"In this city, no one can hide from me. No one."
A game by Ubisoft Montreal
is set Twenty Minutes into the Future
in a Chicago
run by MegaCorps
and the "Central Operating System" (aka ctOS), a massive software that monitors and manages all aspects of city life
akin to a computer operating system. You play as Aiden Pearce, a rebellious hacker vigilante out to fight the system that the city's corrupt elite abuses for their own ends. The most unique point of the series is the ability to interact with the surrounding world
via Hollywood Hacking
: players hold the ability to steal cash, trigger events, and even attack enemies using Aiden's phone
, which leads to unique combat and gameplay. The game also features both standalone and asynchronous multiplayer, where players can seamlessly "invade" other people's single-player games.
Opening during a heist at the Merlaut Hotel, Aiden acts as a proxy for fellow hacker Damien Brenks in order to siphon millions from customer bank accounts. The duo is caught in the act and, no thanks to Damien's stubbornness, traced for their lack of caution
and forcing Aiden to flee the scene. Later driving through a tunnel with his niece Lena, Aiden is pursued by a group of hitmen, who shoot out his tyres to make an example of him
; losing control of the car, Aiden crashes, and the accident ends with Lena's death. Fast-forward a year, and Aiden, now a Grey Hat Hacker
codenamed "The Fox", finds himself pummelling Maurice Vega, the man who pulled the trigger
. Following a few loose ends that come from his interrogation, Aiden finds himself digging deeper into the past to get the revenge he craves.
The gameplay is a unique blend, taking cues and themes from several other series, including Deus Ex
, Assassin's Creed
, Splinter Cell
, and Grand Theft Auto
, with stylistic evocations of Person of Interest
. It also shares social, technological and political elements with Daniel Suarez' Post-Cyberpunk
. The game was previously to be released as a launch game for PlayStation 4
on November 15, 2013 but was delayed until May 27, 2014, when it was finally released on PC, PlayStation 3
, PlayStation 4
, Xbox 360
, and Xbox One
The Wii U version has been confirmed to be releasing later than the other versions of the game
, instead launching on November 18, 2014 for North America, and November 21 for Europe.
A single player DLC called Bad Blood
, focusing on T-Bone, was released on September 30th. (For owners of the Season Pass, it already came out on the 23rd.)
Tropes to be found in the game:
open/close all folders
- 555: The phone numbers in the game.
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Aiden's phone somehow never fully runs out of batteries. But, honestly, would the game be as fun if it did?
- A.K.A.-47: Zig-zagged throughout the game. Some guns will have their IRL names, some will have names based off real life. Examples include:
- Real names: The ACR, Px4, AK-47, M107.
- Modified names: the 416 (HK416), 417 (HK417), SMG-11 (MAC-11), 1911 (M1911)note , R-2000.
- Fictional Names: Goblin (Patriot Ordnance P416), P-9 (SIG-Sauer P250 Compact), Destroyer (Barrett M82).
- all lowercase letters: Present in the Arc Words and Tagline.
- Alternate History: The backstory begins in the aftermath of the Northeast blackout of 2003, which in this universe was deliberately caused by a disgruntled employee, T-Bone Grady, also known as Raymond Kenney, the creator of the ctOS as opposed to the grid being overexerted due to lack of maintenance and external factors, as it was in real life.
- There's a point of divergence even earlier than that: while in real life, Al Capone's Chicago Outfit crushed it's Irish rivals and became the dominant criminal force in Chicago, in the game it went completely the other way. Instead, all of Chicago's Prohibition-era Irish Gangs united into the Chicago South Club, which outlasted, then absorbed, the Outfit.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Early on, Aiden's hideout, a motel room, is attacked while Clara is making a visit.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Your only reward for completing Digital Trips. This is mostly because the Trips were added late in development.
- Arc Words: "everything is connected."
- Artificial Brilliance:
- The civilians in the game act less like set pieces and more like, well, civilians. They react to gunfire, they panic, and they act realistically when their phones get jammed. Which is to say, pissed.
- This can and often will lead to civilians also becoming active hazards, since many will dial 911 at the first sign of trouble (or, if your Reputation is low enough, simply upon seeing you), causing the police to hone in on your location if you don't interrupt the call quickly enough. Considering you spend much of the game on the run from the cops, this isn't exactly a good thing. Luckily, you can throw their phones on the ground to intimidate them, hold them at gunpoint (if they're looking in your direction), jam their phone signal, or just shoot them.
- This can, however, be turned to your advantage. Got an area full of enemy mooks that are giving you trouble? Fire a few shots into the air so that a civilian calls the cops, let the ctOS scan detect you, then hide in an area close to where the mooks are. Watch and be amazed as the cops clear out the mooks for you!
- Fixers and other enemy mooks will actively chase you down. If you run too far and try to abandon a shoot-out, they'll get into their cars and hunt you down.
- During Criminal Convoys, if you take down the front car, the rest of the convoy will stop (much like real life), with the target taking cover as far back as possible, with the mooks and bodyguards going in to take you out.
- During an active pursuit, police cars will split up, cover side roads, and attempt to shepherd the player into roadblocks.
- Artificial Stupidity: The AI is woeful in terms of driving. Hack the traffic lights. Hilarity Ensues. Every single time.
- Raising a bridge during a car chase will net you a kick-ass jump, and leave your pursuers behind, often with some even willingly driving off the bridge.
- Parking by the side of the road can result in a pile-up of cars who won't drive around despite huge space to do so.
- The vehicle driving AI can't handle being boxed in properly.
- Vehicles will smash into dozens of other vehicles with the slightest bit of panic.
- Going into the water can result in enemies unable to figure out how to jump over obstacles, blocking the rest of the people chasing you.
- AI NPC's hanging out on the docks will fall into the water constantly.
- NPC's will drop their phones and walk away if slightly bumped.
- If you stand around two NPC's kissing, they will continue to make out while the woman will tell you to go away and eventually, while in the middle of french kissing the other NPC, will say "I will scream rape".
- If you slightly bump someone about to call the cops with your car, they will stop. No one else will ever try calling the cops even if you leave the general area.
- The on-foot evasion AI will not go around obstacles at all, instead electing to 'parkour' over them, which can result in 50 year old construction workers jumping over traffic cones, or taking a route that is far slower than simply running around the obstacles.
- The Police AI is utterly incapable of pursuing you if you go into the water, even though they have helicopters. Police boats exist, however they do not appear while being pursued.
- Even worse, you can escape the police by riding The L-Trains and continue to hack it so it leaves the station when it stops at one. And you can see them still tailing you.
- Enemies whose explosives you hack don't run after throwing them. Enemies whose explosives you hack also lob their explosive at waist level. Combine these two unassuming behaviors with a barrier in front of an enemy at least waist-high, and what happens?
- In the "Alone" Digital Trip, a good way to evade robots if you've been spotted early is to run into a zone you've cleared already. Watch and laugh as around a dozen robots run straight to their deaths trying to follow you.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Profiler can show you little hints about what a person is like. This can range from wanting to be a chain divorcer, a musician with quite the crime record, or someone who frequents fetish sites. One very dark example of this is an HIV positive blood donor.
- Anti-Frustration Feature: As long as you don't hit civilians or cause major damage while driving, the police will not come after you no matter how many traffic rules you break. They also don't respond when there are fixers trying to gun you down.
- Aiden's phone never runs out of battery charge outside of the battery cells you use to power hacks.
- Anti-Hero: Aiden Pearce is some form of this. How far he slides on the anti-hero scale is mostly up to the player. He'll never be a squeaky clean white knight, but you can do everything from using the city's crime detection network to protect the citizens, to stealing from peoples bank accounts and selling their cars to chop shops. In the first gameplay trailer, Aiden causes a roadblock to trigger to catch one of his targets - and when he's sneaking around the crashed cars, there are very clearly some dead civilians, thanks to wrecking their cars.
- Augmented Reality: Some of the minigames take place in some form of this: they're a game within Aiden's phone that lets him collect floating "coins" as he platforms around the place (Coin Rush) or shoot up space invaders (NZVN).
- Badass: Aiden Pearce.
- Best Served Cold: Aiden is on his quest of vigilantism after someone intending to kill him instead killed his six-year old niece.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Lucky Quinn and Damien Brenks.
- Big Brother Is Watching: The topic of intrusive and all-encompassing surveillance will be a big one in the game and taken Up to Eleven in that other players can spy and intervene from security cameras.
- Big Damn Heroes: When you intervene and prevent a crime the Profiler alerts you to, you are this.
- Blackmail: The reason a hit was ultimately put on Aiden. Lucky was just trying to protect the blackmail he had on the mayor, who killed a woman who was also a Blume executive. Iraq also takes part in this, collecting a large amount on everybody which he keeps in his server room.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: One of the Uplay bonus items is a golden handgun.
- Bittersweet Ending: The main villains in the game get their asses handed to them, but most of Aiden's allies are dead, traumatized, or angry; Iraq, Lucky, and Damien are killed by Aiden, a slavery ring is cracked down, and the secret files are used to expose mass corruption in the city, including the mayor. However, Clara dies, Nicky and Jackson are seriously traumatized and leave the city, Aiden and Damien's final battle causes untold amounts of damage and ctOS is declared a success and expands to multiple cities around the world. DedSec is NOT pleased by this turn of events (particularly with Aiden's refusal to cooperate with them and plant their code inside ctOS), and becomes more extremist. Pretty much the only two people unaffected by the ending are T-Bone and Jordi.
- Bonus Feature Failure: As fun (and frustrating) the Digital Trips can be, there's no point in playing them at all, besides clothing. They aren't even included in the game's completion rate thanks to being added in late in development.
- Most of the pre-order exclusive missions fall into this, with two notable examples being Breakthrough, which is little more than a glorified Criminal Convoy, and "Signature Shot", which is pretty much your standard "tail the guy and then kill everyone at his destination" mission.
- Boss In Mooks Clothing: Enforcers may count as this, as they take a lot of punishment, carry high-powered weaponry, and can't be taken down with melee without unlocking a 5-point skill. They typically only appear at most in pairs accompanying larger groups of lesser mooks. Later subverted with Iraq, who is classified as an Enforcer but is an actual boss.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted and played straight at the same time. Your ammo is nominally finite — you'll see it diminish when you use it — but the limits are astronomical compared to what you're likely to use in a given firefight. And any time you go through even a brief loading screen (dying, sleeping, starting a mission or side game, fast travelling, and so on) all your ammo gets refilled.
- Bullet Time: The "Focus" ability, unlocked early on. Developers said that it represents Aiden's quick thinking and reflex.
- Canon Welding: Averted. References to Abstergo are littered throughout the game, with the implications being that the two games share the same universe. However, Ubisoft said that while they considered it, it was decided that it wouldn't go beyond references or minor cameos.
- The Cameo: Olivier Garneau is the target of the final Criminal Convoy mission. Though it's not an assassination; Aiden is only tasked to knock him out.
- Church of Happyology: Can sometimes be seen in random civilians' profiles.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: A modernised version with sweater and jeans under the Badass Longcoat, a baseball cap instead of a fedora and a neck gaiter that he pulls up over this mouth and nose when he's about to do something overtly illegal for the mask. It looks more badass and less Hipsterish than it sounds. Although the downloadable "1920 Mobster" outfit replaces the baseball cap with a proper fedora.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: You can't use a melee takedown on Iraq even if you've unlocked the ability to use melee takedowns on Enforcers.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Red=Warning/NPC enemies, Purple=Online Multiplayer, Yellow=Campaign/Civilians, Blue=Side missions
- Crapsack World: Even beyond the already spooky notion of a nigh-omniscient operating system, the incidence of crime in Chicago is VERY high, with major subplots surrounding serial killers, gangs, human trafficking, gun-running, and more. And that's not even getting into the Profiler and Privacy Invasion mechanics, which open up whole galaxies of this by allowing the player glimpses into the lives of just about everyone they meet, and the results are almost uniformly dark: frequenters of racist blogs, deadbeat husbands, long-suffering mothers, irresponsible fathers, drug addicts, disease victims, and even an HIV-positive blood donor, among many others.
- Cutscene Incompetence: Usually averted by way of a subversion; most often a cutscene will happen, Aiden will do something stupid (like surrender), then the buttons you normally press to do things like hack, enter bullet-time, or deliver a melee smackdown will appear on the screen, QTE style (only not very quick), letting Aiden kick ass, gaining the upper hand or at least restoring the balance and putting the player back in control. That said one massively jarring and heart-breaking example of this trope plays out to full effect near the end of the game with Clara's death. Immediately afterward, Aiden is in Focus mode taking down her attackers; had he done so a second sooner...
- The Cracker: Aiden Pearce, and others exist in the universe and might show up overall.
- Cyberpunk/Post Cyber Punk: A more realistic variation on this theme compared to most, however.
- Damsel in Distress: Aiden spends significant lengths of the game trying to rescue his sister, whom Damian kidnaps.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Aiden may or may not fall under this trope, depending on the player's actions.
- Demoted to Extra: Joseph DeMarco, one of Aiden's main targets in the trailer, ends up as an illegal auction organizer in the game. You kick his ass at the end of the Human Trafficking sidequest.
- Difficult but Awesome: Much of the the game is setup to allow the player to build up their arsenal of hacks, weapons and equipment, before letting them run loose.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: One of the game's Side Quests involves using cameras to assemble and scan QR codes to obtain hidden audio logs. Got the bright idea to try and scan one with an actual QR reader? They've covered that, too.
- Disc One Nuke: It is quite possible to unlock a number of powerful weapons before continuing the campaign, such as the Spec Ops Goblinnote (complete the Weapons Shipment collectibles) or the Destroyernote (complete 10 Criminal Convoys).
- Double Unlock: Some skills require you to do diverse things or activities. This can range from doing 10 Chess game puzzles to completing investigations. This first and biggest one that players will meet is the one that requires the player to have passed a certain story mission before they can have access to the rest of the skill trees.
- Dragged into Drag: One of the Privacy Invasion collectibles is a man being dressed up as a princess (off camera) by his daughter (and his attempts to talk her out of it without upsetting her).
- Dramatically Missing the Point: The government's response to a massive power outage caused by a hacker? Connect every city's infrastructure into a single, centralized control system. Which has now been compromised by hackers. Great work, guys.
- Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: The developers decided to let other players join one's single-player campaign spontaneously, without explicitly splitting the single and multiplayer modes. However this is an optional feature so offline players can still enjoy their game with no adverse effects, and if you'd rather play online and not get hacked? Don't worry, there's an option to be unable to be invaded.
- Dueling Hackers: At some points in the game, other hackers will start to use your own city-hacking tactics against you Defalt and Damien, to be specific. Multiplayer also has you trying to find other fixers. All of these are justified variations of the trope, as the hacking here has to do with messing with the city and the other people's phones on foot instead of pure programming. Though the traditional thing happens with Defalt and Damien as well.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The Bunker, which acts as a player headquarters of sorts.
- Elite Mooks: Two levels of Elites. The nominal Elites are simply well-armored mooks which are still vulnerable to headshots. The toughest mooks are Enforcers, fully-armored enemies armed with powerful shotguns or machine-guns and capable of taking a hell of a beating.
- Even Evil Has Standards: DedSec in the Gamescom 2013 trailer hacks a public service broadcast to make it clear that Aiden (who is abusing the ctOS and is called a vigilante) is not one of them, and is acting separate from other groups interests. Varying on the playstyle, Aiden can be this.
- Everything Is Online: Everything and everyone - Aiden gladly exploits that.
- Face-Heel Turn: Though Jordi never pretends he's anything more noble than a hired gun — and Aiden even speculates openly at one point that they could be hunting one another if circumstances were only slightly different — his eleventh-hour switch from Aiden's ally to his enemy certainly counts as this. After their confrontation — which he manages to survive — Jordi returns Maurice Vega to Aiden for him to deal with.
- Game-Breaking Bug: Around the first month that the game was out, there was a bug that had a random chance of either permanently deleting all of your currently-held weapons or corrupting your save file where loading it got it stuck at the 90% mark (thus leading to it being called the 90% glitch) if you were killed while invading another player's game. If you didn't wait the patch out that fixed your save file, your only option was to start over from scratch.
- Genre Savvy: Delford Wade (a.k.a. Iraq) is the chief of Viceroy gangster that knows technology. As such, Iraq's secret room has no cameras for you to hack. You need to go inside yourself.
- GIFT: You would be surprised what people say when they think you can't see them.
- The Online Hacking targets can fall squarely into this trope. A lot of them seem to take great joy in taunting their victims via text message.
- G.I.R.L.: Inverted. Badboy17 isn't a boy. Or 17. She's a French-Canadian hacker, named Clara Lille.
- A God Am I: Damien. When you are able to crack the entire network at your fingertips, you can practically do almost anything, but he gets a bit too full of his own power.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Neither Pearce nor his opponents are afraid to get their hands dirty. Aiden makes sure to not be overly cruel or callous when dealing with his enemies—one time he goes through an elaborate prison infiltration just to intimidate a witness into silence instead of killing the guy—but on the other hand he's still a thief and his primary means of income is siphoning people's ATM accounts.
- Guilt-Free Extermination War: Three of the major enemy groups you can kill without any karma penalty: Fixers, Gang members, and ctOS guards. The first two as they are criminals, and the last one because all of them have really sketchy histories. Also when stopping crimes you only get less Karma if you kill them. Or penalized, depending on the crime.
- Hacking Minigame: Mostly averted, surprisingly - almost all hacks are just one click of the button. The REAL trick is figuring out what to hack and when. Played straight with the privacy intrusions, which sometimes present a minigame to reach the area you're trying to intrude.
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: Establishing Character Moment for Lucky Quinn: a nervous thief you've delivered to him during a partially-botched (but successful!) mission reports in to Quinn. Quinn fake-consoles him and asks "Have you had a chance to talk to your girl? Your mama? Your friends?" Then he executes him without warning.
- Heroic Bystander:
- Hero Insurance: Aiden has no qualms in blowing up roadways, causing multi-car pileups, and generally causing a lot of collateral damage in the name of justice, nor does anyone seem to mind unless you're actively killing civilians in the process. Even more egregiously, if the ctOS Mobile mode is any indication, neither do the police.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Aiden is an outright wanted criminal who's trying to kill certain targets, but seems to be trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, his targets control the ctOS. Of course if you have Aiden take on extreme methods and do stuff like killing police officers and Innocent Bystanders indiscriminately, you aren't giving the citizens of Chicago any reason to doubt that reputation.
- Hollywood Hacking: Hacking is an important game mechanic, so some liberties are unavoidable. It's justified by Aiden not hacking per se, so much as using exploits and backdoors he made when creating the ctOS.
- Hyper Awareness: Aiden is highly intelligent, has sharp reflexes, and is a quick thinker on his feet. This gives him an edge over most opponents in combat, as he is quick to find holes in their strategies, estimate his own chances, and react accordingly. In gameplay, this is reflected by the Bullet Time mechanic.
- Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Hacked (raised) bridges become this to AI pursuers. Almost any vehicle can make the jump between one end of the bridge and the other — certainly any vehicle driven by pursuers — but you can hack the bridge, speed up and over yourself, and be safe in the knowledge that they're stuck on the other side unable to come directly at you.
- Interface Screw: During Act IV when you're going after Defalt, the screen glitches with brief glimpses of his face. Happens again in Act V when Damien is in control of the ctOS.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Aiden faking surrender to cops before causing a blackout, knocking one out, shooting two others in the legs before taking off on a boat.
- The Irish Mob: The Chicago South Club, who, in this universe, outlasted and replaced the Chicago Outfit as the city's top crime syndicate.
- Karma Houdini: Blume, despite fulfilling all of the hallmarks for a corrupt Mega Corp., manages to escape any blame for the ctOS failure at the end of the game, as well as the numerous abuses committed by Lucky Quinn using their systems.
- Karma Meter: One briefly flashes up in game after Pearce either stops or commits a crime, and it functions as a "reputation meter", meaning it gauges how the city thinks of you: either as a hero, or a menace, with civilians actions towards and around Aiden changing accordingly. For example, if Aiden is viewed positively by the city, they may refrain from calling the cops if they see him take down a target, simply assuming it's being done for the greater good. If viewed negatively, however, people will recognize him from news reports and call the police immediately. The karma meter is more of a risk-reward restraint; it's easy to fill up or empty. If you kill a few civilians in car accidents without redeeming yourself by stopping a few crimes, your meter drops sharply. You're not a GTA protagonist, and there is a consequence to driving on the sidewalk.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch:
- The majority of NPCs tend to have some hack-derived detail to damn them by, ranging from possessing stolen property or missing parole to Felony Misdemeanors like frequenting fetish websites.
- This goes double for the mercenaries guarding ctOS server sites or gang members. Profiling them reveals all sorts of nasty things from abusive backgrounds to "killed a dolphin." (Seriously.) Sometimes goes into You Bastard territory, as the game will note the guy you're about to beat senseless or shoot in the face may, for example, have serious mental health issues.
- Knee Capping: One of the non-lethal ways to incapacitate enemy combatants.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: Downplayed example, as Aiden actually is dealing with seriously evil assholes, but he responds to a crank call on his little sister by "taking down" the guy who did it, either with his baton or a pistol.
- Letter Motif: Though two of them more commonly go by nicknames, all three major antagonists in the game have first names beginning with the letter 'D' - Delford "Iraq" Wade, Dermot "Lucky" Quinn, and Damien Brenks.
- The nickname of a minor antagonist - Default - also follows this motif.
- Lighthouse Point: A small island can be seen far off of the coast with a single lighthouse on it and not much else. This is where Aiden finally confronts Damien at the end of the game and uses his phone to overload the bulb to serve as a distraction when Jordi shows up and holds him at gunpoint. After disarming him Aiden then shoots Damien in the head. The achievement the player unlocks for completing this mission even features a lighthouse icon on it as well.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Five of them. There's even spreadsheets◊ dedicated to tracking what editions come with what bonuses, and what retailers offer what Pre-Order Bonus.
- The Lopsided Arm of the Law: Aiden is better at using the crime-prevention system than the actual cops (who don't have complete access to it yet; it's still in beta-test), enabling him to find and expose criminal masterminds. They tend to come down on him like a ton of bricks instead of the other bad guys.
- Luck-Based Mission: Online hacking, to an extent. Since you spawn in the vicinity of your target, if said target is in an isolated location with few to no pedestrians, it's virtually impossible to hack them without getting spotted.
- Lumber Mill Mayhem: One of the gang takedowns is located at the Pawnee lumber mill. The nearby hotspot even hangs a lampshade on this trope with its description.
- Made of Iron: The police, oddly enough. Unless you use environmental takedowns to stop them, they will hound you to the ends of the Earth (or at least Chicago).
- Magical Computer: Aiden is shown jamming all communications in a ten foot radius to cause a distraction, getting personal information on people in his line of sight, making traffic lights all shine green to cause a six-car pileup, and finally raising a drawbridge as he jumps it to evade pursuit. All by fiddling with his phone one-handed. Often without looking at it. Justified in that he's using it to access back doors he himself made in the city's control system, which is hooked up to everything.
- Mega Corp.: The Blume Corporation is responsible for developing ctOS, which enables them to access the private information of every citizen in Chicago, putting them (and those with backdoors into ctOS) in de facto control of the city.
- Mighty Glacier: Enforcers. They're twice as tough and carry weapons twice as powerful as most of the other mooks you'll fight, but all that heavy armor and weaponry has a noticeable impact on their movement speed, meaning they're not able to take cover as easily. Of course, they make up for this by forgoing cover entirely in favor of marching towards your position while constantly firing their weapons in the hopes of outgunning you.
- Money for Nothing: You'll likely hack hundreds of thousands of dollars out of civilian bank accounts, and earn even more cash from missions. The only thing to spend it on are weapons, crafting components, cars, clothes, and a few mini-games. Most guns can be unlocked via achievements or swiped off of enemies, and as long as you're not going into every encounter guns-blazing, ammo should never be an issue. Crafting components can be found lying around all over the place and can be procured easily via item dropoffs, buying cars is completely unnecessary as you unlock cars via achievements that are just as good as the ones you can buy, clothes are purely optional and amount to little more than Palette Swaps for Aiden's default outfit anyway, and the mini-games are typically so cheap that you can get your money back by hacking one person.
- Mood Whiplash: Absolutely everywhere in this game. Hacking ctOS lets you look behind closed doors, any closed doors. One hack might net you a funny video of a guy yelling at the FPS he's playing, and the next will show you a cannibal making a quick snack.
- Mundane Utility: Pearce's phone can set off EMPs, give him details on anyone he meets, raise drawbridges, crack someone's bank account or an ATM and steal a few grand... or just make phone calls with it.
- A hilarious example comes when dealing with elevators. Aiden operates them by hacking into their control panels, instead of, you know, just pressing the buttons like any sane person would do.
- Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: Turns out that the reason Aiden and Damien had hits put out on them was because they almost found the video file of Mayor Rushmore murdering his mistress when they were hacking into the Merlaut Hotel. Lucky Quinn, the head of the Chicago South Club (essentially the mob), was using this to blackmail the Mayor, and he and the Club are also in league with the Mega Corp. Blume to have control over the city to streamline their illegal activities, namely a human-trafficking ring.
- Nice Hat: Aiden sports a ballcap. There's also a Mobster DLC outfit which gives him a fedora.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Inverted with the inclusion of real world celebrities like Aisha Tyler and Brad Kesleowski.
- Defalt shares a lot of similarities with Deadmau5.
- No Endor Holocaust: Averted. Everything Pearce does will have an effect. One character even states flatly that he's going to get people, innocent people, hurt. For example, the first time he causes a blackout in game for an entire baseball stadium, the police note that the outage also caused several arc lights to fall, injuring civilians.
- No Flow in CGI: Averted as much as possible - Aiden's jacket in particular.
- Not the Intended Use: Got fixers driving after you? Trap them on the bridge to the Bunker.
- Optional Stealth: Sneak around and use takedowns, hack things for misdirection and stealthy attacks, or just go in guns blazing. Your call.
- Pacifist Run: Word of God confirms that it's possible to get through the majority of the game with nothing but your trusty cell phone and some stealth. However, there will be some scripted sequences where gunfights and killing will be unavoidable. Also, knocking out an enemy with a non-lethal melee attack will earn the player double the XP than simply shooting and killing him.
- Palette Swap: All of Aiden's costumes fall prey to this. There are some minor changes to the style of his coat, hat, pants, and shoes, but he's still wearing the same basic outfit.
- Player Data Sharing: The game allows players to "hack" into other players' single-player campaigns to gain additional resources. In-game, the player being hacked experiences it as Pearce being tracked by hostile surveillance cameras. Wi-Fi hotspots in game can be used as a way for players to "gift" other players who also log in to the hotspot with money, ammunition, crafting components or other items.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Lena Pearce's murder motivates Aiden on a quest for revenge. The murder itself was prompted by Rose Washington's accidental death at Mayor Rushmore's hands, footage of which was unknowingly intercepted by Aiden and Damien in the Merlaut Hotel.
- Police Are Useless: Unless they're coming after Aiden, Watch_Dogs gives new meaning to the phrase No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Aiden gets one aversion out of this by calling the police on a human trafficking auction he just broke up.
- Post-Climax Confrontation: An interesting example, given that the stakes are much higher than the main plot, and many more people are likely to die if it fails. Even after Aiden kills Lucky Quinn and uploads the mayor's blackmail video, Damien has Clara killed and takes over the entirety of ctOS, necessitating that Aiden stop him before he brings the whole system to its knees.
- Private Military Contractors: Blume's guards for the ctOS sites.
- The Quiet One: Aiden's nephew, Jackson, has been quite mute since Lena's death, only ever speaking freely to his mother. His single dialogue with Aiden in-game is a poignant What the Hell, Hero? moment.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Fences and traffic lights will crumble before your car - but not trees. Actually, in real life, such man-made fixtures are designed to snap away easily to limit damage and injury in a collision. Mother Nature grants no such mercy.
- Also, Aiden being able to hack traffic lights from the phone, instantly and with just the press of a button is actually realistic — as shown here, the real traffic light control systems of many cities are so insecure it can be literally possible to develop a smartphone app that could actually hack them with a single button.
- Revealing Cover Up: Somewhat. The whole plot kicks off with a currently unknown person wanting Aiden removed for stumbling on something he shouldn't have when hacking bank accounts. This leads to a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Aiden's part.
- Right Wing Militia Fanatic: The Pawnee Militia, who T-Bone is at war with. They get more detail in Bad Blood.
- Samus is a Girl: You wouldn't think that someone identifying themselves as Badboy17 would actually be a woman named Clara.
- Scenery Gorn: Rossi-Fremont. The whole place is falling apart, with entire buildings at least partially collapsed, and it generally looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. One look will leave you amazed that people actually still live here.
- Self-Deprecation: One ctZNOS video you can hack shows a father poking holes in his son's game of Assassin's Creed and wondering why there's always a confession when he kills a guy.
- Sequel Hook: Despite the huge scandal resulting from Aiden's actions, Blume actually comes out stronger, with them ready to unveil ctOS 2.0, and one of their executives set to become the next mayor for Chicago. In addition, DedSec finally takes off the kid gloves and openly declares war against Blume, and they've also promised to take revenge on Aiden for refusing to grant them system access to ctOS.
- Serial Killer: One of the side-missions has Aiden investigating murders committed by the "Fingerpaint Killer."
- Shared Universe: With Assassin's Creed. While Word of God is that there won't be a crossover & each game is their own story, they do place Easter Eggs in one another that hint at the other game & exist in the same canon. Particularly, Aiden Pierce is responsible for killing a character from Assassin's Creed 4 who vanished in Chicago at that exact same time.
- Smart People Play Chess: Inverted Trope. There's a chess minigame which can be played at several locations. Playing it enough unlocks the final adrenaline mode skill; the in-game explanation for it is that it represents Aiden's ability to think quickly, implying that playing chess helped make him smarter.
- The Stinger: Want to execute the guy who got your niece killed because he didn't have the balls to fight back, or spare him because he lost his wife in the most horrible way as a consequence? Your choice.
- String Theory: Aidan has one of these set up in the hotel room he lives out of. Oddly, he only references it a few times and you can't interact with it in-game at all.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Aiden's motivation is that a hit was ordered on him and the assassin killed his niece instead, sending him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Take That: During one of the Privacy Invasions, two women can be seen playing a Kinect fitness game, with one of the women complaining about the motion controls.
- Tank Goodness: One of the minigames involves Aiden taking control of a Spider Tank in virtual reality.
- Technopath: Aiden can hack so many things he may as well be one. If it runs off of electricity, he has some way of subverting it.
- Title Drop: All of the story missions get name-checked while playing them, with the exception of "A Blank Spot There-ish", which happens before the actual mission. Also happens to the game itself near the end, just before you hack into the ctOS satellite. DedSec contacts you, asking for 30 seconds for them to upload their own program into the system so they can keep an eye on Blume, stating "We will be the watchdogs". Amusingly enough, despite being the protagonist, Aiden declines.
- Too Dumb to Live: Some mooks are smart enough to toss away hacked explosives before they can detonate. Others... aren't. And if you're quick enough to shoot them and make them drop the explosive before they get a chance to throw it, they'll never try again.
- Truth in Television:
- Disturbingly, much of the game's recurring themes. One central theme is the Darknet, a place where absolute anonymity (hence "dark" as in "you cannot see them and vice versa") is almost perfect and where piracy, crime, and even discussions about illegal acts are rampant. Seriously. (You need to set up a special browser to access any of them). Vulnerability of the essential infrastructure to cyberattacks are topics hotly debated in media and beyond.
- While the real Chicago does not have a ctOS, it does contain surveillance systems that are similar to those seen in the game. In fact when Ubisoft started the project in 2008, they were concerned they were making the various surveillance methods too unrealistic. Over time though they realized that the surveillance methods employed by their fictional Chicago and the real Chicago were disturbingly similar.
- In the 90's, the Cabrini-Green projects (stylized here as Rossi-Freemont) were known as "The Killing Fields" due to gang violence, with buildings fortified with sniper nests aimed at killing anyone that crossed the courtyard. Members of the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords did indeed join the military and come back to train other gang members in military tactics.
- Even more disturbingly, it turns out much of the hacking in Watch Dogs is feasible in one degree or another, without a ctOS. Everything from cars, ATMs, security cameras and pacemakers.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Set in 2013, with only slightly futuristic premise.
- Vengeance Feels Empty: A deliberately Averted Trope. Aiden realizes that this is usually where people say they just feel empty, but he feels "awake" when he kills Lucky Quinn.
- Video Game Caring Potential: In addition to attaining your primary goals, you can intervene with unrelated matters, like a violent domestic dispute, simply for the sake of helping the non-Asshole Victim. Also, the dev team included sympathetic Profiler details for some enemies, things such as "Sole caregiver for ailing mother" in the hopes that it would make players think twice about using lethal force against them.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Ranging from playing The Unfettered to Kick the Dog hacking of non-Asshole Victims, there's plenty of ways to be a jerk.
- Vigilante Man: Aiden's cause appears to be some mix of this and La Résistance. His efforts to free the world from the stranglehold of information control and/or avenge some personal wrong done to him by the Chicago mob has put him at odds with the law but he knows it has to be done.
- Virtual Reality: A step up from the AR games are the "Digital Trips," where Aiden plugs something in his ear that makes him hallucinate entirely new video game genres. Chicago itself is the same, but the rules of the game change, including Aiden's skill-set. It's actually a very clever way for the game to have its cake and eat it too—it can maintain the real-world, present-day setting with serious mood and crime drama, but still have room for goofy sandbox side activities. Some of them are definitely influenced by Aiden's psyche. The list of DT's are:
- Psychedelic: Aiden is literally tripping in this mode. Aiden is supposed to bounce from flower to flower, with more precise landings on the flower's bud increasing your score multiplier. However, hitting the ground resets your score multiplier, nets you a score penalty, and sends you back to the previous checkpoint.
- Spider Tank: You pilot a spider tank, taking on objectives to wreak havoc on a little area of Chicago. The gameplay is similar to the videogame adaption of a certain other cyberpunk franchise. The tank even has a female A.I.!
- Madness: You drive in a armored car trying to complete objectives involving mowing down demons. This mode has an announcer who seems to be a dark side of Aiden, (Played by the voice of Damien) wanting him to indulge on the murdering.
- Alone: As the only lone human in a darkened Chicago, with security-camera-men patrolling the darkened streets, you have to bring light back to Chicago by deactivating generators scattered around the city. This mode plays more on stealth. His sister's voice is the Voice of the Legion, accusing him of destroying everything; even his entire family. "He should have been the one who died; not her."
- Conspiracy: You use the profiler to uncover hidden cyborgs within crowds of NPC's, and shoot them in their weak spots to take them out. Once you're aware of them, they're aware of you, so you have to take them out quickly — very quickly in the case of the ones who can kill you from any distance with a 'Cyborg Bomb.' This digital trip is DLC and comes free with the Season Pass.
- All of these are also playable as T-Bone in the Bad Blood DLC.
- Weapon of Choice: Aiden's smartphone, and his collapsible baton and (non-collapsible) gun. The game promotes using them in that order.
- Weirdness Censor: After a certain amount of stealing cars and throwing them into Lake Michigan, causing car accidents by hacking the traffic lights, causing endless destruction, vaulting cars by hacking the bumper at just the right time, it's amazing how the citizens just carry on with their days like nothing happened. Most hilarious when you send a car airborne and the driver doesn't even get out, despite getting stuck on the bumper.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: One mission has you pursuing rival hacker Defalt in a harrowing car chase. It's possible for him to escape. If he gets away, he is never heard from again within the story, despite having figured prominently in the plot up to that point. In a weirdly appropriate example of the trope, Defalt wears a stylized mouse mask. The Bad Blood DLC seems to make the "he gets away" ending canon, as a news report describes him running away from his show but does not mention his body being found, nor does T-Bone speak of him in the past tense.
- We never do find out what was on the laptop delivered to Lucky Quinn at the end of Backseat Driver, nor do we ever learn why he wanted it so bad. Especially shocking, since with Aiden looking for any clues to uncover the conspiracy, as well as Quinn being the Big Bad, you'd think it would be a Chekov's Gun, but no, after the mission Aiden considers the matter settled.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: The developers actively try to discourage players from killing cops by averting this trope. If the player kills an officer his buddies will desperately try and call for medical assistance. The player will also be labelled a "cop killer" and the NPCs will react accordingly. You can even use your hacking abilities to bring up the personal data of "evil" mooks, such as finding out one of them is a military veteran who survived multiple tours in Iraq.
- What You Are in the Dark: At times, Aiden is able to hack people's bank accounts and take their money, with no-one able to stop him since he won't be in the general area, but the players will have to decide if it's worth it on a moral level. The developers brought this up, using an example in a demo of Pearce taking the details of a mother with a newborn child. Lampshaded by the announcer in the "Madness" Digital Trip. As you mow down demons, the announcer will comment on Aiden, saying that he "wants to see all that wanted to do to everyone", while mowing down demons or dodging demonic cop cars.
- Wide Open Sandbox
- The Windy City: The resource pack for the cityscape is even called this.
- Wretched Hive: Rossi-Fremont. Not even the cops go there since the Viceroys have the whole neighborhood on lockdown. Hell, even Jordi won't go near the place, and Aiden only gets him to help by telling him he'll be assisting Aidan via sniper scope.