One of the biggest and most important gameplay mechanics in Watch Dogs is, of course, the hacking. When you first drop into Chicago as Aiden in Watch Dogs, a lot of the hacking originally seems superficial, but actually most of the hacking is not only helpful, but often critical for surviving in Watch Dogs’ version of Chicago. Here’s a list of the best hacks and when they are best utilised.
Camera hopping is useful for a number of reasons. Probably the most important use is for when you’re trying to take out the ctOS towers to unlock more of the Watch Dogs map – the cameras can be used to show routes, unlock doors to help Aiden on his way. Camera hopping can also be useful for the online game modes, scouting a number of people in a small amount of time.
Once you’re in the general area of your target, look above and to the side or almost any building and you’ll find a ctOS camera. Pressing square will let you view the area through the camera you were looking at, but by facing another camera and pressing square again you can hop between cameras. This is useful for scoping out areas that aren’t easily accessible to work out routes. You can hop between cameras on different buildings altogether and can travel a fair amount of the map between cameras if needs be.
Money isn’t difficult to come by in Watch Dogs. In actual fact, there are rich people on every street and hacking them is exceptionally easy. All you need to do is turn on the hacking profiler by pressing square as you walk and wait until you see someone with a healthy bank account who can be hacked and then head to an ATM to collect your cash. Although this is exceptionally easy to do, it’s easy to overlook but is worth doing this in between each and every mission.
Keeping Aiden’s finances topped up means you can easily acquire weaponry and ammunition between missions, giving you the best fighting chance in any mission you take on. It will also cover other costs such as health drinks from bars and coffee shops or having vehicles delivered to your location when required, all of which make taking enemies on and travelling around Chicago a little easier.
Lifts and forklifts
Useful in both single and multi player, lifts and forklifts do exactly as expected – they allow Aiden to jump in and reach higher levels. Getting to rooftops can be advantageous for both scoping an area out and hiding from enemies, and once you’ve hacked your way upwards you can then hack the lifts again to lower the lift again.
With the lift lowered, it’s not immediately obvious to any pursuers that you’ve actually taken the route upwards. As well as this, if you position Aiden well, you can observe the lift to see if anyone does use it to reach the same level as you, often giving you the first opportunity to strike the enemy before they’ve even found you or reached the higher level.
Persons of Interest
As you walk the streets with the hacking profiler turned on, certain people will be highlighted with a light blue box – marking them as persons of interest. Hacking these people can provide a large financial boost, as mentioned above, but will often unlock other perks such as new weapons to buy, vehicles to use and extra songs for your cell phone media player.
Electricity panels & Water pipes
Both electricity panels and water pipes can be found on the exterior walls of buildings, and both can be used to take out either someone who is running away from you or someone giving chase to you. All you need to do to is ensure you have the hacking profiler activated as you chase or are being chased and hold square to hack either type of box.
Timing the hack correctly will knock your adversary off their feet and slow them down. If you are the pursuer, knocking your opponent off their feet will allow you to make significant ground up over them giving you a better chance of catching them. If the opposite is the case, timing a clever explosion will allow you to put further distance between your pursuer and you.
Steam Pipes & Traffic Lights
Both the underground steam pipes and traffic lights are most effective during chases in both single and multiplayer Watch Dogs. The steam pipes can be timed to explode either ahead of you or just as you pass them causing a large explosion from under the road surface. The resulting damage will wipe out your opponents as well as cause damage to their cars, which can be particularly useful against the more assertive or numerous opponents. Similarly, traffic lights can be trigger to cause collisions and not only crash into your opponents, but block off the road completely, severely slowing them down.
In multiplayer, steam pipes and traffic lights can also be used efficiently – causing a scene or commotion can be used almost as a bluff. Causing an explosion, then deliberately involving yourself in the resulting crash and pile-up can be a super effective way to hide in plain sight – most multiplayer opponents will look for you around the chaos rather than right within it.
Doors and Gates
Opening parking lot doors and gates to secluded areas is an efficient way of hiding in Watch Dogs, usually when being chased. These areas are most effective hiding spots when you can open the door or gate, enter the area and then close them again behind you.
Parking lots usually have multiple entrances, and if one is closed then it’s highly likely all of the others are too, so any parking structure with doors closed by default can be hacked, and prove to be useful hiding spots. For gated areas however, any pursuers can still see you as line of sight has not been broken, but the action of closing the gate behind you will often delay your enemies, allowing you to gain some distance in your escape.
Trains are an easy hack to overlook in Watch Dogs, but can actually be efficient for covering ground quickly, reaching difficult to access areas or as an alternative escape route when your vehicle is damaged or not longer an option.
Hacking a train will stop or start the train – this can not only be done at stations, but anywhere along the train track. Trains are most useful for hopping on board a train at a station when being chased, quickly hacking the train to close the doors and move along, before hacking again between stations so you can jump out away from pursuers and grab a new vehicle. If you are in the right position, you can also jump onto the roof of a train to escape or cover ground quickly, again hacking when you need the train to start or stop.
Cheating at Poker
Hacking during one of Watch Dogs’ poker games can be particularly useful and is one of the most interesting uses of hacking in the game. You can use the hacking profiler on Aiden’s smartphone to read your opponents thoughts and to work out what hands they have. Previous poker knowledge will still be a pre-requisite for playing and winning a poker game, but hacking can take a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out your opponents hands.
Walk into any of the clothing stores in Watch Dogs’ Chicago and you will see a singing fish mounted to the wall above the changing rooms. Okay, so it’s not particularly effective in any productive sense, but seriously, just being able to hack and trigger a singing trout is something that no other game offers and adds an extra layer of fun to clothes shopping in Watch Dogs’ version of Chicago.
More Watch Dogs guides
Still need more help with other issues in Watch Dogs? Check out our guide to Avoiding the Police in Watch Dogs and our Multiplayer Watch Dogs tips (coming soon).