This one easy trick could have saved Watch Dogs: Legion! [review]

Title This one easy trick could have saved Watch Dogs: Legion!
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Game reviews
When November 15, 2020

Watch Dogs Legion is exactly what I want in my open-world games, and I know this because State of Decay was exactly what I wanted in my open-world games..

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That, was a great read! Thanks!

Ubisoft games are gorgeous, and they can get away with simple and repetitive (hello, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla!). But if I can’t have depth, and if I can’t have variety, I at least need advancement

This so very much! I’ve played Watch Dogs Legion for a little bit. Mainly because it looked really good, and the opening scene gave me a slight hope we might have a few recurring characters, but man - its so BORING! I am very happy my purchase was just the Uplay Plus thingie, and not my usual full on deluxe super edition I usually do whenever I get a Ubisoft game.

And while Valhalla is great, it suffers a little bit as well from doing the same thing over and over - at least we have a second rate Kassandra to go with it!

Another erudite and grown-up review, Mr. Chick.

I really wanted to like this, but it’s awful. I can’t fathom how Ubisoft wound up with this tepid mess even with all the delays and Clint Hocking helping out.

Brutal but honest and we’ll written. Thanks Tom.

Ugh… this is the game I planned to play first on my shiny new PS5 and even pre-ordered it. Sounds like I backed the wrong horse. Going to cancel the order.

So is this the first Ubicrap game to be honest about its intent and not hide that it is wholly empty behind the cheap camouflage of unlockables?
Do you hate honesty, Mr. Chick?!

Never bet on a Watch Dogs game. I learned that with the first one and PS4.

Ha. 30 hours in and having a good time :)

Beyond the fact that the characters differ in flavour only, they give you an army but keep the existing WD mission types… which are all built around one person. It’s like doing XCom missions but only sending one guy. They needed to have mission design which required one person to distract the guard, one to swipe his doodad, a third to make a copy of it etc. Interestingly they do have a sort of multiple character mission, but the characters are you, your spider, and your cameras. They need to give your other army a point, and they left that out. I can’t even send them on away missions :(

I seem to dislike each WD game more than the previous, so I am expecting to really hate Legion when I do get around to trying it, with Uplay+.

If I had one tip, it might be don’t recruit more than a handful of people, then you’ll come to value them more. But that’s not what I did, so maybe not :)

Legion is a fatuous game, but I enjoy playing it.

Since all of London is your character, there is progression with Tech upgrades. Yes, it’s a global unlock, but since you’re not A character, you’re unlocking abilities for you, the player. Since I switch between a few team members regularly, the tech upgrades and new skills are a definite perk to keep me engaged, and play with new methods to solve the hacking puzzles.

The stealth puzzles are super repetitive, but every few missions, there’s an interesting nut to try to crack that keeps me going.

Also, and this is a superficial, but significant aspect of my enjoyment: London looks unbelievably well rendered IF you’re one of the chosen few with a 3080 and can run RTX reflections on Ultra, w/ max textures, etc. It is constantly making me stop and gawk. Driving down the street, or along the water, or in a drone by the London Eye is gobsmacking. The amount of debris, and reflections, and shadows, and natural light as you engage in your car chases, or shootouts is a sight to behold. It doesn’t make Legion anything more than a tepid game, as Telefrog opined, but it certainly is something worth my time.

“Sneak, hack puzzle, sneak, hack puzzle, sneak, hack puzzle, shoot/punch as necessary. Rinse and repeat, ad nauseum”

Personally I think the core gameplay loop is what makes the Watch Dogs enjoyable.

Sneak, run, climb, cloak, spider, fly, camera, distract, cloak spider, punch, takedown, download

is plenty of verbs in my book. In AC Odyssey, the verbs are: jump, stab. And in Far Cry they are: shoot. The fact that every secure location in London has 5 large security holes while every Londonder has the knowledge to breach about 10 is quite a balance issue, but the permutations of lightweight infiltration options have given me plenty of enjoyment.

I’m enjoying Valhalla just fine, but sadly, Eivor can’t hold a candle to Kassandra. If I were being generous, I might characterize him/her as a fifth-rate Kassandra. :(

What’s really surprising to me is how this feels like a huge step backwards from Watch Dogs 2. It’s always weird when videogames don’t live up to the “sequels are always superior” truism.

The camo may be cheap, but it’s usually pretty effective! And as I said in this review, if there had been upgradable characters in Legion, I probably would have fallen for it. You can ding Ubisoft all you want and I’ll normally be right there with you, but I can’t deny they know effective game design. Usually.

Oh, man, this is an excellent point, Alistair. Well put.

Okay, that’s a real stretch. I hope you warmed up before typing that, as I’d hate for you to pull something. :)

But I do get what you’re saying. I think part of the issue for me is that London didn’t really work for me as a city design. I never got a sense for different neighborhoods or landmarks or layout or even a tone. It just felt like Generic City 49517 to me.

I wish the design had leaned into this more. Instead, all the unlockables feel pretty optional, because it seems that Ubisoft wants you to be able to solve any puzzle with any toolset. But aside from the flying drone, none of the unlockables seemed to “break” the rules. None of them seemed to change the nature of the puzzles, or my approach to them. Sure, it’s great to be able to hack the combat drones, but I could just as readily sneak around them. Honestly, most of the time, I didn’t even bother equipping the stuff I unlocked, which meant I stopped caring about the tech upgrade points, which minimized yet another fundamental gameplay system, which took away another incentive to play.


Don’t forget explore, level up, collect, loot, and upgrade gear, not to mention just plain grinding for xp or resources. Those are all major systems in Ubisoft’s non-Watch Dogs: Legion games. That’s cool if you’re enjoying Legion and find the gameplay loop satisfying, but there’s no equivalence with the range of gameplay systems in the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry games.


Ah, shoo, Tom, I take back the cheap attack I did on the unlockables. You’re good ;) Especially when you brought up, once again, this recurring point of yours, but with an unlock twist:

I tend to dismiss unlockables as superficial while, indeed, they breath new air into the game’s wheel when done with a design in mind.
Looking back though, I find even less and less open world games where that happened to be the case for me. It has almost always been a case of all or nothing appeal from the start when I play a game in that genre. I may be just too impatient for them. Anyway, I’m done talking about me!

Theres some brief scenes (the last 3 or 4 seconds) where the game is a game. But the rest is filler pretending to be a game.

Then theres some areas that worth visiting, but the “mindcandy” is not here. The ideas are trivial and would only surprise somebody really uninformed about sci-fi concepts.

Overal, is not a game that is worth visit. But I hope the idea of procedural characers is copied by other games. Hopefully somebody can get this idea and make something fun with it.

…making a note to myself to steal this word.

You mean like State of Decay? :)


I’ll eventually get this because it looks like a great sort of London simulator, even if it’s not a great game.
The first Division falls right in this hole for me too, I liked the sort of NY simulator, even in less than ideal conditions, but the game part was less than it should be.

It’s like Ubisoft makes great virtual “places”, but then what you get to do in them isn’t as good as it could be.

This Ubisoft world is the worst of those they have made in recent (mine, that is) memory. Its just flat, samey and boring.

I’d recommend a month of Uplay instead to try it out, instead of paying any kind of full price for it.

It’s not great as a game world, but I’m still loving it as a virtual London. I keep coming across buildings or spaces that I didn’t expect them to model, and I love seeing the bits they’ve consciously changed, like the hideous QEII in Parliament Square.