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Watch Dogs: Legion beginner’s guide: 9 tips for your first few days

Everything we wish we knew when we first started out

A spy car fires missiles in front of Beg Ben in Watch Dogs: Legion Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Watch Dogs: Legion is a bizarre and ambitious game. You can play as anyone in the world, recruiting all sorts of different people to your hacker group, DedSec. In that recruitment system lies Watch Dogs: Legion’s complexity, asking which characters you want to grab early, what type of perks you want, and how you want to play.

We’ve corralled our best tips for your first few days with the game — the things we wish we knew when we started playing.

Play with permadeath on

Permadeath means that, when your agents die, they die forever. This sounds harsh, and we didn’t activate it when we started. But a few hours in, we started to regret that choice — and it’s not something you can change without starting over.

Why would you want to play with permadeath turned on? Because Watch Dogs: Legion is oddly low-stakes. There is no main character. Your roster of playable characters is the entire city of London, and that means that everyone is replaceable. Playing with permadeath on acknowledges that.

Part of what makes Watch Dogs: Legion fun is the power fantasy and ability to tackle any problem in a number of ways. But it felt to us like permadeath would add some weight to our actions. Plus, the entire population of London is potential recruits — it’s not like you’ll run out of agents any time soon.

Don’t sweat your first DedSec agent choice

DedSec agent select Watch Dogs: Legion
You can choose from 15 agents before you start, but don’t sweat it too much
Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

Speaking of agents, Watch Dogs: Legion will offer you a choice between a handful of (randomly generated) civilians after you finish the prologue. They’ll have a variety of perk options — one each — but they’re all pretty trivial. You’ll soon unlock much better characters with multiple perks, and gain the ability to recruit anyone you want.

Your original agent may hold a special place in your heart, but you won’t really want to use them when you can pick up a James Bond stand-in with a silenced pistol and three other perks.

Scout and save constantly

The whole schtick of Watch Dogs: Legion is that literally any person you bump into on the street is a playable character. When you hold the hack button (L1/LB) on a character, you’ll see their name, occupation, and a list of traits. Some of these traits are bad — like Doom, which causes a character to spontaneously die for no reason. But some characters have several great perks, like bonus gadgets and increased stealth.

To recruit a potential ally, you’ll have to complete a side quest for them, which will involve several minutes and a lot of traveling.

Meanwhile Watch Dogs: Legion will still have you running main story missions to free London from its overlords, and you can’t waste all your time recruiting. But if you find a character you like the look of, you can hit and hold a button prompt to save them as a potential recruit. When you’re ready, you can set a mission objective to find them again — the game will tell you exactly where they are — and do their missions to bring them into the DedSec family.

Gadgets, Upgrades, Hacks, and Weapons apply to your whole team

Watch Dogs: Legion Tech upgrade screen
You can choose from a host of upgrades in Watch Dogs: Legion, and they apply everyone on your team
Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

You don’t need to worry about recruiting a super cool agent before you spend your Tech Points, the currency that upgrades your gear in Watch Dogs: Legion. All the upgrades to your weapons, gadgets, and tech apply to every agent on your team. The game even automatically assigns your current weapon and gadget loadout to a new agent whenever you swap.

Why climb when you can fly with Cargo Drones?

Within the first hour or so of Watch Dogs: Legion, you’ll come across a Cargo Drone (you can also call them to you if you find a drone pad, which is a square icon with a circle in the middle). You can hack these drones without any upgrades to your character. Their intended use is picking up items and dropping them on enemies — pretty cool. But they’re also big enough to surf on, should you fly them low enough for you to hop on — much cooler.

You can use these Cargo Drones to get anywhere, including onto rooftops or halfway across the city. It’s the best way to travel in Watch Dogs: Legion. Even better, you’ll unlock a construction worker within a few missions, who has the ability to summon a Cargo Drone at any time.

Let your robots do the work for you

Spiderbot picks up a Tech Point Watch Dogs: Legion
Spiderbot can do anything you can do! But without the risk of death!
Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

There is no wrong way to play Watch Dogs: Legion, but if you want to play lazy (read: smart), use your robots.

Some characters have drones as part of their identity, and all characters can use the Spiderbot gadget. Combined, these tools can make for a very safe playthrough. Our favorite thing to do is fly above an area on a Cargo Drone and drop our Spiderbot into whatever base we need to infiltrate.

The Infiltrator Spiderbot can do virtually everything you can, including stealth takedowns and hacks that require direct interfacing (meaning you have to be standing at the node). And if your Spiderbot breaks, you just need to wait a few seconds for it to come back. If you’re playing with permadeath, the Spiderbot will save your agents. And even if you’re playing on normal, it’s better to break a Spiderbot than to have your top agent get arrested for an hour.

Remember to use Autodrive

This is a dumb American problem, I know, but the British drive on the objectively wrong side of the road.

If you, like us, cannot get the hang of driving on the opposite side of the road you’re used to, then give Autodrive a shot. The smart cars (ones that have a little Wi-Fi symbol and an A on their windshield) have a feature called Autodrive, and it works exactly like you think it should.

Hop in, set a waypoint in your map, activate AutoDrive, and look at Twitter on your real-life phone until you arrive. This is noticeably slower than driving yourself. But we’ve hit far fewer pedestrians since we started using it.

Focus on disrupting the boroughs early on

Watch Dogs Legion Defiant Borough explanation
When you make Boroughs defiant, you’ll earn special rewards
Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

After your first few missions, you’ll be free to do whatever you please. You could keep going with story missions, or you could take a break to turn a few Boroughs “defiant.”

Freeing boroughs from Albion’s influence nets you a few bonuses. First, it reveals the location of all the Tech Points (an upgrade currency) on the map, which is really useful if you want to upgrade your arsenal. Second, when you liberate a borough, you’ll earn a special agent with some powerful perks. This is a great way to fill out your roster with top-tier characters early on. Freeing boroughs also makes it easier to recruit citizens to DedSec.

There’s nothing wrong with pressing forward with the story, but taking a break to clear out some boroughs will net you worthwhile rewards.

There’s always a vent, a camera, or a download

Watch Dogs: Legion is full of puzzles, but they aren’t particularly difficult. That’s because each puzzle uses a similar language — once you figure out how to solve one, you’ll have a general idea of how to solve them all. Early on in your adventure, try to learn the language of Watch Dogs: Legion. Is there a room you can’t get in? See if there are cameras you can hack or the exit of a vent. If you can’t get in the room, you probably need to piggyback hacks off cameras.

Every problem in Watch Dogs: Legion has a similar solution. Once you start thinking like a DedSec agent, you’ll start solving your puzzles in record time.

Put your weapon away

If you hit the left trigger or left on the D-pad, you equip your weapon and don your DedSec mask. While you might look cool and intimidating, the mask and gun also brings a lot of unwanted attention your way. But you can quickly lower your weapon and remove your mask if you hit down on the D-pad. While your character won’t remove their mask if the cops are after them, this is a good way to avoid drawing attention to yourself in London.

PSA: Be careful inverting the Y-axis

If you are a rational person and play your video games with the aim and camera controls inverted, be careful while adjusting those settings because there are two invert Y-axis settings.

The first, Invert Camera Y Axis, is the one you want — it switches the y-axis on the right thumbstick for aiming and camera controls. The other, Invert Y Axis, inverts the left thumbstick and will make run the opposite direction you’d expect and swear a lot.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.