In London in the near future, the hacking force DedSec is fighting again for peace and freedom. In addition, she has to clean her name because they were blamed for bomb attacks that they actually wanted to prevent. Subsequently, the group is almost wiped out by the omnipresent Albion security service.
But giving up is not an option, after all, DedSec is needed more than ever. The city on the Thames is monitored from front to back: news and combat drones control events from the air, and on the streets the tough Albion military makes sure that nobody gets out of line – not even a bit. The transparent person has long been a reality, because every dirty secret on the internet and on smartphones is only a finger movement away.
However, this has great advantages for your DedSec team, which has been reduced in terms of personnel. Because you use the data to recruit new people. Many people are critical or even hostile to total surveillance. A short mobile phone scan gives you initial information about work, private life and special skills of each person. The range is enormous: apart from a few story characters, you can bring anyone you meet into the team. However, this does not work purely digitally, but requires some physical effort in the form of a recruiting mission.
There is a little story associated with every potential DedSec agent. Sometimes you need to delete certain data from a server in order to make the person’s criminal record a little more neat. Elsewhere, a friend or relative of Albion people is being held so you must rescue him or her. These missions are pleasantly entertaining and reward you with some very bizarre characters.
The possibilities offered by the respective agents range from just funny to really helpful. Some only have a fast car, others can hack from a distance or call in reinforcements in combat. The looks and clothing of your recruits are at least as diverse. You can buy a new wardrobe in various shops with earned ETO currency – everything is offered, from fine thread to oversized jogging suits.
The story missions revolve around solving the plot and the mysterious hacker Zero Day, who seems to be responsible for the attacks. The story has been bobbing for a while, only in the last few hours has everything got going and ends with an exciting finale. The tasks are similar in terms of play: Most of the time, you should poke some data, eavesdrop on someone or sabotage something – you don’t expect much variety. The actions with spider-bot and flying drone are also repeated.
With regard to the side missions, London has been properly equipped: You take on tasks from several clients and experience your own stories. Another activity is the liberation of the eight city districts, which also takes the form of several short assignments. You can also deliver small deliveries, find additional technology points to upgrade your devices, and collect audio and text files with background information.
Basically, tens of things can be hacked in the city in order to control or manipulate them. If you chase Albion through the streets, you will lift massive roadblocks out of the ground as you drive past. You can also remotely control cars, disrupt cell phones, pick locks and turn harmless power lines into explosive traps. A pressure on L1 or LB shows you what you can do in the area right now – it works as simply and quickly as with the predecessors. In connection with the special skills of your agents, there are basically several possibilities to tackle the missions.
But instead of actually challenging the varied repertoire in a playful way, Watch Dogs: Legion makes it far too easy for you, even on the highest level of difficulty. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that your standard gadgets are already enormously powerful. Camouflage, silent weapons and drone hacks make it easy to infiltrate even heavily guarded areas. If you also use the special skills of some characters, many missions degenerate into a walk.
But you don’t have to escape the fight either, because the AI has its problems here too. During the shootings, enemies keep sticking their heads out and wait for the bullet. Approaching opponents run towards you head-on and are therefore equally grateful targets. Melee combat is particularly stupid, however: if you attack an armed enemy with your fists, he absurdly puts away your pistol or rifle and strikes back instead of firing. You decide the subsequent fight for yourself thanks to a very generous timing when dodging.
If your agent gets caught, the heavily armed combat drones are responsible, especially at the beginning. If you have activated Permadeath, the character is irretrievably gone. If you wish, you can switch off this option in the game, but not use it afterwards. The occasional demise didn’t bother our test, because we had more than enough agents with similar skills. As soon as you can disrupt or take over said drones, there is hardly any danger anyway.
Chic city, moderate technology
With the graphic staging, the futuristic London shows itself from a good and a bad side. The general structure of the city was successful, as many streets, well-known places and sights were reproduced credibly. Iconic buildings like the Tower or Buckingham Palace are in the right place and look chic. The many people in it are as varied as the metropolis. The faces and outfits are clearly different from one another and bring the hustle and bustle in the city to life.
Numerous short conversations between residents and sometimes funny reactions to your goings-on also contribute to the atmosphere. We especially like the different voices and accents of the English dubbing. A German voice output was not yet available at the time of the test.
The technology behind Watch Dogs: Legion, on the other hand, is less good. On the Xbox One X, we experienced sometimes clear image build-up, pop-ups, blurred textures, edge flickering, jerking camera movements and faulty animations. If you play in 4K resolution and with HDR support, the problems remain, but both improve the picture significantly. Reflections, contrast and lighting mood are particularly successful.