Watch Dogs Legion is a game with "a message," Ubisoft's Clint Hocking has said to The Daily Telegraph -- and a message that is very much about the world we live in today.
Ubisoft has tied itself in knots articulating its stance on political messages in its games, despite the charged settings of the likes of Far Cry 5 and The Division 2.
After the launch of Far Cry 5, which features a cult of religious zealots in the rural United States, CEO Yves Guillemot said that he didn't want the company's games to express a specific worldview, and instead make the player, "listen to different opinions and to have their own opinions."
Later in 2018, Ubisoft Massive COO Alf Condelius said that the studio would "back away" from the political interpretations of The Division 2 -- which is set in a Washington DC that has descended into anarchy -- "because we don't want to take a stance in current politics."
"Ordinary people need to put aside their differences and come together"
Condelius also said that expressing a political view in video games was, "bad for business, unfortunately, if you want the honest truth."
Just last week, an internal Q&A with Ubisoft VP of editorial Tommy Francois again ignited the discussion around Ubisoft's apparent desire to remain apolitical in its games.
"Yves has told us that our goal is to give players all the information we can, and then let them choose which sides of our game worlds they want to explore," Francois said. "We want them to decide what they like, what they don't like, and if and how to change their minds or the way they play based on that information. It's about more freedom for the players."
With Watch Dogs Legion, however, creative director Clint Hocking appears to be straying from the neutral role that Ubisoft believes it has taken. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Hocking articulated a very clear message in the game's post-Brexit, surveillance state Britain.
"This game has a message for sure," he said. "Things in the world are pretty rough, and from a certain perspective it looks like things might be getting rougher. We might be in for a rough ride.
"The message of this game is: ordinary people need to put aside their differences and come together. It's not the politicians, it's not the dude from the mountain who's going to come down and save us all. It's us. Putting aside our differences and fighting back against things that are obviously wrong -- that's what we need to do."
Watch Dogs Legion was leaked ahead of E3 2019, but it received an impressive gameplay demo onstage at Ubisoft's E3 press conference last night. You can read the full recap here.