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Watch Dogs Legion at your fingertips: millions of playable characters



NPCs were a big part of the first two Watchdog Games; Your colorful stories and biographical snippets would show up when you scan someone in the game world, mostly for comedic effects. But in Watch Dogs LegionUbisoft takes advantage of this potential and extends it to a central part of the game – or at least tries to.

The idea is simple: all of these NPCs, with all of their strengths and weaknesses, are now actually playable characters that can be recruited as part of your hacktivist army. Do you have to sneak onto a construction site? Recruit a construction worker who can sneak in undetected. And with procedurally generated characters, Ubisoft says that the number of potential recruits is in the millions.

Unfortunately for all the hype of playing after three hours legion, it is not enough to distinguish its innumerable characters from each other. One of my recruits, an older spy, treats exactly the same thing as a lively young killer or a football hooliganism. The main differences are the two or three advantages each character brings and their standard gadget.

There are clear archetypes: construction workers all have a nail gun, wrench, and cargo drone, while spies are equipped with a silenced gun and a James Bond-style car that can be called to their location, and missiles and one Invisibility function.

Ubisoft is definitely pushing players to recruit certain NPCs. Most random characters that walk around have minor advantages (loyalty cards with a shopping discount were particularly common), no advantages at all, or even purely harmful traits (such as poor shape or a heavy drinker who has noticeable disadvantages in the game). Other characters – which ones legion will point this out to players directly by occasionally highlighting them in the game world – they are clearly “main characters” with special advantages and useful skills such as unique weapons, improved hacking skills or advantages in combat and stealth.

With the limited demo time I had, I couldn’t see how far Ubisoft goes in distinguishing characters – especially when it comes to things like voice actors, since every recruit you play also appears in full-length cutscenes. But even in my relatively short time with the game, I had already started to repeat elements. Several potential recruits had palette-change missions to get them to join my team, and even the limits of Ubisoft’s character generator were obvious, with some of my potential characters strangely similar.

Despite these differences, the character system is pretty limited on what you can actually do with it. You cannot switch between your recruits immediately. While Guard dogs: LegionThe playing field is reminiscent of the ability to freely switch between a more sneaky hacker to get into a building before you call in your combat specialist to ward off your enemies, and then switch to your getaway driver with perks to avoid traffic. Reality looks a lot more tame. You can select and switch characters at any time, but reload the game (and reset your mission to the last checkpoint). If you “die” in a mission, your character will either be arrested or hospitalized, causing you to switch characters and set a real timer of around 20 to 30 minutes before you can use it again. (legion does offer an optional permadeath mode that theoretically increases the stake, but I didn’t get a chance to try it.)

The whole thing feels far less ambitious and concrete than the original vision of the game that Ubisoft showed at E3 2019. The initial rendition had different character classes (executors, hackers, and infiltrators) that excelled in various tasks and a progress system with character levels that would unlock new skills over time – deeper elements that have since been cut out of the final version.

Watch Dogs Legion Character selection screen from the E3 2019 demo (left) and the 2020 version of the game (right)

This wrong distinction also affects other aspects of gameplay. The game attaches great importance to giving players access to a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons. In actual combat, however, the game was neither punished nor did enemies have a strong influence on whether I would mow their comrades down or stun them with a taser. What weapons a character has is a key differentiator, but everyone feels pretty similar in practice.

Aside from the unique character system, the rest of the game continues to build on that Grand Theft Auto-Style basis of the series. A lot of time in legion is spent driving around London, hijacking cars as you see fit, and trying to avoid paying too much attention to the police. (As in previous genre games, there is an escalating police measurement if you break the law.) Given that legion is a new one Watchdog In-game, of course, there is the additional hacking level, which works similarly to the systems in the first two titles and allows you to clear cars out of the way, trigger traffic blocks and crash drones.

Like any good sandbox game, Guard dogs: Legion is packed up With tools and toys to play with – it’s fun to just drive around London, search NPCs for interesting recruits or fun information, and hack everything in sight. This also means that the game encourages players to use these tools in more measured, secret approaches during missions. If you run with blazing guns, you are likely to be killed and far less fun.

On the story side of things legion also continues the brighter tone of the previous game – players are working with hacking collective DedSec, who has been blamed for a massive London bombing that was actually perpetrated by one different Underground hacking group called Zero Day. As a result, London is taken over by a privatized military police group called Albion, which players will fight to regain control of the city for the people. (Albion very The logo is plastered all over the city, including landmarks like Tower Bridge. It also has a main base at the Tower of London itself because it’s this type of game.) In typical Ubisoft fashion, none of this is, of course, political.

There is also a lot more here Guard dogs: Legion when my first demo got to explore. But based on what I’ve seen so far, the innovative NPC system is more flash than substance, in addition to what otherwise feels like a fairly normal sequel to the open world franchise.

Guard dogs: Legion will be available later this year for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game are also expected to be released this Christmas.


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