Watch Dogs Legion: Ubisoft talks politics, map size and why it ultimately chose London (Pic: Ubisoft)
With a third instalment slated for March 2020, Watch Dogs will be one of the only triple-A trilogies to come from the current console generation. While Ubisoft has also found success beyond this fledgling, tech-focused franchise, not even The Division or Assassins Creed widely celebrated rebirth can top Watch Dogs in terms of sheer inventiveness.
Rumours that wed be visiting London this time around began shortly after the launch of Watch Dogs 2. A post-release update reworked the sequels ending, adding an audio clip and a string of numbers that, when used as map coordinates, pointed straight to Brixton, London.
While theres no shortage of games that have featured our great capital city in the past, there have been plenty pining for the chance to explore London through the lens of a modern-day, open world blockbuster. In Watch Dogs Legion you can exactly that, and then some.
When asked why the team at Ubisoft Toronto chose London, Legions lead producer, Sean Crooks told us:
“London is one of the most important cities in the world, and if you know much about the Watch Dogs brand, youll know that it fits well and is very interesting choice for us. Also culturally, in terms of the contrast between old architecture and modern – and just in terms of the spaces to play in – London has a lot to offer.”
“In size, London is approximately similar to San Francisco in Watch Dogs 2. However, its far more dense.
That urban sprawl allows for tons of new gameplay opportunities.
But obviously, we do need to take creative decisions on scaling down – on remapping or changing roads just to help it in being a more fun experience for the player.”
From what we played of Legion during our E3 2019 preview, that density Crooks mentions – of things to do and people to interact with – is immediately apparent.
Within moments of stepping out into the games open world youll encounter hundreds of bypassers who (through the games insanely ambitious AI system) have their own personal stories and relationships.
As highlighted in our E3 2019 gameplay preview, Ubisoft is trying to simulate an entire city and the results are pretty convincing.
(Pic: Ubisoft) Trending
“”Play as anyone” is a big innovation, allowing you to literally pick up anyone you see,” Crooks explained to us.
“Its a world first and obviously theres a lot of technology that goes into that. We have buckets of script, we have lots of different actors, lots of animation technology and for voice modulation.
"Its a very, very, very crazy foray and it came out wonderfully. Every character feels different. Everyone has unique traits, and has memories about the world and what they do. Unique schedules, unique lives, and that comes across really well.”
When the final game is in peoples hands it will be interesting to see just how far this system will go.
There will obviously be limitations in place, though the prospect of immersing players in a virtual world that not only looks but “feels” alive is an exciting one that Ubisoft hopes to explore in the coming years.
Of course, we couldnt sit down with a lead member of the Legion team without talking politics.