We have here Watch Dogs: Legion which comes in at the end of the era. Continuing the “hacker life”, this game gives you more than just the power to hold the Y button to hack things: you can do it with anyone and everyone. But does this concept pan out?
… going in guns blazing cut down mission times by about one-third.
To cut to the chase, the answer is “no”. While it is true that you can recruit anyone, and that they have randomized sets of skills and perks, the reality is that once you’ve recruited Indian 007, Jameesh Bondi, or Not-Jason-Statham, the recruitment system just becomes busy-body work. Sure, I took some time to vet out some candidates, and while I enjoyed the stealth elements of non-lethality and “hacking” by holding the Y button, the reality is that going in guns blazing cut down mission times by about one-third. Yes, it’s just THAT much faster to shoot down anything and everyone and then continue along. That’s not to say that there aren’t genuine moments of ingenuity and surprisingly good gameplay elements, but despite these moments of respite, it all boils down to holding Y… over and over again. It’s not that other games don’t repeat their gameplay mechanics, it’s that Watch Dogs: Legion somehow makes hacking feel dull and after about 2-3 hours, I basically experienced all the game has to offer. This, in turn, made favoring mission completion at the utmost expediency just that much more viable. And it was only to move the story along. I will say that riding a drone through the skies, or driving through the streets, or blasting around on a bike feels better than it did before, and they clearly took a little influence from their own The Crew game series.
This game feel done once it’s done…
If you’re into the busy-body thing, then yes: you can waste countless hours recruiting people, or unlocking skilled recruits, or even just doing side missions. But there’s something to be said about a game that somehow convinces me to just get through it all as quickly as possible: everything just rings hollow. Having a legion of usable characters doesn’t change the inevitable “go here, push-button-hack” design, and while I did find clever ways around doing it based on different characters, it was always aimed at simply getting it done. At the time of playing this game, more content had been announced, but I can’t help but not be interested in anything else. This game feels done once it’s done, and I highly doubt I will come back for more after 18-20 hours of it. Though, there is just one endgame side mission I recommend doing, as it was one of the most heartfelt moments in the entire game, if maybe even the only one.
… it’s a good looking open world game with a serviceable storyline…
Aside from crashing and glitches I could show you plenty of, which have hopefully been fixed by now, the rest is pretty boilerplate: it’s a good looking open world game with a serviceable storyline as expected from a AAA budget title. This does not pan out in general dialogue and animation, though: the writing is often piss poor and the voice acting even more so. I had to pick Wannabe-Gillian-Anderson to make it aurally palatable. I do want to note if you’ve installed this on a hard disk drive like I did, I get stutters where assets can’t be streamed in fast enough, likely due to my use of the ultra-resolution texture pack. In terms of ray tracing, while still in its infancy, it’s shown off here in a way that tells you it’s the necessary visual garnish that makes imagery just that much closer to photo-realistic. You’ll see how the reflections are much more dynamically calculated to look the way it would in real life rather than approximations and screen space reflections. Though, it seems its last gen underpinnings still give them issue: sometimes the screen space reflection is overwriting the ray tracing.
But everything felt clerical.
What you don’t know is that I went into this hoping to like it. I even tried to like it, tried the different things. But everything felt clerical. It all felt like it was “programmed” around buttons, ironically. If real life hacking was just pushing buttons, then you’re right: everyone’s a hacker. And therein lies this game’s crux of failure: by making hacking easy and accessible to all players and all in-game characters, it completely takes away the feeling of involvement simply because, well, ANYONE can do it. So I simply picked the people with guns to do it because they could shoot their way in and out of situations at a third the cost of my time.