Watch Dogs Legion’s Creative Director on the ‘Crazy’ Idea of Playable NPCs and How Ubisoft Implemented It

Jun 20, 2019
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Watch Dogs Legion was unveiled during E3 2019 as the next chapter in the franchise. Set in a post-Brexit London where citizens are under near-constant surveillance, the big new feature of Watch Dogs Legion will be to allow players to take control of basically any NPC in the game world to further their rebel agenda.

In an interview published on the latest EDGE (August 2019, issue 334), Creative Director Clint Hocking (who also worked as Creative Director on Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2) explained the challenge and ambition to implement such a distinguishing feature in the game.

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It was a huge dream and a huge ambition. Even when the words probably first came out of my mouth, I don’t think I really meant it. But as we started digging into this all-or-nothing proposition, and we saw how exciting but also how terrible it was… it’s the kind of thing that you desperately want to try. But you’re scared shitless of doing it. So: let’s do it.

This also means there’s basically no set main character, which required a massive amount of work from the developers at Ubisoft Toronto.

There’s no dude on the box who’s there to start all the cinematics and the people you recruit are just the supporting cast. There are 20 different versions of Legion’s script and I don’t just mean people saying the same lines. We’re talking different characters, different personas, different voices, different acting.

We’re using technology to alter all the voices so that even if you happen to recruit Joe and John and they have the same actor and the same personality when they talk to each other, you won’t know it’s the same actor because we modulate the voices. We used photogrammetry to capture dozens of different faces, which have been combined using innovative animation techniques to produce literally thousands of unique heads.

Whether you choose some suave, sophisticated secret agent dude, or some 80-year-old lady that you saw feeding pigeons in the park, your story is going to be uniquely yours.

Watch Dogs Legion is due for release on March 6th, 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia. Nathan played a demo at E3 2019 and was fairly impressed with it.

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