Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Watch Dogs 2 arrived this week. The latest outing from Ubisoft brings you back into the a world controlled by ctOS, a central operating system that connects all devices in the city.
If you’re just starting out in Watch Dogs 2, you might be a bit overwhelmed at the thought of having control of San Francisco’s infrastructure in your pocket. We’ve played several hours of the game, and are here to bring you plenty of tips to help you become an elite hacker.
1. Don’t Fast Travel Everywhere
Unlike a typical Ubisoft open world, San Francisco in Watch Dogs 2 is almost completely open from the start of the game. You don’t have to shut down jammers to open new parts of the map like you did in the first game, which makes navigation flow better.
You can fast-travel to many of the city’s attractions, like stores, but you shouldn’t fast-travel every time you want to get somewhere. Many of the collectibles in the game are hidden until you tag them with NetHack vision, which only works when on foot. When you have to travel a bit further, grab a car instead of fast-traveling. The vehicles in this game control far better than the tanks of the first title.
Try fast-traveling a few hundred meters away from your destination, then walking to it. Use that time to look for secrets, hack into people’s conversations, and enjoy the world.
2. Use Your Phone’s Apps
Marcus’s phone, which serves as the game’s menu, provides plenty of tasks to take on and ways to interact with the world. As soon as you’re able to, go into the App Store and buy all the available apps, as they cost only a few dollars.
The Driver SF app lets you become an Uber-style driver to help people around the city. Your Scout X app will alert you to nearby tourist locations, then prompt you to take a selfie with your camera to earn experience. When you hear some music nearby, use the SongSneak app to add it to your media player collection.
If you’re so inclined, you can use the Camera app on your phone at any time to take selfies or just snap photos of the world.
3. Buy the Drone ASAP
After a few introductory missions, you’ll have to purchase an RC car from the 3D weapons printer. This tool allows you to scout out areas and distract enemies without being physically present. While it’s useful, you should also save up for its counterpart, the drone, and purchase that as soon as you can.
Using the drone, you can scout out enemy camps from the air. It also allows you to survey buildings for potential hacking points. Since these are often located outside of Marcus’s reach, the drone is a must-buy as soon as you have enough cash.
If you need more cash for the drone, look out for money bags on the world map, You can also visit pawn shops to sell the odds and ends you pick up from car gloveboxes or off the bodies of enemies.
Note that after you purchase the drone, money becomes less important, as it’s mainly used for gun camos and clothes for Marcus. These aren’t critical, so don’t obsess over cash.
4. Go for Collectibles on the Map
Though this is an open world, you won’t find the map as saturated with icons as other Ubisoft games. This means that the collectibles you do see are more important.
Using NetHack vision (press the right stick on console) will highlight interactive objects like cars, but also tags collectibles like money bags, research points, and key data. Even if you don’t grab everything right away, it’s good to know where the goodies are on the map for later.
The research points, designated by a gray skull icon, instantly give you a skill point used to learn a new ability. Key data points, represented by a green skull icon, unlock specific abilities in the skill tree. Without them, you can’t learn advanced techniques.
5. Prioritize Your Skills
As you earn followers for DeadSec (experience points), you’ll unlock research points (skill points) to spend on new abilities in the Research app. These are organized by type, such as vehicle hacks, or gadget upgrades. While many of these are useful, there are a few you should prioritize:
- Vehicle Directional Hack allows you to send cars flying in a direction you choose. Aside from being fun to use, cars are usually littered around enemy bases. You can hack them to distract foes, pin them to the wall, or move a car into a more advantageous spot to hide behind.
- Hijacker is the most important ability to get early on. Without it, stealing a parked car will set off the alarm, alerting civilians who might call the police. With Hijacker, you can safely grab any parked vehicle without raising any suspicion. Since parked cars are the fastest way to get going quickly, this is a must-have.
- Environmental RC lets you remotely control forklifts and scissor lifts. You can use these to distract enemies, and they’re also required to reach some high areas.
- Proximity Scanner makes the drone even more useful by improving its scanning capabilities and allowing it to tag people through walls. This enhances its use as a scouting tool.
- Gang Attack / APB: Suspect Located are both fun to use and extremely useful. The former will call one of the area’s gangs to attack a person that you specify, while the latter calls in a police takedown on your target. Use these to pit gangs against each other while you sneak in and take what you need.
- Make sure to grab the Botnet Upgrades periodically so you have enough charge to use your other hacks. Your botnet meter is recharged by hacking civilian phones, or over time automatically.
6. Try to Avoid Using Guns
Watch Dogs 2 has much less of an emphasis on using guns than the first, which fits the tone of the game better. DeadSec, a hipster group of hackers, doesn’t have a thirst for blood, just chaos. In terms of gameplay, you can bend to this style by relying on your stun gun and non-lethal takedowns.
Instead of going in with guns blazing for every encounter, hang back and play stealthily. Use your variety of hacks to confuse and subdue enemies. Scout out the area and plant non-lethal traps using your drone and RC car. Not only will this avoid difficult run-ins with the police and reinforcements, but it’s much more satisfying to trick the enemy than to try being Rambo. Besides, Marcus can’t take a lot of damage.
Your stun gun has infinite ammo, but it only keeps enemies down for so long. Watch for the three Zs that float over an enemy’s head to disappear, and know that other enemies can wake them back up.
If you want to use guns sometimes, consider buying one of the silenced weapons. That way, when you have to off a couple of gangsters to grab a bag of cash, you can avoid a huge police engagement.
7. Hack Everyone and Everything
The hacking in Watch Dogs was pretty one-dimensional, as you only had to hold a button to hack anything. In the sequel, you have several options for hacking. Holding L1 (on PS4) while pointing at an object will open its available hacking choices, mapped to the face buttons. For example, you can hack a fuse box to attract an enemy, emit a shock, or place a proximity blast for when enemies come close.
This extends to hacking people, too. Pressing X (on PS4) will hack people’s phones. Typically this steals some money from them or lets you listen in on a phone conversation, but sometimes you’re able to overheat people’s phones and knock them out. It’s easy to do this by accident, and it calls in an emergency team, so be careful about hitting X willy-nilly.
Finally, keep an eye out for orange icons in NetHack vision or the world map. Watch Dogs 2 is full of side missions, and many of them start when you hack someone’s phone to hear about an injustice of ctOS. These side missions are enjoyable, so make sure to hack away.
8. Take Time to Have Fun!
There’s a lot to do in Watch Dogs 2. While its open world isn’t quite as exhaustive and varied as Grand Theft Auto V, it’s still fun to take a break from the action and interact with the world. The AI is fairly stupid, but this can lead to unintentionally hilarious moments.
Walk around the city and listen to the random conversations of people. Hack phones and snoop on people’s text messages. Watch a car crash happen and see how the victims respond. Once you earn a couple of hacking abilities, mess around and create a massive pile-up like we did:
There are even motorcycle and drone races you can take part in for some extra cash and fun. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and get immersed in the world for a bit.
9. Bonus: Don’t Become a Nude Photographer
Watch Dogs 2 is rated M for Mature, with content descriptors of Nudity and Sexual Themes. Interestingly, one PS4 player discovered some of this nudity on a female NPC and decided to share it with the world via the PS4’s Share feature. Sony didn’t approve of this, and actually ended up banning his account temporarily. Ubisoft is patching this particular part out, but you might still encounter some folks without clothes in the game.
While it doesn’t make much sense for Sony to ban players for sharing content in a game that they approved for their system, make sure you don’t suffer the same fate. You might encounter naked pedestrians in your travels — resist the temptation to snap pictures of them and share them online.
We enjoyed our time with Watch Dogs 2, and hope you do, too. With these tips, you’ll save some time and know what to prioritize. Don’t take anything too seriously, though — play how you want to play! There’s no morality system in the game and you can’t really screw anything up, so jump into San Francisco and have a blast.
Did you pick up Watch Dogs 2? What advice would you give to new players? Let us know down in the comments!