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Gran Theft Auto: Hands on with Watch Dogs Legion

In our hands-on demo with Watch Dogs Legion, we roleplayed as a grandmother, stole a red London bus, and rode a drone around like the Green Goblin. Just a normal day in our nation’s capital, really.

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Gran Theft Auto hands on Watch Dogs Legion

In our hands-on demo with Watch Dogs Legion, we roleplayed as a grandmother, stole a red London bus, and rode a drone around like the Green Goblin. Just a normal day in our nation’s capital, really.

The demo kicks off in a pub in Westminster, playing as an old lady who is trying to recruit a new operative to Deadsec. Our first act is to accidentally pull our gun on the prospect, and they hide under the table. Luckily we didn’t upset them too much to cancel the mission to recruit them, but it’s nice to see this sort of emergent silliness from Watch Dogs 2 carrying over into Watch Dogs Legion.

In order to recruit an NPC into Deadsec, we need to establish their motivation. They might be sympathetic to the cause and only need a little persuasion. They probably need you to complete some sort of fetch quest or side mission to appease them. We profile the target and find our prospective recruit needs us to clear some fake evidence that’s been planted on them by the feds. If we do that, they’ll join Deadsec. (It’s always fake, planted evidence in Watch Dogs, right? Nobody is ever guilty in Watch Dogs.) 

From the pub, we head over to New Scotland Yard’s HQ. We steal a car (and later, a red London bus) and drive past all the sights: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Cenotaph, Horse Guards Parade, Nelson’s Column, Tower Bridge; we see the London Eye on the opposite bank of the Thames.

We need to bust into the building and wipe the information off a server. In order to do this, our old lady hops from security camera to security camera, first to locate the server, then to steal a keycode from a security guard. We try to go in using our (surprisingly cute) spider bot but it gets caught a couple of times. Then the feds notice us acting suspiciously outside, and we have a short, GTA-alike chase around London while we try to avoid high-tech checkpoints and lose the wanted rating.

When we arrive back at New Scotland Yard, police interest in us diminished, we decide to change tack and find another way to complete our objective. We take control of a drone to scout the area and find an external emergency exit staircase above an alley that’s only staffed by one guard. We parkour over a wall and Cindy, our helper for the demo, tells us: “The older characters in Watch Dogs Legion are very capable; they can do everything the other characters do, just… at a slower pace.” She’s not wrong. Scaling the side of a building and taking down a guard as an older lady is hilarious. The sounds, the animations, the laboured, arthritic hoisting up and over a wall, the very gentle taser takedown; they’re all highlights of our hands-on time with Watch Dogs Legion.

From there, we complete our recruitment task and acquire the new operative. We get to pick their class and select the infiltrator, as we want to try out the AR “invisibility” cloak. Then we meet a former spook to pick up a new mission, and head over to Camden.

Our mission is to take out three lieutenants of a gang that runs Camden Market. This being Watch Dogs, we can do this in whatever way we choose. We feel like the best option is to grab a massive drone, ride it high into the sky, and drop explosives on the heads of the people we need to take out. Jumping from device to device while hacking is still fiddly, though, and if you hack a device and return to your character, you’re not automatically doing the same thing you were when you left them. (We nearly fell off the big drone a few times because, when we returned to it, it was no longer the focus of our hack and where we thought we were flying the drone, we were actually just running about on top of it.)

Watch Dogs Legion drone riding

But after a few cock-ups, false-starts and mishaps, we complete the mission, then head over to Trafalgar Square to pick up a dead drop package in a bin.

This dead drop turns out to be a setup, a bomb goes off, and we get the blame. We go to run away, but Cindy tells us that time’s nearly over on the demo, and we might as well stay and fight. It does not go well, and our infiltrator – with their invisibility cloak flapping in the wind – gets their arse kicked. We go to run again, and Cindy suggests we “try out” the permadeath. And we do.

Our new operative is knocked down but not out, seriously injured, and we’re presented with the option to surrender, or to get back up and fight. We choose to fight back and promptly die. They’ve been with Deadsec all of 12 minutes, and we’re already laying them to rest.

Interestingly, following on from Watch Dogs Legion’s approach of making every NPC meaningful, we’re also supplied the name of the unique person who killed us. We could use that as a means to enact sadistic revenge. Or maybe we could recruit them into Deadsec, then fly them into the air on a big drone… and then throw them off the side. Yes, it’s still an act of sadistic revenge, but it’s better served cold.

Sadly, we don’t get the opportunity to play out any of these revenge fantasies as our time with Watch Dogs Legion is over.

We ask Cindy what happens if you choose to surrender, rather than to fight back? She tells us that the character may be unavailable for a while because they’re seriously injured or in hospital. They might also be held by law enforcement or other antagonists.

But they don’t die.  Which is important, if you’re trying to keep Helen (and all the other precious Antifa, hacker nanas) alive.


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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.