The level design and story in Bloodlines feels a bit undercooked, but there's fun to be had with this DLC's mechanics and Legion is much better for having well written characters in it. One for the Watch Dogs faithful.
Watch Dogs Legion’s latest DLC, Bloodline, has done something that may shock a lot of players.
It has made Aiden Pearce interesting.
If you don’t know who Aiden Pearce is, it’s likely you aren’t a fan of/haven’t played the first Watch Dogs game and we’d wonder why you clicked on this review. For the rest of you, strap in.
The original Watch Dog
If you were already on board with the protagonist from the first Watch Dogs making an appearance in the third iteration of Ubisoft’s cyber-noir franchise, then hey, good for you. But for a lot of players, Pearce’s much hyped arrival in London was something of a head-scratcher. Even fans of the first game admitted that he was more than a little bland.
But here he is in Legion – apparently at the behest of at least some of the Watch Dogs faithful – and wouldn’t you know it, this time around it’s actually worthwhile spending time in his company. Incidentally, this isn’t just because Pearce is more of a fully developed character than the army of avatar/tool-sets that the player is saddled with in the base game, but it’s certainly a factor.
Pearce arrives in London at the request of his mate Jordi who has offered him a job promising oodles of money. Since Aiden is 55 and seems to be one of the only hackers in existence without a retirement plan, off to the Big Smoke he goes. It also just so happens that his nephew Jackson is living there.
In short order, Pearce runs afoul of two other blokes; one being Thomas Rempart, a smarmy tech industrialist who has built a small army of robots and Wrench, the goofy mask-wearing hacker from Watch Dogs 2. Pearce was hired to steal some technical doo-hickey from the former, but is beaten to the punch by the latter and then has to track down said trinket and Wrench before Rempart goes after his nephew. Hilarity ensues.
Over the course of Bloodline‘s campaign, players will take on the mantles of both Pearce and Wrench, but the lion’s share of the narrative focusses on good ol’ uncle Aiden. As has been mentioned, this isn’t too bad because, with some mileage on him, Aiden has become a more compelling character than before.
Sporting a salt-and-pepper beard and a thousand-yard stare, it’s clear the years haven’t been kind to Pearce. As parts of his backstory emerge – his history now includes assassinations, coups and globetrotting – it’s clear he’s a man with demons. He’s not broken, but he’s incredibly bruised and much more cynical than he was in the past; when a DeadSec operative admonishes him and asks if the hacker collective should just give up the good fight like he seems to have, Pearce spits back, “no, some fights are worth losing.”
Great gadgets, same old Legion
Wrench has also taken a beating. On the surface – well, under his mask – he’s still the same likeable oddball from earlier days, but as the story unfolds, players learn that all is not well with Watch Dogs 2’s court jester for reasons this review won’t spoil here. In short, both protagonists have issues, and thankfully, they don’t veer into emo-teen territory.
It’s just a pity that the story the pair of them traverse through is pretty average. Given the set-up, Bloodline’s plot feels slightly undercooked. It’s not terrible, but it also doesn’t shoot the lights out. The beats, for the most part, are predictable and one wonders what could have been if the writers had taken (or been allowed to take) more chances. While there are some great moments, Bloodline’s plot feels like Ubisoft playing it safe.
The gadgets the protagonists wield are pretty cool. Pearce starts off with his trademark ‘blackout’ mechanic and a gun that receives a damage buff if players pull off a timed reload. He also has a spiderbot that switches between scurrying along the ground and zipping through the air.
Wrench can call in a cargo drone armed with a grenade launcher and has an assortment of electrical weapons. Both unlock new items by doing side-quests, which are worth doing, because towards the tail-end of the DLC the new abilities this equipment provides is very necessary indeed.
The problem with Bloodline lies in its mission design, which hardly deviates from the Legion template. Go here, hack this, fetch that, outrun these enemies, stealth if you want or shoot your way through; players have been here before and it’s all too familiar.
There are a couple of missions that deviate from this rubric – one, involving Wrench is a delightful tribute to the top-down days of Grand Theft Auto – but they’re the exception rather than the rule. Like the plot, one can’t help but feel that Bloodline would be at least touching on greatness if the developers had pushed the boat out a little more.
Watch Dogs: Legion Bloodline – Verdict
The Watch Dogs faithful will find plenty to enjoy here, though, and isn’ that kind of the point of DLC? The plot and mission design may disappoint some players but the return of Aiden Pearce isn’t the snore-fest many may have expected. A lot of players were glad to see the back of the original Watch Dog at the end of the first game. After Bloodline, they’ll probably want to see more of him.
- Watch Dogs Legion Bloodline was reviewed on an Xbox Series X
- The DLC was provided by Ubisoft