Watch Dogs: Legion preview — Both timely commentary and escapist fantasy

Watch Dogs: Legion is a game you can get lost in — for better or worse.

Across my four hours with Watch Dogs: Legion I ran into some very disparate, diametrically opposed encounters. In one section, I recruited a sort-of futuristic beekeeper in an audacious shock-proof suit and unleashed a swarm of robotic bees on my enemies. My demoist and I kept shouting "BEEES" every time somebody started shooting at me.

In another part of the game, I was running down a street when I came across a fight between a random citizen and an officer in the private militarized police force. I rounded the corner and the citizen gruffly called the officer a "fascist." Then the officer started beating him. I thought about butting in since this clearly crossed a problematic line, but I thought about an even earlier encounter I had where an officer was harassing an innocent London citizen. I punched the officer, but then they called reinforcements. I then spent the next 10 minutes trying not to get shot down by people with guns or drones.

Since the crux of Watch Dogs: Legion is that any NPC is interactable, you're constantly having to choose whether to try and recruit a random person on the street, interfere during a conflict, or do neither. Almost everything you do has consequences as well, although not necessarily long-ranging. There is no right way to go about the game. You can technically spend a lot of time riding around on a scooter through the huge rendering of London, crashing into people and buildings, but at its core, Watch Dogs: Legion is about your wide array of choice.

However, this is either to its advantage or its detriment. On one hand, Watch Dogs: Legion is a game you can get lost in. You can spend hours avoiding the main quest and go around doing missions for people. On the other hand, that leaves room for a lot of conflicting tones. The game can be both lighthearted and heavy, all-too-real considering the state of the world right now in 2020. It both asserts that the player should engage with issues and escape from them.

Since this isn't a full build, it's tough to say how this will all shake out. Is the procedural generation enough to make the game stand out come its Oct. 29 release date? Are the competing tones between sci-fi absurdity and real-life political commentary (whether Ubisoft wants to admit it or not) going to meld together?

Hack the world

Watch Dogs: Legion

$50 at Amazon
$60 at Best Buy
$50 at Walmart

Play as just about anybody

Watch Dogs: Legion is an ambitious game from Ubisoft that tasks you with recruiting regular people from across London to join DedSec, a hacker organization that wants to take down the privatized Albion corporation.

The story in Watch Dogs: Legion — everything and the kitchen sink

The game begins with a linear tutorial level where you play DedSec officer Dalton...