Reviews

Watch Dogs Legion Bloodline Review: Aiden Pearce returns

Six years later, we catch up with the protagonist of the original Watch Dogs.

The original Watch Dogs was a curious thing, slightly over-hyped and under-delivering. Like Assassin’s Creed before it, the opening title in the franchise proved to be a proof of concept, with Watch Dogs 2 ditching wooden protagonist Aiden Pearce for a more compelling hero. 2020’s Watch Dogs Legion upended this altogether, doing away with the concept of a singular protagonist and embracing the idea that you could play as anyone within London. Ultimately, Legion had similar problems as Watch Dogs itself in that the idea was better than what was actually executed.

Love it or hate it, Legion has been expanded upon with Bloodline, a standalone experience (that still requires the base game) starring the original Watch Dogs‘ Pearce. The expansion launches separately and is set within the opening events of Watch Dogs Legion itself; London has been bombed and a heightened sense of fear is in the air, but DedSec hasn’t yet started its second coming.

This simple note has huge ramifications for Legion in that players won’t have a team of disposable agents at their fingertips; rather, we’re locked in the shoes of Pearce alongside Legion fan-favorite Wrench. It’s rather strange when you think about it, as this signifies a move away from what made Legion unique and instead heads toward Watch Dogs proper. The result is a mixed bag, with many of Luke’s criticisms of the base game still applying to this new offering.

For starters, Bloodline uses the same London map and general mission structure as its parent game. This provides a gigantic play area, and you’ll soon find yourself driving from end to end, bouncing between NPCs that serve to progress your active mission. The need to drive from place to place is necessary when you begin, as your previous progress inside Legion matters not, but I found myself using fast travel as quickly as I could after unlocking new (old) access points.

The repetition of driving from one place to another is mirrored by the echoes of missions themselves, with most requiring a handful of stealth, combat and hacking to continue the story of Pearce and Wrench. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily — especially for fans of Legion‘s formula — but you might also want to take the story in bite-sized chunks for maximum enjoyment. Audio files still need to play out in their entirety — or simply skipped with the exposition they were meant to provide instead missed — at some points if you’d like to continue on, partially removing immersion as you either stand around or take Aiden or Wrench through time-wasting antics just to listen.

The same types of launch-day oddities experienced by Luke on PC were also mirrored by Bloodline — I too suffered from audio dropouts and strange framerate drops as part of the expansion’s early access offering. I also noticed that whenever Pearce would stealthily takedown a guard, their body would fly about five feet behind me after I’d laid them out (and you can see a sample of that in our gameplay below). The latter problem was more comical than anything else, but hard to ignore nonetheless.

Rather than needing to track down a construction worker or spy, Pearce is basically a jack of all trades (and Wrench too, in the end). Aiden is adept with weaponry — to the point where he can supercharge reloads, almost Gears of War-style — and also benefits from a spiderbot that can take to the skies as easily as it can slink along the ground. Because of the well-roundedness of the character — combined with his backstory and current narrative — it was a delight to just stick with him to get to the bottom of what was going on. This focus on one character (or, sure, two) gave proceedings a focus that was perhaps predictably lacking in Legion itself. While I applaud Ubisoft Toronto for taking a risk, I think I’d far prefer a strong narrative with fully fleshed-out leads rather than voids that are filled by procedurally-generated stats.

If you haven’t finished Legion — or just want to play through again — be aware that you can take these two new hero characters into the game proper (including Online), provided you’ve obtained Bloodline via the Season Pass and not as a standalone purchaes.

Despite its strong narrative focus, Bloodline is a sequel to Pearce’s Watch Dogs but a prequel to the events of Watch Dogs Legion; as such, we (at least partially) know what will happen next. I’m glad we had a chance to dip into Pearce’s journey again, but I’m hoping that any subsequent dealings with the character will be fully forward in time.

If you’re a fan of Watch Dogs Legion — and Watch Dogs in general — the price of admission is certainly worth it. One last nitpick though, Ubisoft — it should be “an Ubisoft original” in your marketing, not “a Ubisoft original”. You’re making a vein stick out of my forehead with that syntax.

Watch Dogs Legion Bloodline requires the base game to play; it’s available through the game’s Season Pass ($59.95 AUD) or standalone for $22.95 AUD.

7 out of 10

The good

  • It’s nice to be playing as set characters.
  • Aiden is a powerhouse!
  • London remains absolutely gorgeous.
  • Tight storyline.

The bad

  • The same problems of the base game remain: repetition, bugs and the like.
  • Removing the DedSec team also removes Legion‘s most unique claim to fame.

Watch Dogs Legion Bloodline was reviewed using a promotional code on PC, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

Watch Dogs Legion

29 October 2020 (PC PS4 Xbox One)

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.