Watch Dogs Legion story primer: Get caught up with all things DedSec ahead of the new London-bound adventure

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Watch Dogs Legion: The story so far

Watch Dogs Legion will let you to play as anyone, including a granny wielding a shotgun in dystopian Camden. One question might be on your mind: how did we get here? From Aiden Pearce hacking his way through Chicago to Marcus Holloway's stylish San Francisco recruitment drive, a lot has happened to lead DedSec to London, so in this primer, we're going to go through the relevant plot details in the previous two games in the series so that when Watch Dogs Legion launches you won't have to worry about being out of the loop. 

What is Watch Dogs Legion?

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Watch Dogs: Legion is the third game in Ubisoft's Watch Dog series, in which you play as a hacktivist resisting an oppressive regime. Legion is set in post-Brexit London and boasts an ambitious approach to gameplay in which you can play as any civilian you can see on the ground, recruiting them into DedSec, a resistance movement that is pushing back against the surveillance state. The game also introduces a permadeath mechanic where if you lose a recruit in battle, they're gone forever. 

Despite the seemingly relaxed approach to storytelling given the lack of a central protagonist, Legion will actually boast five different main questlines that focus on a facet of London's surveillance state, from the spy networks to the private military contractors that have replaced the Metropolitan police. 

What happened in Watch Dogs?

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The original Watch Dogs saw you play as Aidan Pearce, an established edgelord hacker from Chicago. A notorious fellow, he is targeted in a hit that claims the life of his niece, Lena Pearce, though Aidan survives. Pearce captures the wrongdoer who carried out the hit and passes the bad lad Maurice Vega to his friend Jordi Chin, before being coaxed back into the hacker fray by the man he was working with when the hit occurred, Damien Brenks, who kidnaps his little sister as ransom.

Pearce is forced into working with Brenks and meets Clara Lille of DedSec, a hacking initiative opposed to ctOS, which is essentially a corporate-controlled internet of things that manages Chicago. Everything is connected via ctOS which allows Aiden to manipulate cameras and traffic, causing chaos and affording him the ability to collect the personal details of anyone he chooses. 

The general philosophy of DedSec is that they're against the Orwellian control of information exercised by Blume Corporation who own ctOS. Their hacking of its systems is DedSec's rebellion against the death of privacy – they're exposing weaknesses in the system to show how it could be used by corporations with ulterior, profit-based motives. Internally within DedSec, there are disagreements over how peaceful this rebellion should be and some have exercised violence over protest. DedSec is a mysterious grassroots organisation run by a so-called 'Council of Daves.'

Pearce meets and collaborates with a man called Raymond 'T-Bone' Kenney, an ex-Blume Corporation hacker who caused a major blackout so bad that it pressed the government to respond, which led to ctOS. Some story beats later, Clara Lille is killed by Brenks' henchman before Pearce can save her, but he eventually tracks down Brenks at a lighthouse after infecting ctOS with a virus that causes another massive blackout. DedSec begs Pearce to install a backdoor in ctOS for them, but he refuses, a decision they don't take kindly to. Pearce's pal Jordi Chin arrives at the lighthouse and it is revealed he was working with Brenks all along. Pearce kills Brenks, chucks Jordi off the lighthouse and is led to Vega, the hitman who killed his daughter, where the game ends after players decide whether to kill or spare him.

What happened in Watch Dogs 2?

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In Watch Dogs 2, Blume Corporation installs ctOS 2.0 in San Francisco, intent on extending its societal control over America. A hacker named Marcus Holloway is implicated in a crime he had no part in thanks to the ctOS system and turns to DedSec to get his revenge on a corrupt system. Holloway, alongside his DedSec pals Horatio, Sitara, Wrench, and Josh go about exposing politicians and corrupt businesses that are using ctOS to harm the public, all the while engaging in a popular social media campaign to find more DedSec recruits. 

Eventually, we meet Dusan Nemec, CTO of Blume Corporation, who is found to be harvesting ctOS data and scraping it into a system called Bellwether which is primed to manipulate the world's economy and political structure by accumulating and abusing masses of civilian data. He wants to use a network of satellites to exert control over the entire planet. DedSec then recruits T-Bone from the first Watch Dogs and, after fighting off a rival hacking group called Prime_Eight – and losing Horatio to a street gang – they expose Nemec to the police and Blume Corporation is investigated for wrongdoing.

What does this mean for Watch Dogs Legion?

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Crucially, at the end of Watch Dogs 2, there is a secret ending that was added post-release. In it, two unknown hackers talk about the expansion of DedSec beyond both Chicago and San Francisco and into the wider world, spreading to the Middle East, South America and Europe. The filename features a set of coordinates that when put into google lead to Brixton in the UK, foreshadowing Watch Dogs Legion's London setting.

Clearly, DedSec's social media movement has spread, gripping London in an even more holistic capacity, hence why Legion features the ability to become anyone and potentially turn them into a DedSec member. In Watch Dogs Legion, there is a built-in morality system towards DedSec where certain members of the public will have to be coaxed to join the movement more than others, suggesting that it has become much more anarchical than it was in Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2. This is clearly necessary, though, given how Watch Dogs Legion's London has devolved into an ever-encroaching surveillance state that you must liberate to free the minds of the walking dead.

Should you go back and play Watch Dogs 1 and 2?

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They're fun games, but it's inessential. If we follow Watch Dogs 2's example, it only dwells on the events of the previous game with small easter eggs that have little to do with the wider narrative. Both games are contained tales that will most likely not spill story beats into Watch Dogs Legion, bar a few tongues in cheek easter eggs and cameo characters. It's unlikely that you'll need to understand the nitty-gritty of either game's plot to comprehend what's occurring in the streets of London.

The main thing you need to understand is the political landscape of Watch Dogs Legion, in which the hacktivist group DedSec is recruiting a resistance force to rebel against the Blume Corporation's ctOS, which has expanded to exert aggressive societal control over London by abusing civilian data and managing every bit of technology with an electronic pulse. There's also Albion to consider, a private security firm that has replaced London's police force. We don't know much more beyond that!

Freelance writer

Jordan Oloman has hundreds of bylines across outlets like GamesRadar+, PC Gamer, USA Today, The Guardian, The Verge, The Washington Post, and more. Jordan is an experienced freelance writer who can not only dive deep into the biggest video games out there but explore the way they intersect with culture too. Jordan can also be found working behind-the-scenes here at Future Plc, contributing to the organization and execution of the Future Games Show.