In a panel at EGLX in Toronto this Saturday, Watch Dogs: Legion Live Producer Lathieeshe Thillainathan and Lead Narrative Producer Kait Tremblay took the stage to answer some questions about their upcoming title.
What stuck out most for us related to the size of the world and overall game. While it has been reported previously that Watch Dogs: Legion will have a game size roughly similar to that of Watch Dogs 2, Thillainathan confirmed that the world is much more dense.
On the length of the game, Tremblay wouldn’t give specifics about how many hours the game would take to complete, just that the story has five main quest lines with “a ton of side quests,” alongside an entire recruitment system, the latter of which presumably lengthens or shortens a gameplay depending on how in-depth the player wants to go with it.
Thillainathan joked that just playing around with the different characters and building teams could take over 100 hours, though with a game of over a million (if not millions of) procedurally-generated playable characters, that isn’t a stretch.
The panel discussion also got into why London itself was chosen as the setting for the game, following Watch Dogs 1 and 2‘s Chicago and San Francisco, respectively.
The producers said that, while looking through cities across the world, they wanted to go somewhere global where they could effectively tell their story about building a resistance. Having the ability to play as anyone would be boring if everyone was the same, so they needed diversity in the city’s population, but also in its architecture. London is ripe with everything from old Victorian styles to modern structures like The Shard, Thillainathan says.
An issue they didn’t consider when initially planning out the game, however, was that everything in London is, naturally, left-hand drive, Thillainathan recalled, lightly poking fun at themselves. Roads are often truncated by roundabouts, pedestrians may need to look either way when crossing the street, and the autonomous cars of this near future speculative fiction need to be programmed with all this in consideration.
The game is under development at Ubisoft Toronto with support from teams at the company’s Montreal, Kiev, Bucharest, and Newcastle studios. Our bet is that someone in Newcastle had a look at the game and asked why everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road. This is not confirmed, naturally.
Of course, the game is shaping up to be quite a massive endeavour that will see players in the hands of any number of protagonists over the course of the story and side quests. The game runs well, plays beautifully, and offers a ton of different ways to traverse London.
The team built a technology from the ground up to make possible the ability to be anyone in their game, and it is not a gimmick. You can quite literally be anyone in the game, and what you do in the game genuinely has actions throughout the rest of the experience.
And this goes deep.
If a police officer kills you, for example, that character is permanently gone from the game. However, with other members on your team, you can go and hunt down that exact police officer and exact your revenge. Doing so, however, might have their family members react. Or worse, the entire police force. Perhaps the officer’s friends or family.
Your characters also continue living their lives in the background while you play as another member of the team. In another scenario Tremblay and Thillainathan shared, if a character has a friend that they hang out with often, and you decide to kill them, when you’re playing as another character again, they will go to visit their grave for a during their grieving process. How does one find out that this is actually happening? You can switch between characters at will, but you will take over that character where they happen to be, which, apparently, can be at a grave site sometimes.
The depth in Legion seems to be unparalleled to anything that we’ve seen before, and it puts to shame other games that claim previous actions have consequences throughout the experience. With only a few more months until release, we’re expecting to have a lot of unique adventures in London.
Watch Dogs: Legion is set to release on March 6, 2020 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia.