I don’t know how it happened but Ubisoft may have successfully created its own spin on the open-world co-op recipe in the upcoming Watch Dogs Legion Online. The game mode replicates the open-world from the main game while opening it up for friends and other players to join in on the fun. In a recent hands-on session with the game mode, I experienced a small taste of the madness that is coming our way when the game mode launches in March.
Check out some Watch Dogs Legion Online gameplay from Nexus down below (you can hear my voice every now and then… sorry)
Much of my time with Watch Dogs Legion Online was spent taking on co-op missions with my partners. The game mode is divided int a range of things to do and see. There are co-op missions where four players take on a specific job, spiderbot battles, live public events that pop up around the city and the toughest challenge; a raid-like experience called Leader of the Pack.
It goes without saying that the online mode relies on a team of recruits that you find in the game. These recruits are approached while exploring the city of London and once you are ready to bring them on board, you can buy them using Influence Points. These points are unlocked as you level up a battle-pass like system. Each recruit is different and their abilities provide fun ways to take on all the cool stuff you will do in the online mode.
Watch Dogs Legion Online Hands-On
I managed to dip my toes into almost everything Ubisoft has cooked up for players. For starters, the free-roam mode lets you and three friends explore the open world in the game and take on loads of activities that come and go. The demo I played only featured one public event-like scenario where I had to take down this deadly drone that dropped mini explosive drone while firing missiles at my team. Of course, anyone who has played a game that features a boss-like public event would know that this is best done with a team of friends.
I attempted this alone and failed a handful of times. However, when someone was there with me, we decided to take turns taking aggro from this flying death machine while the other player tickled its health down. This sort of event reminded me Destiny where a boss has loads of health and you can either take it down solo or hope that someone comes around to aid you.
Free roam in Watch Dogs Legion Online promises to keep players busy while “that friend runs to the bathroom in between missions” and I can see that happening. The map is filled with the same activities as the single-player mode including darts and the football hopping mini-game. You can play all of these with friends.
However, the real fun comes from the missions in the online mode. I played a handful of the ones available and each of them delivered a unique approach for the team. Sure, most of them can be beaten by simply raining down bullets on the enemies but at times, taking a slower, more silent approached helped our health in the long run.
Things also get tough in Watch Dogs Legion Online. Enemies are tanky, hit like a bus and a combat encounter benefits from you having the right recruit and knowing how to handle their gadgets. While the playlist missions don’t put you in a box as much as the Leader of the Pack, there’s enough variety here to enjoy choosing the characters you like playing.
Finding your way into a building, hacking a terminal to open a gate or sneaking your way through a stronghold of thugs is where the game shines. Mechanics in these missions don’t vary far off the path to what you have experienced in the main game but it is the clever mission design that makes them feel so good. One mission had us head into the middle of a river while one player steered the boat and the other three shot at the enemies in the middle of a floating boat-like camp.
It was all going well until our boat exploded forcing us to abandon it and swim to the floating thing in the middle of the lake. It was here that we crouched behind a box and tried our hardest to survive the onslaught of enemies. One player died and we revived him. Another one died and we revived her. It was a vicious cycle of death until one enemy stood standing. We then all decided to put our guns down and melee the brute to death just to show off our dominance.
It works and it is hilarious at the same time. It also helps that Watch Dogs: Legion is often clumsy. Add four players into this and you have complete chaos. Everyone can hack stuff, everyone had gadgets and everyone wants to feel important. This means the cars in the car park won’t simply stay parked there as every player will enjoy driving them up and down while hacking them from a distance. Then there’s driving which all depends on how great you are at it. Most of the time, you will have a friend in the car with you. This means you can either be a casual driver or have the need for speed. Of course, the former is boring so I just put my foot flat at every opportunity.
Then there’s the Leader of the Pack which is dubbed as the toughest challenge in the game. Ubisoft clearly wants players to form reliable teams here and take on these missions with people who know what they are doing. If you want to pass these missions you will need it, trust me. We attempted the first chapter of the four-part mission and it was extremely challenging.
Two of us travelled to the top of the city while the other two went to the bottom. Here we had to communicate on every level possible. Who was tagging who, what enemy was lurking around the corner and who was taking down what guard. Even the cooldown counters were vital to communicate with my partner so we could lay low while my distraction hack recharged.
At one point during the mission, my team had to press a terminal at the same time as the other team who went to the bottom of the city. This meant we had to hold off enemies until the team arrived at the same point. It was a constant chase for time while making use of every single resource a recruit has at their disposal. This includes hacking literally everything around us while using gadgets and defending off the horde of enemies.
Death is also permanent in this mode which means if one player is down you have to revive them before the timer runs out. If you don’t then you lose the mission. The stakes are extremely high. However, I would not have had it any other way. Too often games don’t provide enough challenge that forces the player to be more careful and think about everything they are doing. I absolutely loved it. Even though we never got the chance to finish it.
Most of Watch Dogs Legion Online uses this madness as a core foundation for the game mode and you can feel it in everything you do. The missions are fun with friends and you just never know what is going to happen. In some ways, the mode reminded me of Ghost Recon: Wildlands and the pure fun you can have screwing around with friends.
There is also concern though. While I enjoyed everything I did during the demo, only the Leader of the Pack mission granted actual gear (a rare helmet). The rest was just XP. I kinda wish there was a decent cosmetic loot system in place throughout the mode which keeps you going. I don’t know how many dozens of times I will be able to do the same thing over and over again just to level up my battle pass rank by a small nudge. If there’s no incentive then it won’t last long.
By the look of things, Ubisoft promises to add more missions to the game in the coming months. They are also bringing more PvP modes to it too. I just hope the current package is enough to grab players and keep them going for a few weeks.
Ubisoft is set to release the Watch Dogs Legion Online mode on 9 March 2021 as a free game update to all platforms.