At Ubisoft Forward, we gave you a first look at the upcoming Bloodline story DLC. In Bloodline, we follow Aiden Pearce as he accepts a routine fixer job in London to reconnect with his nephew Jackson following the events of Watch Dogs, but things go south when Wrench has a different agenda.
What was is like bringing Aiden and Wrench to London? What challenges did the team face? We sat down with Team Lead Writer Kyle Francis to talk about the expansion, and how it feels to see a script come to life when mo-cap is being shot. But don’t worry, we won’t spoil the story for you!
On Wednesday, fans got to see Jackson again, all grown up. Tell us a bit about his character and who’s playing him!
Kyle: Jackson is a window into what Aiden might have been like as a young man, before he developed the vigilante persona he adopts in Watch_Dogs. He's brilliant and hot-headed, but fundamentally really sensitive and vulnerable. That's why he puts up the front.
That's a lot of nuances to ask an actor to bring to a performance, but it was important that we could always see both aspects of the character - the hardness and the softness. We looked at a lot of great young actors for Jackson, but Munroe Chambers stood out from the first audition tape. When we brought him in to do some scenes with Noam Jenkins, who plays Aiden, it became a pretty obvious choice. Their chemistry was amazing. We really, really lucked out finding Munroe.
What were some opportunities and challenges in writing a story that brings Aiden and Wrench together?
Kyle: Bloodline is, unabashedly, a giant high-five to our players. So the core opportunity, and the core challenge, is embedded right in that premise. On one hand, we knew that we had to give players the opportunity to spend more time with the characters they know and love. On the other, Watch Dogs: Legion takes place over a decade after the original games, and people change a lot in that amount of time. So how do you give people those characters in a way they'll recognize while also trying to be somewhat realistic?
Our approach is to make the story about that tension. How much have Aiden and Wrench changed since we first met them, how have they evolved as characters? Finding a way to answer those questions in a way that we thought would resonate with the fans - and, I guess, just with people in general - was the thing that excited me the most, and scared me the most, about working on this.
What was your favourite moment working on Bloodline?
Kyle: Easy one. On our first day of shooting cinematics with Noam (Aiden Pearce), Shawn (Wrench), Munroe (Jackson), and Greg (Thomas Rempart, the main antagonist of Bloodline), they all just clicked immediately. Watching them dig into the material and play off each other was so, so cool. Bloodline really has an incredible cast.
Wrench and Aiden have been absolute fan favorites. How excited were you to be able to bring the characters back for the story expansion?
Kyle: Very! Watch Dogs: Legion was the first Watch Dogs game I helped write, but I played the first two as a fan. So, getting to work on a story for these characters who I loved was very cool, and very surreal. How is this my job?
When creating a story expansion like this, with two known characters that have never really interacted with each other, but who meet in a completely different setting than before, how do you approach creating an engaging story that is true to the characters and the previous games?
Kyle: Speaking for myself: with enormous caution and humility. I know how important these characters are to people, and they're important to me too! The first thing I did was dive into homework. I looked at their fictional biographies, and I replayed both games, but I also looked at what people wrote about them online. I poured over posts and fan art for days. I really tried to understand what people were connecting with, so I could try to write something that would be relevant to them.
But there's a nuts-and-bolts, Writing Craft answer to this too. Expanding on my earlier answer, this is why we came up with a scenario that would bring them into conflict with each other. Aiden and Wrench are cosmetically very distinct, they look and sound different, but internally, they have a lot in common. The story is designed to put them both on screen as much as possible and explore that contrast. Which is just kind of an English Lit way of saying that it's really fun to put both characters in a room and watch them annoy the shit out of each other.
How much fun was it to see Noam and Shawn act out the script in the mo-cap studio?
Kyle: The most fun. Both those guys are very intense, very focused craftsmen on their own, and they bring even more out of each other. They really elevate anything you throw at them. I really can't praise them enough.
Both characters are older now, things have happened in their life, how did you adapt to that?
Kyle: Our approach was to tackle that question head-on in the text. The characters needed to be recognizable, or fans wouldn't be satisfied; but they also needed to be different, or the story wouldn't scan. I don't want to go too deep into the details here because this is really the core thematic arc of the story we're talking about, but I can assure you this was top-of-mind for the narrative team.
When does Bloodline happen in the Watch Dogs: Legion timeline?
Kyle: It happens between the prologue, but before the main events of the game. WATCH DOGS: LEGION GAME START SPOILERS: Dalton Wolfe is dead, but Sabine hasn't re-activated the DedSec London cell yet.
Are you surprised that so many people’s first reaction to Aiden’s new look was to ask if they could shave off his beard?
Kyle: As a fan of the beard, yes!
Thank you very much to Kyle and the rest of the developers to bringing Watch Dogs: Legion Bloodline to life!
If you’re interested in playing Bloodline on July 6, you have several options:
It is included in the Season Pass.
You can purchase Bloodline via the in-game store, separately from the Season Pass. This will allow players who own Watch Dogs: Legion to play through the Bloodline DLC storyline; However, if you buy the Season Pass, you will be able to play through the main game and in Online mode with Aiden and Wrench as your Operatives.
Thank you for joining us for our Tea Time with Bagley. Make sure to follow @WatchDogsGame on social media to keep up with the latest news, title updates and more!