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June 2021

Watch Dogs: Legion

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Toronto
Release Date: Oct. 29, 2020


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Watch Dogs: Legion of the Dead'

by Adam Pavlacka on June 11, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Watch Dogs: Legion is set in a near-future, dystopian version of London. It's a post-Brexit world in which society, politics and technology have changed and altered London's fortunes.

Ubisoft announced a surprise addition to Watch Dogs: Legion's multiplayer mode this month when it made the Watch Dogs: Legion of the Dead PC alpha available. This game mode is currently still under development, but anyone who owns a copy of Watch Dogs: Legion via Ubisoft Connect or subscribes to Uplay+ automatically had the alpha added to their game library as a separate title.

Eventually, Legion of the Dead will be integrated into the main game (for all players, no season pass purchase required), but while it's in alpha, you'll need to dedicate around 40 GB of space to the install. If that sounds similar in size to the main game, that's because it is. Legion of the Dead may not have the missions (or Bagley), but it does have the entire map of London available.

The biggest change from standard multiplayer is that you don't have a crew and you can't build a crew. Every round, you get a random character and, win or lose, that character disappears at the end of the round. This means that there is no chance to build up a character to fit a favorite play style, which is probably the weakest part of Legion of the Dead right now. More on that later though.

Once you and your teammates are ready — you can play Legion of the Dead solo or with up to a total of four players — you get a chance to buy a perk using z-creds, which are earned by playing. If you don't have any or don't want to spend any, there is always a free option that awards you a random perk. Otherwise, there are two additional perks available for purchase.

Perks can be anything from a weapon to an ability (hacking) or a gadget. One perk allows you to summon a vehicle on demand. The available perks can completely change the way the round plays out, so it's important to choose carefully.

The round starts with a 25-minute timer and a mission to collect eight supply boxes. Once you've got the required supplies, you need to make it to the extraction point to clear the round and collect z-creds. Getting more than the required eight supplies earns more z-creds, but if the timer runs out, it's the same as being eliminated by the zombie hordes.

Speaking of which, the zombies in Legion of the Dead aren't just there to be shot at. Most of the time, shooting at them is the last thing you want to do. Unlike traditional "horde" style game modes, the goal is to distract and avoid the zombies as much as possible. Shooting at them should be a last resort. For one thing, they can quickly close the gap, and secondly, one hit by a zombie takes out most of your life bar. If they land a second hit, you go down right away. You're never going to win a round of Legion of the Dead by shooting your way through it.

Thankfully, you and your co-op buddies can revive each other if needed. You're also not the only humans running around London. You'll find Clan Kelly and Albion forces around. They'll often be found guarding supplies, and they're just as happy to shoot as you as they are at zombies. You can use the latter point to your advantage either by luring zombies in to attack, or by using Clan Kelly and Albion as distractions for the horde as you sneak behind them.

In addition to standard supplies, you can also find power-up boxes that grant additional perks. These perks are random but can make the round easier if you get a lucky pick. For example, in one round, my teammate got a vehicle perk. Plowing through a pack of zombies is a lot easier in a car or van than it is on foot. It's oddly satisfying as well.

One of my favorite perks in Legion of the Dead was the hacking perk because it let me take control of Albion drones. I used this in one round to distract a pack of zombies while my co-op buddy ran in to grab supplies. It did take some balancing, as I had to keep an eye on my stationary self as well, but it worked.

Another perk, the cargo drone, more or less served as a cheat code. One of the weaknesses of the zombies is they can't climb anything except stairs, so if you have a cargo drone, you're practically invincible. We were able to fly from supply drop to supply drop, always staying safely above zombie heads, and only coming down to grab the items we needed. It was fun for a single run, but it kind of felt like we were taking advantage of the system.

Legion of the Dead keeps your runs through London fresh by varying your starting point. No matter where you start, there are always supplies nearby and a large number of zombies between you and the extraction point, but at least that prevents it from feeling repetitive.

While my co-op buddy and I enjoyed our time running through Legion of the Dead, my one big disappointment with the alpha is the lack of character progression that I mentioned earlier. If you're listening, Ubisoft, I'd love to see a few changes made there. Permadeath should be something that can't be disabled, so there is always a real risk of losing your character, but if a run is successful, I'd love to be able to keep that character as an option.


If I could keep a character, then choosing a perk would be more strategic. Do I keep the perks that I already have? Do I buy a new one and replace an existing one? It would also impact how I play with others. For example, I enjoy hacking, which is an effective way to distract crowds. Maybe someone else is a good sniper. Another player might enjoy clearing the road with a vehicle, while the team follows behind.

Doing something like this would allow players to effectively create their own character archetypes (tank, ranger, etc.) and assemble a team of complementary classes. That would be much more appealing than either the current random rolls we get now, or any pre-set classes that the development team could think up. Losing a character would be a real loss, but having a veteran survive could mean bragging rights.

Another needed change is a rebalancing of a handful of the items. The cargo drone is way too much of a god mode toy at the moment. On the other hand, it would be great to be able to silently take down zombies. Their high damage level makes them a constant threat, and avoidance gives Legion of the Dead its own distinct feel, but there were still times when a silent takedown would have been a game changer.

That said, even in its current state, Watch Dogs: Legion of the Dead is fun to play. It's not what I was expecting, and it's tonally inconsistent with the main game, but the core gameplay loop is already there, and it's solid. Knowing that this is an alpha, I'm looking forward to seeing what improvements the development team makes with each iteration.

Editor's Note: Watch Dogs: Legion of the Dead PC alpha is currently PC exclusive, but the final version will be made available on all platforms.


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