The story for Watch_Dogs is held in about the same priority as the rest of the open-world content is; you can ignore the story for as long as you like after the world starts to open up, but you shouldn't leave it hanging for too long. If for whatever reason you find something in the story challenging, videos are provided in playlist links on all five acts.
Watch_Dogs | Act 1
The game begins with some cutscene introductions. A pair of hackers botch a job (or rather, one of them does), and the guy you'll be playing as (Aiden Pearce) has a hitman placed on him.
1-1 Bottom of the Eighth
It's quickly revealed that Aiden's niece was the one to die - given that Aiden is alive and all - and Maurice, the guy who killed her, is cowering in front of him. Threaten him by pulling the trigger on your empty pistol, then take Maurice down after he proves to be silent.
Pressing starts up Aiden's phone-hacking abilities. Look towards Maurice's phone and hack it to hear Audio Log: Maurice Vega from his (01/08) Burner Phone. Audio logs are optional, non-trophy related lore things, whereas burner phones are an important collectible. Maurice's phone happens to be unmissable.
There are some consumable items used for crafting scattered about the room, as well as a paper bag filled with a small amount of money. Try to collect these things before heading towards the quest marker, where you'll meet Jordi, Aiden's partner. Jordi has a particular way of thinking about escapes and has called both the cops and a gang to meet each other underneath the baseball stadium. Some of the cops are already here, so you'll want to get behind some kind of cover as you approach them and wait until their backs are turned before moving upwards.
Your first bit of "real" hacking comes after you have to climb a fence to reach a door. The mechanism that unlocks said door is on the other side of it, so hack a security camera in the room and continue finding other cameras until you can get to the controls that open it. Doing so will also give you a good overview of the room you're about to enter. Once you get inside, you'll automatically be ducking behind a counter with some electronic parts on it. Pick up these parts and use the weapon wheel to make a lure with it, then aim a throw and hack it to distract the cop in the room. Reach the stairs and walk through a set of tall brown doors to continue.
The following area, a bar, has some cops in it. Slip behind the bar's northern wall to completely avoid their gaze and wait when you see two more cops behind glass doors. Aiden will contact an ally with a voice disguise named Badboy; the conversation results in Aiden having to steal someone's access codes in the next room so he can cause a blackout. Do this by using security cameras, then cause the blackout and sneak past all the cops when you're able to. If all goes well, you should be able to enter a proper bar at ground level without anyone on your tail.
Jordi has arranged a vehicle for you across the street. Take it and read the vehicle controls (they're pretty standard affair), then drive south out of the police's search range. This is a large white circle on the map, and leaving their range will prevent them from getting suspicious of you. These are the easiest types of police scans to avoid. Once you're out of range, the scan stops, and you'll be told to return to Aiden's apartment.
Badboy will call Aiden to say that the two of them now have some limited backdoor access to the ctOS network, which is the operating system being used to run all of Chicago's infrastructure. You'll also be given a skill point for finishing a story mission, and you'll be using this skill point on the Gates & Garages skill in the hacking section of the skill tree. All skills are actually really useful and there's no wrong choice in choosing to get one skill over another, but the early driving skills are must-haves for the early game due to the amount of driving this game entails.
They Can't Hide
Go to sleep on the bed by setting an alarm time (which doesn't ever really matter) and watch Aiden relive Lena's death. Once you've done that, you should notice that a computer in the apartment can be hacked for an audio log. This is Audio Log: Aiden Pearce and might be a limited-time item, so it's worth picking up now since it's right in front of you. You already start off with the first four Aiden Pearce audio logs, so this completes the set about himself.
Now that you have some ctOS access, you can hack phones people are currently using to read text conversations, listen to phone calls, steal money from bank accounts, pirate music (uncommon), etc. The goal now is to find someone who has information leading to a potential crime. Keep looking around the apartment complex or on the sidewalks near the road until you find something interesting, then go to the scene of the potential crime. You're going to want to watch either the potential victim or potential criminal until the crime starts to take place, then do a takedown to stop the criminal once he commits.
Aiden's sister Nicole will ask where he is, as his nephew's birthday party is almost over and he's supposed to be there. Jordi will call right after her to let you know that Maurice is being locked away alive, and that you can ask Jordi's friend for a used ride whenever.
Note: With this tutorial bit on detecting small crimes out of the way, it's suggested that you find and stop at least 20 of these right here and now (progress can be checked in one of the tabs in your phone). This grants you a strangely high amount of experience that leads to skill points for skills, but it also helps you get used to the game's controls. Stopping 20 of these crimes also gives you a trophy.
Your reputation will go up with each successful act of justice. This affects how often people will report your actions to the police and how often you'll be shown negatively in news reports and the like. If you're curious, you need 18 skill points to obtain all currently available skills. The rest of the skill tree is accessible after finishing a later mission in this act of the story.
Use the Crime Detection System to take down 20 confirmed criminals
The progression tab in the phone menus will tell you that you've unlocked (for purchase) a specific skill by stopping just one crime, Quick Switch. This increases the speed at which you switch weapons. You should notice that stopping 10 crimes gives you a pistol, and 20 leads to the above trophy. You should see some side missions called Fixer Contracts show up in a bit, but the easiest progression rewards (some of which you'd benefit from having so early on in the game) come from the Mini Games section.
In the Parker Square district of Chicago (which is where you've been this whole time), you can reach locations for Cash Run, NVZN, chess, the shell game, and poker all very easily. NVZN can actually be done anywhere, but the others have set locations. You don't have to do all of these things now, of course, but it sure would be nice to not have to think about them later on. More information on these are found on their respective pages in the walkthrough.
1-2 Big Brother
After talking with Nicki and Jacks for a little bit, Nicki will get a threatening call from a stranger. Hack her phone and listen in, then find and stop the guy who made the call after leaving Nicki's house. If you're lucky, you might be given a prompt to press very quickly to almost definitely stop the criminal, whether that be from an intersection or something else in the city. Hack the guy's phone to learn that he was paid by someone to make the call.
Note: This criminal may be holding a 1911 pistol, a weapon you likely do not have at this point. Picking up a weapon, no matter what it is, will add it to your weapon wheel permanently if you don't already have it. Be sure to do this whenever possible.
Your DedSec contact will suggest being armed and ready to tap into The Loop district of Chicago. The next "mission" is just buying a gun, so this is a good time to start looking into another type of activity you might have seen on the map so far. All around Chicago (only in areas where you're currently connected to ctOS), you should see ctOS towers on the map. There are two in Parker Square. Installing a backdoor protocol into the towers allows for side activities to be added to the map. Think of it like Far Cry 3's radio towers or an Assassin's Creed viewpoint. Information on how to access these towers is on the Collectibles page, as that's where these towers fall in the progression wheel.
Feel free to complete all new side content revealed from these two ctOS towers right now. They should provide some experience and you're going to want to do them anyway. More detail on each one is on their respective pages of the walkthrough.
Note: Cash Run challenges (from your phone menu) are challenges that players can create and share with each other. You can start to create one, go somewhere else, and decide to go back and edit that challenge anywhere, effectively creating a custom fast travel point. You can make tons of these (though you won't have to make a lot). For now, start to make a challenge near or north of Nicki's house and name it "Parker Square N," just so you know what this one is. All you have to do is enter the creation menu, place the starting point, and save the challenge. No need to make it a real course.
Creating Cash Run fast travel points is entirely optional, but recommended points will be given throughout the walkthrough.
On your first trip into The Loop, you'll be tasked with buying a 416 assault rifle from a weapons store. This may be your first time in a shop like this; look around and browse the stuff for sale, make note of things you like, and keep their costs in mind for when you have enough money to afford them. There's never any shame in carrying 60 weapons in your overcoat. Again, any weapon you pick up that you don't already have will be added to your inventory permanently, so it might also be a good idea to just keep the cash. It's up to you.
1-3 Backstage Pass
It's time to hack into The Loop's ctOS network. The access panel you're after requires certain credentials to breach, which you'll have to hack from one of the guards protecting the facility. The optimal way to go about reaching the panel is by neutralizing all enemies in the area, taking the code off of the one guy who has it, and then breaking into the network. To do this, you should aim to use a silenced pistol or takedowns to sneak behind guards that aren't looking in your direction. You can also hack their explosives on their body or distract them with objects in the area, but be aware that the detonations you cause will cause all guards to be on alert.
Once you try to access the ctOS network, you'll be given a very easy "puzzle", in which you must make sure the blue connection in one area reaches its destination. Certain pieces can only be moved once it has flow from certain branches, and others cause a timer to start when activated. Solve these few simple puzzles to gain access to the network for The Loop.
Badboy will suggest that you look for fixers in the area - both as prey and to keep yourself from being the prey. This will be explained in the next story mission. Jordi will call, asking for a favor. He wants you to do a quick driving contract for him.
Note: All ctOS control centers should now be available, but you shouldn't go out of your way for these until after you finish Act 1-5. Gang hideouts, criminal convoys, and more fixer contracts will become available with each control center that you access. Because the rest of the skill tree opens up after Act 1-5, you should wait until then so you can become stronger.
After trying to start Jordi's contract, a fixer will hack into your world in an attempt to steal your data (this is a mandatory bot used for you to get used to how online contracts work). This hacker, 2XTheTap, has to stay around you as he hacks a backdoor into your phone. As progress is made, he must stay within the increasingly smaller radius, but this gives you a better area to locate him with. Once you find him, kill him to stop his hacking attack.
Doing this will open up the rest of the hacking contract types for you to take part in. There are trophies related to completing 10 of certain types of contracts, and you can find more information on them on their respective page of the walkthrough. It would be a good idea to get these done sooner rather than later so you can reap the benefits for more of your game time (that and it'll be harder to find people the older the game is).
Once you're done with the hacking trophies, it'd be a good idea to turn off your online availability so people don't interrupt your own gameplay.
1-4 Backseat Driver
Jordi's hand-me-down contract starts off with the police scanning the area for your location. Avoid this by staying out of the green circles on the minimap until you reach the client's location. Once you take the client and his car, you'll then have to escape an active police search. This is done by exiting the white circular zone on the map, best done by simply heading towards the mission destination on the map. Make sure you drive away from police cars and blockades so you don't get caught. If you do end up getting into a chase, your best bet is to book it and keep using the city to your advantage until everyone is off your tail.
Drive the client to his destination once you've escaped the search. The client will get out to meet with Lucky Quinn, the leader of the Chicago South Club. Watch as the meeting takes place, then take a phone call from Badboy, who wants to arrange an in-person meeting.
1-5 Open Your World
After you meet Badboy for the first time, you'll be given all of the power that DedSec has. It seems your ally has snuck out an extra set of benefits for you and you alone. The skill tree has finally opened up and you can now work on obtaining just about any skill you want.
Back on the subject at hand: the guy who ordered the hit on you. Clara has discovered that the guy you're after has bounced his signal through a ctOS office, meaning you'll have to hack into that office to follow his tail. Travel there through the underground tunnels by car and try to use nearby cameras to locate everyone in the garage you reach. If you can, clear the place out stealthily, then enter the main building and do the same.
The access panel you want to reach is on the second floor. Clear the whole place out and make your way up there. Once you've placed Clara's virus into the correct laptop, a troop of cops will storm the building to look for you. Take care of them all and avoid a ctOS scan to finish the mission.
Clara will pinpoint what she's learned to an apartment in The Loop.
Note: Now that you can obtain all of the skills in the skill tree, this would be the perfect time to get started on side content. Almost everything you have to do should be available as of right now. You can do a massive amount of cleaning up now, which would benefit your playthrough of the story because you'd have more skills later on. Consult the set of pages in the walkthrough about all side content if necessary.
In addition to the side content, you should also make note of the miscellaneous trophies on the Misc Trophies page. Being aware of them this early on in the game will make obtaining them later less of a chore. It's best to get those out of the way so you don't have to think about them anymore.
1-6 Thanks for the Tip
Upon approaching the router linked to the caller's source, you'll see that it's in the upper corner of an alley. Run up the stairs leading up to it, then look around for the secondary routers connected to it. One of them can be viewed with the cameras in the area, but the other is out of reach and requires a brisk walk down the alley to the east. Once you break in, solve a simple connection puzzle and take a look inside the caller's room.
Damien Brenks, Aiden's partner in the failed Merlaut heist that served as the prologue to all of this, has set this up just to get in touch with you. Fixers will swarm into the alley you're in; use pipes behind the two snipers to take care of them easily, but reserve the other explosive objects in the area for later. Try to use your silenced pistol (and focus with if you have to) to take out the first wave of fixers silently. Go nuts with the explosive devices in the ground once more fixers show up in vehicles.
After killing them all, drive to the park Damien is located at and have a quick conversation with him. He'll tell you a little more information about the Merlaut job in an attempt to sway you to working with him, but Aiden will just take that info with him and walk out.
The next mission is a flashback to a moment Aiden shared with Nicki at Lena's grave.
This little event - not so much a story mission - is located in the tunnel that Lena died in. Going back here just gives Aiden a flashback. What's important about this is that we get to go to the district of Pawnee, an area that won't have a fast travel point in a while. Make a challenge near the upper, populated half of Pawnee and simply name it "Pawnee."
Jordi has found a witness from the baseball stadium shootout. He's going to be transferred to another prison and can easily point you out if given the chance, so you've got a different problem to worry about.
1-7 Not the Pizza Guy
Note: If you want to make things as easy as possible, consider obtaining the Disable Helicopter hacking skill before starting this mission. It isn't required, though.
Meet Jordi on a balcony by climbing up to him, then descend back down to the ground and take the stairs down to the docks. The easiest way to get to the enemy-controlled area is to take a boat over to another dock, then take the stairs up to where they're at. Pull out your trusty silenced pistol and try to take out as many enemies as you can without making much noise. It's not necessary to kill everyone, but if you're paranoid about being safe (or just like knowing nobody is around to kill you), feel free to take everyone out of the picture.
There's a router in the area that connects to a metal gate. Hack it and walk inside to find the guy who has some information on what to do next. After learning the name of the guy in charge of the prison transfer, walk back outside and get ready for a fight.
Lots of fixers will swarm your location, including a helicopter with a sniper sitting on its side. You have two options here: Run or fight. Fighting is much more satisfying and may even be easier, but if you're not feeling used to the combat, you can at least try to run after killing the chopper sniper. If you stay to fight, Jordi will help from his position somewhat.
After getting out of that situation - however you managed to do it - Clara will call, curious about the advances made on the caller. She'll help with finding Angelo Tucci's niece, who in turn will help you find Angelo.
1-8 A Wrench in the Works
Note: If you want to make things as easy as possible, consider obtaining the Offensive Driver driving skill before starting this mission. It isn't required, though.
Angelo's niece is found near this mission's starting area. To save yourself the hassle of looking all over the place, immediately head straight north (not up any stairs) and enter a building with glass walls. Helena is in here, and you'll find her after enough looking around. Once you use her to find Angelo, you'll be shown his driving path. The best thing to do here is either set up a trap for him with explosives or blockage, or collide with him head-on. His vehicle is third in the convoy.
After you make Angelo leave his car, you'll have to take him down non-lethally. All of his allies will be after you as well, so you'll either want to strike Angelo and leave or find some cover so you can fight the rest of his men. You can additionally take Angelo down after taking out a good chunk - or all -of his allies. Personally, I find killing the rest of the enemies to be easier than trying to escape them all.
The witness is in a recently-upgraded prison, which means you'll have access to its facilities. If only you were in prison...
1-9 Dressed in Peels
Aiden will walk into the prison with a weapon, and someone who owes Jordi a favor will give you your phone and a baton. Once you're in your cell, hack into one of the guard's body cameras and make your way towards the cell controls using other guards' cameras. Open your cell door and sneak down to the lowest level of the cell area. If you'd like to make things as safe for yourself as possible, you can try to take out guards here with the baton so you can pick up a shotgun.
Break through to the cell listings to locate your guy's name, then use more body cameras to reach the cameras that look over the prison yard. You'll find that some cops have dragged him away to the laundry room to pry your name out of him. Once you reach that area, pull your shotgun out (or pick up the weapon leaning near the closest hamper) and start firing away at enemies. A heavily-armored guard will make an appearance after you clear the room; use focus and your best weapons on hand to take him down quickly, and make sure you're always near some kind of cover. This guy moves very slowly, but his health and damage output make up for that. Only a few more guys will come into the laundry room after you kill the big one.
Jordi will send your equipment back up to you after you have a chat with the witness. As soon as you can, try to hack your way out of the building (there's an audio log near the controls if you really want to pick it up) and immediately head into a car. Cops will swarm the rooftop if you're not fast enough, so you'll really want to hop in a car and use the ramp up here to fly down onto the train tracks below. If you can disarm the helicopter above you, do so once it's safe. If not, take the gunner out and find somewhere safe to hide. I personally drove to the coast and took a boat so the cops in vehicles and on foot couldn't reach or find me.
Now that your loose ends have been tied up, it's time to see what Damien wants.
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