Watch Dogs: Legion hands-on preview: Answering the call

When the forces of fascism threaten to unravel London, it's up to... well... everybody to oppose them. Shacknews goes hands-on with Watch Dogs Legion.


The United Kingdom has been living in uncertainty in this post-Brexit world. In Watch Dogs: Legion, it has rapidly devolved into full-blown fascism. But with the rise of fascists comes the rise of a rebellion. And the rebellion is bigger than anybody thinks. As powerful and overwhelming as the fascist forces are, the opposition has, in fact, become legion.

To get an idea of just how big the opposition is, Shacknews recently went hands-on with Watch Dogs: Legion. We got more details on the game's story, while also getting to know the game's main characters. Although "main characters" is somewhat of a misnomer, because the main character here is almost anybody.

Nigel Cass is the face of Albion and has grand fascist plans for London

Legion opens with Agent Dalton, former MI5 agent, of the resistance organization Dedsec infiltrating a catacomb hideout. There are explosives everywhere, all set to detonate and destroy Parliament. Worse, there's Dedsec propaganda everywhere, so the idea is to frame them for the bombing. While Dalton is able to defuse the explosives set to blow up Parliament, the higher-ups at Dedsec have discovered that bombs have been planted all across London, all set to go off simultaneously. The bombs take out multiple London hotspots, leaving countless casualties, as Dalton is confronted by a mystery villain. And just as the story opens proper, Dalton is shot dead.

Legion's story then fast-forwards a few years. A military police organization called Albion, led by Nigel Cass, now rules the streets with an authoritarian fist. Meanwhile, Dedsec continues to operate underground, but with Dalton shot dead, players take control of a different undercover resistance fighter. In my case, I took control of a local constable, though when I looked in my pause menu, I had a roster that included a hacker, a professional hitman, and a construction worker. It's possible to swap out operatives at any time, which actually comes in handy for some of these missions.

The unifying element for Dedsec is an artificial intelligence called Bagley. Bagley is able to scout out potential recruits, look out for targets of interest, and offer any intelligence that the player might need. While Bagley will direct players to possible recruits or towards the next story mission, London is a truly open space that players can approach as they please. Nearly every NPC can be wooed by Dedsec, but they won't just join the team for the heck of it. You'll have to do them a favor in order to win them over.

For the first chunk of my playthrough, I went off the beaten path and approached a woman named Sue, who turned out to be a spy. Unfortunately, she also had a gambling problem, so in order to get her on the team, I had to help sort out her issues with her debtors in Clan Kelley, the organized crime ring that has consolidated power during Albion's rise, who had kidnapped one of her friends as collateral. The friend was being held at a construction site, which meant it was time to switch over to the construction worker. In Legion, different occupations offer their own distinct benefits, like being able to blend into their workplaces without arousing suspicion.

Completing Sue's mission satisfied her enough that she joined the Dedsec cause and her occupation as a spy certainly had its perks. In fact, every occupation has different advantages. For Sue, she could bring along her tactical watch that could disrupt enemy gadgets, along with her spy car that came equipped with rockets. There were some instances where I switched over to the hacker operative, who brought along a cloaking device that could aid in stealth missions or help her hide from enemy pursuers. And my original operative, the constable? He has a spider bot that can skitter into hostile territory unnoticed and hack nearby objects.

Speaking of hacking, that's practically the name of the game, right? It is a Watch Dogs game, after all. Like its predecessors, Legion is not a game where players go in guns blazing. Stealth is essential and the easiest way to stealth through an area with about a dozen hostiles is to remotely hack whatever's in the area. The easiest object to hack is the security camera, which gives players a different view of the area. The camera can also act as a bridge to hacking objects that are farther away, like another security camera or something a little more fun. Players will find different areas with explosive traps, which can be remotely armed to take out enemies undetected. They can also upgrade their abilities to hack larger objects, like a sentry gun. The sentry gun can take out multiple targets and if you can't take out everybody, then the enemies will at least take the gun out of play for you. It's a win either way.

Hacking can also act as a bit of a puzzle when it comes to infiltrating certain areas. For one of Legion's story missions, I needed to hit a control panel on a rooftop. To get there, I had to find a way to the roof, which involved hacking dual window washing platforms. Then I was able to complete a hacking mini-game to almost complete the mission. I say "almost" because the Albion forces started to close in. Here's where Legion got a bit interesting. I was then tasked with escaping the police forces, but Albion was rapidly calling for backup. Escape quickly became impossible and Sue was gunned down. However, rather than respawn Sue at an earlier checkpoint, I was then prompted to select one of my other operatives. And since the police weren't looking for that specific operative, their pursuit ended and the mission ended successfully. That's one way to win, especially since Sue isn't dead, she's simply incarcerated for a set amount of time (roughly 20 real-time minutes).

Don't think all missions will work out that way, though. I later attempted to recruit an Albion agent by hijacking an ambulance filled with drugs. In an effort to speed things along, I rushed into the ambulance and put the pedal to the floor. Unfortunately, I immediately hit an explosive trap and destroyed the ambulance. My operative was sent to the hospital for about 60 real-time minutes. But because the ambulance was destroyed, the mission was a failure. You win some, you lose some in Legion.

The biggest takeaway from this time with Legion is that there is a lot to do in this game. It's possible to blaze through the story missions, but Legion has missions all over the place. Side activities include vandalism to rally the people and sabotage missions that require players to impact Albion's supply line. But again, almost everybody can be recruited in Legion and almost all of those individuals have their own recruitment missions. This is one of those games where time will fly and a whole day will pass before you even know it and all you'll have to show for it is a roster full of operatives, including some with passive abilities, like the paramedic who cuts down hospital stays.

But the story will be waiting for you and it gets intense. After recruiting an Albion agent, players will find out that Nigel Cass' ambitions go far beyond the authoritarianism already on full display. The story will unfold in a different way for just about everybody, since different operatives all seamlessly fit into Legion's cutscenes. And who ultimately takes Nigel Cass down looks to be up to you.

Lead Dedsec against the forces of fascism when Watch Dogs: Legion releases on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. And as we found out during today's Ubisoft Forward event, the game now has a release date. It's set to hit on October 29, with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions coming later with the latter version supporting Xbox Smart Delivery.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 12, 2020 12:45 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Watch Dogs: Legion hands-on preview: Answering the call

    • reply
      July 12, 2020 1:21 PM

      This is high on my list of anticipated games. I enjoyed both of the previous games, and the innovation with the many characters is really intriguing.

      Out of curiosity, since lethal vs. nonlethal has come up in some discussions about Watch Dogs 2, are different characters restricted to lethal or nonlethal weapons? Like if the character you have selected starts with a taser, can he or she later pick up a pistol (or vice-versa)?

      • reply
        July 12, 2020 1:32 PM

        Almost everybody has a taser. You could probably do things faster with actual firearms, but I stuck mainly with tasers and melee weapons.

Hello, Meet Lola