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I have seen the future, and I like it

Watch Dogs: Legion is the most immersive Non-VR game ever

Posted: By Jon Peddie 11.06.20

Open world games date back to the 1980s for PC adventure games and 1970 for a Sega game (Jet Rocket). The first ones I get seriously involved with were Stalker and Skyrim, and have been a big fan of the big world games ever since.

The first version of Watch Dogs was an open and pretty big world, but its storyline was too scripted, and the mechanics a bit awkward. But it established a look and feel.

Watch Dogs: Legion (WDL) is impressive. It is the biggest earth-based world I’ve encountered, and the detail and richness of the maps are stunning. The game cleverly and smoothly blends procedural and scripted graphics, and there are dozens of NPCs to look at or engage with. However, Minecraft has the largest land-based open-world to explore out of any game in this list. The world of Minecraft is approximately 1.5 billion sq. miles. That’s almost 1% of the planet. By comparison, Watch Dogs: Legion has a Map Size of roughly 11km² / 4.24 square miles, including water. But it is full and rich, and If you’ve ever been to London, you will see many familiar places, many of which you can visit.

Storyline. You are a recent member of the hacker group DedSec. DedSec has been blamed for a series of bombings that damaged the city.

London has taken over by Abion, a hired army with many high-tech toys and some good shot soldiers. If you take them down, you can steal their armored vehicle. The game’s goal is to eliminate the mercenaries and their surveillance systems (which include drones and cameras everywhere.

AR and VR displays are everywhere in the city. Drones, modernistic buses,  and electric cars are all over. They operate under the direction and sometimes control of the Central Operating System(ctOS), a centralized computer network developed by Blume, the villainous technology company.

In addition to Abion, there is Clan Kelley, a criminal syndicate that has taken over the dark web. DedSec discovers Kelley and finds out they helped smuggle Zero Day’s bombs into the country. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they are also involved in abducting people from a major deportation center and selling them on as either slaves or organ donors.

WDL takes advantage of ray tracing for many scenes, most often for puddles, windows, and doors. The ray tracing is well done; it’s not in your face and annoying.

You can grab armor from anyone you takedown, and there is armor cached scattered around too. Same for health. There are drones to knock down or taken over. Some of them are big enough to carry you. You can also commandeer cranes and get to the top of buildings with them.

Weapon accumulation is slow, and I’m not sure about mods yet but think it is possible.

As you go about your quests, your background mission is to get recruits. That’s not too hard, but you also get their problems that they’ll want you or DedSec to help with.

Teammates. You can pick a variety of people to be and change during the game. Some of the cockney English accents and phrasing is hilarious. You can also choose funny masks. Each character has their own backstory, personality, and skill set—all of which come into play as you personalize your team. However, Ubisoft (Toronto) didn’t invest a lot in motion capture; there are only two maybe three walking styles. Old women walk like street thugs.

A senior citizen in Watch Dogs: Legion

 

Getting around. You can take any car or motorcycle, and most trucks. And in this version, there is a new feature – auto-drive—It is fantastic. It sees NPCs, other cars, and the traffic lights. I’ve spent over an hour letting it drive me around just so I could look at the sights—and there is plenty to look at.

You can also call in a cargo drone, commander it, and fly around the city.

Getting louder. The graphics are great, but come with a price—If you want to run at high-res,  with all the features and eye-candy enabled, you’ll need a high-end AIB, a powerful CPU, plenty of RAM, and a big, fast SSD. I’ve been playing on the Corsair One, which has an a3.7 GHz i9-10900k and RTX 2080Ti. I’m using a 49-inch, 5120 × 1440 super monitor. The i9 and RTX are water-cooled, and when doing everyday things, you cannot hear the machine. But when this game is running, the fans wind up and get to work. The game uses 8 of the 11 GBs of GDDR on the AIB (73%).

Results. I ran the built-in benchmark and it reported the system running at an average of 45 fps (max 92, min 27 fps).

What do we think?

The graphics richness, population of players and characters, detail of the world, and AI in this game are simply fantastic. The storyline is OK, no big surprises or twists (yet). It is a bit of a standard shoot and loot game with a semi-anarchic tone, but this is a definitely fun game to play.

Some of the puzzles are bewildering. For example, although you can generally hack any door lock, some require a key. You must hunt for the key, and the clues and hints vary from door to door. Some keys, just can’t be found (by me).

The game sells for $60 and runs on PC, Xbox, and Playstation 4 and 5. It will give hours of entertainment, and its London model is so rich you’ll come back to it even after you finish the game (although it may be you can never finish the game because of all the recruit quests.

Watch Dogs Legion on 49-inch monitor, the game’s vista are incredible