I am already hopelessly obsessed with Watch Dogs Legion's NPCs

I'm fascinated by NPCs in games. I love spying on them to see what they do, following them to see where they go, and sometimes even pretending I am one. So naturally I've already become obsessed with the NPCs in Watch Dogs Legion since they're the ones you recruit to your team and, ultimately, they're the ones who become the protagonists of the game.

I'm especially happy to see that the traits of these NPCs are related to their backgrounds. Both in the Watch Dogs Legion trailer and this 30 minute gameplay demo, we see the players scanning NPCs with their smartphones to find new recruits based on their traits. But the scanner also picks up each NPC's personal bio, a little history gathered from social media or hacked emails or wherever all this info is datamined from. And those bios are cleverly linked to the NPCs' traits. In fact, the bios usually explain the traits.

For instance, there's an NPC in the gameplay footage named Lyle Bigelow whose description when scanned reads: 'likes to pick fights at the pub.' And he has a trait: +75 melee damage while drunk. Story-wise, that makes sense: Dude likes to drink and brawl, and he's gotten quite good at it. And just about every other NPC shown so far in the Legion footage has a similar tie between their personal history and their traits.

A citizen who once fought off muggers after being stabbed does more damage when he's at low health, but has -20% health to begin with, indicating he never fully recovered from his injury but the experience left him more dangerous when he's hurt. Another bio states that the NPC received 22 stitches from a fight with an Albion guard, and so he does +45% damage against Albion (probably due to his grudge) but has a 30% longer wanted time (presumably because of his identifiable scar).

And a citizen named Lynn Davis once resuscitated her uncle by punching him in the heart. She does +200% melee damage. Lady can punch people into and out of unconsciousness.

I know this is not necessarily the deepest simulation—it's probably just because when the game populates a randomized NPC with traits, like +20% melee damage, it then chooses a character history from a big file that contains a bunch of melee-related one-line bios. But it's still fun and a nice little bit of background detail. We're going to be inhabiting these people, and it helps to plant the seed of who they are. 

There's even an adrenaline junkie who has a trait of +100% damage but has a secondary trait of may die randomly. Oh my god. I hope I never run into an NPC with that trait because I will just follow them everywhere, waiting for them to drop dead, until they do or I do. I will lose days doing nothing but this.

Not all of the NPC bios are super satisfying. The guy in the trailer who has drone-related traits is simply classified as 'drones expert.' But that's still more satisfying to me as an NPC connoisseur than a bio that is completely unrelated to someone's traits. For example, if a character had a high proficiency with pistols and their backstory was 'Enjoys crossword puzzles', it'd just feel completely random. Or if you found someone was good with explosives and their story was 'Collects antique milk bottles.' Kinda hard to put those things together.

Anyway, this all is just a long-winded way of confessing that yes, I did go through the roughly 40 minutes of existing footage of Watch Dogs Legion and write down every single NPC who was scanned to see if their traits made sense, story-wise. And they mostly, though loosely, do. I'm not sure what certain traits do, such as one NPC who is listed as a celebrity. There are also some NPCs whose traits seem to help the entire team with buffs called Team Assists.

I also had to look up what conger-cuddling was, and it's apparently a game where people throw enormous dead eels at each other. Learn something new every day.

So, here's everyone I saw. And yes, I will be obsessively chronicling the NPCs I actually meet in the full game next year, too.

Lyle Bigelow
Likes to pick fights at the pub
+75% melee damage while drunk

Zijan Young
Received 22 stitches from Albion truncheon
+45% damage against Albion
30% longer wanted times 

Kyle John
Fought off muggers after receiving stab wound
+60% damage when at low health
-20% health

Anselm Radcliff
Organizes SMG shooting contests
+40% SMG damage
-15% max ammo

Lynn Davis
Resuscitated uncle with a heart punch
+200% melee damage
-200% melee damage resistance

Lola Nwachukwu
Led a successful pro-union walkout
Double support gains

Billy Delaney
Created popular line of armored clothing
+30% damage resistance in combat

Ralph Kowalczyk
Has taken multiple selfies while under fire
+30% damage resistance while sprinting

Amos Hayes
Practices donkey kicks at work
+10% melee damage
+10% melee damage resistance

Norma Purchase
Was pronounced clinically dead before
+25% injury recovery speed for DedSec

George Penn
165k bench, 244 kg deadlift in fitness app
+40% grapple damage
-10% melee damage resistance

Sidney Wickham
Specialized in pistols during SAS training
+15% pistol damage
+15 silenced weapon damage

Arthur Baden
Recently release from witness protection
+40% melee damage
Will never surrender

Dwyane Afolabl
Infamous conger-cuddling champion
+40% melee damage

Dusty Darnell
Previously investigated for bribing a judge
25% automatic release from jail

Ivanke Stefanov
Attended physiotherapy classes
+25% injury recovery speed for DedSec

Yolanda Matel
Uploaded viral video of self yelling
+40% melee damage

Courtney Wilson
Former getaway drive for Clan Kelley
Team assist: felony support

Percy Gray
Decorated soldier from North African war
+40% assault rifle damage
Reduced mobility

Alicia Pandit
Infamous UK women's amateur MMA fighter
+200% melee damage
-200% melee damage resistance

Derek Adyebo
Addicted to adrenaline
+100% damage
May die randomly

Jimmy Shaw
Drones expert
+40% drone damage
-10% drone health

Ian Robshaw
Bareknuckle boxer
30% melee damage
Will never surrender

Jada Wokoma
Creates 3D printer art forgeries
+10% discount at 3D printer

Peter Cox
Won award for pyrotechnics
+10% explosion damage
-10% explosion range

Helen Dashwood
Retired police engineer
+35% hack cooldown speed
Limited mobility

Naomi Brooke
Trained Assassin
+40% pistol damage
+10% silenced weapon damage

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.