Watch Dogs Legion is a whole new experience on Xbox Series X, bringing big spectacle and great examples of what Microsoft’s console delivers to games.
It’s hard to imagine heralding an open-world game like Watch Dogs: Legion as a graphical showpiece. These games, particularly the ones published by Ubisoft, often value quantity over quality in terms of gameplay and moving parts. Legion is especially guilty of this with its randomly generated Londoners that can range in appearance from an average person on a street to creations that previously only came from deep dives into a character creator. Despite all that, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Watch Dogs: Legion on Xbox Series X.
It’s odd that Ubisoft chose to release Watch Dogs on previous-gen consoles first because it feels like a step beyond what those machines can truly render. Playing on Xbox One, the city doesn’t have the spark it needs to carry an open-world experience, and the inherently repetitive recruiting missions become that much more difficult to grind through. Add a rocky framerate into the equation and Legion has earned its less than stellar social media buzz over the past two weeks.
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While a new coat of next-gen paint can’t solve story or tone issues, the graphical and technical problems that plagued the Xbox One edition of Watch Dogs: Legion are completely fixed on Xbox Series X. HDR-friendly neon pops out in almost every environment with a vibe that feels less ’80s future and more general tech-heavy city. This gets goofy while walking through a police station filled with tricked out PC rigs, but fits right in on the city streets in the middle of the night. The framerate is powerfully smooth on Xbox Series X, even during multi-car collisions or quick escapes on a cargo drone. It really makes a difference when a game like Watch Dogs: Legion gets out of its own way and lets the player wreak havoc without consequences.
The most talked-about Xbox Series X feature added into Watch Dogs: Legion is its ray tracing. This adds real-time reflections to car windows, water, and mirrored buildings, and it does its job well, executing on something that just wasn’t possible on the last set of consoles. Whether this is something that makes the game better or not is up for debate, but the environments do look that much more realistic under ideal circumstances. There are a few places where the game pumps up the technology way too much, especially indoors wherever glass is involved. A couple of offices with glass desks had an unrealistically strong reflection as if a computer was floating atop a portal to another dimension. However, these are very specific scenarios, and the overall visuals are the type of feast for the eyes that’s still relatively rare in the Xbox Series X’s early days, lacking proper next-gen launches as it does.
While it’s not surprising, the power of Watch Dogs: Legion on Xbox Series X goes beyond prettier visuals, delivering gameplay improvements that will hopefully become standardized in the years to come. Load times for fast travel are almost instantaneous in most instances, and the initial load into the game is much improved over an unacceptably long wait on Xbox One. This also counts for when players want to switch to another one of their operatives for a specific scenario, a key component of the game’s open-world loop that can be frustrating to do if loads are too long. Graphics are nice to have, and ray tracing is a fun launch week spectacle, but it’s these improvements that feel the most groundbreaking in terms of what next-gen gaming will mean on Microsoft and Sony’s hardware.
After spending hours in London with both versions of the game, Watch Dogs: Legion on Xbox Series X is clearly a marked improvement over the experience on Xbox One. Xbox One owners should seriously consider waiting for their console upgrade before diving into this particular Ubisoft release. The upgrades make for not only a better-looking game but also one that plays better, and that’s really what’s important. The PC version is still the best one with a proper gaming rig to back it up – or it will be once Ubisoft fixes the common save bug found there. However, for most players, Xbox Series X delivers an attainable version of the game that feels cutting edge and runs great right now.
Next: Watch Dogs: Legion Mods Are About To Get Wild As Source Code Leaks
Watch Dogs: Legion is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC and Stadia.
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