I’ve been watching this one for more than a year. Ever since the announcement at E3 2019. The ability to explore London as a realistic open entity in its modern form for the first time in… well, forever it seems. And doing so in a way that allows you to explore on foot and be free to do whatever you want.
There was interest in the core mechanic of the game, as well. The ability to play as anyone is something I’ve got a taste of from the Director Mode within GTA V, and while this game doesn’t allow you to choose any and everyone right from the off, the work you put in to recruit them to the cause and gain the ability to play as them gives them a bit more character and personal connection. If you invest in who you play as, you care for what happens to them.
It’s a story told through the interactions rather than a strict plot, though that is also here. Not that I’ve played through any of the missions, yet. I’ve been too busy exploring London and finding recruits. That story is about building a resistance and clearing the DedSec name from the bombings that occurred by someone going by the name of Zero Day – who had been posing as a DedSec member. Since that’s all I know, I’m not covering any of that here.
London looks great, no denying that. I’ve spent a lot of time running around and sightseeing while also tackling a few recruitment missions. I’m not playing with permadeath on, as I’d rather keep full control of my team and not lose them to random occurrences beyond my control. Such things do happen, such as escaping from police or gangs only for them to immediately jump back to hunting you as soon as you emerge from hiding.
That movement is quite fun, with combat hosting a punch, block break, and dodge for melee combat. Combine that with the AR cloak, and you can easily get around behind someone to perform a takedown – which can be performed on anyone as long as they aren’t in combat against you. Then there’s the guns, which are easy enough to use, but should only be brought out as a last resort.
If you bring out a gun to start firing on enemies, they’ll also bring a weapon out against you. At times, that can get a bit too much if you’ve already attracted their attention and they’re crowded around you. Along with that, sometimes they’ll just get impatient and bring out a gun against you anyway, forcing your hand to fight or flee. Or you can get creative depending on the gadget you possess.
As I’ve already mentioned, the AR cloak is one of those gadgets, allowing you to turn invisible for a few seconds to sneak around enemies. Such can also be used to get through alarm barriers. Then there’s the spiderbot, which can get through small gaps, perform takedowns, and interact with CtOS access panels. If you’re smart, you can avoid going into some places entirely by just using the spiderbots.
I’m not exactly the best at all this, so at times I have been overwhelmed. At times I’ve tried storming a restricted area. The best way, I’ve found, is using that AR cloak. Gadgets also have upgrades to make them better, with the spiderbots gaining double jumps and cloaking abilities. Everything – from the weapons, gadgets and tactics – depends on how you want to play.
Recruitment missions usually involve you heading into restricted areas for reasons. It could be to collect a vehicle, a person, or hack into those CtOS access panels. Sometimes you can recruit a person by dealing with someone, or helping someone related to a person. There’s variety with the recruitment, and it also depends on how that person views DedSec. If they like the group, things will go fairly easy. If they don’t like DedSec, there’ll be more missions to undertake to boost their view of the group.
In the hours I’ve played, I’ve had a few recruits lined up. There was a homeless man I took a liking to as he was playing a traffic cone as if it were a musical instrument. His was a massive undertaking to recruit, not only in terms of missions, but also because he got arrested during the process meaning I had to break him out before I could continue. The deep profiler also helps in the process of recruitment, and also allows relationships between the citizenry of London to be seen. But that’s where cracks in the system form.
The ability to recruit anyone is a massive undertaking for any developer to have taken. Personalising that many people, even through the help of auto generating complete lives for each individual, takes a lot of time, and things can be overlooked. This experience I’m talking of involves the recruitment of a family member – namely the father of the person I was controlling.
It was almost like fate, having bought the deep profiler with the tech points, that I almost immediately run into him. There he was, wearing a suit and walking down the street. At first I didn’t realise what I had seen, so doubled back to take a look. Sure enough, it said as such. Great, I thought, let’s get the family altogether. As fun as it would be to track them all down, though, the interaction they’d have is minimal at best. He didn’t recognise his own daughter for one, when I started walking beside him, and once I started the recruitment process…
I get it. It’s near enough impossible to account for the personal connections that such generation will bring, especially when voicework has to be done for each person and a story or two attached to them all. But when the daughter of the person I’m trying to recruit says that she hates someone because they’re hacking into the NHS – despite the fact the deep profiler had made it seem like they were close – it just feels awkward to continue it on. That particular story had a good ending, as the man was doing good work by shutting down security loopholes that a certain Clan were taking advantage of, but there did not feel any sort of connection between these two supposedly related people.
That weakness can be felt with interactions between other family members, but doesn’t detract too much from what has been built here. The world still feels alive with people interacting and reacting, generally conversing in public, and moving from place to place with purpose. There’s a few bugs in the pathing and AI systems, but what open world game doesn’t have strange irregularities happening at times?
It also pays to profile everyone, as each person within London will have set attributes that will make them a worthwhile addition to your team. Or not, in some cases. Everyone has their use, though. Certain people have clothing that will get them into certain restricted areas, so long as you act naturally while within them and don’t arouse suspicion on yourself.
Some will have personal vehicles that they can summon and drive around the streets. Some will have personal weapons or gadgets that give them an edge in combat or other situations. Attributes also count for more than the physical, with healthy people able to take more damage and sprint a bit faster. Some might be able to download information quicker, or rally people to fight, or even gain rewards upon recruiting members to the group.
But while there’s the good, there’s also the bad. Gamblers and shopaholics will spend the money you’ve been accruing, while those who aren’t that fit will lack the ability to sprint. Some might also be bad at stealth, with attributes that will alert enemies quicker to your presence even if hidden. You might find yourself the perfect assortment of attributes that give someone an edge in combat only for one of these negatives to be there.
It’s okay, though. There might still be a use for them. If one of those attributes is passive, such as the ability to reduce the time anyone within your team spends in hospital or reducing the cost of clothing, it’s worth it to recruit them even if you never play as them for any sort of mission.
Overall, I’d say this is well worth your time, but there’s a few factors at play. If you enjoy exploring a map and finding its secrets, you’ll get a lot out of this one. If you enjoy the idea of working to build a resistance, you’ll get your fill here unless you want something as deep as an RPG might provide (there’s no levelling or training systems at all here). Depending on how much you can invest with the characters by helping and recruiting them, along with overlooking the various issues that such a system brings, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time with it.
If you are coming from Watch Dogs 2, you might be disappointed depending on your view of that previous game. Plenty of the things within that game, such as the ability to listen to audio while on the move and a number of hacks, have been removed. If you can overlook the differences, you will still enjoy Legion. The lack of multiplayer until later on and even the invasions (which I never bothered with) are the life of the game to some, which will clearly be missed and affect the decisions of those people.