Watch Dogs Legion is out today, and, while the game does a solid job of introducing you to the tech-dystopian world of future London, there are plenty of systems and details that are under-explained. So these tips should help you hack, shoot, drive, and resist like a pro hacker instead of an amateur script kiddie.
In Watch Dogs Legion, players are part of DedSec, a hacker group that first appeared in the original 2014 Watch Dogs and has since expanded into an army of people fighting evil corporations. In London, where Legion takes place, a big private military company, Albion, has taken over the city after a massive bombing. Sadly, DedSec in London has been nearly destroyed and it’s up to you to find new members and fight back against Albion to free London and save the day.
While this is the third game in the Watch Dogs franchise, its connections to the previous games are minimal. While an expansion coming later down the road seems to have more connections to past games, the main narrative in Legion is standalone. The few things in Legion that are directly connected to the rest of the franchise are explained in-game. So feel free to jump in without playing the past games. (Though you should at least play Watch Dogs 2, it’s really good.)
It’s easy to get lost and distracted in an open-world game, especially a big Ubisoft game like Legion. But don’t get too distracted. Play through a good chunk of the main campaign first. This will unlock some operatives for you and help explain how to play. Once you get to the point where you have a few missions to choose from, feel free to start exploring and doing side missions.
At first, I was surprised at how little there was to do in Watch Dogs Legion. Usually, these big Ubisoft games are filled, maybe overfilled, with things to do and missions to complete. But Legion hides a lot of this content. To find more side missions, you need to go back to your main HQ from time to time to pick up new quests from characters you meet along the way. You can quickly fast travel back to your HQ from anywhere in the world using the map. Also…
This is something the game barely mentions, but you can easily and quickly fast travel around the city using subway stations. You can also fast travel to any subway station via the in-game map. You’ll unlock more fast travel spots as you explore the map.
Once you get through the first few missions of the campaign, make it a priority to free London’s boroughs. This is remarkably easy, too. All it takes is completing three or so activities in the world. Most of these are simple, like killing an Albion target or hacking a digital billboard spewing Albion propaganda. Once you have taken over these boroughs you’ll earn special operatives who are better than most of the folks you’ll encounter in the world. And you’ll be able to recruit people more easily and quickly in boroughs that have been freed.
If you hold the hack button while targeting a person, you can see who they are, what skills and weapons they have, and if they have any useful uniforms. That last one is very important! If you find someone who is a cop and has a police uniform, you can freely walk into locations that would normally be off-limits to you. And don’t just assume that only people wearing uniforms have uniforms. I found an older woman with some useful skills who was dressed in plain clothes but had a police uniform because she was also a cop. Make a habit out of scanning people as you walk around the world. You never know who you might find.
So let’s say you take my advice and you start scanning everyone you walk by. Maybe you find someone good. However, you are in the middle of a mission and can’t stop to recruit them. In that case, just add them to your pool of potential teammates. To do this, using the default controls, just hold RB or R1 for a few seconds and they will be saved for later. Then, after the mission, you can track them down and figure out what you need to do to recruit them.
You might end up recruiting some of these people while doing other things. Some folks want you to kill or take out a specific person, maybe someone who has been blackmailing them. These people exist in the world, even if you are doing something else. So you might find a random thug during a mission who has a red skull near them, marking them as someone that has connections to one of your recruits. Or you might accidentally recruit someone. That happened to me when I took a turn too fast and killed someone on the sidewalk who was actually a rival to a getaway driver I was planning to recruit later. Lucky me!
As you are scanning people, you might notice some folks, like cops or Albion guards, who can’t be easily recruited and instead require something called the “Deep Profiler.” The game doesn’t completely explain what it is or how to get it. To unlock the Deep Profiler you’ll need some tech points. Once you have enough, go to the tech menu and unlock it. Once you have this upgrade, you can get extra info about people who you are trying to recruit, allowing you to find more ways to convince them to join your team. For example, you might need to take out a rival employee or help out a friend who is in trouble.
As you go around recruiting people, you will probably reach a point where you realize someone on your team just isn’t that valuable. Or maybe one of the people you wanted to recruit is no longer needed. Or maybe someone just annoys you, and you don’t want them to be a part of your hacker club anymore. Regardless, to remove someone from your team just go to the team tab, click on the member you want to remove, and open the edit screen. At the bottom, you’ll see an easy-to-miss prompt. Hit that button, on Xbox it’s X and on PlayStation it’s square, and you’ll remove that person permanently from DedSec.
In Watch Dogs Legion, you can customize the controls and nearly all the inputs. Don’t like hitting L3 to crouch? Change it! Another neat thing: you can tweak a bunch of minor settings that might help improve things like driving. Many players don’t like how quickly the camera snaps back to the center when driving around London. That setting and many more can be tweaked, which should help improve your experience.
As you explore the world of Legion, you will find tech caches. And if you are like me, you might just sort of forget to...use this stuff. Don’t do that! Periodically check your tech menu for new gadgets and abilities that you can unlock and new upgrades for the stuff you already unlocked. And all of this stuff is shared among all your operatives. So if someone you recruited is great but lacks a decent weapon or gadget, you can unlock one in the tech menu and give it to that person via the edit operative menu in the team section. Sharing is caring!
While a lot of the things in the tech menu are useful and worth getting, I would recommend fully upgrading your personal spider bot sooner rather than later. A fully upgraded spider bot can run fast, turn invisible, double jump, and take down enemies. And because spider bots can pick up collectibles and hack computers that need physical interactions, they can become extremely useful for completing missions in areas filled with deadly guards or turrets.
The skies of London are filled with drones of all shapes and sizes. The most useful are also the biggest. Cargo drones! They are like magic carpets, letting players hack them and control them while they ride on top. These drones can make many missions much, much easier. Need to reach the top of a building? Screw the ladders and platforming, just grab a cargo drone and ride to the top.
Best of all, you don’t need to rely on random luck to find a cargo drone. Instead, look on the mini-map for small squares. These are drone platforms. Hacking these will let you spawn a cargo drone in seconds. And some folks your recruit will even have an ability to call a cargo or construction drone anywhere at anytime. However you get one, once you have a big, ridable drone, just hack it, fly it near you, climb aboard and sail around the skies, collecting rooftop goodies on your cyber-magic-carpet.
Inevitably, you will find yourself getting chased by police and gangs in London. It happens. When this happens, take the time to look back, using the X button on Xbox and Square button on PlayStation, and start hacking! You can hack cars and drones, causing them to crash. All you need to do is tap the hack button while looking backward and you’ll quickly take care of any enemies and be able to escape in seconds.
Guns are powerful tools in Watch Dogs Legion, but be careful as firearms can make missions much harder if you aren’t prepared for a big firefight. Remember, the moment you pull out a gun and start shooting, the enemy will ramp up their response and start shooting back at you. Even if you just pull out a non-lethal electric pistol, be prepared for a dozen soldiers to fire at you in seconds.
However, you can use this to your advantage. For example, I have an operative with a silenced pistol, which lets me sneak around, taking out guards easily. But if I find myself in a bad spot, I just put away my gun before getting caught. Sure, I still get spotted by the enemy and they attack, but they do so with only batons and fists, which are much easier to dodge than bullets and grenades. Though others at Kotaku have reported fistfights that eventually become firefights, so be careful when starting a fight regardless.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)