Watch Dogs Skill Trees: Hacking, Crafting, Driving, Combat

Earlier this month, SlashGear attended a several-hours-long early gameplay session with Ubisoft for the game Watch Dogs. In this session we were given the opportunity to take a relatively in-depth look at how Watch Dogs is going to play out. Our demo session gave us ample time to investigate how we're going to be customizing our character Aiden Pearce throughout the game, giving him hacking skills and abilities as we go.

UPDATE: We now have a full Watch Dogs review for you to peruse – the Skill Trees shared below remain consistent as far as we can tell!

Skills are earned with points you acquire as you do tasks and move through missions. There are four trees you'll be moving through, including Hacking, Driving, Combat, and Crafting Items. Many skills require that you acquire the skills listed lower than them on the skill tree.

Descriptions listed are as they appeared in the PlayStation 4 near-complete demonstration copy of the game we were given access to by Ubisoft. It is possible, however unlikely, that some of these skills could change before the release of the game.

Crafting Items

The Crafting tree is the smallest of the pack, splitting immediately into three branches – Focus Boost, Frag Grenade, and Jam Coms.

A: 1: Focus Boost (no description – allows you to press a button to slow down time and allow you to make decisions at normal speed, but faster than normal since everything else is slow – amplified in Combat skill trees).

B: 1: Frag Grenade. The frag (short for fragmentation) Grenade is an explosive that sprays a hail of shrapnel upon detonation.

2: IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) are high-powered explosives. Their heavy weight means they have a short throw range. Hack to detonate.

3: Proximity IED. The Proximity IED is an improvised explosive that will detonate when it detects movement.

C: 1: Jam Coms. Very popular App! Interrupting phone calls is just the start. Guaranteed to scramble any cop scans too. Yes, very popular indeed.

2: Blackout. Create chaos by plunging the city into darkness. Help all those whining citizens conserve power for the city. *Warning* may cause open sparks – which is also pretty awesome.

3: cfos Scan. Single use cfos scan to detect and tag non-player enemies.


Combat begins with "Quick Switch" allowing you to switch weapons with speed, and moves to Pistol Expert and Shotgun Expert, beginning to split into separate branches from there.

A: 1: Quick Switch. Increase weapons switch speed

2: Pistol expert. Increases rate of fire with semiautomatic pistols.

3: Shotgun expert. Increases shotgun damage against vehicles

3.1: Auto Weapons expert increases burst precision with all automatic weapons

3.2: Sniper Rifle Expert. Increases scope steadiness for sniper rifles

B: 1: Focus. Press R3 to start (or stop) Combat Focus and slow down the perception of time. Focus can be used while driving to hack more effectively.

1.1: Improved focus increases focus duration.

1.2: Slowed focus time moves slower when in Focus.

1.3: Maximized Focus greatly increases total Focus duration.

2: Stealth Sprint. Sprinting has a reduced detection radius.

2.1: Critical Focus replenishes Focus when health is critically low

C: 1: Steady Aim. Decreases weapon recoil when firing any weapon


1.1: Bullet resistance reduces damage suffered from enemy bullets

1.2: Blast resistance greatly reduces damage taken from explosions

1.3: Rapid reload improves reload speed of all weapons

2: Demolitionist increases the amount of carried explosives

2.1: Expert Demolitionist increases the amount of carried explosives

2.2: Enforcer Combat Take Down take down Enforcers in combat.


A: 1: Car Unlock. Automatically disables vehicle alarms and unlocks doors.

2: Defensive Driver. Reduce damage taken from collisions.


2.1: Off-road driver. Improves off-road handling (grass and dirt)

2.2: Offensive driver. Causes more collision damage to enemy vehicles

3: Precision driver. Tires have a lower chance of blowouts.

3.1: Escape artist. Improves the stealth capabilities of Hide-In-Car. Effective when evading choppers.


Hacking is split into several categories, including Traffic Lights, Utilities, and "Hackers Tool Kit." Together they make a unique blend of mischief-making skills.

A: 1: Traffic Lights. Hold square to redirect traffic signals and cause accidents. Press square while the blue diamond flashes to take out vehicles.

1.1.1: Gates and Garages hold square to open or close gates and garage doors

1.1.2: Bridges hold square to open or close the city bridges

1.1.3: Steam Pipes hold square to overload steam pipes beneath the city streets and cause explosions. Press square while the blue diamond flashes to take out vehicles.

1.2.1: Disable Helicopter disable helicopters for 5 seconds.

1.2.2: Improved Disable Helicopter disable helicopter for 10 seconds

1.3.1: Blockers hold square to raise or lower the city blockers. Press square while the blue diamond flashes to take out vehicles.

1.3.2: Road Spikes hold square to raise or lower city road spikes. Press square while the blue diamond flashes to take out vehicles.

B: 1: Utilities (Power) Hold square to overload building utilities and create explosions.

1.1.1: L-Train Control press square to stop or start L-Trains and escape your enemies

1.1.2: Transformers hold to overload transformers to create large electrical explosions. The resulting blackout will conceal you from enemies at night.

1.2.1: Disrupt Enemy Comms hack enemy to stun him by sending feedback into his helmet communication equipment

1.2.2: Disable Reinforcement Calls disable the enemies ability to call reinforcements.


C: 1: Hackers Tool Kit Several hacking exploits that help with combat, stealth, and surveillance. Included is the ability to ghost into the cfOS security cameras to scout any area.

1.1.1: Extra Battery adds an additional battery slot

1.1.2: Extra Battery II adds an additional battery slot

1.1.3: Extra Battery III adds an additional battery slot

1.2.1: ATM Hack Boost (point cost 3) increases the amount of money gained when hacking bank accounts at ATMs.

1.2.2: Profiler Optimization automatically highlights civilians with high value rewards such as system keys, lucrative bank accounts, vehicle unlocks, etc. Press sure to activate the Profiler and learn more about the targeted civilian.

1.2.3: ATM Hack Boost Plus further increases the amount of money gained when hacking bank accounts at ATMs.

BONUS: Notoriety Skills

As sort of a "you get them no matter what" listing alongside your normal skill trees, you'll find Noteriety Skills. These Skills will appear once you've gotten enough Noteriety points – only pulling the biggest heists and doing the greatest feats of hacking will bring you to these levels.

500 to unlock Anti-vehicle Rounds boost gun damage to vehicles

2000 Nitro Boost increases Nitros duration in Online Races

5000 Jam Coms Boost increase the duration of Jam Coms

7500 Precision Scanning – Shrink the Hacking Search Zone more at each step.

10000 Contract Bonus Increase cash earned from Online and Fixer Contracts


These are the bones of the game Watch Dogs. Here we've got the skeleton on which the game is built, and your character will grow and change. There are also weapons and some aesthetics you might change via your basic clothing selections as well.

Find out more about "customizations" in all their forms here in our chat with Watch Dogs Lead Gameplay Designer Danny Belanger. There you'll find that Watch Dogs isn't so much about aesthetic customizations as it is about customizing your gameplay experience.

Stick around for the rest of our early look series of articles on this game as well as our eventual full review. Also note that any gameplay you see in this article is indicative of highest-end PC action, not of any other platform.

NOTE: While it has been suggested by Sony that these bits are from PS4 gameplay, our best judgement is that these demoes were taken from a higher-end PC. PlayStation 4 gameplay wasn't quite so nice (though above and beyond most) when we demoed it earlier this month. Check our Watch Dogs first-impressions article for further details.