I want you to picture a hacker in your head. You’re probably conjuring up a visage of a young person wearing something sort of punk rock, perhaps with a funky haircut that been dyed every neon color you can think of. I doubt anyone of you had the visage of a tea-sipping British granny in a knit cardigan getting root on your system. But in Watch Dogs: Legion anyone and everyone can be a hacker and my hands-on demo here at E3 2019 really drove that fact home.
Watch Dogs: Legion takes place in a fictional dystopian London, England that has fallen into a police state in a post-Brexit world. The game doesn’t have a central protagonist, instead, players can use everyday people in their quest to overthrow the totalitarian government. Players must build a network of operatives in order to accomplish their goals, but people don’t just sign up on a website to join the resistance, they must be recruited.
To hunt down new members for your team, all you have to do is use your in-game cell phone to scan targets and get intel on them. Scanning a person tells you their buffs and their flaws, for example, a character might do 200% more damage with a shotgun but also have their wanted meter decrease 20% slower. There’s some other personal info in there as well, including possible ways to perhaps sway someone’s favor towards your cause. You can do this to anyone in the game and play as them, including some of the enforcers you fight against, but some may be harder to recruit than others.
Once recruited, players can choose one of three archetypes for their newest member. Enforcers are the tank class; they have special abilities that are honed for full-on combat like sticky mines, dodge rolls, and explosive rounds. Infiltrators are for players who prefer a stealth class and they can use their AR shroud to hide from prying eyes and their AR hack cloak to trick cameras into not seeing them. And then there’s the Hacker class which of course is better at hacking. Hackers also get a spider-bot they can take control of and knock out enemies with an electric shock. The spider-bot will also serve as a defensive turret during combat.
For my hands-on demo, I started as a bad-ass hacker gram-gram enjoying a pint down at the local pub. I was tasked with finding a new recruit by scanning all the patrons at the bar. As I scanned and learned about each person their info was stored in case I decided to help them at a later date. But one person, in particular, stood out for me due to her stats that seemed to play toward a combative archetype. But before she’d join up, I had to get into an enforcer network and erase the data. It was time for this Golden Girl to show off her mad hax0r skillz.
The first thing I did to make my way towards the server building was to get grandma some wheels, so I had her steal a sports car and haul ass across town. The location itself was very well guarded, but since I was a hacker I was able to throw my faithful spider-bot over the wall to take out a few guards. My hacker class skills also allowed me to open the safehouse’s gates with basically the push of a button. However, I wasn’t that great at sneaking around since, as an elderly person, I wasn’t as mobile and couldn’t duck as low as a spry youngster. Once the alarm went off, it was time for Nana to show her real grit.
I have played hundreds of games in my life, perhaps even thousands, but no other game has ever let me be a senior citizen hacker in a firefight against the cops blasting electric shock bullets while my spider-bot turret got my back. By some miracle, I was able to shoot my way into the database and not only remove the blackmail data on my new recruit, but I did the same for several people while I was there. Later on in my demo, I was even able to move some of the cops I’d injured up the medical waiting list in order to help persuade them to my cause.
Now that I had gained favor with my latest character it was time to send her on her first mission. When you activate an agent you essentially fast travel to them and interrupt their personal lives. Depending on the time of day you may find your character enjoying a coffee, walking to work, or any other number of mundane daily activities. Everyone in the game has a life they are living and if they die during a mission they are permanently dead.
I stopped by my local punk rock clothing store to outfit my latest agent in a studded leather jacket and shiny leopard-print tights before heading out on my assassination mission. Since I had selected the enforcer archetype I could no longer gain access by simply hacking the gate door to the restricted area guarding my three targets. Instead, I was able to hack a cargo drone and hop onto it to fly over my barrier. I was also able to drop the drone’s cargo box on my first target before everything turned into an insane shoot-out.
Watch Dogs: Legion definitely left a good impression on me and I am totally going to make an unstoppable force of killer hacker golden girls when it comes out. And while I doubt they’ll be sitting around talking about their sex lives while eating cheesecake, that’s what’s going to be happening in my head-canon. Watch Dogs: Legion is set to launch March 6, 2020 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. Thank you for being a friend and hacking the Gibson.
Blake Morse posted a new article, Watch Dogs: Legion hands-on at E3 2019 - Golden Girls meets Hackers
The old lady was funny but I dunno how it's going to to scale up to all NPCs. I expect the Ubisoft cookie cutter to be in effect
Sounds like someone at Ubisoft remembered the old game "Messiah" that was put out by Interplay back in Y2K.