Watch Dogs Legion, Which Lets You Control Many Different Characters, Is "Complex Almost Beyond Description"

"It's expensive."

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One of the defining features of 2020's Watch Dogs Legion is that you're able to take control of basically anyone in the game's version of London. Associate producer Shelley Johnson said in a new interview that the technical underpinnings of Legion are "complex almost beyond description."

"This is probably one of the most ambitious games Ubi has ever imagined," Johnson told Stevivor. "It was certainly from a management standpoint and a creative standpoint, the biggest challenge yet, certainly for me personally."

Johnson told Gamecrate earlier this year that there is no limit to the number of different NPCs that players can assume control of in Legion. "One of the numbers that was floating around at one point was 9 million," she said. "They're procedurally generated characters. So we've spent four years building the technology to be able to deliver on this promise and that includes the ability to piece together this huge city of characters as far as animation, dialogue, census data, like all those bio pieces that you see when you profile somebody, faces, character kids, all of this comes together to produce a unique character every time."

Johnson told Stevivor that it was an expensive, time-consuming process to make Legion a reality as it relates to the ambition under the hood. "[To] play as anyone, as a pillar--to really fulfil on the promise of that--it's expensive," she said. "This game is, in as far as challenge is concerned, complex almost beyond description."

Testing a game like Legion sounds like a big challenge, and Johnson said it's the first game from Ubisoft that reached the limits of what human testing was capable of. She added that, in the future, games with the complexity and scale of Legion may need to make use of AI to pick up "some of the heavy lifting."

Watch Dogs Legion launches in March 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out the video embedded above to learn more.

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ghostbuddy

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It sounds cool and all, but unless they somehow manage to tell a good story and have compelling singleplayer missions its basically a gimmick and a tech demo. If you take this technology and attach it to a game as well rounded and structured as Watch Dogs 2 it could be special. If you take this technology and surround it with a bunch of cookie cutter mass produced missions, without character, novelty, structure, compelling gameplay or narrative cohesion its basically a fun toy to goof around with for a couple hours. And thats basically the vibe i'm getting right now.

Watch Dogs 2 was a pretty good game in my opinion. I don't know how I feel about this direction yet. I'm definitely going to pay attention, but i'm definitely skeptical.

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ScreamingSatori

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This reminds me of something that was done 20 years ago in the game Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Your character was a disembodied soul from another dimension, and you could inhabit different bodies, each with their own unique stats. If you got killed, you had to find a new body. I'm sure the system in Watch Dogs Legion will be much more complex, but the idea is similar.

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phoenix1289

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On paper it sounds cool but the big issue is procedural generation will always be just that, procedural generation. It's not hand crafted or designed it's just a bunch of pieces thrown together which will always mean the result will feel like it's just a bunch of pieces thrown together. No real personality or flavor it's just a mishmash of a bunch of parts. It's a promise of tons of content but it's quantity over quality and all that content will inevitably start to blend together and get repetitive as you see it roll the same pieces just on a different character. This can still be fun don't get me wrong, especially if other aspects like the gameplay/characterization/story step in to help make up for the proc gens inherent weaknesses. I'm not saying the game will be bad. But honestly I would much rather have a few carefully crafted characters each with their own personality and playstyle to play as rather than a million randomly selected bags of abilities/traits.

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SParent180

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@phoenix1289: it seems like one of those things that sounds really cool in theory but in practice might not be quite as fun, interesting, or exciting. It reminds me of the promise for No Man's Sky of a limitless number of planets to explore. It sounded like the perfect space exploration game but when the game released the plant variance wasn't very diverse.

Repeating what you said I don't think the game will be bad, I'm just not sure if the cool feature of being able to play as any NPC will be a game changing innovation.

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Maralzo

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I think for me the biggest draw of being able to play anyone is eventually finding that one character who I get attached to and will make sure they survive by all means necessary.

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streamline

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@maralzo: Could we do the opposite and turn people we don't like into serial killers and get them arrested?

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