I HAD a jolly good time with Ubisoft’s open-world hacker-action game Watch Dogs: Legion, and now there’s a shiny new story DLC – Bloodline – that’s just dropped, bringing new missions and some familiar faces to cyber-dystopian London.
Bloodline is set in the period between the raid which shuts down London DedSec 1.0 and Sabine Brandt activating London DedSec 2.0 at the start of the base game; and uses the fairly thin pretext of Aidan Pearce (protagonist of the original Watch Dogs game) having a nephew, Jackson, living in London who gets caught up in Aidan’s world after a job goes predictably wrong when Wrench (from Watch Dogs 2) gets involved.
While Aidan isn’t a particularly memorable character (despite what Ubisoft’s marketing people seem to think), the return of Wrench is extremely welcome – one of the characters in the game describes him as effectively being an internet troll brought to the real world – and his irreverent attitude and actions lighten the mood of considerably.
From a gameplay perspective, I liked the named-character focus. The “Play as any randomly-generated person in the game world” mechanic of the base game had its charm, but having a specific character with a backstory and game and reason for doing the stuff they were doing worked a lot better from a narrative perspective too, and doubly so when it’s people I know from previous games.
The game still has a few “suspension of disbelief” issues, however, – including that you’re playing as wanted terrorists whose faces have been plastered all over the media, yet absolutely no-one except other story characters notices or comments on this; to the point you can stroll past Albion security personnel with impunity – and there’s also a major plot point that works only by the main characters stubbornly refusing to do the obvious thing which would provide a solution. There’s also the whole “How come the killer robots from this expansion don’t feature in the base game, despite being exactly the sort of tech Albion would use?” thing, too.
For players who purchased the Season Pass, Aidan and Wrench are also available as operatives in the main campaign, which effectively undermines a significant point of Legion, because why play as everyone if you’ve got not one but two all-purpose characters to choose from?
At the same time, the ability to play as the returning characters, complete with mission-specific dialogue, really helps turn Legion into what feels like a third chapter of the main Watch Dogs arc, and actually means some of the things in the game make more sense – it’s ridiculous for a podiatrist in a police state to own an actual M249 LMG, but it makes sense for Aidan “The Fox” Pearce and Reggie “The Wrench” Blechman to have access to military-grade hardware via their connections.
Bloodline delves into Aidan Pearce’s story and how he’s working through issues from the events of the first game, but ultimately I was much happier to see Wrench back. The two characters contrast nicely and their banter is amusing, but I just felt that Aidan came across as a grumpy old man more than a jaded badass, while Wrench’s irreverent “take nothing seriously” approach gave me giggles more than once and helped bring some much-needed levity to the proceedings –especially since Bagley is curiously absent from Bloodline except one or two appearances in his commercial-format AI/Personal Assistant mode.
The thing is, Bloodlines itself still feels like a stripped-back version of the base game. Sure, you’ve got the same open world London to navigate around, but it’s pretty clear you’re only supposed to be visiting the places the game takes you to – it doesn’t have nearly the same sense of being a living, breathing city the way the base game does and instead feels more like Empire Bay in Mafia II , a beautiful facade to be admired but not really experienced in any detail beyond thinking “That looks nice” as you drive through it.
I enjoyed Bloodline, but I’m also a huge fan of the series (and London) so an excuse to delve back in with some new characters certainly appealed to me. I am, however, a bit disappointed Aidan and Wrench aren’t available in the main game to people who purchase Bloodline as a standalone thing. Season passes can be something of a gamble, content and quality wise, and it seems a bit unfair to penalise players who were hesitant about buying the one for Watch Dogs Legion as a result.
If you’re a fan of the series then you’ll find Bloodline is a worthwhile addition, but if Legion is your first foray into the Watch Dogs universe then you probably won’t get as much out of it as returning players.
That’s not to say it isn’t worthwhile, but it’s not a “drop everything and play it now” experience either. If you haven’t got the base game I’d say it’s probably best to wait for the inevitable “Gold” or “Director’s Cut” edition of Legion and get this bundled in with it.