'Watch Dogs: Legion' Promises Revolution, But Mostly Delivers Distraction

About ten hours into Watch Dogs: Legion, the third entry in Ubisoft’s technothriller take on their open world formula, a character tears into one of the game’s major antagonists, an inventor with a penchant for privacy invasion and drone warfare. This character, a remorseful former ally of the megalomaniac technologist in question, lays out the game’s core thesis pretty cleanly: “Every place we’d go into, we would have some mad plan to fix all its problems with robot police or automatic crop fertilizer or some shit. Society was a technical problem, and people were just bugs in the software, y’know? You work around them or you squash them.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pkdy5y/watch-dogs-legion-review

But when the game shifts from diagnosing these ills to showing what a cure looks like, it stumbles hard.

Yeah, this too common issue is why I have a hard time seriously reading art as politics. It’s been argued that the reason solutions are hard to come by there is because art usually works better appealing to the emotional rather than rational.

(It’s worth noting, however briefly, that this sort of “liberation” gameplay should feel facile in Far Cry, Metal Gear Solid V , and other military games too. We should in fact, be very skeptical of anyone whose hackles raise only when this design (or, more broadly, this style of ripped-from-the-headlines theming) is applied to the anglophone world as in Legion or Far Cry 5 , but don’t raise the same issues when the game takes place in some fictional country from the global south or east.)

At least in MGSV, you’re playing as the series villain building up the war economy. It was subtle, but in retrospect, it might have been a lot more critical of that than you’d think.