With Watch Dogs: Legion, Ubisoft is again playing the duet of the apocalypse in a third attempt with the topics of digitization and total surveillance. The setting, which was frighteningly tangible when the series made its debut in 2014, has become even more threatening in view of technological advances over the past six years. And this time the Watch Dogs set out with a whole legion. In the test, we reveal whether and how well Ubisoft has succeeded in the new open world action - as always: spoiler-free in text and images.


Imagine every kilometer you walk is recorded. Imagine that advertisements are displayed based on the content you have consumed on the Internet. Imagine watches on your wrist measure your stress level. Imagine bots and conspiracy theorists using social media to carry out targeted propaganda. Scary - but in 2020 it will have been part of everyday life for a long time. With Watch Dogs: Legion, which is now the third offshoot of the Open World series, the French publisher Ubisoft paints a far worse picture of the reality in a dystopian London: A powerful corporation, more precisely: a private military company, comes to the by a coup Power to continue to abuse her for his reign of terror.

Because it no longer sounds like a single hacktivist can resist it, resourceful developers are now handing fans of the series in command of a whole legion of "freedom fighters" who couldn't be more unequal: from sports stars to aggro grannies Player against the Albion concern and its monopoly of power.

Your number is Legion and is growing steadily

“Legion”, at Watch Dogs, there is a simple and ingenious concept behind it: In theory, thousands of Londoners can be recruited for their own cause. That works well on the surface, sometimes turns out to be a great idea on an extensive open-world playground. And then there are sometimes the moments when you notice that there is only a kind of grouping system hidden behind it, in which different characters have been assigned to an action faction in order to be able to access different special maneuvers: For example, you request vehicles, sneak around or choose the direct route, with the bazooka at the ready. The fairy tale of playful freedom is a bit like smoke and mirrors.

 

Watch Dogs: Legion picks up where London goes up in flames. Source: Spielpunkt

Watch Dogs: Legion picks up where London goes up in flames. Source: Spielpunkt

Nevertheless: Watch Dogs: Legion always comes up with those situations in which you realize how great and entertaining the gameplay really isn't. You always have the choice of how to solve a task, whether you unpack the crowbar and maraudingly enter through the front door - or act more cleverly, in secret, using technical gadgets. In the end, the basic idea is more than just "well-intentioned", not free from flaws, but still a successful trick, because it gives the player a choice. This is not new, with Watch Dogs: Legion you don't control the egg-laying woolly milk pig with a dozen skills, but many specialized characters. Ultimately, the idea also fits the setting: It's about standing up against injustice together, albeit with questionable means.

The reality, which was completely exaggerated by the developers, including the sometimes weird figures, softens the horror scenario - Watch Dogs: Legion does not become a game that wants to wag a raised index finger, but a hacktivist playground with a really serious one Topic doesn't take itself very seriously. The new offshoot from the Watch Dogs range is therefore not child's play either. Even the USK approval from 18 years of age makes it clear: Here are topics in the game that are aimed exclusively at adults. It was no different with the two predecessors. And in fact, it's not just cracking and smoking at Watch Dogs: Legion, it's sometimes quite brutal. And the humor is also special, even if it succeeds in many places. The most fun is “Bagley”, the cheeky British version of Tony Stark's computer brain JARVIS.

The crazy world is supported by characters that are at least as crazy that you can use as a player. Collecting the different characters and adding their skills to your skill pool can be one of the tasks that players devote themselves to - if they want to. This is not absolutely necessary in order to move forward. After all, potential freedom fighters are only too willing to join the ranks of the DeadSec hacker organization. How well the details interlock when it comes to putting together your legion, you only notice during the course of the game.

The lighting and lighting effects are impressive. Source: Spielpunkt

The lighting and lighting effects are impressive. Source: Spielpunkt

At first, the idea of ​​hiring a recruit whose “special ability” is to own a car seems pretty trivial. Later, however, new members join the team who turn out to be experts: For example, a getaway driver who not only has a particularly fast car, but also prevents police drones from being chased. That feels quite powerful, but above all useful. In fact, it is now quite fun to recruit new DeadSec members, because the characters are also visually very different. If you don't want to run around with just any character, you have to look out for “your hero” or “your heroine”. Whether you look after your team, look after it and protect it from enemies, depends largely on how you put it together. This may not work for every player, but it can be attractive. 

Lively mega-metropolis

Directly linked to this is how much fun you can have with Watch Dogs: Legion. For some, this type of open-world pastime with a pronounced Pokemon factor is completely unattractive, for others it is a pleasure to take care of the management of the crew. In fact, the search for recruits is a very time-consuming activity: you scan citizens, determine their skills - either face-to-face on the street or via surveillance camera - and decide whether they fit into the team or at least have skills that are useful.

Clever detail: the characters have both good and negative traits. This is how you can find a strong hand-to-hand fighter who, however, is completely immobile. Or characters can be addicted to games, so that you always lose a small amount of your DeadSec cash flow. The concept has another advantage: You avoid story dissonances because you can always choose which character you want to use which approach. The pacifists running amok will only be found in Watch Dogs: Legion if the player allows it. If you want, you can act with the characters according to their character types. 

Great Legion System: You can analyze and recruit almost any character in the game for your crew. Source: Spielpunkt

Great Legion system: You can analyze and win almost every character in the game for your crew. Source: Spielpunkt

The idea is quite exciting, because sooner or later you meet weird guys on your trip through London that you absolutely want to know in your team. The concept of filling a world with characters, each with their own biographies, is not entirely new, but with Watch Dogs: Legion it has been redesigned, at least in terms of gameplay. That stimulates and motivates, if not indefinitely.

The residents of London also follow a daily routine, so that the 24/7 uniformity known from games rarely occurs. Of course, this fact can also be used, for example when a guard goes about everyday civilian life in their free time. Time and again, smaller stories emerge from this - and this in turn gives the feeling of a lively virtual city. In any case, what the level designers have created is terrific. London has never been so beautiful in a video game. The city with its landmarks is recognizable, the trip in a stolen car through the city center is fun.

Watch Dogs: Legion is palpably sandboxed

Watch Dogs: Legion usually offers upside-down worlds when it comes to deciding on the many approaches to the missions. While the infiltration is comparatively easy and you can usually take down opponents one by one without major problems, the rather simple explosive approach in other games is a challenge in view of the military power of Albion, at least mostly. When the corporation sends hordes of well-equipped elite fighters on the player's neck, drones circling overhead and blasts pounding at the hackers from all sides, it is not uncommon to wish that the stealth had been chosen. It works better anyway and is closer to the playful basic idea that the developers probably had: You should work creatively and remotely, use the technology, look for alternatives.

There's plenty of mischief to be had on the streets of London - even during the chase. Note the truck in the background... Source: Spielpunkt

There's plenty of mischief to be had on the streets of London - even during the chase. Note the truck in the background. Source: Spielpunkt

The countless gadgets and gadgets that you can fall back on help with this. You can use your smartphone to distract opponents and then take them off; or you hack into the technological apparatus in order to trigger all sorts of effects, to set traps or to use the environment in your favor. Due to the countless interaction possibilities, Watch Dogs: Legion feels like sandbox, albeit with many recurring elements - and even if you as a player want to live out your penchant for experimentation, because all the gimmicks are not mandatory. With minor exceptions, perhaps: drones, for example. The aircraft are omnipresent in Watch Dogs: Legion, annoying in parts, but can be controlled more and more during the game or used for your own purposes. 

There are also puzzles in the new offshoot of the Watch Dogs series, but mostly of the kind: “Complete the line”, not innovative, often even caustic. You could have done without that. But: Every now and then you face semi-tricky pipeline tasks that are much more appealing because you have to use several environmental elements. That doesn't make the basic concept any better, but it does make it more bearable. In the boss fights you should have done without it. Overall, the gameplay offers many repetitive elements, missions usually run in the same way: Infiltrate a building that is secured by cameras, drones and guards; hack into the computer system; defuse traps; crawl through a ventilation shaft with your robo-spider; hack into the computer system; and so forth. 

Everywhere in the city you discover details that you want to take a closer look at. Source: Spielpunkt

Everywhere in the city you discover details that you want to take a closer look at. Source: Spielpunkt

Watch Dogs: Legion lives mostly from the gameplay and not from the story. There is a story, and it also has a common thread, but the narrative part of the game is not really outstanding and precisely geared towards the setting. The small moments when demonstrators defend themselves or when police violence is witnessed are often much more exciting. That supports the atmosphere and makes the sandbox more believable, but there are no real highlights - at best the finale may surprisingly dissolve. 

Pictures of Watch Dogs: Legion

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Infobox

Number of players: 1
Age: USK 18
Difficulty: easy to medium
Long-term motivation: medium
Genre: action game
Sub-genre: open world stealth game

Publisher: Ubisoft
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox Series X, PC, Playstation 5, Google Stadia
Language: German voice output, German subtitles
Costs: from 42,99 euros

Summary

With Watch Dogs: Legion, publisher Ubisoft and the in-house development studios dare a more or less innovative experiment: Instead of letting players slip in the footsteps of a character, you access a whole horde of characters that you first have to laboriously collect. Not everyone likes this, but it is fun if you can get involved with the system. Much more interesting than the current status in this game is probably even the outlook into the future: The developers learn from their creation and the feedback from players, work on improvements and ideally a few offshoots later can offer a much more innovative game experience than with the Status quo. Watch Dogs: Legion seems to be an investment in the future for Ubisoft.

Otherwise, of course, the makers rely on the well-known open-world formula, which in the end only offers the same with Watch Dogs: Legion. That can be criticized or you accept it because you can come to terms with the current standards of the genre. In any case, the current offshoot of the series looks excellent - and this is exactly where Ubisoft shows its open world experience. The futuristic metropolis is literally brought to life on the screen, there is something going on in many corners, even if you can't get rid of the feeling that there could be even more hustle and bustle in the megacity. All of this is accompanied by sometimes cool music, for example by Muse, which can be heard on the radio. Incidentally, the lighting and lighting effects are atmospheric, on the Xbox Series X (our test system for the game) even more. 

The gameplay can't quite keep up with the Legion system and the grandiose optics. Missions are often played out according to the scheme F, in between good moments keep the game running, so that in the end it never really gets boring to work through the main and side quests. There is a lot of standard food in Ubisoft Open-World, which - as is so often the case - is wonderfully presented and basically works well, but rarely can shine with real highlights. Sometimes this is also due to the Legion system itself and the eternal illusion of unlimited freedom: Yes, you can win almost all Londoners for your cause, but in the end the limits are set by simple classifications - with Watch Dogs: Legion, however, with the A special feature is that you put different types of clichés over it. 

Still, Watch Dogs: Legion is a fun title if you drag the entertainment out of the sandbox mindset. Is that the big hit? Not at all. But is the game motivating enough to sink into it for hours? Definitely! To try out what is possible in the world, play jokes, cause accidents, take on wild chases and here and there not avoid a blunt shooting - all this and more can be done in the futuristic urban jungle. Watch Dogs: Legion is a slight further development of the open world idea, but in the end you went the more safe way and set the tried and tested. And the theme of the game? Nowadays it goes by itself: Big Brother is watching you.


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Last updated on 27.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API