E3 2019: Watch Dogs Legion is trying to redefine videogames and it's a good thing
Videogames as a medium are undoubtedly the most flexible form of art where the developers have the power or let's say magic to craft their own worlds, stories in any way possible. If the potential is realized fully, videogames can easily outsmart movies, music and every other form of art because of the unprecedented freedom one has.
Every time a videogame does something new, for example, The Last of Us broke boundaries with its narrative and storytelling in videogames and it led to everybody setting their expectations sky high for every other title out in the market. This not only raised the quality of the industry in general but also the definition of the medium itself. Hence we started getting more adventures focusing primarily on their narratives. Take a look at the most recent God of War game for example.
Ubisoft's third entry in their sci-fi crime drama series - Watch Dogs Legion is trying to do something new as well, something we haven't seen before, something that will undoubtedly change how we look at videogames.
In Watch Dogs Legion, there is no main protagonist. You can play as any NPC you stumble upon in the game, each of whom has a different voice, backstories, skills and outfits which Ubisoft has been confirming time after time since the game's announcement.
It's not about executing the vision successfully, it's about giving the players a differerent way to look at videogames.
In picture, this mechanic sounds incredibly ambitious, although in the actual game it may not be as incredible as we expect it to be. After all, if every character is procedurally generated, there may come a time when the game might start to get repetitive. However irrespective of whether it's feasible or not, it doesn't take away anything away from the developers, of how ambitious of a vision they saw for this game. And if not in this game, they might be able to properly execute this vision of their's in the next entry or the next.
Demon Souls crafted it's own genre back in 2009 but the successful execution took some time.
When Demon Souls landed on PS3 ten years ago, I absolutely couldn't get into the game. I couldn't understand Dark Souls 1 either and what it stood for back then. It was Bloodborne, that finally made me understand what the series stood for, the emotions it were trying to express and once I understood all of that, there was no going back. Bloodborne is my favorite game of this generation, and standing toe to toe is another game called Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which is an impeccable achievement in itself.
In other words, these souls game took a different approach with their games and ended up crafting a unique genre and a standard which many other videogames are looking up to nowadays, such as Nioh, Namco Bandai's upcoming Code Vein and even Respawn's Stars Wars:Jedi Fallen Order seems to have gained some sort of inspiration from Soulsborne series when it comes to the game's combat design.
Watch Dogs Legion is trying to do something different as well. It's trying to give us players to craft our own experience, our story, our own characters and how we play it out in a playground of a world they crafted for us. The tools belong to them, we are the painters. And this is what I love about videogames, the freedom and possibilities it brings with it.
In Watch Dogs Legion, every other character is alive. They have their own daily lives to live. Of all the previews we have seen so far, it seems recruiting every other NPC would put us into different scenarios. For convincing one to join our dedsec party, one may request us to delete their criminal records from a nearby police station, one may ask us to take down a person who has been bullying them and more such unique scenarios.
Even when you have successfully convinced them to join your rebellious band of grannies or hipsters or security guards, assigned tons of skills to them, they can still very much die according to a feature called permadeath. And once your character dies, there ain't no retry options, the story goes on. You will lose one of your important family members. Will the loss of your loved ones, one you shaped so lovingly would be enough to move forward? Take Revenge? That we can only know once the game comes out.
Irrespective of whether the game succeeds or fails in executing its vision, it has already made a pretty good point.
Watch Dogs Legion launches March 6, 2020, on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.