Should you wait for next-gen to play Watch Dogs: Legion?

October 31, 2020
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Have we reached that time in the console generation where the machines start to show their limits – when developers are eagerly looking forward to the next generation? Back in 2013, prior to the release of Xbox One and PlayStation 4, titles emerged that clearly pushed too far, often resulting in poor performance. There’s a decent argument that this is the case for Watch Dogs – at least on the standard vanilla Xbox One S. It’s a technologically ambitious game that clearly has some performance issues, even with the arrival of a new patch. So, to what extent does the PlayStation 4 improve matters and can the enhanced machines clear up the issues? Or is this game so ambitious, we should wait to play it on PS5 and Xbox Series X?

For developer Ubisoft Toronto, delivering a game this complex across so many different systems takes a careful balancing act. Every Watch Dogs title to date, going back to the 2014 original, has evolved with more complex cities, a broadening of its ideas to show futuristic versions of Chicago, San Francisco, and now London. Legion realises the series’ most exciting backdrop so far here – a great city jam-packed full of grim, utopian detail.

There’s a push for more complex architecture and materials, turning it into a virtual playground that feels unusually familiar for an open world game. From the towering presence of the Houses of Parliament to the glass-stained windows of a local pub, it handles the micro and macro detailing wonderfully and it’s easily the star of the show. Ubisoft Toronto has done a sterling job of meshing together the city’s landmarks with the rise of new and believable tech: the drones, street surveillance, automatic cars and buses. All of it is backed up by the tentpole open world features of Watch Dogs too: the day-night cycles, weather states, the car and object destruction. It’s a shorthand version of London certainly – one condensed to the highlights – but honestly there’s huge value to exploring its every turnt.

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