The One Thing Watch Dogs: Legion Could Learn From Fallout 76
It turns out that Watch Dogs: Legion really isn’t about Brexit after all. Ubisoft has earned a reputation for putting topical events in its games without actually addressing the underlying politics. Legion seemed like it would be another instance of this – a game about a troubled London that was totally a product of Brexit even if they never said it. Instead, the game’s opening mission puts a different tragedy as the cause of London’s ills. That’s not to say Legion totally sidesteps politics. Racial issues, data privacy, and policing are examined through in-game podcasts. Too bad I rarely get to hear them.
There’s always going to be that segment that thinks politics doesn’t belong in video games. Those people should avoid Watch Dogs: Legion, then, because the game makes the player look straight at the many injustices and inequalities of our worlds. At the heart of it all is technology and the way it’s used by those in power. The story missions directly involve the extremes of government surveillance and how corporations can easily profit off the the info we put in our phones. But it does so in broad strokes. “Did you know that a private military corporation with access to city-wide surveillance is bad?” Why yes, game, I did.
It’s in the podcasts that Legion’s best worldbuilding happens. If you pick up one of the many pairs of headphones scattered about London, or get into a car, you can tune in. Ubisoft actually got real podcasters to come in and comment on the state of Legion’s world. Their ramblings on how “fake news” can be used to manipulate citizens feels real. An expert opinion on how a wealthy country can fall into decline hits a little too close to home. Then you get out of the car to take on the next mission, or accidentally tab out of the audio logs menu, and it stops.
It might sound like a picky gripe, but I want to be able to listen to these podcasts as I go. I don’t want to have to sit in the menu as I lazily munch on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. And so far, no mission has been so far away that I need to drive long enough for a podcast to actually play all the way through. Then, when I get back into the car after my mission is over, the podcast replays from the beginning. Isn’t being able to listen as you go sort of the point of podcasts?
I’m reminded of my time with Fallout 76. At first I hated that the game’s story was told solely through audio logs. But at least those logs kept playing, and I could get backstory as I continued to shoot and loot. It even helped the storytelling. There’s a unique tragedy in slaying a bunch of feral ghouls, only to get to the end of a holotape and discover that those ghouls were the starving miners I had been listening to. I would love to see Watch Dogs: Legion’s worldbuilding and gameplay help each other the way Fallout 76’s does.
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Sergio is the Lead News Editor for TheGamer. But usually he asks people to call him “Serg” because he wants to sound cool like the guy from System of a Down. He began as a convention reporter for FLiP Magazine and Albany Radio’s The Shaw Report to get free badges to Comic-Con. Eventually he realized he liked talking to game developers and discovering weird new indie games. Now he brings that love of weird games to TheGamer, where he tries to talk about them in clickable ways so you grow to love them too. When he’s not stressing over how to do that, he’s a DM, Cleric of Bahamut, cosplay boyfriend, and occasional actor.
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