Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Watch_Dogs

Go To

"In this city, no one can hide from me. No one."
Aiden Pearce

A game by Ubisoft Montreal, Watch_Dogs is set 20 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 tires 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 The Cracker 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 novel, Daemon. 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. An Updated Re-release of the game will be available on Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X as part of the Watch Dogs: Legion Season Pass.


A single player DLC called Bad Blood, focusing on T-Bone, was released on September 30th. (For owners of the Season Pass, it came out on the 23rd.)

The game was followed by:

Tropes to be found in the game:

    open/close all folders 

  • 555:
    • The phone numbers in the game.
    • The IPv6 equivalent for the IP that Aiden has to trace. The address starts with fe80: which is the link-local address space for IPv6. This means it's a valid address, but can't be used outside a local network.
    • Defalt taunts Aiden with the profiler message "FOLLOW ME" - this IP(v4) address is otherwise known as "localhost". It is also known as "home".
  • 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?
    • Civilians will make calls to the police and Aiden has roughly 10 seconds to stop them, either by taking their phone, hacking to disable it, or just using brute force and hitting the caller lest the authorities come after him. In real life police are required to show up on site to check the area regardless - I mean, somebody calling and then getting cut off mid-sentence is awfully suspicious - but in the game that's the end of it: nobody shows up, no police scans.
  • A.I. Breaker: Going into the water can result in enemies unable to pursue you. The police are more egregious in this regard as they have both helicopters and boats, however they do not use the former well and the latter never appears while being pursued.
  • 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, M107.
    • Modified names: the 416 (HK416), 417 (HK417), SMG-11 (MAC-11), R-2000.
    • Fictional Names: Goblin (Patriot Ordnance P416), P-9 (SIG-Sauer P250 Compact), Destroyer (Barrett M82).
    • The Kimber Warrior and AK-103 are referred to as the weapons those are based on, "1911" and "AK-47" respectively.
  • 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.
    • While in real life, Al Capone's Chicago Outfit crushed its 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.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: The lesser of the evil reputation titles is named "Anarchist".
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Your only reward for completing Digital Trips. This is mostly because the Trips were added late in development. The clothes you get aren't even that noteworthy since Aiden sticks to a very specific mode of dress (hat, long coat with a face mask, and long pants).
  • Arc Words:
    • "everything is connected."
    • To a lesser extent "one, two, three, five" - the Fibonacci sequence, which is a sign that somebody was influenced by Blume's Bellwether Code. Those affected implicitly include Maurice and the Serial Killer from the "Missing Persons" side missions.
  • 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. A curious player beached a boat and, to their surprise, civilian NPCs whipped out their phones and took a picture of the unusual situation. And not just that; if people recognize you from (positive) news reports, they may snap pics of you if you're walking down the street.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • In Gang Hideout missions, the target will opt to run away given the chance instead of trying to confront Aiden.
    • 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. Individual police cars will also try to PIT the player's vehicle to immobilize it.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The AI is woeful in terms of driving. Some examples:
      • 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 your car despite having plenty of space to go around it.
      • The vehicle driving AI can't handle being boxed in properly. It's almost Achievements in Ignorance territory if you try to block an escaping gang leader in with dozens of cars, as they'll manage to plow through and drive OVER all the cars in order to escape.
      • Vehicles will smash into dozens of other vehicles with the slightest bit of panic.
    • AI NPCs hanging out on the docks will fall into the water constantly.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Certain powerful hacking abilities drain Aiden's phone battery very rapidly. You can eventually get multiple batteries, but the phone also slowly recharges over time. While slow-recharge-fast-discharge is how lithium ion batteries work in some applications (power tools, for instance), smartphones are designed to work in exactly the opposite way - they charge as quickly as possible and discharge as slowly as possible. This is obviously done to prevent the player from hacking too much, but for a lot of players it can lead to losing their Willing Suspension of Disbelief, since almost everyone playing the game interacts with smartphones every day and knows they do not work like this.
  • 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 (NVZN).
  • Asshole Victim: The Profiler reveals that some civilians are deeply nasty people or indeed criminals, which makes hacking money from their bank accounts a little more palatable. Relatedly, many of Blume's security mooks have criminal convictions or suspicious entries on police databases.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In a way, Blume. By the end of the game, ctOS has shown to be vulnerable to exploits and hacks that have caused immense damage to Chicago, and most likely left dozens injured or dead. Not only is Blume able to spin all of this in their favor and get their PR lady appointed the interim Mayor of Chicago, but also start spreading a new and improved ctOS to every city in the world.
  • Becoming the Mask: Lucky Quinn notes Mayor Rushmore stated acting like the "Mayor of the People" and upholding his promises after Quinn helped him get reelected. One of his promises was to better regulate the ctOS, something Quinn was completely against. This caused him to work with Blume to find or create any blackmail he could use to keep the Mayor in line.
  • Best Served Cold: Aiden is on his quest of vigilantism after someone attempted to intimidate him by killing his six-year old niece.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Lucky Quinn and Damien Brenks, as it turns out they've plotted several of the crimes that occur in the game, including the assassination of Clara.
  • 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.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Aiden Pearce is a Vigilante Man fighting against the corrupt criminal entites of Chicago but his methods are at best reckless and at worst more destructive to the city than any of the people he's pursuing. He also works with a remoreseless career criminal (and has no problem with anything he does as long as it helps Aiden in the end) and has a background in cybercrime himself.
  • 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.
    • How Aiden recruited Bedbug to his side - recording his numerous blatant betrayals of Iraq and threaten to publish them if he didn't help Aiden take down his cuz.
  • 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. The only two people unaffected by the ending are T-Bone and Jordi.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Aiden finds himself on the receiving end of this when he attempts to infiltrate a Chicago South Club "auction" by killing one of the intended guests, Nicholas Crispin, and stealing his ID. He sees Quinn and Iraq and tries to talk to them. Quinn eventually comments on Aiden's accent (or, rather, his lack of one)note  and promptly excuses himself. Less than a minute later, security is on Aiden like a ton of bricks.
  • Bookends:
    • One of the final missions takes place at the Merlaut Hotel, the place where Aiden and Damien pulled a heist at the beginning of the game, 11 months ago.
    • The first and final mission of the game have Aiden confronting Maurice Vega.
  • 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 your standard "tail the guy and then kill everyone at his destination" mission. At least the Biometric Rifle you earn from it can be a Disk One Nuke like the Spec Ops Goblin if done early enough (Unlocking Brandon Dock's ctOS center vs doing all the Weapons Trade investigations, which would have you do the above anyway.)
  • Boring Yet Practical:
    • The HK416 assault rifle provides average damage but is one of the more accurate weapons earlier in the game and could carry you throughout the campaign (unless you've unlocked the Spec-Ops Goblin after completing 9 weapon trade investigations)
    • If you're good at headshots (and using Focus) then the silenced pistol is a must-have for your inventory on stealth missions as you can quickly kill people without raising the alarm of normal gunshots. The only real issue you would have are Enforcers since they're weak to bombs.
  • Boss in Mook's 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.
    • Honorable mention goes to DeAndre Coleman, Iraq's only named Enforcer,note  who is otherwise not treated any differently than a regular Enforcer, but he is immune to the "Enforcer Takedown" skill and soaks up normally lethal explosions.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed as while your ammo is nominally finite — you'll see it diminish when you use it — but the limits are atstronomical 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. The only exception to this rule is the grenade launcher, which carries no more than 8 ammo, plus up to four in a grenade launcher (though, because of how the game counts bullets, if you have both grenade launchers, their magazines will both be filled as well). Running out of grenade launcher rounds in a fight is entirely possible. On the other hand, the grenade launcher will one-shot most enemies and knock enforcers off their feet and kill them with just a couple shots.
  • Bullet Time: The "Focus" ability, unlocked early on. Developers said that it represents Aiden's quick thinking and reflex.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played with. Iraq doesn't even know who you are and why you're after him; the hit job on Pearce was just business as usual. Lucky Quinn considers Lena's death a "small problem" as per the trope, but it's also subverted because the reason why he ordered the hit was actually very important to him.
  • But Thou Must!: A specific mission, In Plain Sight, has an objective stating "Escape the Police". There will be many ctOS scans triggered around Aiden which can be jammed through the Jam Coms hack. However, the objective can't be completed unless the scans trigger a pursuit; Aiden has to be detected and then successfully escape the police to complete the mission.
  • 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. Assassin's Creed Origins, however, retroactively confirmed that it is the same universe, with a CCTV screenshot showing Aiden shooting Olivier Garneau, something that does indeed happen in the game.
  • The Cameo: Olivier Garneau is the target of the final Criminal Convoy mission. Although it's not an assassination mission — Aiden is only tasked to knock him out — Garneau goes missing and is presumed dead in his own game, though Assassin's Creed Origins confirms that Aiden murders him.
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • Played straight, but the story follows the consequences of following this mindset. The belief in this trope, in a sense, is the cause for a lot of problems. Maurice suffered a breakdown for killing Lena, and her death drove Aiden not only to become a vigilante but to hunt down those responsible on the hit. Maurice was meant to shoot Aiden in the head but when he realized that Lena was in the car he shot the tire out instead to save the kid from the horror of seeing someone murdered in front of their eyes, but this instead got Lena, and not Aiden, killed instead.
    • Averted by the villains. The men who hired Maurice specifically told him to kill Aiden's family if it was necessary to pull off the hit, kids included. One particular side mission chain involving weapons caches being sold on the black market by cops to track down the people buying the guns is one of the men involved showing regret for his hand in the scheme since the guns he sold were used to murder childen. In Bad Blood, one of the Street Sweeps is T-Bone being hired by his cop friend to blow up Fixer gear before the Fixers leave to perform a series of hits with children being on their list and notably has a time limit as the secondary objective instead of a No Weapons rule.
  • 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. The cars of the groups that can pursue you, too: fixers drive dark red cars, the Club uses black cars with green-tinted headlights, Viceroys are white and black, the Pawnee militia has camo-green, and police cars are white and blue.
  • Content Warnings: The sex slavery story arc contains depictions of sexual violence graphic enough for the game to be slapped with the highest rating possible for this reason.
  • Continuity Snarl: Of a Shared Universe variety. The last Criminal Convoy in the game, Olivier Garneau, has to be taken down non-lethally. In Assassin's Creed IV, a photo depicts Aiden shooting Olivier dead in the streets. It's possible that this was done to make the mission harder, as a player this far into the questline would simply whip out any type of explosive and blow the entire convoy to hell.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The Chrome revolver. It fires in three-round bursts, but has the same ammo capacity as the standard M8-M, making for very frequent reloads.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Blume Corporation is secretly monitering everyone through the ctOS, and is in cahoots with the Chicago South Club Mob, covering up the Mob's illegal activities in exchange for their help in taking control of Chicago through surveillance and advertising.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
  • 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 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: Generally subverted; most often in cutscenes, Aiden will do something like appearing to 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 and putting the player back in control. The one arguable example plays near the end of the game with Clara's death. Immediately after this, Aiden is in Focus mode taking down her attackers; had he done so a second sooner, it could have been averted, but nothing has stated Aiden constantly has Focus mode's reflexes outside of gameplay, so it's up for interpretation.
  • The Cracker: Aiden Pearce, and others exist in the universe and might show up overall.
  • Crow's Nest Cartography: It is one of the trope codifier's games, after all. In this case, the CTOS towers are used to reveal collectibles and fill in the map.
  • 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.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying carries very few consequences in this game; at the absolute worst, you’ll be sent back to the start of a mission no worse for wear.
  • Deconstruction: According to Word of God, Watch_Dogs being set in the "real" world is meant to illustrate how utterly insane and misguided Aiden's attempts at revenge and playing Batman are. The role of his sister Nicky and his nephew are there to specifically highlight how nuts our hero is.
  • 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 do still get to kick his ass at the end of the Human Trafficking sidequest.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • 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.
    • Aim a gun at Clara? It will prevent you from shooting her and she will comment on it.
    Clara: Stop fucking around Aiden!
    • Playing without an Internet connection, or don't want to be invaded while attempting to do things? There's a story mission which requires you to play an online match - or at least, you have to attempt it; Aiden will complain about his connection to "the Grid" being down, and how he really wants to do one, but he'll just have to wait.
    • Averted in the mission 'Role Model'.Despite the game explicitly telling you that your knock downs are nonlethal, even requiring you to knock out gang leaders in this fashion, no matter WHAT you do in this mission, Jack will be terrified and Aiden will say that he killed everyone.
    • The final mission has a hack that's meant to be impossible, but if you manage to do it, some dialogue changes to recognize the fact.
    • When infiltrating a prison, Aiden hacks the prison's records so he gets booked as "Joe Smith." If you scan yourself with the profiler, it will identify you as "Joe Smith" instead of the usual "Facial recognition failed" error message.
  • 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.
  • 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/Trade collectibles) or the Destroyernote  (complete 10 Criminal Convoys). Rapid Reload (Take out 5 Gang Hideouts) is also rather helpful, since the base reload speed isn't too good.
  • The Don: Lucky Quinn.
  • Double Consciousness: Aiden Pearce suffers this as he is a former Fixer who has become 'The Vigilante' to cope with his guilt over his niece's death. The thing is that Aiden still makes the majority of his money through crime and most of his solutions are coming at problems from a criminal mindset. It gets worse when his desire for revenge results in moving from non-lethal methods to lethal ones. Aiden's desire to be a hero is constantly contrasted against the reality that he is still, and fundamentally, a criminal.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: Implied to be the fate of Mayor Rushmore after Aiden exposes him, though it may have been an assassination made to look like one.
  • 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.

  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several minor characters, such as the people involved in Quinn's human trafficking ring, can be spotted in the crowd in the first mission, in the room where the cops are arresting the two gang members.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Bunker, which acts as a player headquarters of sorts after Aiden's motel room gets torched by fixers.
  • 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: Taken to an extreme beyond anything you've ever imagined. Apparently, Aiden's smartphone can instantaneously detonate an underground steam pipe. Most hilarious when you will do this with physical steam valves. Garage doors? Online. Random power lines? Online. Free-standing transformers, visibly connected to nothing except a power conduit? Apparently has a wi-fi router jammed into it, apparently for no other reason than allowing hip, brooding hackers to detonate them. Enemy hand grenades can also be remotely detonated - apparently they can receive wi-fi signals, too.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: While DedSec is not actually evil, their masked spokesperson's electronically distorted voice, combined with other associated imagery, give enough of an ominous impression for Aiden to Lampshade this trope:
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: Before playing a later stage of Act 2, it is possible to eavesdrop into somebody texting his friend that he wants to buy a slave, so he won't have to hire a nanny. He tells the friend that he was kidding after being asked if he was serious.
    • One of Damien's audio logs can be found inside the Blume compound during Act 3, this could be seen as foreshadowing towards the fact that this mission reveals he is trying to arrange a deal with Blume.
    • A huge one occurs in the form of a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the very first cutscene, before the game proper even starts: those who get a good enough glimpse of the email tracing Aiden and Damien to the Merlaut hack will see that it was sent by Badboy17, thus revealing Clara's role in the hit on Aiden much earlier than intended.
  • 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Several side missions have Aiden indulging in illegal activities that go beyond those he justifies via his own vigilantism. Stealing cars for clients for example is a recurring fixer contract type. They are rather at odd with the main story of the game, where Aidan is portrayed as a vigilante with almost obsessive desire to punish criminals. (However, it's slightly justified in the fact that these are the only missions in which you earn money on completion, implying that he's only doing it for the paycheck.)
    • In the mission "Role Model" Aiden always says "I killed all of them" even if you knock out every enemy.
  • Gang Up on the Human: Rather annoyingly, sometimes civilians can call the cops on criminals shooting at you, but the cops will prioritize you instead of the people who are most likely in a large group, causing most of the chaos. This is especially egregious in the random "Crime Detected" events, where after Aiden non-lethally takes down a gunman, the cops, if they successfully scan you, will reign hell on you even after you just saved somebody's life.
  • Genre Deconstruction: In an In-Universe example, some of the ads ingame were vandalised with subvertising messages meant to harshly critique the fictional companies and individuals in question.
  • G.I.F.T.:
    • Invoked In-Universe - people are often pretty horrible and self-centered when they think no-one's listening.
    • 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.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: During Grandma's Bulldog when Iraq attacked the Viceroy soldier with the briefcase he fell so that his head is outside the range of what the camera can see, therefore we cannot see Iraq crush the soldier's skull.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Blume Corporation.
  • 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.
  • Hacker Collective: DedSec are a group of hackers dedicated to bringing down the system and having fun doing it.
  • 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.
  • Hack the Traffic Lights: One of the things you can do in the game.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Enforcers serve this role, having heavy armor and high-power weaponry, but reduced mobility as a result. They're even marked on the HUD with the same symbol used to denote similar enemies in the Far Cry series as well as The Division, both also by Ubisoft.
  • Heroic Bystander:
    • As mentioned in Artificial Brilliance civilian NPCs will often call 911 at the first sign of trouble.
    • Pearce himself can do this, stopping random acts of crime.
  • 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, and even then, only if you actually shoot them or run them over; cause as many fatal crashes as you like! Even more egregiously, if the ctOS Mobile mode is any indication, the police care even less.
  • 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 left behind when the ctOS was made.
    • Notably, Aiden himself isn't much of a hacker; his phone includes features from DedSec specifically designed to make it easy for him to get into the ctOS systems.
  • 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.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Amusingly, Aiden (and T-Bone) can hold every single weapon and equipment in Hammerspace and use them at their convenience.
  • Hypocrite: Aiden is the Vigilante who targets professional criminals, kills Fixers, and considers himself a force of good. He's also best friends with a Fixer and does work for him which, bluntly, makes him a Fixer and professional criminal too. Word of God is this is deliberate.
    • Aiden will attack and sometimes kill murderers and petty thieves. Meanwhile he steals cars off the street and hacks the bank accounts of random people, often the working poor, and may also murder security guards in cold blood simply because they work for a company that invades the privacy of ordinary people. He is also encouraged to invade those same people's privacy to "satisfy your curiosity".
  • Human Trafficking: Dermot O'Leary and the Chicago South Club literally kidnap young women from the streets to be sold to the highest bidder in a secretive auction that disgusts even Aiden Pearce.
  • Indecisive Parody: According to Word of God, Aiden Pearce is meant to be a Deconstruction of typical video game anti-heroes and a self-destructive hypocrite. A lot of gamers missed this, just assuming he was a Flat Character.
  • Insistent Terminology: ctOS. Everyone will pronounce it as an initialism, going "C-T-O-S" and never as two syllables "See-toss".
  • 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.
    • Aiden himself can't jump outside of contextually necessary situations, which can create some odd scenarios where he can't clear small gaps or cut certain corners just because there's a bit of empty space between him and the obstacle.
  • Interface Screw: During Act IV when you're going after Defalt, the screen glitches with brief glimpses of his face, and frequent hijacking of the hacking minigame (though only one or two 'actually' change). 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.
  • Irony: Iraq's role in the story is full of this. He was the second hacker at the Merlaut, trying to get Lucky Quinn's blackmail on Mayor Rushmore, the act that the club incorrectly attributes to Aiden and Damien, prompting Lucky to instruct Iraq to hire Maurice to kill them, resulting in Lena's death and Damien's injury. To add another level of irony it was doing this task that earned Iraq and the Viceroys the contract to run security to the auction, which gave Aiden the opening he needed to scan Iraq's security key to access his server room, ultimately resulting in Aiden's assault on Rossi Freemont, which resulted in Iraq's death.
  • 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.
    • Oodles of citizens being observed by the ctOS monitoring are this, such as a man that is seen chopping up a human hand in preparation for cooking it.
  • 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. Then again, there's no penalty for stealing cars (including by kicking out the driver) or causing blackouts to entire city blocks.
  • 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.
  • Last Lousy Point:
    • The "Social Lubricant" achievement for beating level 10 in all three Drinking Games. Said drinking games tend to be maddeningly difficult (especially the one in Pawnee), making this one of the last achievements most players get. The kicker? This is considered a low level achievement (worth only 15 GP for 360/One, or a bronze-level Trophy for PS3/PS4). Thankfully, Ubisoft listened to the feedback and released a patch that dropped the difficulty level significantly, thus making them challenging but manageable.
    • The "Traced" achievement for getting Tailed five times. Tailing is very rarely done due to the greatly reduced Notoriety/EXP earned from a successful tail vs. a successful hack, making this a Luck-Based Mission Gone Horribly Wrong. Even worse, because it's a hidden Achievement, there's no way of telling how many times you've been tailed, since unlike Hacking, you're never alerted that you're being tailed unless you try to start a mission (or you use one of the methods detailed in Good Bad Bugs above). And to make it worse? Like Social Lubricant, it's a low level achievement (Meaning those values above also apply here).
    • The "Disk Space Full" achievement for nabbing all 23 unlockable songs. 3 of them come naturally through the story, 17 of them can either be picked up from pedestrians or can be found playing in stores and newspaper stands, the last 3 can only be found from pedestrians. By the time you're down to one song left unfound, it's likely it'll be one of those three, and it'll seem like a literal one-in-a-million chance to find someone who has it.
  • 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, and the ruling Council of Dedsec all use the name "Dave" in their aliases.
  • 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: Aidan uses some of the features of ctOS not yet released to the police, such as the crime-prediction system. In addition, if Aidan uses the ctOS to raise traffic barriers, the police will radio to dispatch to request them lowered. Yet the police will never think to have dispatch raise them to cut you off.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: Aiden is a Gaelic name meaning little fire or "ardent" which is fitting giving his single-minded motivation. While his full name doesn't have any additional etymological meaning, Aiden Pearce kind of invokes the phrase "Helpful" (Aiden is like aid or aiding) "Hacker" (Pearce is like pierce or break which is evocative of the act of hacking).
  • 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.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The game's primary conflicts are fought between Chicago South Club boss Lucky Quinn (who has characters like Defalt and Iraq working in his employ to varying degrees in order to deal with Aiden and Damien and is the root of the conspiracy that got Aiden's niece killed), Aiden's crew (including Clara and T-Bone, wanting to help Aiden avenge his niece and get to the bottom of the conspiracy), and Damien Brenks (who wants the blackmail info that Iraq has been holding onto and attempts to coerce Aiden to help with obtaining it). DedSec also acts as a fourth party who isn't affiliated with any of them (being counter-ops to Blume and ctOS, thus indirectly putting them at odds with Lucky Quinn), although their impact on the plot of the aforementioned three is relatively minimal. Iraq himself has a tenuous relationship with Lucky Quinn but Aiden kills him before he ever gets a chance to make a move against Quinn.
  • Mighty Glacier: Enforcers. They carry weapons twice as powerful as most of the other mooks you'll fight, but all that heavy 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.
  • Mouth of Sauron: Charlotte Gardner is this for Blume. She eventually becomes interim Mayor after Rushmore is killed.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Literally in the areas around the city, such as the exurb of Pawnee. The city itself is also hilly in places.
  • 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. Maybe the buttons were broken or stuck or something.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: T-Bone explains that he caused the Northeast Blackout in an attempt to demonstrate the vulnerability of connecting a country's infrastructure to a single centralized system. However, it instead achieves the opposite effect and Blume uses the incident as a pretext to roll out ctOS as a more secure alternative.
  • Nobody Poops: For some reason Aiden's safehouses are all equipped with a shower, but no toilet. Subverted with the room in the Owl Motel, which includes one.
  • 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.
    • Jordi looks really similar to Min-sik Choi, specifically how he appeared in Oldboy (2003).
    • The Viceroys are a Captain Ersatz of the Vice Lords, a real Chicago gang.
  • 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.
  • No-Harm Requirement: Several side missions - particularly the Gang Hideout ones - require a non-fatal takeout on the boss. The 1-vs-1 multiplayer matches also do not allow the invading player to kill their target: if the target is hurt, they invader is warned that they're not supposed to kill their opponent, and if they do kill them, they lose the match and their target wins.
  • Noodle Incident: This exchange in "Not the Pizza Guy"
    Jordi: Wake up Pearce. More Fixers incoming.
    Aiden: How bad?
    Jordi: Remember Kinderhook?
    Aiden: Shit.
  • Not the Intended Use: Got fixers driving after you? Trap them on the bridge to the Bunker.

  • One Steve Limit: Though NPCs have randomly generated names that may repeat, characters important to the story apparently have such unique names that a search for them will only return one result.
  • Optional Stealth: Sneak around and use takedowns, hack things for misdirection and stealthy attacks, or just go in guns blazing. Your call.
  • Pædo Hunt: One potential profile identifies an enemy as a child pornographer. Hacking his phone for the distraction opportunity reveals that he is totally unconcerned about the authorities snooping around his chat logs and being found out.
  • 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.
  • Parental Substitute: Aiden is confirmed by Word of God to have lived with his sister before the events of the game and helped raise his sister's children. In effect, they're closer to his daughter and son than niece and nephew.
  • 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 a hostile Fixer, while the one doing the hacking is Aiden attacking a target Fixer. 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 Brutality: Police never try to arrest Aiden-if they corner you, they'll simply shoot at you until you either die or find a way out.
  • 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.
  • Pop the Tires: Shooting the tires of vehicles causes them to slow down or crash, there is even an achievement for taking out the tires of 15 cars.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Clara is killed because she called Damien in an attempt to trade herself for Nicky, informing him the role she played in what happened, and allowing him to tell the Club where she was so that they could kill her. However, Aiden had already saved Nicky. Indeed, she and Jacks had already left Chicago,, but when Clara called Aiden just before the attack on the Merlaut, she didn't bring up her plan, nor did he inform her that he'd saved Nicky and that such a trade was unneeded.
  • 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.
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Aiden meets two former CtOS employees who helped develop the operating system but later fell into obscurity and became shunned by Chicago.
  • 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.
  • Railing Kill: In sandbox mode, some crimes Aiden detects can become this trope as he may come across a murder about to take place by a railing or ledge & doesn't stop it in time.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil / Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The moment that the South Club is selling women in the black market firmly puts them and their leader in irredeemable territory.
  • Reality Ensues: When Aiden has his life literally at the palm of his hand, Quinn boasts that he will not beg for his life, only to rescind his words and do so seconds later. Everyone is afraid to die, no matter how powerful that person is.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: The 2003 blackout that took place in Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province on Ontario was due to a rogue hacker instead of a software bug found in the computers of FirstEnergy Corporation. This gave Blume Corp. the opportunity to provide ctOS with a safeguard against future incidents.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Subverted when fences and traffic lights will crumble before your car - but not trees. 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.
    • Aiden being able to hack traffic lights from the phone, instantly and with just the press of a button, is realistic — as shown here, real traffic light control systems of many cities are so insecure it is literally possible to develop a smartphone app that could actually hack them with a single button.
    • Hacking Quinn's pacemaker in the endgame. The internet access is normally shut off, leaving only the Body Area Network to access it by, access will be left enabled if the surgery is recent or if the person is someone of important for the purpose of remote observation. And even if it wasn't, Aiden is well within the twelve feet needed to access the pacemaker's BAN regardless; something that likely wouldn't have occurred to Quinn.
  • Revealing Cover Up: 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.
  • Scenery Porn: Chicago is depicted in all its glory and looks great, especially at night. And the mountains (while very inaccurate), forests and lake of Pawnee and its surrounding countryside are gorgeous and a great place to go when you grow weary of the concrete jungle.
  • Seen It All: 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.
  • 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.
  • Sequence Breaking: During the final mission, there's a hack that's impossible to complete, forcing you to complete several other objectives to make the hack possible. Or you can just do the impossible hack on the first try.
  • 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 the developers have said there won't be a crossover and that 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 Pearce is responsible for taking down a character from Assassin's Creed IV who vanished in Chicago at that exact same time.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: During the game's credits, the song Wake Up Sunshine by the band Chicago plays, which as an oddly cheery tone since just seconds ago, you were betrayed by one of your close friends, nearly killed them and shot the antagonist directly in the head.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Hack electronic signs to make various internet memes appear. A list featuring most of the references can be seen here.
    • Former Abstergo employees.
    • One NPC has the remark 'Writes MLP fan fiction'. In addition, you may find keychains of a certain character in the interiors of some cars.
    • One potential enemy profile can state "Plays Rayman on mobile." Using it as a distraction causes the theme from the Land of the Livid Dead to start playing on their phone.
    • When tracking down Defalt in Dot Connexion, one of the phones you can profile lists its occupation as "Fox Hunter", and its description is "Shhh, be vewwy, vewwy quiet."
    • An achievement for escaping fifteen police scans is "White Rabbit Object".
    • NVZN's BGM has a section that quotes the Space Invaders theme in the bassline.
    • One of the mooks in the "No Parking" gang hideout is named Galtero Blanco, a "Laundry Manager" diagnosed with terminal cancer.
    • The Privacy Invasion scene with the Cancer patient with an unborn baby is reminiscent of Breaking Bad.
    • Tobias Frewer shares a surname with Matt Frewer, who played the title character in Max Headroom, a series set in a dystopic future dominated by technology and big corporations.
    • Defalt has a tendency to taunt the protagonists by telling them they can't escape the "rats in the walls."
    • The random crime missions, which involves you getting a ctOS notification of an impending crime and then have you stalk either the victim or perpetrator and stop it, is straight out of Person of Interest.
  • 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.
  • Storming the Castle: The final mission in Act III is a one-man assault on Rossi-Fremont, taking down the best the Black Viceroys have to offer and culminating in a rooftop battle with Iraq.
  • 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 his niece was murdered by accident during a hit on him, 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.
  • The Tetris Effect: Go on, play some hours on it. I guarantee you you won't see city infrastructure the same way again.
  • Title Drop: All of the story missions get name-checked while playing them, with the exception of "Breakable Things" and "A Blank Spot There-ish", which are both paraphrased in the mission before. 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.
    • Defalt doesn't consider it might be a good idea to disable the ventilation system so a hacker can't route poison gas back to your room.
  • 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.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: This was the game's aim as it's set in 2013, with only slightly futuristic premise. The delay into 2014 made it 20 Minutes into the Past.
  • Urban Ruins: Watch Dogs has the Rossi-Fremont tenement where Iraq and his Viceroys gang have set up shop. At least one building is collapsed and the others are extremely run down. One look makes you surprised that someone actually lives there.
  • Vanity Licence Plate:
    • The Rosewood and the Gambino (Defalt's and Lucky Quinn's personal cars, respectively) have plates reading "D3F 4L7" and "LUC KYQ".
    • In some missions Aiden drives a silver muscle car with plates reading "N3X U5 ".
  • 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. Played with as while Aiden says this, he's also destroyed his life by forcing his family into hiding away from him as well as making himself a fugitive.
  • 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. All of them are also playable as T-Bone in the Bad Blood DLC. 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.
  • Weapon of Choice: Aiden's smartphone, and his collapsible baton and (non-collapsible) gun. The game promotes using them in that order.
  • 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.
    • The players never find out what was on the laptop delivered to Lucky Quinn at the end of Backseat Driver, nor do they 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 Chekhov'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
  • 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.

    Bad Blood 
  • Blatant Lies: T-Bone in the opening cinematic to the ctOS guards who catch him in the act. They believe him just long enough for him to stun them into submission.
  • The Cameo: Core game protagonist Aiden Pearce makes one near the beginning of the DLC.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: The DLC adds such a mode. Its side missions are called 'Street Sweep,' and certain Street Sweep missions are set aside for co-op play (and cannot be played solo).
  • Evil Pays Better: A freelancer named Cr0w, after digging up some dirt on Aiden and discovering he had access to Blume's bunker, sells this information to Blume for this reason.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: A carry-over from the core game; you probably spent many hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars on Tobias' extremely useful ready-made hacks in the core game, yet in the DLC he's still penniless and homeless.
  • I Call It "Vera": While T-Bone's RC car isn't a weapon per se, he obviously has a strong attachment to it, dubbing it "Eugene." The game reinforces this attachment — you get a game over screen if Eugene is destroyed.
  • Mob War: T-Bone's investigations in the Street Sweeper mission chains uncover a three-way feud brewing between the Fixers, the Chicago South Club and the Pawnee Militia, with each gang targeting one of the other two while being targeted by the other one.
  • Happens at the end when evil hacker Defalt traps Ray Kenney in an inescapable gas chamber as revenge for all the accidental deaths that he caused in the '03 blackout including indirectly enabling his brother's suicide. Defalt streams a live feed of the room to the families of the victims and asks them to vote on whether to spare Ray or to let him die.
  • Noodle Incident: T-Bone's previous act of helping Detective Billings out of the blue, thus gaining her trust, is described but not depicted. If the player somehow hasn't played the core game, T-Bone's references to Aiden having met up with Tobias recently come across as this.
  • Only in America: T-Bone's opinion of Default's celebrity status.
    T-Bone: Only in America can someone be completely anonymous and a public figure!
  • Out-Gambitted: During the Street Sweeper missions, T-Bone and Detective Billings learn that Club boss Niall Quinn is in a turf war with a rival gang's captain and they decide to covertly support the rival (as the lesser of two evils). They start hitting the Club, stoking the conflict while taking out Niall's heavy hitters until the rival was ready to make his move on Niall. What neither they nor the rival boss realized was that Niall had already payed off everyone else in the other bosses's crew to betray him if he ever came to attack him directly , and when he finally did they turned on him and executed him right in front of Niall.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: T-Bone infiltrates a Blume building, protected by security lasers that will shut the entire system down if tripped. These laser systems are the creation of Tobias, and upon discovering a particularly challenging-to-pass area the following exchange occurs:
    T-Bone: Are you fuckin' kidding me? I gotta call Frewer.
    T-Bone: /phones Tobias
    Tobias: Hello?
    Tobias: I, uh...what?
    T-Bone: What indeed. What. In. Deed.
  • Punk in the Trunk: An early mission has T-Bone rescuing Tobias from some fixers, who have him in the trunk of their car.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: This is the core conceit of the Street Sweep missions. A police detective named Sheila Billings reaches out to T-Bone to help her take care of fixers, the Chicago South Club, and the Pawnee Militia (all of whom appeared in the core game, in about that order of frequency). She does not know exactly who T-Bone is — she calls him "Mystery Man" and even guesses at one point that he's Aiden — but she knows he's capable, since he helped her out of a jam via dubious methods previously. And she obviously views him as less of a danger than the mentioned groups.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: One of the new hacking tricks in the DLC is to lure an enemy into a room and lock him inside. The only way he can get out afterwards is if you unlock the door (and why would you?); his allies can't do it.
  • Sliding Scale of Video Game Objectives: Street Sweep missions have optional objectives, much like those that have featured in more recent games in the Assassin's Creed series. These include time limits, not using guns, remaining undetected for the duration of the mission, and more.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After T-Bone completes the Fox Hunt chain, he calls Aiden, who finally answers his phone (T-Bone tried earlier to call him twice and only got voicemail). Aiden never expressly says thanks for essentially stopping bounty hunters from killing him, which T-Bone isn't fond of.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: T-Bone and Tobias give each other a lot of shit, but it's clear at least on T-Bone's end that there's caring there, too.
  • Western Terrorists: The Pawnee Militia have turned into this. T-Bone is sympathetic to their cause, as they are explicitly targeting Blume, but he still views them as just a bunch of nutjobs and criminals and opposes them because the collateral damage from their attacks would put a lot of innocent lives at risk.
  • Wrench Whack: T-Bone's non-lethal takedown involves a monstrously large monkey wrench (it's nearly as big as he is). Sometimes he just clobbers a guy with it, other times he uses it to pull enemies close for a shock with his stun gun.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: