E3 has officially begun and many of you have undoubtedly followed the pre-public E3 press conferences that have since passed, including the Ubisoft conference that was held last night. Even before that exact conference, we had the chance of not only speaking to two of the developers of the just-announced Watch Dogs Legion but also play the game at the Ubisoft pre-conference event in Los Angeles.
Watch Dogs has clearly evolved throughout the years since the first release in the franchise back in 2014, but with the upcoming release of Legion, some much more substantial changes are coming. The biggest of these changes is the fact that players won't be controlling one specific protagonist or talking to a set gang of Dedsec members. Legion will instead have players recruit people off the streets of London, the city in which the game is set, and play as those recruits. This means that the protagonist, or protagonists rather, can be any NPC roaming the streets, each with their own traits, interests, occupations and personalities. These characters can then be customised to fit the player's playstyle and general visual style by picking a class for each of them and visiting any of the many clothing stores around London.
20 characters can be part of your resistance at the same time and each of them has to be recruited by gaining their trust as a Dedsec representative. To do this, the player will have to profile them by pressing the left bumper, save the character's information to their database, and then embark on a quest to earn their trust and loyalty. Once the character is loyal enough you'll get the option to recruit them fully and play as them after picking a class.
The game offers three classes, all of which offer different combat advantages. Enforcer, the first class, is a ranged weapon-focused class with a nifty sticky mine as its special ability. Infiltrator, the second class, is a stealth-based class with a cloaking ability that'll make the player invisible to enemies for a short while. The third and final class is the hybrid hacker class, which will let the player fiddle around with drones and turrets. Apart from the three classes, the traits that every character has from the get-go actually influence the gameplay. For example, we encountered a chronically ill operative that had some cool and useful traits and one major drawback - he could drop dead at any time. This element is a major factor in Legion. It's also worth noting that every character will be gone for good if lost to either illness, an accident, or an intense battle.
For Watch Dogs Legion, Ubisoft has decided that melee will become more of a viable combat style with which players will be able to subdue enemies in a non-lethal manner, as they might be interested in recruiting some of them after taking them down in combat. This offers an incredible sense of freedom in terms of how you approach your mission.
Mission-wise, we didn't really experience that much, however, we were told that Legion will bring five separate story-lines with their own arcs and, of course, the recruitment side-missions we touched on earlier. If you're looking to play with friends, Legion also offers a four-player co-operative mode in which your characters will move into the realm of multiplayer with all of your upgrades intact. As for what the co-operative mode will bring, we don't know for sure just yet.
Going back to the characters once again, we got to experience the full extent of the recruitment process during our time with the game and despite recruiting badass-looking youngsters, we also had some older, lovely ladies into the resistance. A very interesting and cool touch we noticed when playing as these ladies was the fact that their movements and their mannerisms would differ from the other playable characters. When vaulting they'd almost fall over, they wouldn't really run and, during combat, they'd flail their limbs around as if they weren't really in full control over their bodies. We thought that the game really captured the difference in ages between the characters, and we were truly impressed by the level of detail that has been put into this aspect.
Continuing on the topic of different traits within Watch Dogs Legion, every character will be voiced and they will all clearly portray different personality types, stances, and vocals during cutscenes and in general dialogue. Twenty voice actors are portraying the many civilians of this semi-fictional London and different alterations to those audio files will add even more variation to the voices of Dedsec, street civilians, government and faction-baddies alike.
As for the world itself, London is truly stunning in its near-apocalyptic state. The surveillance state has gone dystopian where technology is taking over bigger and bigger parts of everyday life. Drones roam the skies above and both crooked cops working for a crooked government as well as shady crime factions patrol the streets. It's up to you to put a stop to it by either hacking your way through the front lines while hiding in the shadows or going in guns blazing. You and your resistance.
We don't know about you, but we can't wait to fly across the London skies on a hacked cargo drone, recruit old granny ex-spies, and blow shit up in Watch Dogs Legion when it launches on March 6, 2020.