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‘Watch Dogs: Legion’, analysis

The previous installments of ‘ Watch Dogs ‘ had the same problem as so many sandboxes whose story goes beyond “first do the goat and then, if anything, do these missions” : the total dissociation of plot and mechanics. It’s hard to get serious about games that try to tell a story of revenge or have multiple hard-working supporting characters, but then allow the player to get into a car to go from point A to point B and pass over one on the way. dozen innocent old women who were crossing the street.

In ‘Mad Max’ it is justified because it is the apocalypse, in ‘Assassin’s Creed’ sometimes the setting takes place in times when a human life had very little value, in ‘Just Cause’ or the last ‘Saint’s Row’ we are facing a cartoon … but in the first ‘Watch Dogs’, despite its obvious comedy touches (or not: in these times, taking a selfie in front of the effects of a terrorist attack is not very clear if it is parody or hyperrealism ), there was this dissociation. You are part of an illegal group that wants to fix the world, but if in a secondary mission to find an object in an abandoned factory you have to cause 70 casualties, all good.

As we say, it is an inherent characteristic of the game, and it must be toned like this: a more or less credible story and some mechanics that do not accompany (and frankly, more serious and discordant seems to us the genocide that a couple of people mount in ‘ The Last of Us 2 ‘). But ‘Watch Dogs: Legion’ makes the effort, in addition, not to justify it, but at least to provide some mechanics that accompany this diffusion of responsibility . In ‘Legion’ anyone can be part of DedSec, so understandably there are quite a few insane on board.

This mechanic, undoubtedly the bastion on which the new UbiSoft game is based, on the one hand removes all traces of realism from the mechanics: it does not make sense that the player can comment on the details of a top-secret operation (in a hyper-monitored city) to literally any passerby . And if you do him a favor, this newcomer becomes part of the core of the organization. But precisely that lack of verisimilitude justifies everything else: we are facing a nonsense close to the most “anything goes” moments of ‘Far Cry’, rather than the first ‘ Watch Dogs ‘, which took too seriously a proposal that demanded more mambo.

But it is also that, thanks to that mechanic, ‘Watch Dogs: Legion’ transmits its message very effectively, which already comes in tow in the title. As the biblical demon said (more or less), “My name is Legion because we are a lot”, and that fits like a glove to the concept of this look-alike from Anonymous as a headless, multiple and, therefore, schizophrenic entity, where They include a middle-aged construction worker and an internet comedian , a secret agent and a retired athlete. That’s the message of the game, and one that, focusing bullshit aside, is very serious: If the system’s strength rests on its decentralization, do the same to end it.

Choose your own hacker

Beyond an aesthetic or plot issue, what these personality changes in the protagonist reinforce is the invitation to face the missions as you wish. This perhaps makes the first part of the game overly simple (you can always shoot your way around anywhere with a DedSec member with good firepower), but it soon forces the player to rack their brains. And getting used, for example, to reconnoitering buildings with the help of hackable drones to develop a strategy .

It is more interesting and fun to break into buildings using stealth, and there comes a time when the firepower of Albion or the Kelley clan is greater than yours (they are the two main villains of the game, on both sides of the law before the appearance of the fourth force in discord, the terrorists who trigger the plot of the game). Stealth will become your best ally, and the mechanics are oriented to that : skills and tools that improve it (one of the first gadgets provides momentary invisibility) and, from the beginning, the ability to distract or incapacitate enemies from a distance .

The side quests, plentiful and perfect for roaming this London of the near and recognizable future, abound in stealth, often requiring infiltration for data or hacking advertisements, but also require study and analysis of buildings. , huge and splendidly designed. The London of ‘Watch Dogs: Legion’ largely gives the feeling of being alive not only because, I insist, any passer-by is recruitable, but because its constructions go beyond mere cardboard facades. The abundant side missions (which also include illegal fistfights, cast missions, or disabling enemy icons) help, and a lot.

Therefore, and in our meeting with those responsible for the game, it was quite clear, the effort that has been made to recreate a lively and bright London produces interesting results in terms of setting . Around it, all the possibilities of the game are displayed, inherited or improved from previous installments (hacking everything, basically) and the result is a title that, although only slightly raises the stakes from the previous installment, gives the feeling of going much further .

Interestingly, that also applies to problems. On the one hand, you will end up using only a small part of the possibilities that it offers you: for example, I have hardly seen the need to control other people’s cars from a distance (in an improvised way, it is understood). On the other, the AI ​​of the enemies is still the great must of the saga: their tendency to forget what they are doing or their ease to lose traces is a bit astonishing at this point. And finally, sometimes the lock-hacking puzzles haven’t evolved since the last installment, and sometimes they’re a bit leaden.

Minor details for a video game that better intons its intentions than the previous installments: dialogues and situations are still somewhat banal and lacking in substance, but at the level of atmosphere and how it supports the main and secondary missions (almost always linked to the recruitment of new members , that is, everything ends up impacting the main game) has very interesting narrative findings. A very successful delivery for a saga that can still continue to evolve.

John Hartshorne
Senior IT engineer by the UPM of training and technical editor by profession, I have been writing in print and online media since the late 90s.
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