Hacking the Hackers: Mastering Watch Dogs’ One-on-One Multiplayer

One of the most fascinating things about Watch Dogs is that, in the midst of carrying on your own solo adventure in the streets of this virtual Chicago, your game can be invaded by other human players. “Watch Dogs” includes more traditional multiplayer modes, of course: racing, for example, and the capture-the-flag-esque Decryption mode. It even has a competitive mode in which players on a tablet can pursue players in the console game.

But it’s the Hacking and Tailing modes that can intrude into the main campaign, infusing the solo experience with the thrill of a cat-and-mouse game versus real human opponents. So let’s take a look at some ways to send your opponents slinking away with their tails between their legs.

Hacking: Defense

Since this is likely to be your introduction to “Watch Dogs'” world of online espionage, it’s a good place to start. You’ll begin with a notice that you’re being hacked, followed by a highlighted circle on your minimap showing an area where the hacker is hiding. Your job is to profile him or her with the facial-recognition software on your phone before the hack is completed. Periodically, the circle will shrink, narrowing the possible area the hacker could be hiding in. You can’t run, and you can’t hide; you have to find the intruder before the hack is completed, or they’ll make off with your data… and a chunk of your online Notoriety Points.

Step One is to do a quick lap around the area, looking for anything that seems obviously out of the ordinary: a smashed-up car in the middle of the street, a running pedestrian, a rooftop observer, that sort of thing. Chances are, the intruder won’t be so clumsy as to call much attention to him- or herself, but it’s worth a look just in case. Look carefully at parked cars and behind cover; your opponent may hope to simply get overlooked as you frantically hunt the intruder.

Assuming that’s unsuccessful, it’s time for a little more creative thinking. If you’re in an area that’s dense with cameras, hacking those can give you a broader view of the area, allowing you to profile multiple targets more quickly. Smart intruders will do their best to blend in with Chicago’s civilians, so you’ll need a way to differentiate between human and non-player character. Our suggestion: mayhem. Start blowing stuff up, and the civilians will start fleeing the area. Watch for anyone who behaves differently. That’s probably your target.

Once you manage to profile your opponent, you’re only halfway done: Now you need to take out the intruder. It helps if you’ve already readied an AK or other powerful weapon with decent range. And, in case the intruder makes a run for it, it’s a good idea to have a car in mind for pursuit. Remember: Intruders can’t kill you, but you can surekill them.

Hacking: Offense

Things get a little more interesting on the other side of the equation. Once you accept the contract, you have five minutes to reach the general area of your target. Unless you’re particularly unlucky, your opponent won’t know you’re even there until you actually begin the hack, so take your time. Try to follow your target into an area with multiple levels: an “L” station, for example, or a highway off-ramp. Then kick off your hack.

As soon as the hack begins, move away from your target, to the very outer edge of the circle imposed on your minimap. As time goes on, that circle will shrink, but you’ll always remain at the edge of it. In our experience, most hack-ees tend to focus their search on the middle of the circle, so this could buy you a few crucial seconds.

Blending in with the population is paramount here, and there are a few clever ways to do it. One is to stand with a group of loitering civilians; this has the added bonus of increasing the possibility that your target’s Profiler will simply skip over you. Of course, this approach is vulnerable to the Mayhem Method detailed above, so be prepared to follow the crowd, should everyone start running.

Alternately, you can go for the vehicular option: Find a parked car, hop in, and hide. The important thing here is to find a car that’s parked normally, preferably near a bunch of other cars (a clean car: Scrapes and dents are a dead giveaway of a human-driven car). For a particularly advanced tactic, dump a car in the street to create a traffic jam, then hop in one of the cars that’s been backed up. Just make sure it’s a reasonably fast one.

Tailing: Offense

In our experience, being tailed happens more rarely than being hacked, so we’ll start with offense for this one. Blending in is still a good option, but here’s the problem: Your target will be moving, and it’s damn hard to chase a human without looking like a human. The solution? Use cameras if at all possible. In most areas of the city, you can jump from camera to camera to track a target, as long as said target is not moving too quickly.

If cameras aren’t an option, use cover as much as you can. The ability to pop from cover to cover with taps of the A button makes it possible to follow an enemy on foot without being too obvious about it.

And if the target’s in a car? Your best bet is to just follow at the greatest distance you can manage. If your cover gets blown, your target will come after you, so make sure you’re in a vehicle with speed and maneuverability. A motorcycle is ideal.

Tailing: Defense

Being the recipient of a tail starts out similar to being hacked, with one crucial difference: When you profile a civilian, the Profiler will say “Not a threat” rather than “Not the hacker.” If you see that message, follow these three simple steps:

Step One: Run. Run like your flappy-coated rear-end is on fire.

Step Two: Look behind you. Is someone chasing you?

Step Three: Kill that person.