Watch Dogs: Legion’s multiplayer has had a bumpy road on the way to release. Delayed a couple of times, it finally dropped this month to little fanfare – previews weren’t exactly promising that it would set the world on fire, but they weren’t overwhelmingly negative either. However, if Ubisoft hopes the game’s online component will drag players back to it, it’s in for an uphill battle.
The problem with WD:L’s online mode is the same problem that faced the online modes of its predecessors in that it seems a little superfluous. Unlike the multiplayer modes of a dozen other franchises one could list off the top of one’s head, Watch Dogs online modes have always felt like an afterthought; modes bolted onto the games for the simple sake of having them.
Watch Dogs: Legion Online – Here’s what you get
To wit, players who dive into the recently released online mode in WD:L will find an experience that can only be described as ‘fine’. There’s free roam, which does what it says on the tin, a spiderbot multiplayer, which players will have to unlock, and missions which can be tackled solo and co-op jobs that require a minimum of two players that take around an hour to complete. There’s also the upcoming ‘Tactical Op’ but that wasn’t available at the time of this writing. All three remaining avenues are completely competent, but they aren’t what one would call ‘amazing’.
The missions are pretty hard; it’s worth pairing up with a couple of other players, especially if you’re going in with an entry level character (full disclosure: Stuff was sent a premium variant of the game at launch so we had a trio of powered-up snazzy DedSec members to play with, and their firepower proved to be a necessary edge).
On top of that, there are niggles players have to contend with. In our play-through, the game crashed twice and in one instance the loading screen hanged until the game was rebooted. These are challenges that Ubisoft will no doubt address as the complaints come pouring in, but there are issues that will remain regardless of what the developers do.
First up, anything the players earn in the online mode stays in the online mode. Any cosmetics, currency, operatives and so forth that players pick up in online do not pitch up in the single-player mode. Second, players can only team up with three other players. This may not sound like a deal-breaker – it’s not like the online missions need all that many participants – but it does throw into sharp relief how empty the map feels. Anyone who has any experience of London knows it as a bustling metropolis; once one finds themselves teaming up with real people, the NPCs seem fewer and further between.
Speaking of your fellow players, they can be problematic. The first player we ran into tried to run us over in a car. Then, when that didn’t work out, they decided to engage in a bit of gunplay. Yes, griefing exists in Watch Dogs: Legion’s online mode and it’s every bit as annoying as one would imagine.
But even when players are on the same page, issues arise. First off, anyone expecting to stealth any missions can forget it. Well, unless they invite some friends on the understanding that the stealthy approach is what is required. Most players one randomly teams up hurl into the fray, guns blazing, the notion of stealth or even teamwork being something of a foreign concept. The upside to joining forces is that team-mates can revive each other should one of them go down – avoiding a time out in the hospital or jail.
The downside is that some players who go haring off on their own weaken the team and once all four of you are down, the co-op mission restarts.
More to come from Watch Dogs: Legion
There is more to look forward to; the ‘Tactical Op’ mode is in the pipeline, as are the two new story missions slated for release (once again, not playable at the time of writing). The latter additions, though, present the best argument against WD:L’s online mode. Watch Dogs is a far better single-person experience than it ever has been a multiplayer. It’s more than likely that those players that signed up for a season pass are waiting for more story missions to get stuck into. Next to that prospect, the game’s online mode feels like filler.
That’s not saying it’s all bad – there’s some rambunctious fun to be had here – but this isn’t why players bought into WD:L to begin with.