Watch Dogs Legion: Bloodlines
July 6, 2021
Watch Dogs had a rough start to life. The trailer blew us all away in 2013, but the game – and especially the protagonist – 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 that game-to-game, with Watch Dogs Legion ditching characters altogether, but it seems even that isn’t enough to escape Aiden Pearce’s weight as he continues to chase through the series. Bloodline, the first major DLC for Legion, follows Aiden Pearce on a prequel journey through London and is a lot of fun despite its different focus.
Watch Dogs Legion wasn’t for everyone, in part because of the nebulous team system that allowed you to recruit anyone. For some, this made it difficult to connect with the characters and the wider world. For others, this allowed them to create their own stories the same way you would in squad games like XCOM. You could end up choosing characters for missions based on this made-up history or previous sessions rather than the skills they have, adding optional layers to the experience. Bloodline doesn’t like you doing that. Instead, you play as Aiden Pearce as you explore London before the very British coup. You can’t recruit other people to your business, so I hope you enjoy playing as the standard tech bro. At the very least, you can dress him up in all the usual fashion from the main game, which might make him look a little more interesting.
The story has a slightly less optimistic edge than Legion. You do not oppose an increasingly realistic future regime; you sabotage a company while they threaten you and your family, etc. to really just who you throw your hat in the ring with. You’ll also meet many familiar faces from Legion, although it only takes place a few months before the start of the game, so there aren’t any radical origin stories to tell here. Wrench, the mask-wearing absurdist from Watch Dogs 2, also features heavily and also provides welcome relief from the walking midlife crisis.
The gameplay works about the same. Players have to use a mix of stealth, firefights, brawling and driving to complete various objectives that normally involve entering this restricted area and then touching something before leaving. However, there are dozens of ways to play and approach each objective, so you can have fun wreaking havoc or making your way unseen. You have access to drones, phones and cars to perform your various deeds, and while some can escape completely unseen, many missions end in explosions and gunfire. Some missions even require it, with linear chase sequences or waves of enemies to dispatch. There’s not a lot of new content in terms of gameplay, but it was already a solid, engaging experience in Legion, and it’s holding up well now.
Obviously in Bloodline you don’t risk injuring or killing any of your squad members because you’re just playing as Aiden. Every time you die, just reboot and try again. Again, this choice will delight some and upset others, depending on how you’ve enjoyed Legion’s squadron system.
Leveling is also a bit different, with the tech points found in London replaced by a series of side missions that provide Aiden with additional gadgets and abilities. Like the main ones, these missions are quite simple, with plenty of 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 some subtle differences to show the slightly earlier time frame. Despite the harsh main character, Bloodline takes place before Albion takes over completely, so there’s a sense of normalcy well captured. Protest sites don’t have that destructive, beleaguered energy as in Legion to begin with. You can get the feeling that London is in twilight and quickly rushing into the night, which is a very impressive feeling to come across if you may not notice some differences.
All in all, Bloodline is a great addition to Legion as it adds new missions and a new story to explore. While Aiden may not be the most interesting character, his presence doesn’t detract from the world Ubisoft is building, even if you lose those up-and-coming stories from your team. Completing Bloodlines will also give you the chance to recruit Aiden and a few other related characters into your team in Legion. They bring with them their impressive skills and their dull attitude. Maybe don’t invite Aiden to Dedsec’s Christmas party.
Rated on PS5 (code provided by the publisher).
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Bloodline expands on Watch Dogs Legion’s London, with new missions, returning characters and a slightly different setting to explore. While it doesn’t add many new features, it’s the perfect reason to return to the Old Smoke and give it the middle finger once again.
- More missions to approach from every angle
- Impressively subtle stories about the environment
- No teams to recruit this time
- Aiden is still not interesting
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