Watch Dogs Legion is set in a near-future, post-Brexit London—somewhere that seems indivisible from politics. Despite the often politically-charged subject matter, however, Ubisoft insists is doesn't make political videogames. It's not averse to presenting political opinions or themes, but it wants to present them without making statements.
At E3, creative director Clint Hocking told us that Legion still has a message, however, though it's a broad one.
"Ubisoft has their corporate vision and the corporate direction, and that's one of the great things about Ubisoft. We have a creative, high level direction for the company. But every game is its own game and its own product, and this game has a message for sure. The message of this game is, even in today's world we see people being divided, forces turning people against each other, turning the population against each other. The message of this game is a message of hope."
Hocking believes that people need to set aside their differences and come together to put a stop to the "larger forces" dividing them. It's certainly a perspective. I'm not sure it's one that will go down very well in the UK, however, where finding common ground seems as likely as the country floating into space.
It's the team's responsibility to say something about the culture it's presenting, or creating, said Hocking, and to be respectful. Legion's antagonists aren't politicians or part of any side, but rather a private security company. The reason this security company has power definitely seems connected to political clashes, however, as bombings and riots have apparently shaken the city.
Brexit is something we're in the grip of right now and something millions of people feel incredibly strongly about, so any message the game has could potentially put off some players. Hocking considers that part of the job.
"When you're making culture and you have something to say, some people will take issue with your perspective and your opinion, and that's okay. That's part of what we do, and is part of our responsibility. I hope that our message of hope will be one that will enable people to say, I want to understand more about this, and understand what they're trying to say."
Legion is absolutely fascinating and has shot right to the top of my personal best of E3 list, but I'm still waiting to be convinced it's got a grip on the very complicated setting and its many fresh wounds.
Check out our Watch Dogs Legion hands-on.
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Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.