The Watch Dogs Ballad Of Disappointment: A Rhyming Rant
Ubisoft revealed Watchdogs (Get if for only $6 !! here) to much hype in 2012. But for another couple years development would dwell. For the launch of a new gen, its presence was expected. But Ubisoft then had the release date corrected. Now launching in 2014, missing the 8th gen debut. It left me wondering what other launch titles would do. You see, I had pre-ordered Watch Dogs to pair with a PS4. And most of the line-up was frankly kind of a bore. I decided to go with Knack(Yeah I know), a next gen exclusive at least. Turns out that game was a rotting can of Fancy Feast. This wouldn’t be the last time Ubisoft blocked my enjoyment. This was the beginning of the Ballad of Disappointment
It released in May on nearly every device. It sold well, but the reviews barely sufficed. The protagonist was boring with a cliche tragic past. He had many monologues, each more brooding than the last. The vigilante crimes just didn’t mesh with a game about hacking. It would have been more accurate if Aiden was in his hotel room snacking. The world seemed dull, and the hacking under baked. It was everything you’d fear of a GTA fake. If Knack was Fancy Feast, then this was stale bread. Edible at least, though I would buy it fresh instead. Even if you liked Watch Dogs it wasn’t the revolution Ubisoft hyped. It was a disappointment, no matter what console type.
It launched on PS3 and 4, on Xbox One and 360 too. But some began to wonder when it would be coming to Wii U. It was announced for the console and would be a good fit. The gamepad as a hacking device would surely be a hit. But Watch Dogs released to such middling reception. So was the Wii U version going to miss its conception? Soon, Wii U fans got their answer in dismay. November launched their Watch Dogs; a game everyone had already played. Six months had passed, and the hype was in slumber. What is with Watch Dogs delays and that number? Regardless, enthusiasm for the game was long dead. What was the point when they could have cancelled instead? There was no Bad Blood Expansion, and little DLC. Other versions of the game had more, be it Microsoft, Valve, or Sony. Sure, the Wii U had a map on the second screen. But that’s barely a bonus for all the Wii U wouldn’t glean.
The game faded from memory until E3 in two years. Watch Dogs 2(Get it for only $10 here)was announced, and I shed no joyous tears. The setting had moved, from Chicago to the West Coast. The protag was new, to someone who wasn’t a mope. The hacking was improved, but I wasn’t thrilled. I wasn’t running to buy it after they burned good will. I checked out a demo and thought it was alright. The gameplay was decent, but the story was still a wipe. The way people talked just didn’t quite fit. They might as well have said “How do you do, fellow kid?”. This was a change to the completely opposite mood. I stopped caring about them, and with it, the missions too. I would have given myself an impromptu Van Goh if I hadn’t stopped playing hours ago. Like Sunset Overdrive, I felt the game was trying too hard. With no relatable characters, Ubisoft seemed to play its only card. It wasn’t as disappointing as the first Watch Dogs, truthfully. But a drop in 2‘s sales seemed to spell a series eulogy.
The series went quiet, until E3 2019. A third game, Watch Dogs Legion(Get it at 33% off here), then hit the scene. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, Watch Dogs 2. I expected more of the same when I gave this one a look. But to my surprise, Legion had an interesting hook. You can play as anyone in the dense city of London. Thousands of people, with their own mission to be done. It was intriguing in premise, something no big games do. I couldn’t wait to see the game come out soon. But bugs and COVID ensured delays for a year. And thus the launch of the Xbox Series X drew near. A Watch Dogs at launch brought back some war flashbacks. Memories of that whole bit with Fancy Feast and Knack. No cat food or bread here; this game was a proper meal. The good Watch Dogs game was here and it was real. The delays didn’t let me down and the game was actually great. But disappointment somehow follows this series, as if its fate.
The warning signs were there, when One X consoles began to overheat. A technical marvel like Legion was bound to face small defeats. But a big one was discovered, one that breaks the game. On Xbox Series X, sometimes the game will not auto save. It wouldn’t be an issue if I were playing, say, Assassin’s Creed. But Legion doesn’t allow the save slots I would need. Hours of progress, gone in a moment. It’s infuriating and Ubisoft says they’re on it. A patch won’t be ready till early December at least. Its disc will be a coaster until that is released. A manual save would have at least mitigated the issue. But here we are, my Series X games temporarily down to just two. “It’s a short term problem” is a point I often see. But it’s still a disappointment to add to a disappointing legacy.
None were as great as Ubisoft’s first mistake. But disappointments a series does not make. Despite persistent issues, I find Legion quite fun. And that is a feat for all the damage the first game had done. It is a testament to workshopping disappointing games. For one does not create art after just building the frame. I applaud Ubisoft for not giving up and making something inspired. They could have just as easily told Aiden and Marcus “You’re fired”. So the next time you think of a game you have panned, think about what could be improved and what can’t. You may think you were wrong, or maybe your opinion is valid. But always remember, art must go through this disappointing ballad.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the VA Gaming Team as a whole.