Maybe it was being given a larger slice of the game to play with, or perhaps my homesickness for the UK has finally gotten the better of me, but Watch Dogs Legion finally feels like a world I want to spend hours in. This time around I started out as grey-haired, sensible shoe wearing author Tiffany, someone with no special skills beyond a decent phone connection for fast downloads. I could have chosen a construction worker - who can saunter easily into restricted areas - or a hitman, or a paramedic, but Tiffany was a bang average Londoner who looks like she would struggle to post a photo on Facebook.
Kickabout in the park
Ignoring the main mission to take on private security force Albion and save the city from oppression, I just decided to spend some time wandering London. I played darts (you get more in-game currency for playing the drunker you are) and played keepy uppies - keeping a soccer ball in the air by hitting the right button at the right time - in a park. I stole an ambulance and became part of the gig economy by couriering packages around the city. It wasn't the most exciting side quest in the world, but if Death Stranding can make a whole game out of it, who's to judge? I spotted a poster for a bare-knuckle fighting ring and bought an I love London t-shirt.
Eventually, I did get to the more bombastic, story-led missions, more on those in a minute, but just procrastinating in the world, hearing the overblown London accents and weird little side hustles, I enjoyed the business of hacking and sneaking around so much more. I favored stealth, commandeering large cargo drones to carry me to high vantage points, taking down enemies silently, using a spider bot to sneak through vents and hack into access points so I could sneak in through newly unlocked doors.
The Amazing Spider-Bot
Following the main mission line meant trying to figure out more about Albion, Zero Day, and rebuilding the DedSec team. That meant sneaking into Scotland Yard to get hold of a damaged spider-bot - and piloting it through a vent system to get it to my character while she hid behind a desk - downloading information from access points in busy buildings, or sneaking close enough to people to download data from their devices. You can go in heavy, depending on your character's offensive skills, and depending on who've you recruited you can swap and change to suit the mission. I got rather attached to Tiffany - a testament to the fun of the missions because she had zero skills besides a decent cell phone data plan - so until she was unfortunately arrested outside Scotland Yard (your characters can also go AWOL if they're hospitalized) I went with a sneaky approach. Yes, it feels like in Watch Dogs Legion you'll be doing a lot of the same hacking maneuvers, but being able to swap between different skilled characters and wander off to recruit and become a new NPC - usually after a quick side mission - whenever the feeling grabs you helps fend off the monotony.
During one mission to photograph some generator schematics with a news drone my intrepid novelist encountered a gameplay bug that stalled play. Was it hackers? Was it the most meta-piece of game marketing ever attempted? Probably not, but it seemed a fitting moment for a game about disrupting the world with technology.
Glitch aside, there was a lot of fun to be had, and an almost intimidating amount of details to get sidetracked with. Perfecting your character's look with collectible masks - I preferred a giant robot head - shopping for new clothes, dawdling in pubs, randomly interrupting Albion arrests by distracting the perpetrator, and running in to rescue the victim. It's enough to make you happy to spend time in a surveillance state dystopia while the real world slowly turns into one.
Watch Dogs Legion will be released on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Stadia on October 29, on Xbox Series X on November 10, and on PS5 on November 12. Here's our Watch Dogs Legion pre-order guide.