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Watch Dogs 2 Hacking Guide: How To Hack Like A True Hacktivist

Watch Dogs 2 is finally upon us, and it’s pretty damn great. Apart from introducing us to a likeable new character and doing away with that easy-to-not-like dude from the first entry, it also offers an inviting and fun virtual representation of San Francisco.

The Watch Dogs experience is and always has been defined by its hacking: your ability to engage with, understand and exploit the game world. This is a game about hacking, after all, and so knowing, understanding and embracing the fundamentals of what make the game’s hacking mechanics so great will go a long way to helping you get the most out of your Watch Dogs 2 experience.

In this guide we’ll take you through hacking basics to prepare you: from hacking people, to hacking doors, to huge mass hacks, and networking bypasses.


BotNet Resources are generally indicated by a small icon in the bottom right of your screen. You use Botnet Resources to perform essentially every type of hack possible. Each hack has a specific number of Botnet Resources required to pull off. These resources do recover over time, but try to always have a blue circle so that you’re fully stocked and ready to go on special missions.

Blue Botnet Sections: These sections indicate the BotNet resources that you actually have available to use for hacking.

Red Botnet Sections: These Botnets are regenerating and can be used immediately.

White Botnet Sections: These have just been used and can’t be used again until they start to regenerate.

A few other important points to remember:

  • You can unlock the full capacity of 16 segments using the ./Research app.
  • Unlock a higher BotNet capacity as quickly as possible so that you can use certain hacks continuously.
  • You can hack a random person’s phone and drain their BotNet resources whenever you’re running low.

Automatic Takedowns

Automatic takedowns are a fantastic and epic driving manoeuvre that can really help you evade enemies and guards. Watch for the prompt to appear onscreen, and if you hit it just right, you’ll crash into and take down elements of the environment (like billboards or traffic lights) that will act as obstacles for the chasing enemy.

How To Hack Objects

The great thing about Watch Dogs 2 is that it allows you to manipulate and hack inanimate objects in the world (such as with the automatic takedown). To hack an object, simply hold down the Hack button while targeting an object. This will bring up the hacking module, which will give you four options to choose from (you’ll need to unlock them in the ./Research app):

Trigger: This should be used as a last resort, as it can lead to an immediate explosion of the object.

Proximity Trigger: Using this hack will create a small field around an object. If any enemy, or even Marcus gets close enough, it will trigger the trap. It’s a great distraction as well, as setting it off on one enemy will attract others to its location, allowing you to pass through and explore without issue.

Shut Down: This will switch a device off momentarily. Great for taking out security measures such as motion detectors and laser fencing.

Attract: This is a great means of luring an enemy towards an object by hacking it to make a sound and attracting someone to its whereabouts. A great distraction device.

How To Hack People

You can hack anyone and everybody in Watch Dogs 2. Use that to your advantage! When holding down the hack button, you’ll have four options, some of which have alternate means of attack (or defense).

Acquire (Intel): Hack into a person’s phone to get their details or listen in on a conversation.

Acquire (BotNet): Use this hack to drain a person of their BotNet resources.

Acquire (Resources): This hack will turn the device into a taser and temporarily knock the person to the ground.

Acquire (Bank Account): This allows you to steal funds directly into your bank account.

Acquire (Detonate): This hack can be used to detonate an enemy’s grenade while they’re still carrying it.

Call The Police: Is you might image, this marks a target and calls the cops for them to be arrested. Can be used on cops themselves.

Distract (Phone Call): This is a great stealth move, which distracts an enemy by forcing them to answer their phone.

Distract (Noise): This will cause an unpleasant high-pitched noise in an enemy’s earpiece.

Call A Gang: This hack will call in a gang to “apprehend” a target.

How To Hack Vehicles

Every single vehicle in the game can be hacked, even boats and scooters. You have four hacking options to choose from:

Back Up, Turn Left, Move Forward, Turn Right: This allows you to control a vehicle remotely.

Parked Vehicles: Allows you to park vehicles to create a road block.

Target Vehicles: You can target a vehicle from outside a restricted area and control it remotely to an area of importance.

Moving Vehicles: You can hack vehicles ahead of you, forcing them to veer out of your path for a clear passage down the road.

How To Hack Access Key Locks

There are many situations in Watch Dogs 2 in which you’ll be infiltrating and hacking a location. Many doors however are locked, and while some (light blue) can be hacked quickly and efficiently, others need an access key. You’ll know if it needs one when there is a key icon next to it.

Technically, you can’t “hack” these doors. You can try, but you’ll be told you’ll need an access key. These keys are generally being held by an enemy guard, or can be found on a laptop. To find the key, use a location’s security cameras to cycle through all of the guards and rooms.

How To Hack Closed-Circuit Terminals

Closed-circuit terminals (CCTs) generally house very important access points and gates. Hacking them isn’t that challenging. Simply hold down your Hack button, and profile the door or CCT to find the dataflow.

Once you do this, unlock and shut down the CCT with a physical hack. Doing this will see the dataflow turn from red to blue, and the gate become unlocked with a simply hack.

It’s important to note that not every CCT needs to be unlocked and shut down to complete an operation, although doing so will prove to be to your advantage.

How To Bypass Networks

An important thing to remember is that dataflow is red when protected, and blue once you’ve hacked it. This mini-game allows you to bypass networks, in which you have to move conduit nodes into position to unlock subsequent nodes.

Dataflow simply follows the layout of a building, so simply complete the solution for each Network Bypass. We’ll provide a detailed guide to each Network Bypass in the coming days.

Mass Hacks

Mass hacks cause, as you might imagine, mass havoc. You will need to unlock mass hacks using the ./Research app.

To initiate one, hold up on the D-pad. From the equipment wheel, chose one of the options, and then use the Mass Hack button (right shoulder button) to employ the hack.

Mass Systems Crash: This will shut down every hackable object in the vicinity. Don’t use this if you’re stuck in a heavily guarded building, as it can lock a security door acting as your only exit.

Mass Vehicle Hack: This will cause havoc on the roads, sending all cars in the vicinity into a random direction, completely out of your control.

Mass Comms Disruptor: This will distract every person — including enemies — in the vicinity.


NetHack vision allows you to see the world in a different light, almost like a security camera. It allows you to see RC drones and cameras through walls, and can be great when infiltrating an area. The different coloured objects are represented as follows:

Blue Objects: This is something that is collectible or hackable.

Red Objects: Anything that is locked, such as dataflow, doors and CCTs. Enemies are also red.

Orange Objects: This marks an objective and important intel.

Gray Objects: This represents a moveable object.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more Watch Dogs 2 guides

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