Nearly two weeks ago, Watch Dogs: Legion came out. One day later, I booted it up on my PC for a breezy three-or-so-hour play session. One day after that, I once again tried to play the latest cyberpunk entry in a genre that, for expediency’s sake, we will just call “Ubisoft,” only for the loading screen to start hitching until it stalled out completely. Flash forward to now: I still cannot access my save, and I don’t want to start a new one, because there’s no guarantee that the same thing won’t just happen again.
This is a known issue with Legion’s PC version. Basically, saves are prone to two specific fatal flaws: Sometimes, it takes eons (read: 5+ minutes) for the game to save upon exiting to the main menu, which makes the process appear to just not work. Forcing a quit while this is happening might cause further issues. Then there’s the problem I’m experiencing, which is worse: Legion’s PC version sometimes corrupts save files, causing them to hang at the load screen indefinitely when you try to access them. For the time being, my file is unusable. If Legion’s subreddit and official forum are anything to go on, I’m far from alone.
Ubisoft has acknowledged this issue multiple times. Last week, it seemed like salvation might come in the form of an end-of-the-week patch that targeted a slew of crashes and other bugs, but when it finally dropped, Ubisoft said in a forum post that “the dev team is also working on an additional patch to address the save file issues some players are experiencing with high priority.” That, according to PC Gamer, was supposed to land today, but as of now, PC saves remain corrupted. I just checked on mine, only to watch the loading meter putter toward the center like a test-of-strength carnival game hit by an exceptionally weak child. My spirits sank as it inched determinedly forward, for I already knew its fate.
There are workarounds for this issue, but I’ve yet to find a single one where at least one of the responses is not some variation on “That didn’t work for me! Also, it set my house on fire.” I have, however, heard tell of a workaround that preserves your story progress but replaces all of your painstakingly collected operatives with a copy of Dalton Wolfe, the James Bond-wannabe who died in the game’s opening sequence, except he has a robot voice because Ubisoft didn’t record any additional dialogue for him. I mention this not to suggest that anybody try it, but because it is hilarious.
At this point, I just want to play my video game! Originally, I bought Legion so I could occupy myself during election week by hacking a bunch of fascists’ cars and laughing as they freaked out like they were being run over by ghosts. Now election week is over, and I still can’t play. Every day for the past almost-two weeks, I have Googled “Watch Dogs: Legion PC fix,” and every day, I have been disappointed. It’s become this dispiriting little ritual. I was never even that interested in playing Legion—it struck me as a potentially fun way to kill 15-20 hours—but now it’s become this miniature Everest erected on a foundation of sunk-cost fallacy. I must play the video game. I must triumph over forces beyond my control.
This is, contrary to how these things often go in the year 2020, not the part where I complain about “lazy devs” or whatever. Game developers work their asses off, and I’m sure the team at Ubisoft Toronto—despite leadership issues that I’d be remiss not to mention—is doing its best to resolve technical issues like this. My beef in this case is more with Ubisoft itself, which should have provided developers with adequate time and resources to squash these bugs before release, but clearly did not.
“That’s just PC gaming,” you might say. And to an extent, I agree. Ultimately, that’s the trade-off: More versatility, user control, and raw power, but also, sometimes, more issues. It’s wild, though, that these sorts of bugs somehow managed to slip through the cracks in an era when, by most measures, triple-A publishers have finally figured out the art of the PC port. This is basic functionality—the difference between a game that works and a game that doesn’t.
I would just like to play my video game now, please. I would like to spend another 10 or so hours with it, think “Alright, I get it” like I do with every other Ubisoft game, and quit forever of my own accord—the way the maniacal god of our universe intended when he first founded Ubisoft. But for now I guess I’ll just keep waiting. Maybe tomorrow will finally be the day.