Watch Dogs: Legion took a big risk. Instead of having a central character, or group of characters, to center its story around, it opted for something completely different. The player essentially embodies the concept of DedSec, a cyber resistance group that's fallen apart after bombings left London under the control of a private security firm. You have to recruit NPCs you find across the city and build your team that way. It ended up being controversial, with some, like us, enjoying the whole affair while others didn't think it quite worked. It's either one of the best RPGs you can play or it missed the mark.
Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline, the newest story DLC for the game, rewards the latter audience. It does away with the open-world concept, reduces the game down to its most basic parts, and turns the attention to two familiar characters: Aiden Pearce from Watch Dogs 1 and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2. The result is a fine addition to the franchise as a whole, but a lackluster Legion DLC.
Bottom line: Bloodline represents Ubisoft going back to its roots on the Watch Dogs franchise, and your mileage will vary. Either way, it doesn't feel like a Legion DLC.
- Aiden Pearce and Wrench work well together
- Aiden and Wrench are now unlockable characters in the main game
- Dress up Aiden however you want
- Some good humor
- Doesn't feel tied in with Legion enough
- Gameplay too simplified
- Can't play the way you want
- A lot of technical issues
Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline: What I liked
|Title||Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline|
|Minimum requirements||Windows 10|
Intel Core i5-4460 / AMD Ryzen 5 1400
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 / AMD Radeon R9 290X
|Play time||7+ hours|
Aiden Pearce, the protagonist of Watch Dogs 1, is called upon again to use his hacking skills for a job. He gets a call from Jordi Chin (also from the first Watch Dogs) to help with a job in London, where it just so happens Pearce's nephew Jackson is living. While trying to decide how to approach his nephew after the tragic event that left his niece Lena dead, he's tasked with breaking into Broca Tech to steal a mysterious device. Unfortunately, Wrench from Watch Dogs 2 gets there first, prompting Aiden to make a quasi deal with bad guy Thomas Rempart to hunt him down.
You play most of the game as Aiden, doing missions for a slightly disparate group of resistance fighters while trying to track down Wrench. You also take the time to fix the relationship with Jackson, who's mostly mad that you've been estranged for years. It's a basic redemption story, but it works for somebody as bare bones as Aiden Pearce. Jackson isn't much more flushed out as a character; his main character trait involves being mad at Aiden and also being just like him in terms of hacking prowess. It's not much, but it gives Aiden a reason to stay in London beyond just doing a job.
Without spoiling the DLC, the game is able to bring in elements from the main Watch Dogs game into Aiden's story in a way that feels natural and meaningful. The BrocaBridge might sound familiar to those who played through Legion's main campaign, and its abilities weave in with Aiden's story about his demons and his ultimate redemption with his nephew. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you liked Aiden as a character and how much you felt he deserved his own standalone DLC, but the team made the most of it.
The DLC really comes alive when Wrench enters the scene, and yes, he is playable. His jokes are bad, but purposefully so. He has a lot of great little gadgets, the kind that Watch Dogs is known for and excels at. Seeing this eccentric bounce off the stoic Aiden is also a treat. It's tough for Aiden to carry a story on his own, so to see the DLC, in a way, understand this makes the story feel palpable for more players.
More importantly for continuous Watch Dogs: Legion players, Bloodline and the Season Pass allow you to unlock Aiden and Wrench as two new characters to join your crew. Both are more aggressive characters with abilities like flashbangs for Wrench and slow-motion aiming after a takedown for Aiden. Either way, they bring two unique skillsets to the game, which might benefit your team build.
Finally, most importantly for Aiden Pearce haters, thanks to Legion's extensive clothing and cosmetics system, you can dress up Aiden however you want. It's a great way to deal with the dour look that's always on his bearded face.
Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline: What I didn't like
Whatever you can say about Watch Dogs: Legion's controversial decision to not have a central, singular protagonist, the open world felt solid. There was a lot to do. You could drive around, take the subway, or just wander around and find something to accomplish. You could even take a break and kick around a ball if you want.
That isn't the case with Bloodline. There's a lot missing here. There aren't any DedSec sidequests, which makes sense since DedSec isn't active at this point in the story, but it makes the open world feel a lot smaller. Tasks from the main game like putting up graffiti, freeing boroughs, and even bare-knuckle boxing helped Ubisoft's futuristic, dystopian London feel more full of things to do, which is what living in a city is all about. It also made the movement to take down Albion feel slightly more insurmountable, since inducing systemic change takes more than just a few acts of violence to induce. That's, unfortunately, not the case in Bloodline, which streamlines the Watch Dogs: Legion formula down to its basics.
There are only two things to do in Bloodline: main quests and side missions. The main missions relate to a plot to get back a piece of tech called the BrocaBridge back from Wrench, whom players might remember as the bit of masked chaos from Watch Dogs 2. Players must also learn what the tech is so they can take down Rempart. It's all standard Watch Dogs fare as far as plot setups go. Side missions, on the other hand, tend to be more interesting both stylistically and narratively, whether they build out a piece of the world or add in a dash of humor. In one side mission, for example, I set off a bunch of fireworks and then proceeded to do "some hacking" (the game tells you to just hack random things to lure some enemies out, which Aiden responds to with his typical ambivalence). It's funny to see the straight-faced Aiden Pearce respond to the absurd, even if he's not doing it with any humor himself.
The side missions are also the way to upgrade Aiden. Different characters give you different upgrades, which you can see in the upgrades menu. On the surface, it sounds like a good way to pick and choose your build; some of the upgrades are more stealth based, like the coveted AR Cloak, while others, like the shotgun, are more attractive to more aggressive players. Unfortunately, due to how the difficulty scales in the main missions and the lack of upgrades available compared to the main game, you don't really have a choice in which upgrades you can vie for. Sure, you can prioritize some over the others, but considering there are moments in the main questline where you have to wait for leads, you'll end up doing most of the side missions anyway.
This also leads to one of my biggest problems with Bloodline: the lack of character playstyle customization. Aiden is going to do Aiden things. He's a more hands-on kind of character, preferring to stealth through areas rather than hack his way through, but unlike the main game, which revels in giving you options on how to approach missions, Aiden can really only do it one way. Areas are flooded with enemies, which makes stealth difficult. Aiden also starts off with only a couple of hacks and doesn't get too many others, so the only real options for a good chunk of the DLC are to use physical violence. While you can use your trusty spiderbot (which got some nice upgrades for the DLC, including an air mode) to do a lot of stealth for you, there are sections where it arbitrarily decides you can't use it, so you have to go in yourself. In one mission where you're tracking down a streamer called phant0m, you find a corpse. Even if you find it with your spiderbot, you have to go deep into enemy territory physically to examine the body, even if it's something the spiderbot could do itself.
On one hand, the lack of a central protagonist in the main game put off some players, so Bloodline course-correcting by centering with Aiden might seem appealing. I'm biased and really enjoyed the risk the Ubisoft team took by using procedurally generated NPCs to form the basis of DedSec's resistance, which you can read about in my first review. Either way, the decision to simplify Watch Dogs: Legion to just a couple quests and a couple characters feels incongruous, regardless of whether you enjoy one take over the other. It feels like it belongs in a different game. And after all the elements from the main game, it feels empty.
This whole experience, however, was tough to play through for review. I received a PC code for the game, which was fine since I reviewed the game previously on PC. Unfortunately, the game still runs poorly on PC around nine months after release. I could play only when Ubisoft Connect decided to work, and that only occurred a little more than half the time. The other times, the whole platform would either crash or couldn't boot the game at all. When the game did decide to run, I saw some framerate drops, a few conversations weren't synced correctly, and I ran into a few game-breaking bugs that required me to restart from an earlier save (thankfully this time there is a manual save option). Granted, I was playing on lower settings due to my PC build (I have an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 and an Intel Core i7, which means I played on medium settings), but the game should still run. Hopefully a lot of these bugs have been fixed by release.
Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline: Should you buy it?
There are a lot of variables concerning this Watch Dogs: Legion DLC. How much do you like Aiden Pearce? Did you prefer the open-ended structure of the main game, or do you want a return to a more linear, character-driven narrative? Do you have a PC or other platform that can easily run the game? In the game's defense, it does more for Aiden Pearce's character than other series entries, allowing him to confront his past trauma in a way that also fits in with the world Legion previously built. Having him bounce off a more vibrant character like Wrench keeps the audience on its toes, at least for a little bit when the story decides to be less predictable. For $15, you could really see for yourself.
However, whether you liked Watch Dogs: Legion's open-ended structure or not, the DLC feels unrelated to the main game. It's too linear, too closed, and too streamlined to feel like it belongs in the Legion family. It feels like a course-correction for those who didn't buy into Legion's risky nature, but it goes too far in the other direction. The main issue is that it doesn't feel like a Legion DLC at all, but like a short story that fits after Watch Dogs 2. That might work for some, but for somebody who actually liked Legion's nature, it doesn't fit.
I didn't realize this was out. Been waiting for it, too. Thanks for the heads up and review.
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