Watch Dogs: Legion is the most quintessentially British game I’ve ever had the privilege to play, bar none. Despite being set in a near-futuristic interpretation of London, it retains all the hallmarks of British culture, integrating them into a game that has turned out to be one of the best of the year. But how do they do it? How have Ubisoft managed to create a realistic version of present-day London, and also add in some of that futuristic flair that makes it such an interesting landscape and culture to explore?
Well, Titan Books may have the answer, as it is Legion that is the focus of the latest instalment in the long line of companion books that they have lovingly crafted – those based on Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare are notable examples. With Watch Dogs Legion: Resistance Report, Watch Dogs fanatics can indulge in the lore of the game, as well as interesting details and concept art that a player may have missed.
Unlike those aforementioned Titan Books publications, the team have taken a different approach to this beautiful-looking book (seriously, the red and black tones of the cover will definitely take pride of place on any shelf). This Resistance Report is very much that – a compilation of research files compiled by an American researcher in London, who appears to have gone missing. The preface of the book sets up the story of this researcher – one Louise Hartford – and also gives some detail regarding previous entries in the series. The name T-Bone is given, and this will immediately resonate with more long-term fans of Watch Dogs.
Following on from this preface, and we really get into the meat of the Resistance Report. Something that is so admirable of Titan Books is that detail is certainly not skimped on, and the case is no different with Watch Dogs Legion: Resistance Report. Rick Barba (the true, real-life author) has certainly consulted a number of members of the production team behind the game, and this is immediately evident upon starting Part 1 – Roots of Rage…
Roots of Rage provides a general look at how London is organised and regimented in the future Watch Dogs: Legion creates. And ‘regimented’ certainly is the buzzword in the capital, as factions such as SIRS and Albion have gone about creating a totalitarian state, in which stepping out of line leads to harsh punishment. This chapter details the type of technology that these factions have at their disposal, such as facial recognition and the now infamous cTOS system.
But, of course, there is another side to the coin, and this is where our pals DeadSec come in. Roots of Rage gives us a bit of a history lesson with regards to the hacking group we are so familiar with, and indicates just how DeadSec started as a humble, low-threat group and grew into a global force to be reckoned with. Overall, Roots of Rage acts as a delicious, lore-filled opener to this 5-part course of a book.
The main course starts in the form of Part 2 – Welcome to Checkpoint London, which takes a deep dive into the setting of Watch Dogs: Legion; good ol’ London Town. Whether it is in the little facts that make you go ‘ohhhhhh, that’s interesting!’, or more detailed descriptions of each of the London boroughs, Barba has left no stone unturned. For example, the hustle and bustle of Camden Town is a far cry from the more picturesque Southwark, and any reader immediately gets a feel for each area from the words on the page.
We also get a bit more contextual information here, with accounts of the touchy political situation London finds itself in once the player arrives – the immigration crisis and issue with unemployment is given the time of day it deserves in this chapter, as it plays such an obvious role that permeates throughout the entire game.
Part 3 – Agents of Mass Control gives the obligatory character bios that are always the go-to reads for me, as learning about those that I will encounter during the game is a great source of joy. Particular character bios of note are those of the antagonists of the game, such as Albion’s dictator-like boss Nigel Cass, to the downright terrifying crime boss in Mary Kelley, both of which will plague your experience of both the game and the book, almost like they made it themselves. Despite being the smallest chapter in length, this is more than made up for in providing compelling insight into the key players controlling London, whether that be in the drone-controlled skies, or shady criminal underground.
In a similar vein is Part 4 – Resistance Rising. This is where Rick Barba plays up to the ‘Play as Anyone’ system that has made so many people pour hours upon hours into Watch Dogs: Legion. Given the lack of a main playable protagonist, here we are treated to a number of bios detailing archetypal characters that you may happen across in your ventures across London. Much like the boroughs of the capital, Part 4 conveys the immense diversity of people that can be found, and more importantly played as in DeadSec’s monumental task of reclaiming London from its oppressors.
Finally – and trust me, this article merely scratches the surface of the sheer detail Barba has included on these 144 pages – is Part 5 – Brave New Tech. As has been the case in the original Watch Dogs’ Chicago, Watch Dogs 2’s San Fran, and indeed in our dystopian London in Legion, tech has played an instrumental role in DeadSec’s operations. Now that the baddies have access to all manner of drone technology, which are a main part of this chapter, the odds have been evened. What is incredibly interesting to read about is how Albion have developed technology in their ever-developing policy of control, and DeadSec’s retaliation to this with the use of AI such as Bagley and the Spiderbot. There’s even some space dedicated to the abundance of masks that can be found in the game – perhaps my favourite aspect of them all!
What is immediately striking upon first glance of the book is the artstyle, with both artist’s impressions and concept art abundant, interspersed between the text. It all summises to form a real identity to this Resistance Report, contributing to the idea that the book you have in your hands is a detailed case file of the goings-on in London.
In conclusion, and Titan Books have done it again with Watch Dogs Legion: Resistance Report. Not only does it provide the high quality detail that we have come to expect from the company, but what I’ve found especially unique and compelling this time around is the inclusion of some sort of imbedded storyline, with notes scattered throughout the book indicating towards a shadowy story surrounding the endeavours of Louise Hartford in exposing the truths of London. Combined with the artwork, it’s perhaps this sense of identity that makes this such a compelling read: it all works incredibly well to act as a real page-turner, whether that be due to in-depth character bios, contextual knowledge, or simply to understand how the team at Ubisoft crafted what are the best masks in gaming.
Watch Dogs fans – at £22.99 this is a no-brainer!
Huge thanks go out to Titan Books for sending us the Watch Dogs Legion: Resistance Report. You’ll find the hardbook version available right now from Titan Books themselves, with promise of both paperbook and eBook versions coming along soon.