on October 23, 2020 at 6:29PM PDT
Ubisoft is going back to its hacker-centric open-world formula with Watch Dogs: Legion, which marks the third game in the series. We got a pretty close look at Legion recently, and it looks like Ubisoft means to expand on the central ideas of the series pretty significantly. You’ll still use your amped-up smartphone to hack the planet in every mission, activating and deactivating security cameras, alarms, weapons, traffic lights, and other connected devices at a whim. But with Legion, Ubisoft is adding a lot of systems that make the world of hacker group DedSec feel deeper and more customizable. You’re not just a part of a hacker revolution–you’re building it from the ground up.
With the launch of Watch Dogs: Legion less than a week away, we’ve compiled everything we’ve learned about the game, including the release date, next-gen version details, multiplayer, and more. We’ll continue to update this as more information like our incoming review.
Watch Dogs: Legion is set to release on October 28 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia. Ubisoft originally slated Legion’s release date for March 6, 2020. In November 2019, however, the company announced that it was delaying the game into its 2020-2021 fiscal year, without giving it a new release date. That changed during the September Ubisoft Forward event, which confirmed the game’s current-gen and next-gen release dates.
Speaking of which, Watch Dogs: Legion is set to release on next-gen consoles. It will arrive as a launch title for both Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S and PS5 on November 10 and November 12 respectively. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said the game will “take full advantage” of the power of those machines.
All progress you make in the current-gen version of Watch Dogs: Legion is transferable to its next-gen counterpart. Though, any progress you make is tied to the same family of platforms–for example between PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and Series X/S, and PC and Stadia, but not between each other.
Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs series puts you in the role of a hacker trying to bring down a corrupt government surveillance state. In the first game, set in Chicago, you played Aiden Pearce, a hacker outlaw with the ability to tap into and manipulate ctOS, a city-spanning computer system that surveilled and collected data on just about everybody. The bones of Ubisoft’s open-world game were similar to what the developer has turned out in other franchises–it was a third-person cover shooter that mixed in stealth elements, and in which you also could hop into just about any car to reach various destinations and evade the pursuit of police cars. What Watch Dogs added was the hacking element, which let you change traffic lights to cause collisions and stop pursuers, jack into surveillance cameras to see enemy patrol routes and more carefully stealth your way around them, or set off enemies’ radios or weapons to create distractions.
In Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft switched to a new character, Marcus, and his group of anarchist hackers known as DedSec. In that game, ctOS had spread to San Francisco, and the hackers were trying to overthrow the system and free the city. It also had a fairly political bent, satirizing tech culture in the city and leaning into a few charged topics of the modern world, such as police violence against minorities and people of color.
Watch Dogs: Legion continues down the path set by Watch Dogs 2. You’re again working with DedSec, but things have gone full-on dystopia. The game is set in a possible future of our current world, taking place in a post-Brexit London that has become a police state as the government has struggled to deal with the fallout from the current political climate. Instead of joining a hacker collective of various characters as in Watch Dogs 2, however, in Legion, you’re building DedSec from the start of the game. You do that by recruiting various non-player characters into the fold. The biggest change in Legion is the fact that every character in the game could potentially become a player character if you do what’s necessary to recruit them, which includes exercising your hacker abilities to learn about their backstories, changing their opinions about DedSec, and completing loyalty missions to turn them to your cause. Any NPC in the city is a potential recruit, and they all have randomized abilities and foibles that can make them assets to your team under the right circumstances.
While most of the hacking gameplay systems from the past two games persist into Legion, it’s the NPC system that really sets it apart.
In past Watch Dogs games, your hacking repertoire included the Profiler, a system that let you instantly dig up a little bit of information on passing NPCs and characters you might interact with. That info sometimes gave you gameplay options, like siphoning some funds from a person’s bank account, but mostly was just window dressing to make various folks wandering Chicago or San Francisco seem a little more real.
The Profiler is an essential tool in Legion, however. Every time you use it to scan an NPC in the game, you learn key information about that person. You’ll see their occupation and what they’re currently up to–all the NPCs have jobs and schedules in Legion–as well as their intrinsic traits. A given person might deal significantly more melee damage than other characters, or be adept at hacking. They might also have physical ailments; one elderly character we played at E3 was a great hacker but physically weak, and moved more slowly than our other recruits because of her advanced age. (In the same way you learn about potential recruits, you can also use the Profiler on enemies to learn their strengths and weaknesses ahead of a battle.)
You’ll also receive a little backstory about each NPC you scan and get a look at their opinion on DedSec. The authorities in London consider DedSec a terrorist organization and rail against it in the media, so some people have a critical view of the hackers, while others are more sympathetic to their cause.
In order to recruit an NPC, you first need to raise their opinion of DedSec, which you can do by helping them with their problems you learn about from the Profiler or doing deeds they appreciate in a Robin Hood-like way. Characters also remember negative things about DedSec’s actions, so you’ll need to be careful about what you do and how people see you. As you raise those opinions, you’ll eventually get a chance to complete a specific mission for that character tied to their backstory. One character we recruited at E3 was being blackmailed by corrupt cops, requiring us to infiltrate New Scotland Yard and erase the dirt they had on our would-be DedSec addition. After completing the mission, the guy joined up, which added him to the roster of up to 20 DedSec characters we could have at any given time.
Once you have characters, you open up a host of other systems related to them. Legion includes three character classes, and when you get a new recruit, you assign them one of your choice:
You generally want to choose classes for your characters that align with their intrinsic traits; melee fighters are better as Infiltrators, while characters who can soak up a lot of damage make good Enforcers, and so on. Playing as your character can also level them up to unlock additional abilities and perks over time, so it’s worth investing time in your recruits.
As you recruit characters, you’ll be able to switch to them on the fly whenever you want. Since everybody still has a job and a schedule, characters you’re not playing as will go about their lives in the meantime; when you swap to them, you’ll find them wherever they are in the city. When you’re not using characters, they’re still an active part of the group, however. They’ll chime in on the radio to comment on your missions and actions, and some have passive perks that can affect your gameplay even when they’re not around. In our E3 demo, we found ourselves fleeing police, and got a notification that another character’s passive trait would increase police response times to make it a bit easier to get away. Abilities like that effectively make it feel as if the rest of DedSec is working with you and helping you out, even when they’re not around.
Below you can check out the latest Ubisoft Forward presentation on Watch Dogs: Legion, which offers a look at the game’s big celebrity guest appearance, gameplay, and a glimpse at the game’s first major DLC expansion.
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If you’re more interested in uninterrupted gameplay, you can check out our video showcasing 20 minutes of footage where we took on a serious story mission in the game about AI tech gone horribly wrong and human trafficking.
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Yes, there’s multiplayer. As with Watch Dogs 2, Watch Dogs: Legion will support cooperative play online with as many as four players. All progress made in Legion’s online modes will be cross-gen and cross-platform. The game’s live producer Lathieeshe Thillainathan mentioned in a recent GameSpot interview: “The online sandbox cross-progression is universal on any platform you play. Regardless if you’re on PlayStation or PC, it’ll go wherever you’re playing.”
If you’re looking to run Watch Dogs: Legion on PC, then you can find everything you need to know about properly doing so in the details below. We’ve included the exact specifications needed, whether you’re running on a low-end or a mid-to-top tier machine.
Like other Ubisoft games, Watch Dogs: Legion is going to have quite the beefy line-up of post-launch DLC content. The first wave of content implements its online components as a free update. This will include cooperative modes and missions, as well as a PvP invasion mode that will go live on December 3.
The first paid DLC (as part of a paid season pass) is called Bloodline. It stars the original Watch Dogs protagonist Aiden Pearce who is supported by Watch Dogs 2 character Wrench, both of which are both playable. The expansion will bring players up to speed on each character and what they’ve been up to since the events of their previous games’ stories. You can find out more about the game’s DLC plans in our detailed Watch Dogs: Legion post-launch content explainer.
If all this talk about Watch Dogs Legion excites you, you can pre-order it ahead of time. Aside from the standard edition, there are a few versions you can pre-order that come with some extra goodies. For more details on each version, be sure to jump into our pre-order guide. Otherwise, you can pre-order the standard version from Amazon using the button below.
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GameSpot editor in Los Angeles, and the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory. Hoped the latter would help me get Han Solo hair, but so far, unsuccessful.
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