I love listening to podcasts while I drive because I am sick in the head, so naturally I do the same thing when driving around in Watch Dogs Legion. Unfortunately, I spent my first few hours cruising the game’s London in a stolen hatchback while the same podcast reset over and over every time I got out of the car to go do cool hacker shit.
“Extending Albion’s contract to me is like having a pet dog—let’s call it Nigel for the sake of argument—that attacks you every single day and thinking to yourself ‘wouldn’t it be nice if Nigel had puppies,’” says Andy, the host of the in-game political comedy talk show The Bug. (Albion is the privatized police force terrorizing Legion’s London, and it’s all anyone on the in-game podcasts can talk about.) “The contract has been extended so many times, it’s like the neck of a politician that criticised the government,” responds his co-host Alice. Getting up to and through this bit takes about 40 seconds, which, incidentally, is also about how long it takes me to get from most fast travel points to my next mission marker.
Instead of a podcast picking up where you left off every time you get in or out of a vehicle, every episode (and every song, it seems) starts completely over again unless you get through the entire thing in one sitting. It’s the tiniest of nitpicks, but it’s illusion-breaking when you’re tracking a potential recruit through their 9-5 daytime schedule only to get back on a moped and have Andy cracking the same sardonic jokes in your ear all over again.
The Bug is witty, wry, and incredibly British when you’re listening for the first time, in part because it’s based on the real-life satirical news podcast The Bugle, created in 2007 by John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman. It’s much less fun half a dozen looped plays later. “Hello Resistors, it’s Bug Time!” quickly became my Groundhog Day alarm clock jingle. The game also feels like it has its own audio version of doom scrolling as you listen to the NPR-like guests of the BuccanEar podcast break down the ominous, deep-seated dynamics of creeping fascism for the fifth time.
“Game keeps repeating this AND that buzzcocks song,” wrote one player on the Legion subreddit. “Found an option in the menu that means car radio is off by default. Wasn’t great fun driving everywhere in total deathly silence but better that than ‘WHAT DO I GET OOOOOOO WHAT DO I GET’ over and over.”
Other players are debating whether this auto-repeat issue is a bug or a feature, but a spokesperson for Ubisoft told Kotaku, “We’re aware of these issues and are looking at addressing ASAP.” While it’s by no means a high priority In These Times, it’s nice to know that some sort of fix might be in the works.
Legion is lots of things—a muddled commentary on corporate excess, a testament to the limitations of blockbuster game design, a glorified drone simulator—but within that complex miasma are some intriguing systems and off-the-beaten-path details. The game’s podcasts, each exceptionally voiced and unusually well written, are one of those fascinating side attractions, and I’d love for them to be more naturally integrated into the larger experience of the world.
Currently you can listen to the podcasts you collect from the main menu, and even peruse transcripts rather than waiting for the audio alone, but it would be great to be able to manually select them while you’re driving around or even playing through a mission. At the very least, I’m ready to delete episode one of The Bug permanently from my rotation.