Review: Watch Dogs Legion

A lot has been said about the new Watch Dogs game. After two very enjoyable, if not slightly samey Watch Dogs titles, Legion repeats the history of the first game by releasing across a generation change onto both previous and new-generation consoles. As before we’re going to be getting the best experience with the higher quality option, so we fired this up onto our PS5 to see just how Legion’s newest gameplay change played out.

The storyline is decent enough without doing much to blow you away. A hacker group has decided to build up a policing presence in London, and kicks off a series of terrorism incidents that they blame on Dedsec, the resistance hacking group you’ll probably know from the previous couple of games. The public turn against Dedsec, but that’s where you come in – by turning things round, proving the Dedsec are the good guys and making the public see the truth, you can start to chip away at the propaganda being spouted by the bad guys.

The big news here is the idea of being able to take control of any character you see around the city, with many of these having specific characteristics to make them more appealing in certain situations. Take control of a builder, for example, and you can call in a heavy drone whenever you like to carry large items around or help you reach awkward places. You might find the spy who has an invisibility-cloaking car, or a fighter who can take more damage before you end up on death’s door. Every character has a mission that you can carry out to gain their trust and persuade them to join your team, and at that point you can switch to them whenever you want. Having more people available also means if any of them become unavailable by getting captured or nearly killed (characters don’t die, they just end up in hospital and unavailable for a while) you can switch to another character and carry on what you were doing. There’s been some criticism and scepticism of this from some angles, but I’ve quite enjoyed scanning people to find their unique abilities, mixing up various abilities depending on the mission being carried out. It’s true that by working through your upgrade tree you can end up giving every character more or less the same abilities and skills, but having a character designed to be stealthy, and another designed to be more aggressive, and another to have more techy toys to use, it gives a nice balance to things and gives some ownership over some of the people you recruit to your team.

The other big change is the move across to London, with the city being reproduced in a visually impressive manner. Landmarks and certain areas are pretty well reproduced, and while I don’t really know London well enough to say “hey look, that’s where Subway is” it’s easy to see that this is London and not a random generic city. Sadly though the shift to Britain brings with it the biggest problem I have with Watch Dogs Legion, and that’s the voice acting. While Bagley, the talking AI contingent of Dedsec has some decent lines and keeps things moving a little, some of the other character have poorly balanced and badly read lines. And as for wandering around London hearing the chunterings of the various NPCs, it’s like a comedy parody of how Londoners talk. The moment I stood next to someone who randomly said “f**king hell, did I just wet myself?” I couldn’t take it seriously any more. It’s such a shame, because the rest of the game works quite nicely, but when you’re hoping for the general background noise of a busy city, these constant stereotypically cockney lines just jump out and pull you away from the action.

Elsewhere the game is much like the previous two. Several areas can be hacked into the give you an advantage, arming explosive or electric traps, raising barriers, unlocking doors and so on. You can jump from camera to camera, find small spider drones that you can take control of and use various remote abilities to give yourself an advantage before even entering a dangerous place. Combat is handled pretty well, with actual hand to hand fighting being a mini-game in its own right this time as you find all of the fighting clubs around the city and beat everyone to raise your profile. If you enjoyed how the previous two games worked then you’ll feel right at home here, that’s for sure.

So as a game, Watch Dogs legion is actually pretty good. The ideal behind controlling anyone works nicely, the hacking still feels good and the stealth elements generally do a good job of building tension and getting you to use all of the tools you’ve got available. But that voice acting… it’s just so bad. Sound design is such a huge thing in terms of producing a good quality game, and this falls on its arse with a “cor blimey guv’nor” far too often.

Is it worth a look? Yes. Definitely. But don’t hope it’ll be the best game you’ll be playing in the next 12 months, because that’s a sure fire route to disappointment.

Reviewed on PS5

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