After the first Ubisoft Forward event, when we got another really good look at the game, I’m starting to have these concerns again. This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit since we saw the new gameplay this month. How is Watch Dogs Legion going to draw me in and keep me hooked when you can literally be anyone?
From a gameplay perspective, what Watch Dogs Legion is offering looks fantastic. Its a massive playground set in London where you can puzzle your way through various challenges in the game world. In this case, the puzzle pieces are the NPCs, each with their own personality, advantages, tools, and specialties.
That’s awesome because it never locks you in to a certain play style. There are many answers to a single problem. That should absolutely help give this game legs as players flex their creativity.
My concern is more with the narrative. Since we can really be anybody we want, who are we supposed to latch on to for those story moments? Who can I root for besides a faceless faction of people? Where does the personality come from?
Watch Dogs is a franchise with a wide cast of interesting personalities and so far, Watch Dogs Legion doesn’t appear to have that. Let’s go back and get a few examples of what I mean.
Aiden Pearce – Okay, maybe not the best example of someone with a dynamic and interesting personality, but the protagonist from the first game was someone you could root for due to what happened to his family. You wanted him to succeed because you felt bad for his situation and what he went through. He’s the little guy going up against the huge corrupt corporation. However, as I hinted at, Pearce is a bit overly dark and brooding, which is a big fault of the character and one that Ubisoft fixes pretty quickly.
Raymond ‘T-Bone’ Kenney – Arguably the person with the biggest personality in the first Watch Dogs, T-Bone quickly became a fan favorite for his sarcastic wit and laid back personality. In fact, Ubisoft crafted a whole story expansion around him and brought him back for Watch Dogs 2. That really tells you something.
Marcus Holloway – Not trying to create another emotionless Aiden, Marcus Holloway took center stage in Watch Dogs 2 and he’s full of personality and life. He cracks jokes, hangs out with his fellow DedSec buddies, and is generally someone you could easily root for. Partly why Watch Dogs 2 worked so well is due to Marcus being such a strong lead as well as the colorful cast of supporting characters like…
Wrench – Again, a supporting character, but a damn good one. Hidden behind an LED mask that expressed his emotions, Wrench was still able to bring the energy and humor to most situations. Wild, humorous, and a tech wizard, Wrench was easily one of the standout characters from the second game.
On paper, Watch Dogs Legion looks like it’s going to be a good time. Exploring London, tackling objectives how you want, it looks fun. However, I’m not sure if the narrative is going to be nearly as strong since the only main link throughout the game appears to be an AI that reminds me of Jarvis from the Iron Man movies.
Will I care for these NPCs in the same way as I build an attachment to the protagonists in the other games? Hard to say. I guess time will tell if players like the new “be a vessel” style gameplay or if the lack of a strong protagonist is ultimately the Achilles heel for this latest title.