PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 (forthcoming), Xbox Series X/S (forthcoming); Ubisoft
This ambitious, imperfect and unashamedly weird game attempts to simulate an entire population
Video games have become extraordinarily adept at simulating geography, from Assassin’s Creed’s detailed, architecturally accurate takes on ancient Egypt or 18th-century Paris to Microsoft Flight Simulator’s virtual simulacrum of the Earth’s surface. But they are still no good at simulating people, and their cities are populated with reactive automatons who forget you tried to run them over two seconds ago. This makes Watch Dogs Legion’s attempt to simulate the entire population of a futuristic, technocratic London one of the most ambitious things a game has tried in years. Walk from Camden to Nine Elms and every person you see has a name, a cluster of attributes (gambler, fashion expert, paramedic, low mobility) and a custom-generated voice and appearance. You can recruit any of them to your hacker resistance movement and step into their shoes.
I played most of Watch Dogs Legion as a construction worker named Hassan. He has no particular special skills; he can summon a cargo drone and ride it up to rooftops, but he hasn’t got any useful weapons or technical expertise. I picked him because he was nearby, and I liked his haircut and accent: not too EastEnders, not too plummy. But then I accidentally took Hassan into the bowels of one of Watch Dogs Legion’s autocratic tech giants, on a mission that I thought would be easy but turned out to involve hiding in a vent from heavily armed private security guards while using a spiderbot to steal encrypted information. Hassan barely escaped with his life. I became rather attached to him after that.
Selected by softengoxford