Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2: 10 Tips for the Solo Hacker

A few handy tips to help you hack your way around San Francisco.

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Watch Dogs 2 has just been released (you can read our review here), and here at Gamereactor we've put together 10 tips to help you get the most out of your single-player experience, from tactics to gadgets and everything in between, so have a peek at this before you jump into the world of San Francisco and start your crusade against Blume.

1: NetHack is your friend

When in-game, with the push of a button you can access what is called NetHack, and for those of you that have played the Arkham series, this works in a very similar way to Batman's detective vision in that it allows you to see through walls, including enemies, tactical opportunities, objectives and collectibles, not to mention wiring and where different panels lead to.

In each mission using NetHack as much as possible will make life so much simpler for you, and you can use this to thoroughly plan out how you approach each objective. This is especially useful when figuring out how to isolate enemies and take each one down without raising the alarm, and the fact that you can use this to tag enemies is also a godsend.

Note that this NetHack view can also be used when controlling the RC Jumper and Quadcopter, so you can really explore each location and scope it out. Patience, exploration and planning are all rewarded in Watch Dogs 2, and all of this is made so much simpler with NetHack.

2: You don't always need to go in as Marcus

One of the beautiful things about Watch Dogs 2 is that the missions don't always require Marcus to be there in person, as you can invest in both the RC Jumper and Quadcopter to do some things for you. They are incredibly useful, for instance, when it comes to finding enemies, hacking access keys, or setting traps, and this can prove very useful when you want to minimise how much danger you get into as Marcus.

They can't do everything that Marcus can do, however. For example, the RC Jumper can physically access terminals like Marcus can, but can't get very high, and the Quadcopter, although it can fly and move around quicker, can't physically access anything. Also, these two can also raise the alarm if spotted, so it's not a foolproof alternative.

Regardless, though, using this wisely and tactically will definitely help you, especially if you upgrade them. Upgrades can let both gadgets drop explosive and shock devices, boost their speed and increase their capacity to scan enemies through walls, so putting your resources into them can certainly pay off.

Watch Dogs 2

3: Try not to raise the alarm

In a lot of games, raising the alarm isn't too bad since enemies will try to find you for a while, get bored, and then return to how they were, meaning you could just try again after keeping a low profile for a while. In Watch Dogs 2, however, this isn't the case, and the alarm getting raised makes the job a whole lot trickier for you.

The biggest issue with alerting guards is that they then proceed to call reinforcements, and considering you're often in an enclosed space in these missions, more guards isn't a good thing. To stop this from happening once you're seen, look for the guard with an orange triangle over his head which indicates how much time you have before they call reinforcements, and then take him out, either lethally or non-lethally.

The ideal way to avoid raising the alarm, though, is to remain unseen. Stay behind cover, move quickly when you need to, and always be aware of where guards are and where they're looking. The detection meter tells you where you're getting seen from and it fills up pretty quickly, but it gives you enough time to dart in front without being seen.

4: You don't always have to deal with guards

Whether non-lethal or lethal, a big temptation for most players will be to take care of guards one way or another. There is a third option, however, which may suit some scenarios, and that is to leave them be while you sneak past them and do what you need to do.

There are a few reasons this is preferable, one of which being that, in the same vein as the previous tip, it can be safer in terms of avoiding drawing attention to yourself. Whenever you take care of an enemy, that leaves a body for others to find, and since the game doesn't have a system to hide bodies, this dramatically increases the chances of them suspecting something's up.

Another reason is that you often don't have enough supplies to take down every guard in any given area, as there's only so much ammunition, gadgets and environmental objects around. Oftentimes it's better to take out a couple of guards, if you have to, and leave the rest untouched, especially since, if you're knocking them out rather than killing them, the first ones will probably wake up by the time you've got round to the last.

Watch Dogs 2

5: Use your hacks on people as well as technology

The 'social engineering' branch of the research tree allows you to do some cool things when aiming your hacks at people, and this can prove very useful both in and out of missions, especially since people are often the biggest challenge you'll come across in the game.

There are all kinds of hacks you can execute, from the most basic such as allowing you to hack their bank account to get money, or use their phone to get important information for missions or botnets (the units that are used to hack things), but there are also slightly cooler options, like the ability to assign the person as a target for the strongest members of a gang or the police.

These can also be used as distractions, too, and making someone's phone go off can give you just enough time to sneak past them while they check it, or you can set off a mass distraction to divert everyone's attention for a short period. Thank god the NPCs are so easily fooled, right?

6: Hacking is a must in car chases

A couple of missions in Watch Dogs 2 involve you having to escape pursuers in a car chase (although maybe you'll do this more if you're a lawbreaker in free roam) and even if you're in the fastest car, the persistence of police in their cars and helicopters means it's no easy task to escape them. That's where hacking comes in, and using this to the best of your abilities means you can leave pursuers in your dust.

If you go on the 'vehicle hacking' branch of the research tree, there are a lot of options to help you with this. When driving, for instance, there are a lot of hacks to do with things you see on the road. Pipes on the road can be hacked so they explode when police get close to them, as can bollards that raise from the floor. Also helpful are the hacks that divert other traffic, as you can cause crashes by hacking traffic lights and swerve cars in and out of the way as you see fit.

What's more useful are the later sections in this upgrade tree, one of which allows you to make police helicopters retreat at the push of a button. With all these combined, then it becomes a case of pulling into a dark alley, hiding in your vehicle and waiting for this all to blow over.

Watch Dogs 2

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7: Allocate research wisely

Research doesn't grow on trees in Watch Dogs 2, and considering later levels take you a long time to level up, and upgrades get more expensive the further you go along the upgrade tree, you'll need to spend the research points you do have wisely, otherwise you'll end up with abilities and hacks you don't need or want.

Part of this involves looking for the right upgrades (or research) and planning ahead. Some abilities require you to find a key bit of data before you can upgrade them, so it's worth putting in the extra legwork to find them. After all, you don't need to spend all your research points in one go, so you can save them till you've found the data to unlock the ones you do want.

Also, it's worth considering what's further along the skill tree, as one ability might not be something you're after but can lead the way to a much more useful one later on. Is it worth the investment? How much can I afford to spend? These are all questions you need to ask yourself each time you go to spend these precious points. Don't be rash.

8: Don't get caught in firefights

Watch Dogs 2 isn't really a game for gunfights, and you are best staying out of open combat, if only for the fact that even on the easiest difficulty Marcus doesn't mix with bullets very well.

While you'd be better armed for such occasions when it all kicks off with weapons you can make at the Hackerspace, such as assault rifles, sniper rifles and shotguns, these still aren't ideal and don't help you absorb bullets any better, so steering clear of gunfights is always the preferred option. Having these are good for if you get in a spot of bother and have no choice but to blast your way out, though.

The easiest way to avoid them is to not get caught, but if you do get caught, don't be afraid to run and cover. Don't stay in cover for too long, though, as enemies have been known to rush and fill your behind with lead if you get too complacent. Above all, though, don't start a shootout when you don't need to - it won't end well.

Watch Dogs 2

9: Take the time to explore

Watch Dogs 2 is a beautiful game, and the city of San Francisco is a joy to behold, so although the game lets you fast travel from the beginning, take the time to drive from place to place every now and again and take in the scenery, the Golden Gate bridge, the colourful houses and the sunshine... when it's sunny of course.

But there's more than just aesthetic reasons to explore the world around you. There are useful collectibles scattered round the world and seeking these out will reward you with money, research points, clothing items, paint jobs, key data and operation intel, allowing you more side operations. Getting these will help you advance your skills further and buy more things, so there's every reason to take the time to look for them.

Also, some cool secrets can be found for those who take the time to look for them. For example, there's a certain developer's studio in the game that players may be interested in, with some potentially interesting information in an accompanying mission. Take the time to wander the world, and even take a few selfies on Marcus' phone. Why not?

10: Be creative with your approach

It can often be boring taking the same approach to each mission, and although it might be tempting to do the same thing for each, whether that be running in and meleeing all enemies before getting what you need, or sneaking in and out like a ghost, try to mix it up with new ideas to keep things fresh and see whether different tactics work for you.

There are a lot of hacks in Watch Dogs 2 and these allow for all kinds of different combinations and approaches to each challenge, so taking the time to weigh up what weapons, gadgets, tactics and environmental features to use will reward you, especially since later missions will throw up new challenges like increased security and armoured enemies.

This doesn't just apply to missions, either, as each challenge you face in the world needs a bit of creativity, whether that's to access a high place to discover a secret or finding something hidden underground. Hack everything and see what it can do, and you may be surprised by what you can find.

Watch Dogs 2

Those were our top 10 tips for Watch Dogs 2 single player would should stand you in good stead for jumping into Marcus' shoes and facing the world. Did we miss any? Let us know below!

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Watch Dogs 2Score

Watch Dogs 2

REVIEW. Written by Sam Bishop

"The art of hacking in Watch Dogs 2 produces gameplay variety that fans of the series will appreciate."

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