Preview | Watch Dogs Legion online mode repeats mistakes, but with personality

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The whole motto of Watch Dogs Legion it revolves around a faceless revolution, involving ordinary citizens and pitting people against the control of large corporations. You can say, in reality, that the whole franchise has this footprint, but in the most recent title, released in late 2020, the idea took on even more expansive airs with the change of a masked protagonist by an entire population, disgusted, masked and , mainly, skillful.

With that, Ubisoft gave us an interesting experience, but with a notable lack of personality that now tries to compensate with the addition of a multiplayer mode that arrived on February 23 to the title. Free for all players of Watch Dogs Legion, the addition brings a new story, separate from the main one, albeit set in the same London and containing many of the same objectives as the base game – the difference, however, lies in the way things are done and mainly in the great focus given to coordination between users.

The old maxim that a game is worthwhile for multiplayer can be worth too much here, although it depends on the goodwill of the players and, above all, on a well-coordinated coordination between them so that everything works well. The addition also shows Ubisoft’s focus on long-tailed content, with seasons of content, seasonal challenges and temporary items, as well as the inevitable but not yet confirmed events, which serve to make those who have dropped the game return to it , while players who arrive just now are guaranteed more and more content to assert the amount invested.

Preview Watch Dogs Legion online mode repeats mistakes but
Watch Dogs Legion’s coop mode puts players to combine skills and strategies in achieving goals similar to those of the base game (Image: Screenshot / Felipe Demartini / Canaltech)

The idea, however, can backfire for exactly the same reason. In our experience with the cooperative mode of Watch Dogs Legion, alongside journalist friends and influencers we already knew before, it was clear that the lack of personality also permeates this portion of gambling, especially for those who do not have friends with the title. Of course, we are talking about the same game, whose mechanics have also been applied to online, which means that the content remains repetitive, while the high difficulty of some goals and wrong design choices can make this experience less than desired.

Invasions, stealth and gunfire

Just like in the base game, in the online game, each player serves as the operator of his own team of rebels, who can be recruited from, literally, any NPC. Here, however, the system works a little differently to speed up the formation of a team and the assembly of teams that meet the different requirements of each type of phase. Instead of carrying out specific missions and objectives for each potential operator, the entry of new members to the team is “purchased” with points of influence.

Green coins, which already existed in the main campaign to buy and upgrade technologies, take on an even more central air in the online experience. The receipt of points is directly linked to the player’s evolution throughout the multiplayer plot, with each level increase guaranteeing an item amount, in addition to other types of items or improvements; in addition, they can also be found at various points on the map, in small infiltrations that encourage exploration and make use of the agents’ skills.

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Objectives spread throughout the city while Watch Dogs Legion online presents a new story, but similar to the original (Image: Screenshot / Felipe Demartini / Canaltech)

After an initial mission that involves recruiting a player-chosen agent and stealing data from an enemy base, Watch Dogs Legion releases the online experience in its entirety and allows a free tour of London in the near future. Players can come together in groups of up to four people to face the challenges and this is where the whole format starts to differ, at least a little, from the main experience.

One of the first stops during our tests was Tactical Operations, large missions composed of different stages that tell the story of the cooperative mode. Again, we were faced with the abuses of Albion, the tyrant corporation that keeps London under an iron fist, and seems ready to use combat drones to fight insurgents and attack anyone who dares to oppose the company’s yoke.

Right from the start, the mission required coordination, since the objectives had to be accomplished at two different points on the map simultaneously. The players on our team communicated while invading Albion bases and were supposed to download files at the same time, in one of the most complex and difficult tasks of the demonstration, even though their objectives, in themselves, are old acquaintances.

However, a good share of failures has been imposed on players because, once a Tactical Operation has started, it is not possible to switch agents outside the lobby. My mistaken choice of a primary school teacher, who was able to download faster, did not speak very well with the heavy security scheme of the building to be invaded, and took the whole team to some red screens until we realized that it was necessary to review the team’s assembly.

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The online portion of Watch Dogs Legion does not allow changing agents during a Tactical Operation, harshly penalizing a bad choice and forcing a restart for everyone involved (Image: Screenshot / Felipe Demartini / Canaltech)

Here, one of the most potentially interesting aspects of the online portion of Watch Dogs Legion. If in the main game building a cohesive team with skills that were completed was a good way to make life easier, in multiplayer this is practically a requirement if users do not want to follow the more difficult route. Knowing how to use invisibility skills, robotic spiders or lethal weapons, for example, is of great help, and if someone has an agent capable of disguising himself in the uniform of enemies, even better.

Stealth, when playing in a group, inevitably ends up losing prominence. To get around this, the group can look for other alternatives, such as using a character with a military background to attack a base on one side, while a faster agent, in disguise or with quick hacking skills, can take advantage of the confusion to invade the place through another entry.

Here, again, we have the same kind of commitment required by the main experience of Watch Dogs Legion, which requires entry into the “little world” of oppression and technology presented by Ubisoft. For the idea to work, it needs to be bought by the players, and whoever is connected to committed users and who enjoy the game, for sure, will have more ease in this dive.

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Tactical Operations are the most extensive and challenging missions in Watch Dogs Legion online, forcing players to spread out across the city (Image: Screenshot / Felipe Demartini / Canaltech)

Common cooperative missions follow similar approaches, involving the tiresome and repetitive system of invading places and stealing data, rescuing people or stealing vehicles, without much variety. They, on the other hand, are simpler and less complex than Tactical Operations, serving, for example, as a welcome to the mode, for users to get used to, or as a quick way to evolve their own profile to get points experience and recruitment of new operators.

While cooperation is not essential here, it can also help to move forward. In one of the tasks, the group I was part of stole two vans that were to be thrown into the river, so that the materials inside could be destroyed. At the exit of the parking lot, there was a long chase by drones that was facilitated when the team split, also dividing the enemy offensive. Success, diving and some points for improving endurance that proved a bit useful later.

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With up to four simultaneous players, well-known puzzles also expand into larger areas in the Watch Dogs Legion online coop (Image: Screenshot / Felipe Demartini / Canaltech)

Something that the multiplayer experience does not explain clearly, however, is that, once spent, such coins are not so simple to obtain. If the player is very thirsty in the pot in the beginning recruitment, he may find himself in a complicated situation later, being obliged to carry out highly challenging missions with elderly women while he lacks evolutionary alternatives to make his life easier.

Direct attack

At the same time, some small innovations brought by the online mode of Watch Dogs Legion, as the events of the world that bring variation and immediacy to the experience. At one point, an enemy drone started attacking people in the vicinity of the group, and even outside of a mission, central London became a shooting arena full of coverage and approach options.

THE Canaltech also had a chance to try the Spiderbot Arena, first PvP mode of Watch Dogs Legion. It is a conventional killer, were it not for the fact that we are controlling spider robots, now armed with machine guns, shotguns, missiles and other upgrades.

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PvP mode of combat between spider robots appears as one of the novelties of the Watch Dogs Legion online, and also the only combat option between players at the beginning of the season (Image: Screenshot / Felipe Demartini / Canaltech)

The format offers fast and, again, challenging action, which motivates the player to never stand still and always look for healing items or special weapons scattered around the scene. Gadgets can’t take a lot of shots, while matches are short, which provides a breather from online campaign operations and also a more uncompromising type of fun.

This is only the first season of content for a game that, many times, seems to have been focused precisely on this type of gameplay. Although the experience is essentially similar to that of the main campaign, gambling alongside friends may end up making up for some of the problems, while mission options with varying degrees of complexity, albeit essentially similar, cater to every type of player.

The online mode of Watch Dogs Legion arrives on March 9 on PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S. The content is free for all players who have the base title.

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