Hands-on: Taking on missions and recruiting in Watch Dogs: Legion

The last time we got our hands on Watch Dogs: Legion, we got to experience the game’s futuristic version of London and the combat mechanics. We were able to get our hands on the game again, weeks before it’s slated to hit store shelves, and got a taste of how missions are laid out in the game and how to choose your characters’ loadouts.

Our hands-on session took place a few hours into the game, after the terrorist attack on London, called Zero Day. DedSec has been framed for the attack so the group is determined to find out what happened and who is really behind the violence. As a member of Dedsec, you not only have to contend with Albion, the private military law enforcement company hired by the British government but also Clan Kelley, a crime organization taking over the underworld and the hacker group that actually committed the Zero Day atrocities.

Jumping in, our first task is meeting up with other DedSec members in an underground location to get an update on the status of their group. While the group was in disarray after the Zero Day attack and the framing, they’re coming back together to recruit new members and solve the mystery to clear their name.

After the meeting, I was tasked with heading to the site of one of the bombings to investigate a signal coming out of the rubble. Walking out onto the streets of London, you’ll notice characters trying to go about their everyday lives but the Albion officers are constantly on patrol and drones are flying all over the place keeping an eye on the city.

I’m not sure what I did, but while I was looking for a car to go to the bombing site, I caught the eye of an officer, I guess I was looking suspicious, and they began chasing me. And just when I thought I had outrun all of them, one of their drones spotted me and alerted nearby forces to come after me. I had to hide behind a dumpster in some alley to shake off the chase and get my alert level down. These guys aren’t messing around!

When I finally was able to walk the streets peacefully, one of the first things I noticed was the ability to scan potential recruits. The scan reveals the character’s abilities, like being able to use tear gas, electrify enemies with a shock hack, rally a crowd to fight, wear disguises, and even someone with a fast data plan on their cell service so they’re able to download files in the blink of an eye. While I didn’t come across any missions that would require most of these things, it definitely piqued my interest in what’s to come in the game.

You can also see their opinion of DedSec, which will be displayed with a thumbs up or thumbs down icon. When recruiting a new member, they’ll usually have a mission or “favor” for you to complete before they join. With limited time with the game, I didn’t complete any of the single recruiting missions.

However, while I was on my way to the bombing site, there was a side mission that caught my attention. I was in the City of Westminster, which was considered “oppressed.” To free the city of oppression, it had a list of objectives – disrupt propaganda, which had already been completed, and rescue a freedom fighter. Since it was on my way to the bombing site, I decided to give the rescue mission a shot.

When I arrived at the building, it was being patrolled by Albion officers. I was able to get by a couple of distracted officers using stealth but another was standing in front of the door I was trying to enter. I was able to tase him unconscious with my taser.

While a character’s abilities seem to be unchangeable, you can customize their loadouts. As you progress through the game, you earn tech points, usually after finishing a mission or finding a hidden stash somewhere in the world. You use the tech points to unlock DedSec weapons and gadgets. Some of those items include things like tasers, a spider-bot, an invisibility cloak, brass knuckles, different types of drones, explosives, and other tools. My character could only carry four gadgets at a time but I’m not sure if that’s the maximum for the final game.

Once I was inside the building and freed the prisoner, another guard discovered my shenanigans outside and the chase was on. Losing your pursuers on foot seemed a lot easier than trying to speed off in a stolen car. There was a lot of traffic in the area. Once I escaped, I made my way to the bombing site, which was also being patrolled by Albion officers. Once I got into the site, however, I was detected and my character was arrested. Luckily, there was another DedSec member on deck who picked up where I left off. A former soldier, this character was better equipped for the mission anyway!

Once I got in I was able to use the spider-bot and DedSec technology to recreate what actually happened when the bombs were set and went off at the location. With this new information, the next step in the mission was to head to Scotland Yard to get more evidence. But before that, I wanted to finish freeing the City of Westminster from oppression.

The final task was finding a way to sneak into Big Ben. Yes, the infamous clock tower in London. With multiple guards patrolling, cameras, motions detectors, and drones, it wasn’t an easy task. I actually had to go toe-to-toe with two of the guards, and luckily, my character was really nice with her hands. Even I was impressed!

Once I got in, the rest of the mission was handled by the spider-bot. My spider-bot needed to get to the top of the tower so the mission consisted of a lot of platforming over winding gears and turning mechanisms. Once I got to the top, I was able to deactivate Albion’s propaganda system and send a message with fireworks and symbols to the people of Westminster that DedSec was here and we have their back. Completing the mission also brought DedSec a character with espionage skills who would become very useful in future missions.

Shortly after this mission, my time with the game was complete, but there was so much more to do, including freeing other parts of London from oppression, recruiting more members, and find out who framed DedSec.So far, the game seems like a step-up from the two previous Watch Dogs games and innovates on the hacking game mechanic that is the game's signature. We're looking forward to checking out the full game.

Watch Dogs: Legion launches on October 29 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.