Watch Dogs Legion: Bloodlines
July 6, 2021
platform PC, PS, Xbox
Watch Dogs had a rocky start in life. The trailer blew us all away in 2013, but the game – and the protagonist in particular – failed to set the world on fire. Aiden Pearce was a boring character surrounded by an interesting, if flawed, concept. The franchise has since improved this from game to game, with Watch Dogs Legion dumping the characters entirely, but it doesn’t seem enough by itself to escape the weight of Aiden Pearce as he continues to watch the series. Bloodline, the first major DLC for Legion, follows Aiden Pearce on a prequel tour of London and is great fun despite its different focus.
Watch Dogs Legion wasn’t for everyone, and part of that was due to the nebulous team system that allowed you to recruit everyone. It made it difficult for some to connect with the characters and the world. This allows them to create their own stories for others, similar to squad games like XCOM. You can choose characters for missions based on that fictional story or previous sessions, rather than their skills, which adds optional levels to the experience. Bloodline doesn’t like that. Instead, you play as Aiden Pearce as you explore London before the very British coup. You can’t recruit other people to your cause, so I hope you enjoy playing as the standard tech brother. However, you can at least dress him up in all of the usual fashions from the main game, which may make him look a little more interesting.
History has been a little less optimistic than Legion. They do not oppose an increasingly realistic future regime; You are corporate sabotaging a company while threatening you and your family etc etc. The defeatist nihilism of the playoff Aiden with some fresher-faced revolutionaries and since he’s the star of the show you don’t get who your hat in the ring with throws. You’ll also meet a lot of familiar faces from Legion, even though it only plays a few months before the game starts, so there are no radical origins to tell here. Wrench, the mask-wearing absurdist from Watch Dogs 2, is also well represented and also offers a welcome relief from the walking midlife crisis.
The gameplay works in a similar way. Players must use a mix of stealth, gunplay, brawling, and driving to overcome multiple objectives that usually boil down to entering that restricted area and then touching something before exiting. However, there are dozens of ways to play and approach each target so you can have lots of fun, wreaking havoc, or moving around unseen. You have access to drones, phones, and cars to do your various deeds, and while some can escape completely unseen, many missions tend to end with explosions and gunfire. Some missions actually require it, with linear chases or waves of enemies to complete. There’s not a lot of new content in terms of gameplay, but it was already a solid, addicting experience in Legion, and it’s holding up well now.
Obviously there is no danger of wounding or killing any of your squad members in Bloodline since you are only playing as Aiden. Every time you die just restart and try again. Once again, this choice will excite some and anger others depending on how you liked the Legion squad system.
Leveling up is a little different too, as the tech dots you can find in London are replaced with a series of side missions that provide Aiden with additional equipment and skills. Like the main missions, these missions are fairly simple and have many ways to approach them, but their inclusion reduces the need to explore the Big Smoke. And you can visit all of London in Bloodline, with a few subtle differences to show the slightly earlier timeframe. Despite the grumpy main character, Bloodline plays before Albion takes over, so a sense of normalcy is well captured. Protest sites don’t initially have that destructive, besieged energy like Legion does. You get the feeling that London is in twilight and quickly rushing towards the night, which is a really impressive feeling if you don’t notice some of the differences.
All in all, Bloodline is a great addition to Legion as it adds new missions and a new story to explore. While Aiden isn’t the most interesting character, his presence doesn’t detract from the world Ubisoft is building, even if you lose your team’s aspiring storytelling. Once you’ve completed Bloodlines, you’ll also have the option to recruit Aiden and a few other related characters to join your team in Legion. They bring their impressive skills as well as their boring attitude with them. Maybe don’t invite Aiden to the Dedsec Christmas party.
Checked on PS5 (code from publisher).
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Bloodline expands Watch Dogs Legion’s London with new missions, recurring characters, and a slightly different environment to explore. While it doesn’t add a lot of new features, it’s the perfect reason to go back to the Old Smoke and give it the middle finger again.
- More missions to approach from every angle
- Impressively subtle environmental storytelling
- This time there are no teams to be recruited
- Aiden is still not interesting