

From Digital Spy

Watch Dogs 2 built upon the foundations of its predecessor and did away with the stern yet altogether uninteresting character of Aiden Pierce. It opted to create a fun group of young hackers led by Marcus Holloway, who oozed style, could laugh at himself and was your gateway into a world of fun adventures.

Going after big tech companies and greedy famous figures – the stakes were high but there was a good balance, and it never lost its bright colours and zany outcomes.

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Watch Dogs Legion, then, is something of an odd call for the next stage in this hacking-focused series. Taking place on the streets of London, a city ripe for exploring similar fun ideas, it’s pretty bleak fare instead.

The vision of dystopian London with drones filling the sky and self-driving cars flooding the roads is also home to blood-soaked gulags in Battersea Power Station, gangs harvesting peoples organs in Camden Market and the government housing 'illegals' in their own version of Guantanamo Bay right in the heart of London.

Watch Dogs Legion review: Story

The game opens with you playing as Dalton, a spy much like Taron Egerton from Kingsman, fighting his way through Parliament to stop a terrorist bombing. Ultimately you're unsuccessful, and this leads to Albion taking over London with an iron grip and Dedsec twisting in the wind, until they can rebuild the hacker collective.

This dark future which in places often feels somewhat close to the knuckle, is almost at odds with the gameplay loop and characterisation you’re being presented with.

Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy
Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy

You see, in Legion there is no main character. Instead everyone in London is available to be brought into your Dedsec crew and take on missions for you as committed soldiers to the cause.

Only a handful are technically skilled hackers as part of their character, most are street sweepers or delivery drivers and the like, but thanks to a phone with AI built in, hacking is a simple process.

If you can forgive that leap in logic, it's a fairly unique idea and one that, for the most part, works out well. Recruiting certain high-level or unique team mates adds some interest.

After all, who wouldn't want an Aston Martin driving spy on their team with the ability to tap their expensive watch and disable everything around them?

From reality TV stars to career hypnotists, there's a plethora of characters and career sets. Each has their own unique pros and cons, some may have quicker hacking cool downs or earn more crypto currency from devices they fine.

Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy
Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy

While others might have prior wrap sheets meaning once caught will spend more time in jail or even just an awful case of the hiccups in high stress stealth situations, which isn’t ideal when infiltrating large compounds full of enemies.

Some are equipped with a uniform for their day job, allowing you to slip in to certain areas without avoiding suspicion, though you can’t let anyone make eye contact for too long or you’ll be caught out and all hell breaks loose.

Watch Dogs Legion review: Gameplay

Given that the gameplay loop essentially sees you infiltrating buildings to either take out VIP targets, get photos of key evidence or simply to hack entire systems, these team attributes help you choose someone best for your play style.

Personally for us, using a builder who could fly a cargo drone (incidentally the best way to travel around town) was one of the best calls to make, allowing us to float high above high security areas, wreak havoc from the skies and then descend into a level playing field to finish the mission.

The problem is, you never really feel any attachment to your team. As they mostly repeat simple lines over and over, with the odd character sentence during particular cutscenes, there’s no development.

Even with the perma-death option enabled, you only ever really miss particular skills your now lost team mate had access to, but with the ability to just find another person on the street to fill their boots, even that’s a fleeting loss.

Voice acting here isn’t the best either. Mismatching the faces you talk to, and often using an odd mix of slang and the Queen's English, they offer up some hyper realistic ideas of what the average Londoner would say.

This makes for a city filled with caricatures – "Point my tits in the right direction" not being something we’ve heard many cockneys casually drop into a conversation.

With such a small handful, on many occasions we experience people having a conversation with a clone of their voice.

Watch Dogs Legion review: Story

The main story isn’t anything groundbreaking or unexpected, but there are some good beats worth playing through as you fight to take back the streets from Albion thugs. Once again however, it feels somewhat at odds with the actual game.

Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy
Photo credit: Ubisoft - Digital Spy

DedSec is painted as an almost upstart crew of underdogs, when in reality, early on in the game you become pretty overpowered. Not only with the ability to hack everything or fly into high security zones without being spotted, but with one-button takedowns and the ability to make bodies invisible.

Watch Dogs Legion review: Performance

From a technical standpoint, Watch Dogs Legion looks great and does a pretty solid job recreating London’s streets. It’s not 1:1 however, with certain roads missing or realigned presumably to improve the flow of travelling from the games many interest points.

But while those that know London fairly well may feel like the map represents a half forgotten dream of the capital, it does work and is a joy to see brought to life in such a vast game. Something that rarely happens and for the current year we’re having, has made for a bit of a homecoming during lockdown.

Plus, the novelty of outrunning militia agents in a double decker route master never really wears off. Simple pleasures eh?

Sadly, bugs are pretty rampant in Watch Dogs Legion. Aside from people disappearing then reappearing in the middle of your car bonnet, or pedestrians falling from the sky, Legion fully crashed and rebooted multiple times on our play-through.

At one stage, even blocking progression as any time we stepped foot in a crucial area of the map, that tell-tale buzzing would start before the game closed down entirely.

Watch Dogs Legion review: Verdict

Legion doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of its San Francisco predecessor. Your team isn’t as endearing, the missions aren’t as fun and the story is just not quite as engaging.

Though, if you take the time to explore the streets of London, and make it your playground, there is still lots to like.

The gameplay loop is addictive once you get into it and if you can look past the bugs and pantomime voices, you’ll be happy you digitally toured one of the worlds greatest cities, albeit a bleak one.

Watch Dogs Legion review: Release date and Price

Watch Dogs Legion is available to play on Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, and Windows as of October 26, releasing on PS4 and PS5 on November 19.

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