After the first Watch Dogs launched in 2014 and its much-improved sequel released two years later, Ubisoft’s hacking-filled open world series went dark. We anticipated that a third game would change the setting, perhaps introduce a new main character to replace Marcus or Aiden, and could better tie the overarching universe’s events to the games’ stories thus far. Instead, Ubisoft Toronto and new creative director Clint Hocking opted to redefine what is possible in an open-world game, allowing you to play as every single non-player character in the game. Whether the studio is able to pull off something this ambitious remains to be seen, but it has us very excited right now. Here is everything we know about Watch Dogs Legion.
Location and story
Watch Dogs Legion is set in the not-too-distant future, where much like in the real world, technology continues to play a morally nebulous role in the average citizens’ lives. Following the “Brexit” vote that saw the United Kingdom opt to withdraw from the European Union, the nation has further tightened its security, employing a private company called Albion to police its citizens and – ostensibly – keep the peace. The motives of Albion are currently unclear, but their presence has resulted in a notable shift in British policing. Unlike traditional police officers, Albion contractors are armed with assault rifles, and will aim them at civilians and even shoot to kill.
Albion won’t be the only adversaries with whom you’ll cross paths. British organized crime continues to thrive despite the increased security, with everything from drug syndicates to human trafficking rings. Mess with the wrong people, and you just might find yourself in danger. Blum, the Google-like technology giant we saw in Watch Dogs 2, will also have a presence, and advances in technological development continue to come in direct conflict with the population. Information about anyone can be learned at a moment’s notice, employees are being cut in favor of machines, and surveillance has increased. Today’s London is already one of the most-surveilled cities on the planet.
Hack everyone and everything
Standing in everyone’s way is, of course, vigilante resistance group DedSec. Moving from the hills and $3,000-per-month apartments of San Francisco to London, the hacker collective aims to break the grip these organizations have on the city’s population and return it to a place that would make Paddington proud.
Watch Dogs starred violence-fueled lone wolf vigilante Aiden Pearce and its sequel shifted to the up-and-coming hacker star Marcus Holloway, but Watch Dogs Legion is taking a very different approach. Rather than put you in the shoes of one or even a few main characters, the “protagonist” of the game is DedSec itself.
You can recruit any character you encounter and by completing an introductory mission for that person, induct them into DedSec as a new protagonist. This can be a fairly typical hacker type or an expert gunslinger, but your choices are far broader than that. Want to convince an Albion employee to defect to DedSec, or bring a grandmother out of retirement for one last job? Want to comprise DedSec of nothing but grandmothers? You totally can.
The prospect of recruiting anyone into DedSec comes at a cost, however. At any point, any of your DedSec operatives can die. If they happen to bite the dust, it’s permanent, and you’ll have to dip into your roster of other characters to continue your mission. Luckily, you will have a slight ability to save your favorites – if you are damaged enough and knocked down, you can choose either get back up or surrender. Get back up and be damaged again and you’ll die permanently. Surrender, and you’ll be sent to a secure facility, and released after a certain amount of time has elapsed or DedSec breaks you out.
Because the game still has a story despite every playable character being expendable, Watch Dogs Legion’s cutscenes will star whoever you happen to be controlling at a certain time. This means every possible character has been given their own animations and voice acting. No two characters will be alike.
You’ll be joined in Watch Dogs Legion by one of the only constant characters, an A.I. assistant named Bagley. The assistant will help tie missions together among the chaos likely to unfold, and it’s known to crack a sarcastic quip from time to time.
The class system
With so many different playable characters, Ubisoft chose to differentiate them from each other through a class system. Watch Dogs Legion characters are placed into either the Enforcer class, the Infiltrator class, or the Hacker class, and you’ll want to have some of each in order to make your roster as balanced as possible.
- Enforcers: The preferred choice of players who like to shoot first and ask questions later. They come with explosive rounds and a non-lethal sticky mine option. If you need to breach an area and takedown a whole mess of enemies quickly, they are your best option.
- Infiltrators: Are for the Splinter Cells among us. They specialize in melee attack and silent takedowns. They come with an augmented reality cloaking device that is made functional because every citizen of London has been implanted with a chip that provides heads-up display information.
- Hackers: The class for those who like to avoid direct confrontation altogether. They have a spider-bot, seen in the first gameplay footage, that can make its way into small openings outside of buildings and secretly cause havoc. This makes your choice of actually dying much lower, though it requires patience and careful planning.
Regardless of the class you choose, you will gain access to various perks as you level a character up. This is a major reason why caution is so important, as if your highest-level character is killed, you lose the progress you had made on them. In the case of the retired engineer Helen, she has her hack cooldown time heavily reduced, though all those years of experience come at the cost of movement speed.
Watch Dogs Legion will have options for more pacifistic players. Speaking to Game Informer, director Clint Hocking revealed that over half of the weapons in the game will be non-lethal. In a gameplay panel during E3, the development team at Ubisoft Toronto also shared that enemies’ responses in combat will be determined back on your level of lethality. If you only punch a guard, for instance, they are more likely to respond in kind rather than shoot you on the spot. These choices will have long-lasting results for how the London population views DedSec. If a potential recruit had their family member killed by one of your operatives, for instance, they are likely not going to be as easy to convince.
Don’t want to play the game alone? Watch Dogs Legion will also include a cooperative mode with support for up to four players. Alongside endgame missions, content designed specifically for cooperative play will also be included.
Release Date, platforms, and pre-order bonuses
Watch Dogs Legion is scheduled to release on March 6, 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Google Stadia. Those who pre-order the game will get the Golden King pack, which includes a gold mask and gold skins for your pistol and vehicles.
Several different versions of Watch Dogs Legion will be released in addition to the standard edition. The “Gold Edition” follows Ubisoft’s typical release model, including the season pass, extra missions and skins, and four unique characters with their own missions. You can also play the game a day early this way. The “Ultimate Edition” includes all of that content, plus another pack containing three characters and masks, and a four-week “VIP” boost that lets you earn experience and money more quickly.
The Collector’s Edition, a Ubisoft Store exclusive, includes everything from the other editions. It also includes a collector’s box, steelbook, sticker set, double-sided poster, and light-up mask.