Press X to Dismantle Surveillance Capitalism in 'Watch Dogs: Legion'

Watch Dogs: Legion has always had an incredibly exciting pitch: combat an authoritarian surveillance state not as a single hero, but as an insurgent movement where you can play as almost anyone at anytime, from every background and walk of life. On the other hand, Ubisoft has a confining template for the games it makes: you get a map jammed with major and minor activities that let you take part in stealth and action sequences that are passable at best. The tension between the two was palpable during the long hands-on I had with the game last week in advance of the Ubisoft Forward event that the French publisher ran in place of its usual E3 demos.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxqznq/watch-dogs-legion-preview-ubisoft-forward

This thread is from the Lead Game Designer on Legion, so take it all with a grain of salt. But, despite Rob’s misgivings, I’m stoked to see where it leads. My issue with the sort of procgen stuff like State of Decay that Austin et. al. really enjoy is that I am not an accomplished storyteller like Austin is. I can’t fill in the blanks. So if someone solves the puzzle of “We’re going to do the procgen wackiness but also tell you a story,” I want to see it.
5 Likes

The possibilities for this are endless. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing my actions discussed on a Sky News panel involving Ash Sarkar and Darren Grimes.

1 Like

I’m going to buy this game and probably have fun but ultimately be disappointed that at no point do you get to interact with a shell of some kind for gameplay purposes.

They actually made me less interested in the game with that awful video they showed.

4 Likes

If they haven’t brought up a terminal at this point, they won’t start now.

I can’t wait for this game to come out and then to pull a Far Cry 5 and boom, twist ending, the fascists were right the whole time. Oops.

1 Like

Literally, the moment they introduced Albion I was like “HELL YEAH, there’s the liberal bullshit I love!” Because there’s just NO WAY that state-sanctioned law enforcement would EVER act in an unjust fashion

UPDATE: Okay, I watched the gameplay footage and I do like the idea of a Dedsec crewed entirely by working stiffs, football hooligans and EMT’s. I’m never gonna recruit a cop, Albion agent or spy if I can help it.

3 Likes

Semi-related but Ubisoft’s “Short Movie” paraphrasing Niemöller’s poem about the Holocaust to market their game about using cool gadgets to get into whacky hijinks might be one of the most tone deaf marketing moves of this console generation

8 Likes

And then the spin-off expansion where the first characters they reveal are POC and then it turns out that they were actually the very evil bad guys.

2 Likes

I especially love this part

It so unintentionally hilarious, for you have the “”"“Good Traditional Cop”""" man telling the bad guy he took law enforcement too far and that he’s gonna tell the defense minister about it. And then gets shot in the head, cause apparently in this universe some police officer guy can convince Britain’s current governing party to walk back a program that probably cost them billions of pounds to implement and was what they built their political platform on. Classic Ubisoft political cowardliness at its thickest.

4 Likes

Please pardon my ignorance. I’m an old. Does this general behavior of tying mainstream entertainment products to real world problems almost exclusively for marketing purposes have a name? Relevance signaling?

God forbid our entertainment product “does not speak to the current moment” and so cannot be reap the SEO rewards of having their game mentioned in the same breath as BLM or police brutality. Ubisoft has an especially odd relationship with their games because they frequently react with consternation when their skinner-box content-munching timesinks - which they laughably maintain are not political - are treated as such. All discourse is good discourse for them somehow, probably because their games are so structurally and mechanically inoffensive that people pick them up just to kill time so all the extra press just adds to their game’s visibility in the marketplace.

The wildly swaying camera, fish eye lenses and dozens of overlaying visual effects made this trailer nearly nauseating to watch, besides just the poor taste capitalisation on police resistance and the jarring tone deafness with this kind of narrative. It felt like all aesthetics and Cool Gadgets™ over any kind of meaningful substance.

Fun fact I didn’t know before: The director is Alberto Mielgo, also involved with Into the Spiderverse.

At least, he’s still getting work.

1 Like

Which is sad, because that animation was really well done… If they just cut the really out of place holocaust poem out of it, I think that piece would be really memorable.

1 Like

I’d been cautiously interested in watch dogs legion up till now but uh, wow, that trailer did zero favors for the game at all. Drawing comparisons to the holocaust is a hell of a swing to make when it’s not even clear if this game has anything more than bare minimum brexit commentary, and man, it’s not even going to be timely commentary. Also, that comedy english cabbie doesn’t fill me with hope either, lol

2 Likes

The game it’s advertising may or may not deliver, but it’d be a shame to write it all off because neoliberalism preempted the taking of ideology and all.

As I wrote on the big thread: