It’s been a while since I’ve seen a game with such a divisive reaction as Watch Dogs: Legion.
There’s been two main takes that have filled up my social feeds over the last week. As fans hack their way through modern, greater London, the takes I’ve come across could largely be categorised in a couple of ways.
One is the more dismissive, the reaction that says games are poorer for not having main characters. The appeal of incorporating anybody — or just about anybody — into your makeshift hacker squad means each character has less character, less personality, less of an arc you can engage with.
The other thrives in that exact environment. It’s a take that says emergent gameplay is the true joy. The story lives through the short-term lives of each of your characters, dragged into rebellion at the player’s whim.
The reality is probably in the middle. Stephen has been absolutely fascinated by the game. Not necessarily because it’s the best game of 2020, but more because of how its ambition, scope, and approach to London’s politics clash with Legion‘s own creation, and how only really Ubisoft makes games like these.
On a technical front, the game’s implementation of raytracing has been received very, very well. The game could use a bit more optimisation on the PC front, and like all Ubisoft games it’s especially CPU bound. Digital Foundry below found an RTX 3090 at 4K using DLSS performance mode barely hovered about 60fps on the highest settings. DirectX 11 also looks like the way to go here, unless you’re specifically running the game with raytracing, in which case you’ll have to use DirectX 12. The performance gap is really stark at lower resolutions, and it’s not immediately clear why the DX12 implementation is so hobbled.
It’ll be interesting to see how raytracing pans out on the next-gen consoles — and the game’s performance when disabled. On the current-gen front, the base Xbox and PS4 consoles can really struggle — which I’m sure is a precursor of what we can expect over the next 12 months. That said, games have come a long way with their temporal reconstruction techniques — that’s the term for upscaling images to a higher resolution by looking back at previous frames to make calculated guesses about how future frames should look.
Still, seeing the Xbox One X dropping — and tearing — below 30fps is a bit of a pain. The PS4 Pro appears to have fewer issues, but post-launch patches should be able to fix things on the Xbox front. Legion‘s got a massive slate of post-launch content, as every Ubi open-world game does, so I’d be confident that there’ll be some extra performance optimisations included.
So for everyone who’s jumped on Watch Dogs: Legion — how have you found the game, and what platform are you playing it on? And for those who are getting the next-gen consoles, will you be picking up Legion?