There are few wrong ways to play Watch Dogs 2; the game allows players to succeed whether they go guns-blazing or stick to the thematic sneaky hacker gameplay. No matter your gameplay preferences, though, there are some must-have skills that'll make life easier. Luckily, some of the most useful and versatile skills are early in their respective skill trees, meaning you can easily grab all of them without investing too deeply in a skill tree you may not care much about.
The Quadcopter isn’t a skill, but it’s worth mentioning here regardless. While the game will provide you with the ground-based Jumper drone free of charge, you’ll need to purchase the Quadcopter for $67,500 when you gain access to the Hackerspace HQ. The Quadcopter is not only required to access many of the game’s collectibles, but its existence just plain makes life easier. When I first saw its price tag, I assumed it was something of an endgame upgrade I wouldn't need until much later. However, money flows like water and I wish I'd have picked it up right off the bat.
- Create Distraction
- Improved Profiler
Create Distraction allows you to hack bystanders’ phones (or security’s headsets) to either temporarily cause them to stop paying attention to you or to interrupt phone calls. If a citizen witnessed you committing a crime and are calling the police, you can cut off their call. If police or security are calling for backup, you can interrupt that, too.
Improved Profiler automatically marks citizens with a large bank account with a blue box. You can hack pretty much everyone in the game, gaining either money, a refresh of your botnet resources, or an amusing text message interaction or phone call. When moving through a crowd, hacking everyone can get tedious and you often miss out on the big paydays. Your standard NPC will give you anywhere from $50 to $80 when you tap their bank account. The rare NPC, however — the ones Improved Profiler will mark for you — can yield ten times as much cash. Improved Profiler ensures you’ll never miss that payday. Other than finding hidden moneybags, Improved Profiler is the best way to get rich quick.
Those two skills are must-haves, but Social Engineering as a whole is an excellent skill tree. Other options include the ability to call a rival gang (or even a SWAT team) down on your enemies rather than needing to deal with them yourself.
- Massive System Crash
- Security System Shutdown
The City Disruption tree is one I’ve seen as a popular place to invest, but I take the opposite stance. The Massive System Crash skill, which shuts down all nearby city infrastructure for 30 seconds, is a fan favorite. Personally, I see it as counterintuitive. Yes, you will shut down infrastructure police or other pursuers might utilize, but in Watch Dogs, all of that infrastructure is a tool at your disposal, too. Using Massive System Crash might help you escape a tight spot, but it might also prevent you from using hacking skills which would get you out of a bind in a potentially more entertaining fashion.
That said, the City Disruption tree also includes Security System Shutdown. Rather than crashing all infrastructure, this skill allows you to permanently disable security emplacements such as scanners or cameras which could reveal your location during an infiltration.
- Electro Shock Device
- Explosive Device
The Tinkering skill tree has a clear split between lethal and nonlethal gameplay, and whichever way you choose to play, half of this skill tree could be invaluable. Tinkering includes the Electro Shock Device and Explosive Device which are your equivalent of grenades. The Electro Shock Device is your nonlethal option and Explosive is your lethal. Whichever one you choose, the associated upgrades in Tinkering are great things to have, reducing your cooldowns and increasing your carrying capacity.
If you’re a guns-blazing type of player, the Botnet tree might not be of much use to you. Botnets are your capacity for hacking or hijacking electronics. For those of you familiar with the Fantasy genre, think of Botnets as your mana. If you’re gunning people down, this isn’t going to help you do that. However, if you’re playing the thematic hacker, increasing your Botnet capacity generally allows you to do more, faster.
The Botnet tree includes nothing but capacity upgrades for your hacking shenanigans. There are no new abilities here. However, the gains are huge. You start the game with a Botnet capacity of 4, with most abilities requiring 2-4 resources. Your first point in the Botnets tree will yield an additional 4 resources, and for every point after, you gain another 2 for a total of 16 additional points — 20 Botnets in your network overall.
- Sleight of Hand
- Steady Aim
- Stun Amp Up
On the other hand, if you’re a pure nonlethal tech player, the Marksmanship tree is half-useless. These skills all benefit your gunplay, and if you aren’t shooting people, there’s not much reason to invest your time here. This tree is all about increasing damage, accuracy, and rate of fire. If you use guns, invest points into your favorite type and you’re good to go.
Even nonlethal players will want to invest in Sleight of Hand and Steady Aim. Sleight of Hand increases reload speed for pistols and the Stun Gun, your primary tool for nonlethal takedowns. Steady Aim increases the somewhat restrictive range of the Stun Gun, allowing you to put down enemies from a safer distance.
Stun Amp Up is another useful one for the Stun Gun, decreasing the number of shots required to put down armored enemies which can otherwise be difficult to deal with.
- Environmental RC
- Proximity Scanner
- Enhanced Spring
Environmental RC is an absolute must-have if you want to access the game’s hidden spaces or many of its collectibles. Many collectibles are beneath or behind crates and boxes you can only move by remotely controlling a nearby forklift. It’s the first point in the Remote CTRL tree and thus there’s no reason not to grab it early.
The rest of this tree will be useful depending on how much you use your drones. If you find yourself using the Jumper and Quadcopter frequently, Remote CTRL provides them with many benefits. Proximity Scanner allows your Quadcopter to tag NPCs through walls, making it much easier to discover your enemies’ patrols. Taunt turns your Jumper into a miniature distraction device and Enhanced Spring allows the Jumper to jump higher, making it easier to access hard-to-reach locations.
If you don’t make use of your drones, Remote CTRL isn’t as useful a skill tree.
Hijacker is the only skill in the Vehicle Hacking tree I’d consider essential. Hijacker allows you to steal parked cars without setting off their alarm, allowing you take any vehicle parked on the roadside without anyone alerting the police. This does not work for carjackings — a driver will still notice they’ve been thrown out of their vehicle — but there are parked cars pretty much everywhere.
Though your phone does come with the Car on Demand app, meaning you can have a car delivered to you wherever you may be, it isn’t as satisfying as jacking a ride and getting away with it.
As mentioned at the start of this guide, the majority of the most useful skills are at the very beginning of their respective skill tree. That considered, it may be wise to hop between trees, taking the easily accessible skills in all of them before specializing too deeply into any of them.