With no Murderer’s Creed on the books for 2019, I anticipated Watch Canine Legion to fill the hole this vacation. Sadly we’ll want to attend till March of 2020 for the total launch—which is doubly unlucky as a result of Watch Canine Legion appears unimaginable, due to its revolutionary play-as-anyone-in-the-world tech.
I don’t get to say this usually, however there’s nothing else prefer it.
After Ubisoft’s E3 press convention on Monday we had the prospect to go hands-on with Watch Canine Legion for about 45 minutes. Even so I really feel like I’ve barely scratched the floor. I didn’t do a single mission, nor did I discover even the measly 20 p.c of the map Ubisoft made obtainable.
As an alternative, I took over a bunch of grandmas.
I can’t think about taking part in Watch Canine Legion some other method, to be sincere. The entire crux of Legion is you possibly can play as most anybody within the recreation. Any random bystander may be swayed to your trigger—even enemy guards, given sufficient effort and time. However the place’s the enjoyable in that? Who cares about Generic Soldier-Guard #1 and his playing behavior or no matter?
When the demo began I used to be in charge of Olivia, a doddering previous girl perpetually hunched, carrying an orange scarf and nurse clogs. “In case you maintain down Left Bumper, we will provoke recruitment of some extra folks on this pub,” my Ubisoft demo assistant mentioned. I didn’t actually wish to. I had Olivia, and he or she was nice.
However taking part in alongside, I went on the hunt for different previous ladies to flesh out my gang. There have been none within the pub, however I discovered Lydia strolling previous the entrance door, even extra hunched than my authentic character and clad in a flowery gold jacket. There was additionally Rose, carrying sun shades as she meandered previous 10 Downing Road…at 2 a.m. Her bio additionally says she “appeared in three superstar intercourse tapes.” I added each of them to my telephone’s contact listing.
Lydia was none-too-fond of DedSec, however she had an issue: She was being blackmailed by a rogue safety group, with the compromising data saved in Scotland Yard. Olivia sprang teetered into motion, leaping on the again of a bike and rushing via Charing Cross.
Let me inform you, you haven’t lived till you’ve seen an previous lady driving a crotch rocket via the middle of Charing Cross with no helmet or a sew of security gear. What a badass.
And that’s the allure of Watch Canine Legion. This entire “Play as Anybody” system is pleasant, insofar because it’s consistently serving up the identical previous concepts however in quietly hilarious vogue—like how Lydia didn’t punch enemies, as a substitute gingerly slapping them with the pressure of a heavyweight boxer. Or how leaping off a wall resulted in a turned ankle and a few awkward half-steps earlier than she may resume her sluggish trot down the sidewalk.
All the things I did in my demo felt like enterprise as regular for Watch Canine—stealing vehicles, hacking safety cameras, taking out patrolling guards. And but doing in order Lydia or Olivia made it extra fascinating, each thematically and at a pure recreation degree as I struggled to execute plans a stronger or extra cell character would possibly’ve executed with ease.
Will it work long-term? That I’m much less sure about. Legion is an ideal hour-long demo as a result of you possibly can’t get a good suggestion what strings are nonetheless hooked up. As I mentioned, I barely scratched the floor—principally working round beginning fights, crashing my motorbike, and dressing Lydia up in ridiculous outfits (of which there are numerous).
It’s mayhem, and I liked that. Legion is weird, or at least it gives the players the tools to make it weird, which is even better. I’ve no doubt certain people will assemble a crack team of 20 super-soldiers and think that’s the only way to play. Meanwhile I’ll be waging war on London as a retirement community for black hats.
But whether that meshes with the authored story? I’m not sure yet. Ubisoft touted its advanced voice modulation tech, the breadth of animations for different body types, the dozen scripts they’ve written depending on your character’s personality. Every character has a schedule, and you can see where they’ll be at any given time, interact with their social circles, or even disrupt those social circles and force them to adapt.
That all sounds great on paper—but the problem with procedural generation, as we’ve seen time and again, is that people are very good at pattern recognition. It’s instinctive, and if you start to notice the same animations, the same voice lines, the same repeated quest structures, that’s going to put cracks in the simulation.
Still, I admire them for trying and I can’t wait to play more. I would’ve been fine with another Watch Dogs 2, this time in London, but Legion’s far more ambitious. My favorite part is just seeing the attention to detail, the weird systemic side effects that crop up when various rules collide in interesting ways.
By which I mean, I love when an old lady says “Absolutely buggered!” while shooting a police officer in the face. Call me easy to please, but’s it’s inspired.