We certainly enjoyed playing Watch_Dogs, and one of the things we liked about it is the open nature of its missions. As a companion piece to our complete and comprehensive Watch_Dogs walkthrough, we've created this more general guide. It highlights which skills are the most effective, and covers combat and vehicular strategies and tactics that you can use creatively to achieve objectives.
This is optional – but a very useful investment of your time. Once you’ve finished the first major mission and have reached your hotel room, check your map and look for the closest ctOS mast. Head there and hack it. This opens up a section of the city, and highlights a variety of different things, including a hideout – which you can “fast travel” to any time you want.
If you continue to move around the city opening up towers, you’ll soon have a network of hideouts that’ll enable you to travel around the city very quickly – as well as a ton of stuff opened up. It doesn’t take very long to do this, and most towers are reasonably easy to access. Just make sure you check all the cameras, and hack and blow up anything you see. In many cases, a hackable item is hidden out of line of site, and you need to move something to be able to see it.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you can try hacking into the ctOS centers. These are heavily defended, and it might feel like you’re being thrown in at the deep end, but actually they’re a great way of learning all the basics of the game outside of the campaign mode. If you’re successful, you’ll pick up plenty of weapons along the way, which will give you a huge advantage when you go back to the campaign mode and start it proper.
The thing to consider is that you have to open these up at some point anyway – so why not take care of them first and give yourself a boost in the process.
One thing to remember when hacking any center is that sometimes you can use a camera to do the trick for you, so explore all the options before going in for a full assault. Jump from camera to camera to see what you can see - and don't forget that some guards wear cameras too. Those guys often walk into places that static cameras can't see, letting you hack your target from wherever you might be hiding.
Generating cash is one of the easier aspects of Watch_Dogs. Whenever you’re on the move, make sure you have your phone out, and continually scan the environment. Hack everyone you can, and you’ll generate some decent money. If you’re patient, simply head downtown to a busy spot and spend some time loitering on street corners. The endless procession of passers-by will soon swell your coffers.
Which Skills Should you Take?
Skills are a huge help, particularly in the early part of the game. First and foremost, develop your Focus Skill, and then take Improved Focus. These are perhaps the most critical of all skills, and can mean the difference between life and death in certain situations.
After that, invest in defensive skills. Steady Aim opens up another extremely useful skill – Bullet Resistance. It’s likely you’ll be under fire at many points in the game, and being more resistant to a hail of lead is a huge boon.
Car Unlock seems a bit of a waste, but it’s an excellent convenience option that lets you take any car, any time, anywhere without fuss - incredibly useful if you need to switch cars in the middle of a chase. Also take Reduce Collision Damage, which comes in very useful if a mission spirals out of control, and you end up with a bunch of cops or bad guys on your tail.
Next up, spend points in crafted items. Frag Grenades and IEDs are exceptionally useful, and can make otherwise difficult missions very easy, since a well-placed device can blow up a bunch of people, avoiding the need to take them on in an extended shoot-out.
Hacking Traffic Lights, Blockers, and Gates and Garages are next. These three can provide invaluable help in certain circumstances. Such as opening up the option of opening a garage, shutting the door and then hiding in your car in a chase. The key to this tactic is to open a garage up as you drive by, then drive around the block until you’ve put enough distance between you and your pursuer s– perhaps by using Blockers – so you can slip into the building while out of line of sight, and wait for the all-clear.
Beyond these, it’s really down to personal preference. I added Hack Bridges and Hack Steam Pipes because they’re really useful when you want to evade or take down cops and enemies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve successfully ended a pursuit mission with a steam pipe blast.
I also liked the Demolitionist Skills. IEDs and Grenades are clutch, and being able to carry even more of them can make life really easy in certain situations. Proximity IEDs and other crafted items are also good to add at this point.
Slowed Focus is also useful, though I didn’t take this for a while because its effects aren't drastic. It just gives you a bit more time to think. If you’re having trouble in shootouts, you might want to consider it, but otherwise take it when you have points to spare.
The other Driving Skills are useful, but you can easily live without them – and I also found most of the Weapons Skills were similarly weak. As long as you’ve got decent aim, you can thrive without them.
Disable Helicopter can be handy, but if you drive under a bridge or the L-Train line, a chopper will lose track of you far more quickly than if you try to disable it.
Some advocate taking the ATM Skill, but I found I earned more than enough money, and didn’t take it until very late in the game.
Disrupt Comms and Disable Reinforcements can be very useful, but they’re also situational, so not the best investment until later in the game
The other Utility Skills are fun, but mostly situational and not that useful in the main campaign. They’re cool to have, but are nowhere near as useful as some of the other options you have available.
Missions Tactics and Strategies
One of the more interesting aspects of Watch_Dogs is its open mission structure. While some require you to follow a specific set of tasks, many missions involve infiltrating and escaping from target locations. These can be tackled in a variety of different ways, and Aiden has plenty of tools and tricks available to help him achieve his objective.
First and foremost, patience is your best weapon. Patience, and cover. The key to many successful missions is timing things right, so pay attention and look at what the enemy is doing.
Before entering a mission location, run around the perimeter. The first entrance you find might not always be the most effective, so check out the lay of the land before deciding on which approach you want to take.
It’s a no-brainer to say hack the cameras to case the mission location, but do it. Again, watch what the guards are doing and be patient. Don’t start setting off explosions yet. Instead, play around with distractions and see who moves. Once you’ve got an idea of how the guards move, you can then figure out how to herd as many of them together to use your one-shot hackable explosions most effectively. The more you can thin their numbers before going in, the easier your mission gets.
Use cover, be patient, and don’t be afraid to back up. The AI is quite aggressive, and oftentimes you can successfully outsmart an enemy using cover simply by waiting behind your own cover. Aim above where they’re hiding, and as soon as they pop up to take a couple of shots, nail them. The same goes for enemies peering around walls or columns.
Something to consider is that with some missions, you can approach from one angle and start a firefight, and then back off and then run around the perimeter to attack from the rear. The enemies usually come towards you, and if you stop shooting, they won’t return to their previous positions, but will instead dig in, and after a while start looking around. That means you can run back and forth, picking off a couple of easy targets from behind each time, and clear out an area that would otherwise be difficult to shoot through.
Sometimes it pays to be ballsy. There are a few objectives that can be reached simply by running in and tagging them. You might get shot in the process, but when you return to life, you’ll start at the spot where you died.
If you’re failing a mission repeatedly, rethink your angle, and base your next approach on the prior movement and reactions of the enemy. Often, once you know how things will play out, you can do things like block a road with a car, or drop IEDs and detonate them when the enemy runs over them.
Some car takedown missions are quite challenging. Something you can do is get ahead of your target, brake hard, exit the car, hit focus and then shoot your target car’s tires. That might like a tall order, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds – particularly when you know the general direction your quarry is going to take.
Escape by Water
If you’re being pursued, a great tactic to lose the heat is to head for water. The bad guys don’t swim, and you can shake them fairly easily by swimming to a boat and setting sail. The only time when this isn’t such a good idea is if a helicopter with a sniper is tracking you. You’ll be picked off like a fish in a barrel.
General Pursuit Tricks
Most of Watch_Dogs’ AI drivers can be outsmarted by late braking – doubly so if you’ve selected a hard-braking car for your mission. The most effective strategy is to brake late in a straight line before the turn you want to take, and then turn and accelerate. By doing this, the AI cars will plow ahead, and because you’re braking in a straight line, they won’t be tipped off to which way you’re going, giving you a few extra precious moments to put distance between you and them.
Always lead pursuers to downtown areas where there are lots of directional options available – don’t use freeways or long straights. That’s where enemy cars are at their strongest and most effective. They don't do so well in tighter quarters.
Enemy cars hate small alleyways. These are your best bet to confound your pursuers. Don’t forget to use your focus as you turn in so you don’t hit a wall.