In Depth

E3 2019: How Brexit shaped dystopian London in Watch Dogs: Legion

Hacker-themed adventure game offers a bleak look at Britain after its divorce with the EU

Ubisoft often holds action-packed conferences brimming with game announcements at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) – and this year’s keynote was no exception.  

Among the new announcements, including free-to-play rollerskating game Roller Champions and a story creator for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, was a new instalment in the hacker-themed Watch Dogs series. 

Unlike the previous two entires in the series, Watch Dogs: Legion won’t be set in the US. Instead, players will be hacking, exploring and shooting their way through a dystopian version of post-Brexit Britain. 

It appears that Ubisoft’s depiction of the UK after its divorce with the EU is somewhat bleak, with the surveillance and police brutality rife on the streets of near-future London. 

Although Ubisoft’s operations chief Alf Condelius has said that being overtly political could be damaging, The Independent says that the new Watch Dogs title makes “no secret of addressing the issues that helped contribute to Brexit and the chaos that could result from the UK leaving the European Union”. 

With that in mind, here’s everything we know so far about Watch Dogs: Legion and how it has been shared by Brexit:

What is Watch Dogs: Legion?

Watch Dogs: Legion is the third game in the open-world hacker series. While Legion is set in a sci-fi dystopia similar to the previous two games, it’s poised to shake up the way players progress through the story.

The last two games put players in the shoes of a protagonist, who they’d follow throughout the main storyline. In Watch Dogs: Legion, players are in charge of a gang of vigilantes and are tasked with recruiting new members to disrupt the oppressive Government, IGN reports. 

The gamer’s choice of recruit will shape the way the story unfolds, with the game’s cutscenes being tailored to the situation that the player finds themselves in, the tech site says. For example, players can recruit and play as “ex-MI5 spies” and even “old ladies”.

Why is it set in London?

The previous two instalments of the hacking series have been set in the US. The first Watch Dogs took players to the gritty streets of Chicago, while the Los Angeles-based Watch Dogs 2 had a more vibrant look to it.

That changes with Watch Dogs: Legion, which brings the franchise across the Atlantic to London. 

In an interview with GamesRadar, Watch Dogs lead producer John Cross said London was the ideal location for the hacker-themed franchise because the city is “one of the most surveilled cities in the world”.

“Also, its cultural backdrop, its history, the contrast between modern culture and very old English architecture is very intriguing”, he said. “So when we look at the cities where we could possibly set this game all of those elements really made it stand out.”

What has Brexit got to do with Watch Dogs: Legion?

Watch Dogs games traditionally task the player with disrupting Governments that use surveillance to monitor and control civilians. Ubisoft, it seems, has drawn parallels between its dystopian settings and the events surrounding Brexit.  

Cross told GamesRadar that “all the elements in the world that you see are based off lots of real-world problems that eventually contribute towards Brexit. So autonomy and loss of jobs because of it, global warming, all the other events that you see worldwide happening today.

“I feel that all of those events that contribute towards Brexit also contribute towards the world state of Watch Dogs: Legion. But it's not just that, it's about everything that's happening in the world today and all of it has culminated in this one situation, a possible future, of Watch Dogs: Legion”, he concluded.

When does it come out?

Watch Dogs: Legion launches on 6 March for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

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