Ubisoft’s online event ‘Ubisoft Forward’ was streamed live on Sunday, July 12, 2020. Although there were technical issues — people were unable to log into their Ubisoft accounts — the presentation videos themselves were mostly unaffected.
Watch Dogs: Legion – Cinematic Trailer
Ubisoft just unveiled new details on the upcoming Watch Dogs: Legion. They started strong with a short CGI film by director Alberto Mielgo (of Love Death and Robots fame), which sets the tone nicely. The time – the near future. The place – London. We see black-clad police / PMC goons chasing after a masked individual, which news reports in the background describe as a terrorist. However, the imagery suggests they are a ‘Banksy-Esque’ street artist. We hear a background monologue, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller’s infamous “First they came for the… and I said nothing because I was not a …” poem.
The masked artist is chased by heavily armed drones, police troops, and meat wagons. The artist hitches a ride on a hovering drone and parkours off a double-decker bus, into the taxi of a good Samaritan, revealed to be the narrator. We glimpse the advanced facial recognition technology the cities’ many CCTVs use, hinting at an all-pervasive surveillance state.
By the time the taxi reaches the artist’s destination, a boarded-up old fashioned London pub, he has been identified, his photo and name are all over the news, and he has been branded a terrorist. The pub is populated by a motley assortment of masked and costumed people who toss him a mask of his own as he is ‘welcomed to the resistance.’
Plot, Setting, and Antagonists
We are then treated to in-engine footage of Watch Dogs Legion, where we are told that you can recruit and play as anyone you encounter in the open world. The presentation mentioned being able to profile “interesting people” and play their origin missions. It remains to be seen if you really can recruit anyone you encounter, or if it is a select few – the hinted at “interesting people” perhaps?
We are then shown an introduction to the back-story and setting of the game, and this appears to be in-engine. A ‘mysterious terrorist has bombed London.’ Albion – a Private Military Company (PMC) is drafted in to maintain order, and it is immediately apparent that these rent-a-cops are little more than bully-boys with badges.
We are also introduced to two of the game’s antagonists. First up is Nigel Cass, the CEO of Albion. It is clear his ambitions and motivations are less than honorable. He is shown to be happy to murder in cold blood to attain his goals.
Next, we are introduced to Mary Kelly, an East End crime boss who has more than a passing resemblance to EastEnders actress Linda Henry. (Is it actually her? Possibly, but I can’t find anything confirming or denying either way). Her outfit is using the Dark Web to sell contraband – which includes both drugs and harvested organs. She is shown controlling people via implants – effectively human shock collars inserted directly into their heads.
Many of London’s iconic locations were on display, suggesting they can be explored in-game. Examples included the Tower of London (Albion’s HQ), Camden Lock, Westminster, etc.
It appears there will be an interesting cast of potential recruits – graffiti artists, police officers, Buckingham palace guards, construction workers, punk rockers, little old ladies with tasers, you name it. All are visually very distinct, and judging by the way they were portrayed, it would appear that the game may include a good deal of tongue-in-cheek humor. How well this will sit alongside a plot that involves human organ trafficking and an increasingly authoritarian police state remains to be seen.
We were then shown what appeared to be short sections actual gameplay footage – interspersed among the other in-engine cinematics, of course. If it was actual gameplay footage, it didn’t say what platform it was taken from. In terms of gameplay, Ubisoft is clearly going down the class/heroes route, with different team members having radically different skill sets.
Techies can hack systems, drones, vehicles and deploy spider bots, etc. The construction worker is an adequate wrench wielding melee fighter and the suave hitman is a transparent proxy for John Wick with impressive gunfighting skills. The characters all appear to be exaggerated stereotypes, suggesting Ubisoft is aiming for a ‘goofier’ look and feel than the franchise’s earlier installments.
We will get to see for ourselves how well this gels together, and whether the footage that has been shown matches what the game looks like when Watch Dogs: Legion is released on October 29, 2020.