Watch Dogs Legion’s central hook of allowing players to recruit and play as every single NPC in the game – all of whom have their own simulated lives and schedules and origin stories to define them – is something that has caught the fancy of several people since the game was first unveiled at E3 this year.
It’s certainly an ambitious idea, and when you think of all the ways it could possibly complicate storytelling, it seems even more ambitious. Throw in mechanics like permadeath for every character in the game, and you have something that most developers would deem too daunting to even pull off. So how (and why) is it that Ubisoft decided to go in this direction with Watch Dogs Legion?
We recently sat down for an interview with the game’s creative director, Clint Hocking, and posed the question to him. According to Hocking, the idea of being able to live entire simulated lives was something that just grew from the series’ initial central mechanic of being able to hack into people’s lives using their devices, while the concept of building up your own DedSec was also something that fell in line with how DedSec had grown from Watch Dogs 1 to Watch Dogs 2.
“The play as anyone innovation emerged fairly naturally when we first started to look at the pillars of the Watch Dogs franchise, and at the evolution of the series,” Hocking told GamingBolt. “One of the original promises of the brand was the ability for the player to hack into the lives of any character they see in the world, and learn more about them using the Profiler. For Watch Dogs Legion, we wanted to take the promise of the Profiler further by making everyone in the world live fully simulated lives. At the same time, we also looked at how DedSec evolved over time; from a group working in the shadows with Aiden in the original game, to a collective of hackers in the sequel. We asked ourselves if being able to build your own DedSec made sense, and once that idea lined up with a fully simulated population, the idea that any character could be your next playable hero made complete sense.”
The ability to be able to play as every single NPC in the game is something that promises to have far-reaching effects on other aspects of the game too. For instance, Watch Dogs Legion’s entire script is supposed to have twenty different variations. Meanwhile, thanks to the permadeath mechanic, every cutscene in the game also has to account for every single character that may or may not be in that scene.
Watch Dogs Legion is out on March 6, 2020 for the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia. Our full interview with Hocking will be going live soon, so stay tuned.