This section deals primarily with how to start your investigations on the streets of Chicago. You’ll figure out basic techniques, understand the information on your screen, and learn the elements of mapping.
// 1. CONTROLS: ON FOOT
/// Move and Camera
Move: Follow the in-game prompts to learn the nuances of Aiden’s movements. Walk, run, quickly reverse direction, or steer sharply as you navigate the city and engage in combat.
Camera: Use your camera functionality to examine the environment for hackable objects and cameras, enemies, and interactible items, which may be above your head or below your feet.
/// Smartphone: Profiling, Hacking, Hack Takedown
Profiler: Tap to bring out your smartphone and automatically access information about your surroundings. Profiling works while on foot, in a vehicle, and during combat, and allows you to:
Quickly hack into infrastructure (cameras, traffic lights, etc.)
Target any citizen and find out their personal information.
“Tag” or “mark” enemies during combat.
With the profiler off, you limit your knowledge of the environment around you (though you can still see hackable infrastructure).
Hack: Hold to hack citizens and infrastructure. This functionality is so important, it has its own section of training.
Hack Takedown: During a chase (usually in a vehicle), hackable infrastructure can be used to block or blow up enemies. Tap this button when prompted by a blue diamond and the word “Neutralize.” You must purchase the appropriate skills to unlock this ability.
/// Entering/Exiting Vehicles
Entering and Exiting Vehicles: Cars, trucks, bikes, and boats can all be appropriated (forcing the citizen out if occupied). Before you have this skill, an alarm sounds when stealing parked cars, potentially alerting the public. Once the skill is acquired,you automatically disarm and swiftly enter the vehicle. Exiting a vehicle at speed will cause you to roll, fall, or suffer horrific damage depending on your speed and whether you’re about to hit an obstacle.
/// Enter Cover and Cover Interactions
Entering Cover: Almost every wall, pillar, post, box, hedge, vehicle, and other bit of scenery can be used as cover—though some cover, such as wooden pallets, can break under explosive or rapid fire, and others, such as glass walls, obviously don’t provide concealment from foes. Look for the onscreen prompt that signifies cover is available, and move from an upright to a crouched position.
Cover Interactions: When you’re in cover, pan the camera around slowly to see additional cover opportunities, and tap the button to move to them. Remember, these can be above or below you as well, though you must have a clear path to reach the next cover spot. If you’re near a corner, an onscreen prompt (“corner”) allows you to move around the corner. If there’s a small gap between cover opportunities, an onscreen prompt (“swap”) allows you to move between them.
/// Vault, Climb, Melee, (in Cover) Exit Cover
Vaulting and Climbing: Sometimes the most direct route to an area of interest involves maneuvering over obstacles, which is when your parkour (vault and climb) techniques come into play. Extremely helpful in almost every situation, and very easy to attempt, you simply run (or walk) at an obstacle while holding this button down.
Anything lower than thigh height is usually vaulted over, such as the hood of a car or a low planter.
Anything between thigh and waist height is stepped on, such as a stack of pallets.
Anything higher than waist height, to around 12 feet off the ground, is grabbed and climbed onto, such as a larger stacks of items, fences, low roof buildings, and many other pieces of scenery.
Continue to look for “steps” of scenic items allowing continuous vertical climbing, enabling you to reach higher rooftops where you sometimes can find more important collectibles or clues to a mission.
If you’re swimming, use the Vault button to scramble from the water, up onto a jetty or pier.
Melee: When you’re close to an enemy (but not an innocent citizen), tap this button and Aiden strikes the foe unconscious with his baton (or sometimes strangles them), and brings them down to the ground. This is a good alternative to shooting a foe, as it saves on ammunition and doesn’t kill the enemy (though they are neutralized for the rest of the fight or mission), and some tasks require this attack style.
If you’re attacking faction members (not the police) and you have a gun in your hand, the attack is an execution, which can fail a mission if the target you’re seeking needs to be neutralized without death. So holster your weapon before approaching on these occasions.
Exiting Cover: If you’re in cover already, the only way to stop crouching and moving from cover spot to cover spot is to press this button
/// Draw/Holster Weapon, Weapon Wheel Inventory
Draw/Holster Weapon: To draw the last weapon you chose (from the four available slots) in your Weapon Wheel, simply tap this shoulder button. Tap it again to holster the weapon. When your weapon is out, citizens look at you with increasing worry and anxiety, and the police are usually called. So it’s recommended you holster your weapon until violence is necessary.
Weapon Wheel Inventory: Hold this shoulder button to access your Weapon Wheel, where you can access the guns you’ve found or bought and the projectiles or tools you’ve found, bought, or crafted. You can swiftly switch between guns and projectiles/tools and can craft projectiles/tools providing you have the correct components.
Guns: When you highlight a gun, its basic effectiveness and available ammunition is shown. If you have more than one gun of a particular type, you can select between them here as well.
Craftable Item: When you highlight a projectile or crafting tool, the center of the Weapon Wheel shows the components needed to craft it, but only if you’ve purchased the skill to craft such an item.
/// Aim and Throw Projectile, Use Tool
Aiming Projectiles, Throwing Projectiles: Select a projectile to ready it for use, ideally in the combat zone, though you can hurt innocents and police with it too. Hold down this shoulder button, and a throwing arc appears onscreen, along with the proposed impact spot of the item (instant-kill projectiles like grenades will then explode, and timed projectiles like some IEDs or the lure wait to be activated). Now tap the button to lob your chosen projectile at the place where you aimed.
Use Tool: Crafted items, or tools, that you don’t physically throw, such as the ctOS scan, Blackouts, and Jam Coms, are activated by tapping this shoulder button, assuming you have them selected (you can see what you have on hand in the bottom-left corner of your screen).
Aim: With your gun drawn, you can quickly aim and fire by pointing at the target reticle in the center of your screen. You can aim before drawing your weapon, but this is slightly slower. You can fire from cover and access the Weapon Wheel while aiming, but you can’t profile, move into cover, vault, or climb.
/// Sprint, Shoot
Sprint: Hold this trigger to sprint. Aiden doesn’t tire while sprinting, but becomes a little more clumsy. Sprinting is also more noisy, so don’t sprint if stealth is required.
Shoot (When Aiming): The only time Aiden can’t sprint is when he’s aiming. The only time Aiden can shoot is when he’s aiming. A simple trigger tap unloads a single shot for pistols, shotguns, semi-automatics, and sniper rifles. Hold the trigger when using fully automatic assault rifles and machine guns to rattle off an entire clip. You can shoot anybody at any time, if you’re prepared for the consequences to your Reputation.
Reload: Press your thumbstick to reload a drawn weapon. Always reload after combat so you’re prepared for your next fight, and keep in mind that some weapons (like shotguns) take time to reload.
Focus: This special ability, which is further augmented with certain skills, meds, and drinks, allows him to slow time down. While on foot, this can be used to:
Accurately hit a particularly difficult foe in a specific part of their body.
Shoot while making a difficult move.
Shoot at a target behaving erratically.
Hack or shoot an object only accessible for a moment, such as a junction box near a fleeing foe or blockers during a car chase.
To start with, you have about four seconds of Focus time before you run out. You’ll gain an additional 1.5 seconds of Focus each time you upgrade. Replenish with a drink at a coffee shop, bar, newsstand, or restaurant. Such drinks also add to your Focus, giving you another three seconds of time.
Map: Though you have a minimap in the bottom-right corner of your screen, there’s nothing like planning a mission or checking your neighborhood by using your smartphone’s map functionality. As you uncover ctOS control centers and towers, more sections of the map become visible. Access the map to:
Add or remove a waypoint, which plots a GPS route via roads (not rail lines or shortcuts) to a destination.
Zoom in and out, and navigate around the map.
Activate the grid view, which shows the data flow throughout the six districts and is used to access online contracts.
/// Smartphone, Waypoint Shortcut
Smartphone: This is one of the most important menus you’ll access, and it allows you to pick any of your smartphone’s functions from the App Menu.
Waypoint Shortcut: When you need to reach a location that’s in a different district or is far from your current location, you can pull up your world map, select the waypoint, and watch your smartphone’s GPS draw a route to it. Or, you can use this function and instantly have the route available on your minimap without accessing the world map.
// 2. CONTROLS: IN A VEHICLE
Steer: This doesn’t allow quite the same amount of flexibility as darting from left to right on foot, and the tightness of your turning circle depends on the vehicle, speed, and use of accelerator, brake, or handbrake when making a corner. Consult the vehicle charts later in this chapter to see the differences in the swiftness and sharpness of cornering using different vehicles.
Camera: You can pan around your vehicle, but the camera usually pivots automatically to a view behind you. Use the camera to check side roads and the street behind you for enemies, or to check areas of interest (like hackable scenery or waypoints). It’s also most helpful to pitch the camera up if you’re heading downhill, so the camera doesn’t block your view and you avoid crashing into vehicles you can’t see.
/// Exit Vehicle
Exit Vehicle: Remember that you don’t need to be stationary to leave a vehicle; you can jump out at great speed or to prevent an imminent death. You suffer damage from a medium speed exit or higher.
/// Look Back
Look Back: Although your controls are seemingly reversed if you’re looking from the hood of your vehicle back at the road behind you, quick glances using this button are extremely helpful; they are instant (unlike manually moving the camera around) and enable you to see foes chasing you and the distance they are behind you. You can still set up traps using hackable infrastructure (such as steam pipes or blockers) in this view too.
Handbrake: Also known as the e-brake, this is used when cornering, if you don’t want to slow down by braking normally. You will skid out slightly (your back end skids out more ferociously than if you take a corner by simply braking). Every vehicle is different, and the speed at which you turn and e-brake also affects where you end up, as does the quality of road underneath (expect to skid wildly if you’re on grass); the weather conditions do not affect your stability. Practice using the vehicles you drive most often, but once you’re adept, you can try all manner of advanced maneuvers, like J-turns, donuts, and precision cornering without hitting anything!
/// Brake, Reverse
If you’re being chased or need to make up time in a driving mission, it’s usually better to use the handbrake. But if you’re worried about hitting pedestrians, need to come to a complete stop, don’t know the area, or want to ensure accuracy as you reach a narrow or enclosed area, tap on the brakes.
Reverse: Keep your finger held down on this trigger, and after your vehicle stops, it begins to reverse. Don’t wait for the camera to drift to a new position; use the Look Back button so you can instantly see what’s behind you. Use reverse to get out of a dead end or other tight spot, or if you overshoot a side street or alley you desperately want to reach. It’s also used (usually in bigger trucks) to ram vehicles following you, if there’s an advantage in doing so.
Accelerate: Accelerating causes you to turn less sharply if you have your pedal to the floor, compared to releasing the gas when taking a corner. Braking overrides acceleration, so you can technically keep accelerating, brake at a corner without letting go of the gas, release the brake, and start accelerating again without missing any “acceleration time.” A vehicle’s top speed and acceleration rates vary wildly depending on whether your vehicle is built for speed or for hauling small children to school, so check the charts for more information.
/// Switch Driving Camera
Switch: Don’t overlook this useful and wildly entertaining camera function! There are four camera angles you can cycle through, each with their own strengths and weaknesses:
Default View: This is the normal view and offers excellent vision for the most part. The only time it becomes a problem is when you’re heading downhill, as your vehicle can obscure cars directly in front of you (so move the camera manually or drive in the middle of the road to avoid an accident).
Long View: This has all of the advantages of the Default View camera but is pulled out farther, increasing your viewing distance all around. It’s less helpful in narrow spaces (as the camera reverts to normal), and you don’t have the visceral feeling of other views, but you can see other cars no matter where you’re driving.
Bumper Cam: This is great if you prefer this view in your driving races, and you seemingly have a quicker time reacting to obstacles in front of you, simply because you can see everything directly ahead. However, your peripheral vision suffers terribly, and you can’t see warning icons or check to the sides at all.
First-Person View: This is the least recommended but arguably the most entertaining, placing you just behind Aiden, within the vehicle. Unless you use the Look Back button, you’re just as closed off from flanking foes or those behind you as the Hood Cam, but the vehicle’s interior prevents you from seeing more road. Police chases and crazy turns are even more thrilling, though, and when your engine starts to smoke, you’re almost driving blind!
Focus: This works in the same way as when you’re on foot. But Focus while driving has a number of helpful uses:
Attempt to drive into a very tight space without grinding against a wall (or sending a pedestrian flying).
Line yourself up to squeeze between two oncoming vehicles.
Most importantly, gain extra seconds locating a hackable steam pipe, blocker, or explosive bit of ctOS-controlled scenery, and hacking it instead of passing by too quickly to react to it.
/// Skip Song, Stop Playlist
Skipping Songs and Stopping Playlist: The Media App plays a variety of songs as you drive, as does the radio of any vehicle (except a bike). If you don’t want to listen to a track, simply skip or turn it off.
// 3. ONSCREEN INFORMATION
/// Heads-Up Display
Aiden Pearce: The protagonist. When aiming a weapon, the camera zooms closer to you.
Reticle: Using a smartphone, target citizens, objects, or scenery to hack, and enemies to shoot. The reticle turns red when an enemy is lined up in your sights. The reticle has a small red bloom effect if you’re shooting foes out of your weapon’s range. The reticle changes shape when you’re armed with certain weapons, such as a shotgun.
Objective Indicator: This appears intermittently to help guide your progress. The objective is more permanently displayed on your world map.
Hints and Tutorials: Periodically, advice appears on this side of the screen, letting you know how to interact with something new, including if a new mission, investigation, item, or criminal activity is occurring.
Smartphone Notifications: Whenever you receive an incoming call, hack the phone of a citizen, or have other PDA information, it is displayed here.
Minimap: This shows your immediate area and locations of interest. Waypoints and objectives floating off the map are away from your local location.
Items and Rewards: If you’ve received a reward (for finding an item or completing a mission), it is displayed here and then added to your Progression Tech Tree.
Equipment and Tools: When unarmed, only the battery of your smartphone is shown. But your weapon and the tool (projectile or single-use electronic countermeasure) are also visible when accessed.
Focus Meter: When Focus is accessed, this meter shows a series of linked squares. Each square counts as a second of time when you can slow everything down to perform an expert maneuver or shot. Visit certain businesses to add to this meter (the latter three squares).
Profiler: Switch this on to learn more about the general public, mark and tag enemies, and find out information on areas you’re investigating.
Heat Level: This shows your current status regarding the police; red is an active pursuit, yellow is a search, and white is an escape. The severity of your trouble is shown by the number of squares (from one to five).