Watch Dogs: Legion - Bloodline hands-on preview

The new expansion for Watch Dogs: Legion brings back franchise veterans Aiden Pearce and Wrench for an all-new adventure.

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Watch Dogs: Legion was the third installment in Ubisoft’s open-world hacking franchise. It was a departure from its two predecessors, allowing players to assume the role of practically any character in the game. With the initial launch roughly nine months in the past, Ubisoft has returned to Watch Dogs: Legion with Bloodline, a new story expansion that puts the spotlight on characters from previous entries in the series.

Just when I think I’m out…

Watch Dogs: Legion - Bloodline primarily focuses on Aiden Pearce, who players will recognize as the protagonist of the original Watch Dogs game from 2014. Set several years after the events of that game, a lucrative job opportunity finds Aiden in the streets of London, where he runs into his nephew Jackson. After getting intertwined in Jackson’s drama, Aiden will find himself going head-to-head with Albion, Clan Kelley, and more.

Aiden isn’t the only familiar face popping up in Watch Dog: Legion - Bloodline. Watch Dogs 2’s Wrench also plays a major role in the story. With such radically different personalities, I liked the way Aiden and Wrench clashed in Bloodline. The first two Watch Dogs games are so tonally different, and Ubisoft uses that to their advantage in Bloodline.

Speaking of tone, the first Watch Dogs was infamous for its extremely dark, sometimes overly heavy tone. It’s because of that, having Aiden as the lead in Bloodline does feel a bit weird at times, as the series has moved away from that angle in subsequent entries. That said, I’m also one of the very select few people that genuinely liked Aiden Pearce as a character, so it was really neat to dive back into his story and motivations all these years later.

Players that really enjoyed the “play as anyone” gimmick in Watch Dogs: Legion proper may feel a bit underwhelmed by Bloodline, as you’re restricted to one character the entire time. If you’ve built up a colorful cast of Dedsec operatives with some wonky powers, they’re going to have to sit on the bench for this one.

Teaching an old Watch Dog new tricks

Another trait that separates Aiden from later Watch Dogs protagonists is his willingness to kill. The original game didn’t have all of the cool and creative stun weapons that we see in Watch Dogs 2 and Legion, so Mr. Pearce racked up quite the body count. This remains the case in Bloodline, as Aiden is equipped with a powerful revolver and his signature baton. A new ability allows players to increase the damage on their weapon, if they time a button press properly during a reload. He’s also got the Shutdown ability that affects just about every hackable item in range.

Aiden’s loadout in Watch Dogs: Legion - Bloodline is pretty sweet. The new gunplay mechanics add a fresh angle to combat, and his special ability is reminiscent of the original game. That said, the progression system in the expansion feels really trivial. You begin the story with very little hacking abilities, not even able to perform a disruption on enemies, despite playing as this grizzled vigilante that’s been at it for years. As you finish missions for Jackson and his clients, different hacking abilities will be unlocked.

It’s a bit frustrating, especially when you consider that anyone that’s jumping into the DLC most likely already beat (or made meaningful progress) in the base game, and has already gone through the process of slowly unlocking each and every ability. Having to do it all again just for the sake of giving the expansion a sense of linear progression just feels contrived. By the time Aiden Pearce was fully kitted like the legendary vigilante that he is, the game was over.

Hack the world

Despite some issues with the progressions system, I did enjoy Watch Dogs: Legion - Bloodline. As one a fan of the 2014 Watch Dogs game, I got a genuine kick out of jumping back into the role of Aiden Pearce and seeing how he meshed with the futuristic take on London. It may not be the thing that’s going to sell series naysayers, but Watch Dogs fans will enjoy what’s there in Bloodline.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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