I knew I couldn’t wait for this. For some reason, the Watch Dogs series has me on a hook. I got the first one after I’d finished watching the first three seasons of Person of Interest and thought it was a glorious (if flawed) combination of Person of Interest and GTA. I got the second one on pre-order, deciding to get it two days prior to release. I waited for a week after release for Watch Dogs Legion, and instead of reading my fellow reviewers’ thoughts on it, I went off what my friend had said and just bought it.
Initially, I have to say, I was very impressed with the game. London has been recreated extremely well, albeit on a much smaller scale, and many of the landmarks and buildings look truly excellent – even if they have been a little ruined by Albion’s propaganda decorating them. For the first few hours of my gameplay as well, I didn’t actually realise you could fast-travel to tube stations, so I drove around the whole time and I’m really glad I did. It’s terrific fun discovering all the hidden locations that you would’ve thought Ubisoft might have forgotten about, or ducking into a pub for a cheeky pint. It’s made a lot easier too as there’s an auto-drive function which obeys the speed limit so is a little slow, but as Ubisoft have never been able to get driving right in any previous Watch Dogs games, it does make life a little less painful.
Following on from that point in fact, driving safely isn’t just good for maintaining cover, it also prevents people from starting to dislike DedSec, your ragtag group of rebels. Everything has a knock on effect in this game, and this was strongly illustrated to me when I found a police officer who hated DedSec because I’d run over one of their friends when I started the game. He had some great abilities and would’ve been an excellent member of my team, but sadly due to my past transgressions, he slammed the door firmly in my face. However, it can work in your favour too. Occasionally I bumped into people that I could just immediately recruit because I’d helped out their family, or I’d prevented them from being victimised by Albion. I did find – to begin with – building a team was the most fun part of the game. You start out with a person who has one benefit, but quickly you’ll find people that are slightly better, then slightly better again with abilities that were surprisingly useful.
One thing that Ubisoft doubled down on in Watch Dogs Legion are the drones. There are quite a few different types of drones, some airborne, some spidery, some won’t get used quite as much as others but some will basically be the main function of the game for you. At least, they were for me. Spider drones and cargo drones to be exact. Any time I was a character that could summon a cargo drone or there was one nearby for me to hijack, I made full use of it. Any time there wasn’t one around, I just lobbed my spider drone somewhere nearby and take control of it and guide it towards my goal. Sometimes I’d combine the two by flying my character high above a target and dropping the spider drone in like it was a paratrooper. While sometimes I do like killing people, it is definitely possible to play this game without killing too many people and being able to complete most quests and gather intel and tech points without people realising you were even there.
Bugs invade London
There was a reason I was trying to wait for the Watch Dogs Legion to mature a bit and receive a few patches ahead of buying it. Unfortunately, my short-sightedness caused me a significant amount of frustration and angriness. Sadly, Watch Dogs Legion is one of the buggiest games I’ve ever played. Actually, that might not be fair. It’s not quite on the same bugginess level as a Bethesda game, but the bugs that are present are ones that destroy your game and with it, your happiness. The most heinous of the bugs that I have encountered is the one where after an hour of play, your game doesn’t save anymore. You’re never notified of this and on the surface, nothing seems to change. The game still plays as it had done from the start and you will never notice that your progress is no longer being saved, but for whatever reason, any time I’ve played over an hour, my progress is lost for that session. The work around – which is baffling that it is still necessary given the game has now been out for almost twenty days now – is to set an alarm every hour and fully close the game before reopening it.
This actually also affects one of the niftier functions of the new Xboxes. They’ve taken notes from the other developers and when you turn the console off, you can do it without closing the game. This means when you boot the console back up, you can jump straight back into the game, exactly where you left off. It’s hardly a groundbreaking feature given it’s quite common in Nintendo consoles and the handheld Sony consoles, but it is one that adds a lot of value. Except in Watch Dogs Legion, where you’re told that you’ve lost your connection to Xbox Live and asked to reconnect – without telling you how. In fact, the joke of this is, you won’t have lost your connection to Xbox Live, but instead to their cloud saving servers. Trying to play from here on will result in you achieving nothing as no matter how much you do, everything will be lost.
These issues can easily be patched. In theory. We’ll see if they manage it by the time you’ve read this review but I won’t be holding my breath on that front. There are a few other smaller, irritating parts that can’t be quite so easily resolved. First of the slight irritations is the voice acting. Yes, you can play as whoever you please, the world is supposedly enormous, blah blah blah, but when everyone has to select from a pool of around ten voices and faces, the Watch Dogs Legion incarnation of London starts to shrink. Not only that but most of the voices do sound like caricatures of people you might find living in London. It’s actually fairly difficult to find a person wandering around the game that has:
- The skills you want
- No negative skills
- A decent voice
- Doesn’t look like they’ve been put together by Dr Frankenstein
By the end of the game, I think I’d spent most of my time playing the one person, because everyone else on my team annoyed me. I could’ve certainly used some of their benefits in missions to stay cloaked from the enemy or summon drones, but unless it was absolutely required, I stuck to the one person only. I actually had a team of over twenty people and ended up just using one, which sort of goes against the whole gimmick of recruiting multiple people. It didn’t help that there weren’t that many recruitment missions, so after a little while I began recognising all of the conversations and mission areas, so I already knew how to conquer the mission and recruit the person.
Also, I found that there are certain objects that are nearly impossible to pick up. Only very rarely, so this isn’t a humongous criticism, but there are a few situations in which you’ll struggle to pick things up in Watch Dogs Legion. Firstly, if you have a few objects around, the game won’t know which to focus on, so of course it’ll focus on every single item around but the one you want. Secondly, and perhaps more frustratingly, there are certain objects that just seem to not want you to highlight them, no matter how hard you try. I found this with the first podcast collectable that was on a mannequin. For whatever reason, just could not find the correct angle to grab it, and spent probably a few too many minutes trying. Also, when trying to do the achievement for drinking in every pub in the game, I think I recruited around half of the barmen because it couldn’t believe I just wanted a pint.
The Final Word
Overall, would I recommend Watch Dogs Legion? That’s a tough question. It has a plethora of issues, some fixable, some less fixable. It does have some fun aspects to it, and I did complete it as much as it would let me – some achievements are still ungettable – but it’s still a game that needed an extra two or three months just so someone at Ubisoft could QA it. I genuinely don’t believe anyone is employed in that position at Ubisoft, because if they were, they would never have let Watch Dogs Legion come out. In its current form, it’s nothing more than an insult to gamers. It should not have been released in the state it’s in, and given it’s been out for almost twenty days now, it should certainly have had some patches released to resolve some of the issues everyone is encountering.