ctOS has come to London. Watch Dogs 3 has finally been officially unveiled, and wow, it looks bloody incredible.
Yes, it's set in London just as we expected. An EastEnders reject introduces us to the game, and the first character we meet is a chap called Ian who's in the heart of Oxford Circus. He's talking to his AI assistant - a quirky bot called "Bagley". It seems your AI can be used to analyse NPCs in the environment, giving you an overview of their age and occupation, and the skills they have. Just like the leak suggested, it seems you'll have no set player character, choosing between a roster dependent on who's got the most useful skills for a particular task.
And that's not all: there's permadeath, too. Oh yes, the boogeyman word of video games. But it looks like it's an intrinsic part of the story; if your current character dies, someone else will pick up where you left off. It seems Dedsec is bigger than ever, and a tonne of London civilians are available, and at your service. The AI, Bagley, may well be the only constant here.
But oh jeez, Watch Dogs Legion looks freaking amazing. London is a vibrant and diverse city, and this is by far the best video game reconstruction of our fair capital city we've ever seen. Just how to scale the city is is as-yet unclear, but from the areas shown off – South Bank, Oxford Circus, Camden Market, Westminster – it looks almost pixel perfect.
It's uncanny – especially considering the unsettling dystopia that Watch Dogs Legion is set in. Yes, this is a futuristic setting, but it's very much a London we know and recognise. Those iconic Victorian buildings. Red buses. Telephone boxes. Those pop-up stalls at the side of the road peddling tourist tat. It's all still there. But it's joined by surveillance drones flying low above your head; deportation squads roaming the streets and pulling people out of their homes; resistance camps overtaking beautiful landmarks.
In terms of gameplay, it looks very different from anything that the Watch Dogs series has done before. Gunplay looks very reminiscent of The Division 2, while hand-to-hand combat looks fast and visceral. It's yet another sharp turn in terms of tone for Watch Dogs, but perhaps one for the better: it's adventurous as hell, but it looks like Ubisoft may well pull it off. Where the first Watch Dogs focused on action and Watch Dogs 2 took a turn for stealth, Legion takes a bit of both, mixes it with a whole load of new stuff. The new protagonist system seems to allow players to tackle situations in a variety of ways; some characters are better equipped for stealth, while others are most about fisticuffs.
Like Watch Dogs 2, you'll have a bunch of cool gadgets to play with, like drones to deploy and robotic spiders to send into hard-to-reach areas. Whether every character will have access to these, or just certain ones, is yet to be seen, but it again adds another interesting facet to the gameplay. Be a stubbly cockney lad; an educated university student; an unsuspecting granny packing a whole load of whoopass – this reveal has been full of surprises, and we can hardly catch our breath.
In the words of Clint Hocking, Ubisoft Toronto's creative director, Watch Dogs Legion is "a game and an innovation we're proud of. It's set in London; [the city has had] a massive influence on our culture for centuries. Today with Brexit, London is at a turning point. It's hard to tell what the future but] where London goes, all of us go together. In our near future, London is facing her downfall, and the UK has become a surveillance state [but] Londoners never surrender. Their resilience and determination is an inspiration to us [and[ they are the heroes of our game... all of them. You don't just play as one hero, but many [...] You can recruit and play as anyone."
Watch Dogs Legion is coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One and Stadia on March 6th, 2020. We can't wait.