Think Watch Dogs Legion couldn’t sound any more ambitious? Think again. Yes, there are a wide array of possibilities, thanks to the potentially revolutionary NPC system where players will have the option to play as any character they see in-game. Still, Ubisoft has several other tricks up its sleeve. Specifically, one has to do with how the story will play out once a character is removed from the picture. Watch Dogs Legion’s permadeath mechanics leaves players with two options when a character’s life is threatened–surrender or die. Both can have quite complex results.
In an interview with GamingBolt, Creative Director Clint Hocking explained how the story will carry on once a character either surrenders to authorities or succumbs to death. The former of the two options means the character has a chance to return, either by eventually being released or because the player performs a rescue mission with another former NPC.
Permadeath is always an opt-in gamble for the player. When your health goes to ‘zero’ you enter the critically injured state. At this point you are always offered the opportunity to surrender, and be sent to jail. You can systemically free Operatives who have been sent to jail, or wait for them to be released. But if you choose not to surrender, and keep fighting, then you are risking permadeath.
In games like XCOM, permadeath can be debilitating to a player’s gameplay strategy and the way in which missions progress. On the contrary, a character’s death in Watch Dogs Legion, evidenced by the E3 2019 footage, will open a world of possibilities. The story will continue to move forward, while simultaneously unlocking new doors because brand-new characters arrive. Hocking continued,
Since every mission, every line of dialogue, and every cutscene has been written to account for every possible character, the loss of one of your characters means that the rest of your team will have to pick up where they left off and the plot and the story will carry on. Each character has their own origin story–the story of how they are recruited into DedSec, and once they are on your team, the main missions and the overall game narrative are the story of DedSec as a team, and how they collectively work to halt the emergence of the authoritarian regime that is trying to take over the city.
Will this launch a world of confusion, where the game’s 20 different script variations may not function the way the development team at Ubisoft Toronto expect? Or will everything truly be as seamless as Hocking’s statements seems to suggest? We’ll know for sure soon enough.
Watch Dogs Legion will launch early next year for the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One on March 6, 2020.