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May 2022

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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PC Review - 'Watch Dogs: Legion' Bloodline DLC

by Adam Pavlacka on July 9, 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.

Buy Watch Dogs: Legion

There have been a number of updates since Watch Dogs: Legion released last year, but the Bloodline DLC is the first story expansion. Set after the game's prologue but before the main story, Bloodline brings back Aiden Pearce from the original Watch Dogs and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2.

Unlike Legion's core storyline, Bloodline is explicitly focused on Aiden and Wrench. You're not going to play through this with a nameless crew. While this allows for a greater focus on both Aiden and Wrench, it also means the voice actors and the script writers have to step it up to make it work. While they manage to do that for Wrench, Aiden falls a bit flat.

The main issue with Aiden is that the narrative designers decided to lean in hard on the vigilante hints that were dropped in Watch Dogs 2, as well as the crossover reference from Assassin's Creed Origins. We're meant to think of Aiden as a cold-blooded killer who's on track for a redemption arc, but the game doesn't really show us his history of being a killer. Yes, his abilities are more on the lethal side — if gunplay is your thing, Aiden is your guy — but the game doesn't force it. There are even missions that give you the option of sparing folks. The only indication that Aiden has pushed the line on violence (and regrets it) comes when a specific mission dumps info on you.

This is backed up by Aiden's voice actor, who plays it cool and flat the entire time. Being emotionless can be a survival technique for someone who's seen a lot of shit go down, but in the relatively short time span of the story DLC, it also doesn't really give us insight into Aiden or his internal struggles. He comes across as a relatively flat character, even if his abilities are fun to use. Thankfully, Wrench is the exact opposite of Aiden when it comes to characterization.

I missed playing through Watch Dogs 2, so I wasn't familiar with Wrench (beyond reading a few wiki articles and realizing that lots of people really want to ship Marcus and Wrench) until I sat down to play Bloodline. Wrench is now my favorite character in the franchise.

Whereas Aiden buried his pain so deep that it may as well have not existed, Wrench wears his trauma on his sleeve — and then some. He emotes to the extreme, but it's not just for show. This is someone who is coping with the harsh realities of life in the only way he knows how.

A lot of kudos here go to Wrench's voice actor, as he adds a lot of depth and subtle intonation to Wrench's lines. It would have been very easy for Wrench to come off as a goofy caricature instead of a fully developed character, but he never falls into that trap. It's also nice to see a LGBTQ character take the lead in a story where their relationship (or lack thereof) is just a thing that is, as opposed to being the core of the character.

Because Bloodline is set before the main events of Legion, it also means that characters and locations from the core campaign are all fair game. You'll cross paths with at least a few, while others are mentioned. It's a neat little trick that helps with world-building. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the rest of London.

Unlike Legion of the Dead, which attempts to make London look and feel different, Bloodline doesn't look or feel any different than the city you've already explored. A handful of key locations have slightly different branding, but otherwise, that's it. There's no appreciable progress (or regression) between this version of London and the one in the main game. Even the "top news" stories that cycle through the TVs in the game are the same, despite there being months (or longer) between the two.

It's those little details that make the difference between immersion and the realization that it's just a game. Those little details are also what drive replay value. There were a number of opportunities here for lore development or to give players reasons to explore alternate versions of known locations, but they were all missed. Even stuff like the 404 ctOS hub is still there, complete with 404 branding. It just doesn't do anything because they're not active yet.

Still, it's the gameplay that is the draw, and ultimately, both Aiden and Wrench deliver. As I mentioned earlier, Aiden is tuned for gunplay, so if you've ever wanted to tear through Legion John Wick-style, he's your man. Aiden also has a nifty gadget that disables all technology in the immediate area. Yes, you can play him stealth, but he shines if you tend to have a more aggressive play style.

Wrench isn't quite as aggressive as Aiden, but he's also not full stealth. If I had to describe him in D&D terms, Wrench is the embodiment of Chaotic Good. He has a gun that can auto-hack targets, stun grenades, and a hammer that randomly hacks anything in its blast radius. His special ability is a custom cargo drone that's outfitted with grenades, and his preferred takedown method involves a swift hammer to the crotch. Basically, if a situation changes, he adapts well.

Although you play both Aiden and Wrench in Bloodline, they are also available as optional characters in the campaign. You just need to recruit them from outside the pub to make them selectable. Both carry over their special abilities to the campaign, with one major exception: the transforming spiderbot.

Perhaps the neatest tweak to Bloodline is the ability for the spiderbot to transform into a flying drone. It changes the way you think of the spiderbot and the way you attack fortified locations. While I understand including it in the campaign may have made some of the challenges much easier, the little guys could have been restricted to Aiden and Wrench. Not being able to access the flying spiderbot outside of Bloodline is disappointing, especially since it supposedly existed by the time Legion starts.

Ultimately, Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline is a bit of a mixed bag. There's fun to be had here, but the story driving the expansion could have spent more time in the oven. Being able to play as Aiden and Wrench is a nice addition, with each offering a distinct style of play.

Score: 7.5/10

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