Dystopias have something that dazzles us almost immediately. They show us a known, close and familiar environment in which we can feel identified while introducing new elements that substantially modify it and allow us to peek into our worst fears or the most catastrophic versions of our future. Watch Dogs Legion, the third installment in the popular saga developed by Ubisoft, has a heart, a core, purely Orwellian and dystopian and uses it to offer an interesting experience that works well in the novelties but without being as round as might.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow
WD Legion takes us to a futuristic London. We are not talking about that kind of future in which cars fly, robots serve us food and laser weapons are the order of the day. It is a near future with a more advanced technology than what we have in 2020 and that in many cases we may see in the real world within not long time. I think this was the first great success of the title: its location both geographical and temporal. We left the United States to walk the streets of a city as iconic and recognizable as London, with all that this great city has to offer and how changeable it is depending on what area you are in. As for the choice of this near future, things flow from the first moment by allowing us to enjoy a great recreation of London with changes that surprise and amuse without ceasing to be credible.
We started the game as an agent of DedSec, the hacking organization that fights for justice and good and that we already met in previous installments. The first mission dazzles thanks to its very clear references to the world of espionage level 007 but this only serves as an introduction and tutorial. In less than an hour of play, DedSec will be accused of a terrible terrorist attack and hunted to near annihilation. Meanwhile, a private army of a clearly profascist and dictatorial nature will assume the security of the city while the criminal gangs take control of everything that happens in the streets. A bleak outlook, right? Well, there is the grace. The main mission of the player will not be to complete the story and discover who is responsible for the attack, but to rebuild the DedSec resistance.
The ‘Play As Anyone’ and ‘Permadeath’, the great successes
Since its official announcement at E3, a little while ago, Watch Dogs Legion promised an unprecedented and innovative game system by which we could handle any NPC that we met on the street or in missions and, in addition, a mode would be incorporated of permanent death for which any of our recruits would disappear forever if he falls in combat or dies for whatever reason.
Ubisoft has delivered on its promise. Play As Anyone was a very ambitious project in which each character had to feel different not only because of his appearance or his story, but also because of his abilities and his performance on a mission. The developer team designed an AI that randomly generated these characters based on ethnicity trends, economic status, jobs, styles, neighborhoods, etc. And the truth is that it makes WD Legion London feel as diverse as the real one. Of course, one can do the missions with the character that he wants and, if he is skilled enough, he will complete them without problem but in my game I decided to try to be selective with my agents and change them according to the needs of each moment or my preferences regarding the style of play. The differences are there and those seconds less that a hacker takes to download information or the extra resistance in hand-to-hand combat of a professional boxer can be decisive. The Play As Anyone offers a lot of tools and freedom to the player.
To this must be added how gratifying it is to see how your small army, your resistance, grows and strengthens with each new member. Since Londoners believe DedSec was responsible for the bombs, almost everyone will be against you and in order to recruit them you will have to earn their trust first. Recruitment missions are generally bland and somewhat repetitive, but they are worth it when the reward is a highly specialized agent or an ordinary person with some interesting skill. The variety of jobs, skills and equipment of potential recruits is quite wide and one ends up analyzing everyone who crosses the street and saving them as if they were the purchases they are shuffling for Christmas.