Watch Dogs Guide: Hacking Skills Tips

Check out this guide for explanations and tips on all the Hacking skills in Watch_Dogs!

Check out this guide for explanations and tips on all the Hacking skills in Watch_Dogs!

Chicago in Watch Dogs is full of people and objects just waiting for an experienced hacker to break in. Take money from bank accounts, turn on traffic lights, raise blockers and spike strips, raise and lower bridges, and more. If you want to be the master of hacking, you need to get the skills.

There are plenty of skills to choose from and the hacking skills are most important at the beginning of the game. You also want to get certain skills before others. That’s what I’m here for, to lead you on the right path to hacking anything and everything you can find.

This guide will go over everything in the Hacking Skills tree including: 

  • Hacking Skills List – Every Hacking Skill and unlock requirements.
  • Skills Tips – Suggested skills to get early on.

Hacking Skills List

You start with 3 skills: Hacker’s Tool Kit, Utilities, and Traffic Lights.

Hacker’s Tool Kit – Several hacking exploits that help with combat, stealth, and surveillance. 

Utilities – Overload building utilities and create explosions.

Traffic Lights – Redirect traffic light signals and cause accidents. 

After completing the mission, “Open Your World“, you unlock the ability to purchase several other skills.

Phone Hacks

  • ATM Hack Boost –Costs 3 points. Increases the amount of money you get from hacking bank accounts.

    • Profiler Optimization –Costs 4 points. Automatically highlights high-profile accounts to hack with a blue dotted square. Requires ATM Hack Boost.
    • ATM Hack Boost Plus –  Costs 5 points. Increases the amount even further that you get from hacking bank accounts. Requires Profiler Optimization.
  • Extra Battery –Costs 1 point. Adds an extra battery slot to the phone.
    • Extra Battery 2 –Costs 3 points. Adds an extra battery slot to the phone. Requires Extra Battery.
    • Extra Battery 3 – Costs 5 points. Adds an extra battery slot to the phone. Requires Extra Battery 2.

Utilities Hacks

  • L-Train Control – Costs 1 point. Start and stop the train system.
    • Transformers  – Costs 3 points. Overload transformers to create blackouts. Requires L-Train Control.
  • Disrupt Enemy Comms – Costs 3 points. Stun an enemy by sending feedback into their helmet communication equipment. 
  • Disable Reinforcement Calls –Costs 5 points. Disable an enemy’s ability to call reinforcements.

Network Hacks

  • Gates & Garages – Unlocked after the first mission. Open or close gates and garage doors.
    • Disable Helicopter – Costs 2 points. Disables Helicopters for 15 seconds. Requires Gates & Garages.
  • Improved Disable Helicopter – Costs 3 points. Disables Helicopters for 30 seconds. 
  • Blockers – Costs 1 point. Raises or lowers the city blockers.

    • Road Spikes –Costs 2 points. Raises or lowers city road spikes. Requires Blockers.
  • Bridges – Costs 1 point. Raises or lower bridges. Requires Gates & Garages.
    • Steam Pipes – Costs 3 points. Overload steam pipes to cause explosions. Requires Bridges.

Skills Tips

Easier Escapes and Takedowns

These are suggested skills for making chases or escapes easier: Blockers, Bridges, Road Spikes, L-Train Control, and Steam Pipes.

  • These give you more option than just changing the traffic lights.
  • This helps a lot at the beginning and lets you complete a variety of side missions more easily.

More Money

These are suggested skills for making a lot of money early on: ATM Hack Boost, Profiler Optimization, ATM Hack Boost Plus.

  • These get you more money from hacking bank accounts and is a fast way to make money. Check out my guide, How to Make Money, for more details.

Passive Boosts

These are suggested skills to give you passive boosts to your hacking: Extra Battery tree.

  • These are very helpful because it lets you hack more things before needing to recharge.
  • This helps when driving around and hacking multiple road hazards.

That wraps up this Hacking Skills guide for Watch Dogs. If you have any questions, or suggestions for other tips in the Hacking Skill tree, let me know in the comments below!

About the author


After gaming for 25 years, Synzer leveraged his vast knowledge of RPGs and MMOs into a job as a games journalist, covering the games he loves. Five years later, he's still writing about Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon, and Knights of the Old Republic. Synzer has a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing. You can see him in action on his YouTube channel ( and Twitch (