Watch Dogs Legion (stylised as WATCH DOGS LΞGION) is a 2020 action-adventure game developed by Ubisoft Toronto and published by Ubisoft. It is the third instalment in the Watch Dogs series and the sequel to 2016’s Watch Dogs 2. Set within a fictionalised representation of a futuristic, dystopian London, the game’s story follows the hacker syndicate DedSec as they seek to clear their names after being framed for a series of terrorist bombings. DedSec also attempt to liberate London’s citizens from the control of Albion, an oppressive private military company which turned the city into a surveillance state following the bombings.
While the core gameplay is similar to its predecessors, consisting of a combination of shooting, driving, stealth, and hacking puzzles, Legion introduces a multiple playable characters system, allowing players to recruit virtually any NPC found in the game’s open world. Each playable character has their own unique skills and backgrounds, and can be lost permanently if players enable the option of permadeath before starting a new game. There are multiple ways to complete missions depending on which playable character is selected. In March 2021, a cooperative multiplayer mode was added to the game, allowing up to four players to complete missions or explore London together. New content is being added regularly to both the single-player and multiplayer modes, with season pass owners gaining access to exclusive missions and characters.
Legion was released on 29 October 2020 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia, and as a launch title in November for the Xbox Series X/S, the PlayStation 5, and Amazon Luna. Upon release, the game received mixed to positive reviews. Critics were polarized over the multiple playable characters aspect, with some appreciating its diversity and the inclusion of permadeath for allowing emotional attachment from players, while others criticized the characters’ lack of personality and the imbalance between their abilities. Criticism was also aimed at the game’s world, driving mechanics, inconsistent difficulty, repetitive missions, online features and technical problems.
Watch Dogs: Legion is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective, and taking place within an open world setting based upon London, which can be explored either on foot ─ utilizing parkour moves ─ vehicles, or fast-travelling via the city’s Underground stations. Eight of London’s Boroughs are represented in game: Westminster, Wandsworth (specifically the Nine Elms area), Lambeth, Southwark, Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets, in addition to the City of London. The game is composed of several missions, including those that progress the main story, liberation missions aimed at freeing the city’s boroughs featured in the setting, recruitment missions for new playable characters, and various side-activities, with players able to freely pursue a mission or activity, or explore the city for secrets and collectibles. Each mission’s objectives can be handled via one or several different approaches: an open-combat approach utilizing a variety of weapons; a stealth approach utilizing the environment to avoid detection and monitoring enemy patterns; or a hacking approach using any hackable object to subdue enemies with traps or distractions, while seeking out objectives via cameras and remotely accessing them. Combat includes a mixture of gun fights ─ involving lethal and non-lethal firearms ─ and hand-to-hand combat moves, with enemies making use of different methods depending on how the player acts against them in combat (i.e. a guard hit with a punch will use melee attacks, but will begin shooting if the player draws their firearm). Players can be pursued by enemies when escaping, including hostile drones, but can lose them by utilizing hack-able environmental objects (i.e. vents) and avoiding line of sight with pursuers.
Unlike previous games in the series, Legion features the ability to use multiple characters during a playthrough, each of whom can be recruited from around the game’s setting. While the player must choose a character to begin with after the story’s prologue chapter, others may be recruited upon completing the initial story missions of the game from anywhere around the game’s setting, which can also include those working for hostile factions. Those recruited become operatives that the player can freely switch to at any time, as well as customize with different clothing options, with each recruit-able character maintaining their own lifestyle and occupation when not active (i.e. spending time drinking at a pub). Each character that can be recruited has different traits and skills, based upon their background ─ a spy operative has access to a silenced pistol and can summon a special spy vehicle to travel around with, armed with rockets; a hooligan operative can summon friends to help in a fist-fight; a builder operative can make use of large drones for heavy-lifting and a nail-gun for combat; while an “adrenaline junkie” operative can deal more damage, but risk the possibility of being knocked out/dying at random moments. Operatives can gain experience when used by the player, which allows them to gain additional skills and abilities to improve them, with the player able to provide additional upgrades for all characters by spending “tech points” ─ a collectible scattered around the city, which can be spent on weapon and gadget upgrades. In addition to standard recruitable NPCs, the player can also acquire special NPCs to their roster, known as “Prestige Operatives” ─ these unique characters possess exceptional weapons and gain access to stronger perks as they improve in level than standard operatives.
All potential recruits have an additional statistic, which details whether they can be recruited when approached ─ their thoughts on DedSec. Some recruits may not join if either they favour those that oppose them (such as a hostile faction), if the player has a character in their roster whom they hate, or if DedSec did something to harm another NPC they have good relations with. If a recruit can be brought in, players will be required to complete a mission from them related to a problem they need resolving. Examples of such a mission include sneaking into a government building to find a missing person, recovering confiscated or stolen equipment or simply helping the potential recruit determine why they are experiencing invasive surveillance. Any character that can be recruited can be killed during a playthrough, whether in combat, accidental death or explosion, or from their own traits, and permanently removed from the player’s roster of playable characters if the player has the permadeath option enabled. If in permadeath mode the player loses all their characters from death or arrest, the game ends. In games with permadeath disabled, operatives will be incarcerated or hospitalised after being arrested or ‘critically injured’; the time these characters spend being unable to be used can be reduced if the player recruits certain characters, such as medical or legal staff. In addition, some operatives may still die permanently, but only if they have certain traits that lead to a random and unexpected death.
The online component of the game, introduced in March 2021, allows for four-player cooperative gameplay, which aimed to share progression between the single-player and multiplayer modes. The multiplayer experience offers several different activities for players to engage in, including city events, co-operative missions (including the more complex “Tactical Ops”), and the “Spiderbot Arena” competitive mode, where players controlling miniature spiderbot gadgets fight in free for all matches. The asymmetrical multiplayer mode “Invasion” from the previous two Watch Dogs games also made a return several months after release, with several changes.
Like the single-player mode, players can freely explore London and recruit new operatives to their team; however, rather than completing short missions for each character, this is done by spending “Influence” (an in-game form of currency). Influence is also used to unlock gadgets and character upgrades, and can be earned from completing missions and daily/weekly objectives, bought with real-life money from the in-game store, or found across the map, along with masks and experience points (the locations of collectibles change weekly).
Watch Dogs: Legion Online uses a seasonal approach to introduce new content to the game. During each season, a different roadmap with various rewards (Influence, weapon skins, character clothing etc.) is featured. As players complete missions and other activities, they gain experience points and rank up, unlocking the next reward in the roadmap. When a season ends, the next one automatically starts and the player’s rank is reset to 0.
Watch Dogs: Legion takes place within a fictionalised representation of London in the “near future”. The setting encompasses notable landmarks, boroughs, and cultural styles of the city, such as the political borough of Westminster, Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and more. Since the events of Watch Dogs 2, technology has vastly changed as a result of an acceleration of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), which has effectively improved Britain’s economy at the cost of many blue and white collar jobs, with the Pound sterling having been overtaken and undermined by the cryptocurrency ‘ET0’, which has almost replaced the pound entirely within London. AR and VR systems are commonplace across the city, accompanied by an increase in quadcopter drones and electric cars, an established 6G mobile network, and the introduction of driverless cars, much of which is enhanced through the use of ctOS (central Operating System) ─ the centralized computer network developed by technology company Blume, featured in both Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2.
The game focuses on DedSec, a hacker group consisting of various branches across the world, who fight against authority regimes and groups that utilise ctOS for their own selfish goals at the expense of ordinary citizens. Their main enemies include Zero Day, a rogue hacker group that frames DedSec for a series of terrorist bombings; Albion, a private military company that takes over as law enforcement across London and supersedes the British government’s control over the city; Clan Kelley, a criminal syndicate that has monopolised the use of the dark web, conducting human trafficking and abductions; Broca Tech, a corrupt technology corporation; and Signals Intelligence Response (SIRS), an intelligence agency consolidating all of Britain’s intelligence network.
The London branch of DedSec, led by Sabine Brandt and her newly crafted AI, Bagley, detect armed intruders planting explosives in the Houses of Parliament. DedSec operative Dalton Wolfe goes to defuse the bombs and discovers the intruders are members of a rogue hacker group called “Zero Day”. Although Dalton manages to prevent Parliament’s destruction, he is swiftly gunned down by drones commanded by Zero Day’s leader, who detonates additional explosives around London and orders an attack on DedSec’s hideout, forcing Sabine to shut down Bagley and go into hiding. In the wake of the bombings, the British government contract Albion with restoring order to London and hunting down DedSec, who are held responsible for the chaos, effectively causing social and political unrest amongst the city’s inhabitants.
Months later, Albion enforces the law without political oversight, transforming London into a surveillance state with the aid of its ctOS network and SIRS ─ a collation of Britain’s intelligence agencies. As a result, citizens have their personal liberties severely restricted and their lives constantly monitored, while those who question Albion’s methods are either convicted or deported to Europe. In addition, organised crime is on the rise, despite Albion’s presence. Although most DedSec members have been arrested or killed by Albion, Sabine resurfaces when she finds a new recruit (the player character) through ctOS, who is sent to reactivate the group’s safehouse and Bagley. The player helps DedSec slowly rebuild their strength as they find more recruits who, under Sabine’s co-ordination and with Bagley’s help, liberate various boroughs by encouraging citizens to rise up in defiance of their oppressors.
After rebuilding their forces, the player and DedSec investigate the bombings and discover that both Albion’s CEO Nigel Cass and Clan Kelley were involved, and are taking advantage of London’s current situation for their own ends; Clan Kelley is using people from Albion’s deportation centers for their human and organ trafficking operations, while Cass plans to enforce peace across London with an automated drone army named ‘Project Themis‘, that can identify and neutralize threats before they occur. During this time, the player and DedSec also investigate Broca Tech’s CEO Skye Larsen and discover that her advanced AI projects, including Bagley, are the result of neural-mapping, which traps humans in cyberspace with no memories of their past life. The player and DedSec eventually deal with Larsen and shut down her experiments. At the same time, a SIRS whistleblower named Richard Malik enlists DedSec’s help in proving SIRS leader Emma Child was behind the Zero Day bombings, only to turn on them once it is revealed he was trying to infiltrate the group to supply their identites to Albion. Malik frames DedSec for another bombing at the Canadian High Commission that kills Child and allows him to take over SIRS, but the group captures him and proves their innocence.
Eventually, the player and DedSec infiltrate a slave auction hosted by Clan Kelley’s leader, Mary Kelley, and discover she helped Zero Day smuggle their explosives into the country. After gathering enough evidence to get Kelley convicted, the player and Metropolitan Police Service Detective Kaitlyn Lau attempt to capture her, but ultimately leave her to be killed by her former slaves.
DedSec then sabotages Project Themis and exposes Cass’s crimes to the public, having obtained definitive proof that he had a hand in the bombings, prompting the British government to announce a review of their contract with Albion. Enraged, Cass withdraws to Albion’s primary base at the Tower of London, vowing revenge against his enemies. DedSec storm the Tower of London and face Cass, who takes control of a prototype drone tank but is ultimately killed by the player.
As DedSec celebrate their actions, Zero Day suddenly hacks the group, stealing the tech they had acquired. Tracing the hack, they quickly discover that Sabine was behind the bombings and Zero Day, and that Cass helped her until double-crossing her for control of data gathering technology. In response, Sabine restarted DedSec simply to get revenge on Cass, recover what he had stolen, and seek out other components she needed. As the player and the group evade Sabine’s efforts to stop them, they discover she intends to use the stolen technology to create a patch for Bagley that will be used to take control of Britain’s ctOS infrastructure, plunging the country into chaos in hopes it will force society to forgo technology and restart. To prevent this, Bagley willingly agrees to be shut down.
Avoiding the chaos caused by Sabine throughout London, two of DedSec’s operatives navigate to Blume’s London HQ and Broca Tech, respectively. At Blume, the first of the two operatives powers down the HQ’s radio tower, preventing the patch from reaching any more devices. There, they are confronted by Sabine, who attempts to use two hijacked Albion drones to kill them; however, the operative hacks the tower’s fins, sending Sabine falling to her death. Meanwhile, the second operative infiltrates Broca Tech, locates Bagley’s primary server, and shuts it down, bringing an end to the crisis.
While the British government reviews its contract with Albion and local law enforcement begins work to resume operations, DedSec finally clear their names and are praised for exposing considerable crimes and corruption across the city. In an epilogue scene, they manage to restore Bagley – who survived his apparent ‘death’ by uploading his consciousness to a drone which returned to DedSec’s HQ – to his original state, and continue to rely on him to help them finish off loose ends around London.
Some time after the Zero Day bombings, but prior to DedSec’s resurgence in London, former vigilante Aiden Pearce accepts a contract from his fixer partner, Jordi Chin, in London, believing it will allow him to reunite with his estranged nephew Jackson, who is attending college there. Aiden’s assignment is to infiltrate Broca Tech’s Deep Labs and acquire photographic evidence of a new robot design project headed by Thomas Rempart, as well as retrieve a device called the “BrocaBridge”. However, his attempt is foiled by Reginald “Wrench” Blechman, a former member of DedSec San Francisco, who also wants the BrocaBridge for his own ends. A struggle ensues between the two, which results in Wrench escaping with the BrocaBridge and Aiden being captured by Rempart’s men. Aiden later escapes with Wrench’s help and makes contact with Jackson. Despite not wanting to get involved, Jackson guides Aiden toward a DedSec contact, Connie Robinson, who helps him get set up in exchange for helping out with several tasks. Rempart also contacts Aiden, demanding him to retrieve the BrocaBridge while threatening to harm Jackson.
With Jackson’s help, Aiden tracks down Wrench at his hideout and confronts him. Wrench reveals that he was hired by Rempart to design the robots for his project, but was ultimately betrayed, so he took revenge by stealing the BrocaBridge, which Rempart needs for the next phase of his project. Meanwhile, Rempart finds and captures Jackson to ransom him for the BrocaBridge. After obtaining the device from Wrench, Aiden delivers it to Rempart, unware that it is an explosive fake created by Wrench. The explosion disfigures Rempart’s face and allows Aiden and Jackson to escape, though Aiden is shot in the process and falls into a coma. Wrench allows Aiden and Jackson to stay at his hideout and obtains medical supplies to help Aiden recover. During this time, he also becomes acquainted with Jordi and agrees to carry out several fixer contracts for him in Aiden’s place.
Later, Wrench is contacted by Skye Larsen, who offers to help with Aiden’s recovery in exchange for retaking control of her facilities from Rempart. Upon doing so, Larsen proposes an experimental trial on Jackson using the BrocaBridge to link his mind with Aiden’s, which he agrees to do in spite of Wrench’s protest. Jackson enters Aiden’s mind with the BrocaBridge and, after revisiting several memories from his past, helps him overcome his guilt for his role in the death of Jackson’s sister Lena seventeen years ago. Deciding to leave his vigilante persona behind, Aiden awakens from the coma and makes amends with Jackson. With Aiden saved, Wrench works with him and Jackson to defeat Rempart, who is attempting to escape London on his personal barge. Wrench boards the barge and destroys Rempart’s robot army before handing him over to Albion authorities to be arrested.
Some time later, Connie informs Aiden and Wrench that one of her DedSec contacts found an operative who survived the London attacks, and asks them to establish a communication link with her, leading into the events of the main campaign.
Assassin’s Creed expansion
This non-canonical crossover with the Assassin’s Creed franchise focuses on DedSec helping Darcy Clarkson, a member of the Assassin Brotherhood and a descendant of renowned 19th century assassins Jacob and Evie Frye. After intercepting a conversation between Darcy and a Templar, Graham Westerly, DedSec learn about the secret war between the Assassins and Templars, and that the former have been forced to leave London after being hunted to near-extinction. They also discover that Darcy returned to London to rescue her brother Lucas, who was captured while trying to reduce the Templars’ control over the city. After tracking down Darcy, DedSec agree to help her rescue Lucas, who is being tortured by Graham to learn the location of a hidden Asssassin tomb in London; however, Graham murders Lucas after obtaining the information he wanted.
After finding the Assassin tomb on the Buckingham Palace grounds, DedSec help Darcy get inside to investigate. She discovers statues of several Assassins, including Jacob, Evie, and Edward Kenway, and a vault containing an Assassin outfit, which she dons. Graham arrives moments later accompanied by Albion soldiers, but Darcy manages to kill them all; before dying, Graham claims that the Templars will remain in control for as long as the Assassins are too afraid to fight back. After leaving the tomb, Darcy decides to stay in London to continue fighting the Templars, and accepts DedSec’s invite to join them.