Watch Dogs: Legion DEALS
Do you remember the promise of the first Watch Dogs? The idea of having control of a city, essentially being its hidden soul through technology and telling how data says much more about us than we think? A disruptive game concept was unveiled in 2013, especially for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 generation.
In practice, Watch Dogs failed to keep all the promises made, and despite the huge unexpressed potential, it failed to give meaning to that sense of absolute control that it should have returned. Six years after the original title, and after a second chapter that has fixed the purely playful side of an open world luna park, Watch Dogs: Legion finally has managed to deliver on the promises on which the saga is based.
Watch Dogs: Legion temporally liminal nature is not accidental because the title of Ubisoft Toronto is close to the consoles of this generation. Not so much for a question of technical quality per se, but for the complexity of the entire open world and the rules that define its life. This not only suggests to us how visionary and probably too ambitious the first chapter of the series was, but it also lays the foundations for the future, given that at the dawn of a new generation, Ubisoft has redefined its way of approaching open-world citizens.
It took 12,000 years to build London and a single night to destroy it. Watch Dogs: Legion starts in a movie. Bagley, the voice assistant who accompanies us throughout the adventure, presents London in a comparative overview typical of action films: London is under the checkmate of Albion, a fascist-style mercenary company led by an aspiring despot, Nigel Cass, who emptied the English capital of all power. It has dissolved the chambers, and the prime minister has mysteriously disappeared, MI6 has been replaced by SIRS, which uses ctOS to control citizens’ lives, and the police spread terror on the streets. Simultaneously, the criminal Kelley clan dictates the law in some neighborhoods, and social collapse is imminent.
The only hope for London is DedSec, a collective of hackers fighting for freedom. Still, there is a problem: following the splendid introductory mission, which pays homage to 007 by making us play Dalton Wolfe, an elegant spy, the rebel organization is framed by a new threat emerging from the dark web, namely Zero-Day, which places the responsibility for a series of explosions around the city on DedSec and through its prophetic and glitched non-face announces that soon the entire city will be reset. Checkmate: the popularity of DedSec is sinking, Albion is stronger than ever, and we have nothing left but to rely on the desire for freedom of London’s citizens.
Watch Dogs: Legion begins in media res immediately sets the rules of the game. The narrative is the backbone of the adventure, and it flows fast as if there was an urgency as if the situation was going to peak. Another urgent issue is building a close-knit team to face missions through a system that we learned to discover during previous previews, or “play as anyone,” the ability to play in the shoes of any citizen of London.
These two souls are only apparently in conflict because the recruitment will become part of the game routine in a never forced way and, indeed, as the adventure goes on, there will be spontaneous adhesions to the cause. By freeing some neighborhoods, it will be possible to welcome new agents skilled in the ranks of DedSec. In short, Watch Dogs: Legion immediately makes it clear that the adventure can be lived by following different rhythms and ways. You can only dedicate yourself to the main missions and tackle them one after the other continuously, rarely stopping, as if you were in a great action blockbuster. At the same time, you can scour every corner of London and analyze every single inhabitant’s lives to have in the team only people who meet certain specific characteristics.
Watch Dogs: Legion gives the player the keys to London and its inhabitants and, in some ways, gives him an important responsibility. You can screw everything up, playing recklessly, or you can play a cause, using tools intelligently, role-playing. There are no consequences from the narrative point of view because the story, while presenting two quite important crossroads, is not affected by our actions, yet some are social fabric.
Being foolish will make people less likely to join DedSec because the opening fire in full public will terrify some characters, speak ill of the collective to their closest family members, and convince them to join the rebellion. In case we wanted to, we would have to complete more complicated missions. Or, trivially, when Albion hunts us instead of helping us, they will cheer for the oppressors. Again, it’s all about nuances, and it’s up to the player’s conscience to choose how to experience London. Still, the feeling of being connected to the most intimate social fabric of the city is surprising, and in a small way, it works.
Around this sense of social control, there is a story that drives the whole adventure, which, as already mentioned, takes with both hands from cinema and action and espionage literature. Watch Dogs: Legion builds on a world-building scaffold that looks like something out of Black Mirror, a story that combines the tone, language, and mood of Mission: Impossible 2, Kingsman, Rocknrolla, capable of alternating lighter, funny, and grotesque moments in a spiral of betrayals, espionage, and twists that make hyperbole the dominant rhetorical figure.
Watch Dogs: Legion is the best chapter of the saga and the first that manages to keep faith with the original concept of the series, offering control of a city and its revolutionary spirit indeed. It is an episode that brilliantly updates all the sources of inspiration of the original work and stages them using a trick, that of play as anyone, which turns out to be an unexpected trump card. The choral story of DedSec, although staged as a blockbuster, is fascinating and engaging and stands as a balanced and polite buttress to what remains an urban open world conceived as an amusement park, full of things to do but respectful of the player’s freedom. Despite the obvious compromises from a technical point of view, Watch Dogs.
Watch Dogs: Legion
Watch Dogs: Legion is the best chapter of the saga: fun, meaningful, and with some exquisite ideas.
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