It’s looking like the devs behind Watch Dogs: Legion are finally giving the gaming public what they have wanted for a long, long time. For the first time in a while, the massive locales that Watch Dogs has made its hallmark feel alive and exciting, and it is all thanks to some dynamic non-player characters. Coming from the open-world game factory that is Ubisoft, Watch Dogs: Legion is set in London and will set itself apart from the previous instalments by going that extra mile to make its post-apocalyptic environs somewhere you’d actually like to hang out.
Ubisoft is hailing this as a living, breathing metropolis and is developing the mechanics to back this claim up. It’s a good thing that the NPCs are getting some dynamic rework, too, because they play a huge role in this London-based instalment of the Watch Dogs franchise. The location will be largely faithful to what we know as London but it is going to vary up the landscape a bit with its lore. One opportunity that the devs highlighted about using London as a city is that its old landmarks and witheringly crisscrossed streets makes for an interesting place to have a game, particularly a post-apocalyptic game where player interaction and factions are key. Ubisoft is claiming that every NPC in the game can join your team and that makes for some pretty interesting theories concerning who joins your squad.
There will a permadeath feature which means you’ll be making some strategic choices when it comes to who you deploy and for what. Overall, this gives Watch Dogs: Legion a depth that is somewhat unexpected both from an emergent narrative standpoint and from a gameplay perspective. Recruits are assigned one of three classes and combat situations will feature both strategic and run-and-gun elements. Basically, it is a play-your-way title that promises a huge, flexible open world that is shaped by the player’s choices. The effect of these systems is to draw the player into the world and make his player character an organic part of that drama. Whether it will work out or not in the final product remains to be seen but it is an absolutely compelling concept.
Though a few breaks in formula might not be enough to distinguish Watch Dogs from the many, many open-world titles out there, these innovations sound like a move in the right direction. A living world with weighty choices is often what gamers want and being able to tell your own story in an effective, fun way is usually the result. It isn’t hyperbole to say that it looks like Legion will bring to the format some changes that fans have wanted and it should result in a renewed interest in the series. One of the major criticisms of Ubisoft games is that they are sprawling but somewhat lifeless when compared to the colourful games from Rockstar. Watch Dogs: Legions looks set to change this and we’re all going to benefit in the end.