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Letters from the Front

Watch Dogs: Legion is an interesting game, although a game seemingly not for me, but an interesting nonetheless. The core premise of Legion lies in the old wisdom saying of “strength in numbers,” which is what the game is literally about as it allows you to recruit anyone and play as them as you amount a legion of rag-tag Resistance fighters.

Legion is set in a near future, technology-advanced London after Brexit ( Odd.) where the long-standing hacker group DedSec has been framed for a terrorist act and its members has been labeled as terrorists. This plan, however, has been planned by a rival hacker group by the name of Zero Day. In the chaos after the terrorist act, London and its citizens are caught in the grip of encroaching fascism and suffocating capitalism due to Albion, a private military group, and rival criminal and mega corporations taking advantage of the chaos.

London in Legion is very much presented as a more technology-advanced and exaggerated version of the real-life city. The city’s history and its iconic landmarks are the backdrop for the game, the majesty of Buckingham Palace and Camden are washed with delivery drones, holographic advertisements, and self-driving cars that flood your eyesight ( Doesn’t surprise me if the world gets to this point, though.) and of course, all of this is just for you to play around with your new hacking toys. Much of the flavor and atmosphere of London seems to be rooted in the present day, with many of the topics being discussed today. Brexit, weaponized social media, everything being seemingly political and brainwashing ideology ( Left & Right.) going mainstream, Legion effectively portrays the troubles of the day, in a game where it’s kinda shallow to play although a very interesting premise.

The story deals with a lot of political themes, from xenophobia to immigration and its quite heavy on the topics, like a mix between Mr. Robot and Black Mirror. The execution of the themes is completely shallow and scattershot, although, sometimes delivering on the themes but its few and far between. The impact and delivery of these themes are lost to the wind due to the open-world nature of the game, it would hit a little more if the game was narrow and linear; the game is too wide to deliver any sort of political messages in a thought-provoking and concise way. As a result of this, the plot can drift away and become a secondary plot to the moment to moment actions and mechanics that are at play. The aftereffects of this is that the themes are presently seen in the side activities, heavy-lifting the themes that are so good, which they do reasonably well.

Like previous games and partly why I say the game is not for me and that the game is shallow to play, is that Watch Dogs: Legion is literally a copy and paste of previous Ubisoft games. Everything here is the same from previous Ubisoft games: familiar tropes, familiar loop of open world games which entails all the gameplay genres into one: stealth, combat, and in-game narrative devices. It’s so shallow and thus becomes mundane and boring filled with repetitive missions that often have you revisit locations and objectives on a repeated basis that it becomes fundamentally a chore. However, Watch Dogs: Legion reaches its highs when many of your choices can cascade into a satisfying chain of reactions that yield your desired result. Hacking is the core connection to the world, and it opens up many clever opportunities when it comes to figuring out how to achieve your goals.

Not all of it is bad, however, Legion’s true stars is the city of London and the characters that inhabit it. The previous two games  allowed you to learn cursory information about citizens around you, but in Legion, you can use this information to scout recruits. Depending on if they favor DedSec, they’ll ask you to complete minor objectives to seal the bond and remember your choices.

With such a vast list of playable characters, you’ll likely find yourself leaning on a select few operatives for your A-team, especially if they are gifted with a particular set of skills. However, Legion has a way of tossing in a curveball recruit that could be your new favorite. While each operative is capable, missions will likely turn sour after a wrong decision, resulting in all sorts of enemies coming down on you. Even failing recruitment missions can set you back, prompting you to work extra hard to get back into a potential candidate’s good graces. Adding to this is the option to enhance the campaign to include permanent deaths for all your operatives–meaning once they fall in a mission, they’re gone for good. It’s a clever addition that adds a bit more realism and a greater sense of consequence to the campaign. It’s a great feature, that, I wish most games would use. While, the characters, are great and have great personalities, they can appear mismatched for the moment and context of what’s happening. This can lead to some unexpected and bizarre shifts in tone.

In conclusion, Watch Dogs: Legion is a hit or miss in many cases. From repetitive missions to boring gameplay to the same old Ubisoft tropes and to some good qualities makes this a hit or miss, just like the rest of the Watch Dogs franchise. Let’s hope the game gets a little bit better by review, stay tuned for that.

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