Review: Watch Dogs: Legion (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 5
  • Xbox One
  • Xbox Series X/S
  • Google Stadia
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Watch Dogs: Legion
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (33.65 GB)
Release Date: October 29, 2020
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating:
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I have a checkered past with the Watch Dogs IP. I played the first game and quickly got bored with it around ten hours in. I found combat bad and the driving worse. The story and concept were somewhat interesting, but that wasn’t enough to catch me. Also at the time, I was not as into open world games as I am now.

That brings me to Watch Dogs: Legion. When Legion was first announced, I kind of rolled my eyes and went on my way. As it was, I didn’t like the first game and completely missed the second game. The “recruit everyone” mechanic in Legion somewhat intrigued me, but not enough to say it was a day one purchase.

Then PS Nation was invited to play an early version, and we posted a preview on the site. That’s when things changed for me. The game, even in its early form, looked great, and the gameplay has been evolved. I began wondering if Watch Dogs had turned a corner. Turns out it has, and in spectacular fashion.

The first thing that grabbed me was not part of the story, but a game option. It was permadeath mode, if your character perished during the game, there was no coming back. You would have lost that character for good. I found this to be a great idea and hope to see it in more in games like Legion. It makes you play smarter and doesn’t let you rush in.

The story loosely continues from the first two games, but really focuses on the London chapter of Ded Sec. The story opens with Ded Sec being framed for mass bombings in the city. This allows for a police state to overcome London. As you progress through the rather long story, you find it’s told in chapters. You start by reforming Ded Sec and go from there. I found the story interesting from the start, and it hooked me from the very first moments. It was a fresh start of sorts, and wasn’t bogged down by games of the past.

Next up is combat. Gone are the days of shooting your way through an enemy building. Stealth and non-lethal combat is the name of the game. The hand-to-hand combat is quite brutal to get used to though. I found it tough to get the rhythm of a fight down. Between attacking and parrying, there’s this ballet you need to perform to get through a fight in the beginning. I did get used to it after a bit, but found it to be a chore.

On the other hand, I found the shooting, when forced into a gun fight, is tight. I was thoroughly surprised when I first encountered a shooting section. I found it to be tight and spot on. Although, the game encourages you to be non-lethal. If you do get in a shootout, be prepared to be overwhelmed. Enemies will come out of the woodwork after you.

Another improvement over the past games was the driving. Gone are the days of driving erratically; this time it’s fairly smooth. There is a learning curve, but it’s much shorter. I was barreling through traffic like a pro in no time. But, if you rather, you can always auto-drive to your destination, or fast travel.

One section of the game that takes advantage of this is the parcel (a/k/a postal, for those in the USA) delivery service. This is where you deliver packages that are too “sensitive” for regular post (mail). And Albion, the Police Force, is tasked to stop you. It’s a quick way to make in game currency and showcases the driving.

Along with the parcel service, there are a ton of minigames to be found in Legion, from darts, to football, and much more. There is much to do and see in this version of London. The way you level up your skills is through tech points. These are scattered all through the map, usually in Albion or Kelley buildings. I found it hard to focus on the story and not get all the ones I could to be Uber-powerful in the beginning of the game. Sometimes the tech points are attached to environment puzzles that you must figure out to get to them.

One of the newer ideas to come to the game is the ability to recruit anyone to your team. And Ubisoft was not kidding when they said anyone. Some are better than others and the higher level recruits come with recruitment missions. These missions are basically side quests or loyalty missions. I did not find myself switching between team members very often. The load times were fairly lengthy, so I did not bother too much with it.

As with it is with most games like this, there are trouble spots in the game. I did not run into any of the well published problems the game seemed to have at launch. No crashing or frame rate issues. I did get the game a little after launch, and Ubisoft did a server side patch, so that may explain it. The issues I did have are common in open world games, and I keep wishing a developer would find a way to squash these small issue.

First is my issue with combat. The camera can get real close to you and your opponent, so close that you cannot see if you’re making contact. You can easily rectify this, but in the heat of battle it gets annoying. This is especially evident when you’re in tight areas. Also, the pedestrian AI is a little off. I found pedestrians jumping in my way, instead of the other way. Not a huge game changer, but noticeable. And my last gripe is load times. It’s not a huge amount of time, but definitely enough time to quickly check Facebook.

Visuals:
We are at the point in the PS4’s life cycle where developers know how to get every pixel out of the system. It’s evident here in Watch Dogs: Legion, because this game sure is pretty. It’s not fairytale pretty mind you, it’s dark and gritty pretty. You see the dirt and grime of London in this beat up and imprisoned city. The art design is top notch and graphical output is beautiful on a 4K TV with HDR enabled. I did have trouble in remote play, the blacks were to “fuzzy” and made seeing things clearly much harder. Things were better during the daylight hours and I adjusted the usual settings with no luck. There was no issue when I played on my television though.

Legion ran smoothly for me with out any issues. I didn’t even see any pop in, or framerate drops. I know I am in the minority here, but things ran well for me.

Audio:
I’m a big fan of licensed music in games, and Watch Dogs: Legion delivers. It has a wide variety and it’s done very well. It was a pleasant surprise, to be sure. Also, the recorded podcasts are a blast to listen to and are well preformed. There is a lot of spoken dialogue and I did not once hear a bad line spoken. It was all preformed well and hit their marks.

The ambient noise is also something to mention. It’s full of sounds of the city, and all are excellent. From the sounds of cars whooshing by, to the crash of vehicles, I enjoyed the time I played the game with headphones.

Online/Multiplayer:
Online multiplayer was not available at the time of the review. It is scheduled to release in the future.

Conclusion:
I was really impressed with Watch Dogs: Legion. From the new recruiting mechanic, to the sound and graphics, it was a great effort from Ubisoft. I think moving forward, other open world games could learn from this one. Now there are a few small issues, some are procedural, and some are developer choices. But with a game this large and involved I can live with it.

I recommend Watch Dogs: Legion to anyone who wants to try a game like this. Fan of the franchise or newcomer, there is something everyone can take out of this game.

Score:
8.5.

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Shawn Hiers

Shawn Hiers

Disabled gamer. Married Father of 5, and playing since the Atari days. I have a passion for all things Lego and an avid Toy Collector. I am also an huge Doctor Who Fan and can talk all things Who for hours 🙂

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