Watch Dogs – Multiplayer Guide

Yes, the headline above says Multiplayer Guide. And yes, this post is all about the various ways that multiple players can interact with each other in Watch Dogs. But here’s the thing: Ask anyone on the Ubisoft Montreal dev team about “multiplayer” and they’re likely to (kindly) correct you. It’s seamless online, they’ll say. And y’know what? They’re right. Because in Watch Dogs it’s not multiplayer as we typically know it. It’s not about lobbies and leaderboards. It’s not a separate experience, segmented off from the single-player campaign. It’s a fully integrated way to enjoy online gameplay with other people, while remaining immersed in your own version of Watch Dogs’ Chicago.

Watch Dogs - Decryption

“We don’t talk about it in terms of single-player and multiplayer,” explains Lead Gameplay Designer Danny Belanger. “It’s all online. It’s seamless. You continue your game. That aspect, for me, is crucial because otherwise it’s a break in the experience. It all feels like one experience.”

How, exactly, does it work? And what can you enjoy in the seamless online experience? We lay it all out, with insights straight from Belanger. But first, check out this 9-minute walkthrough video narrated by Animation Director Colin Graham…

Ways to Play

Belanger describes this as a “techno high-and-seek where you need to steal data from your opponent and get away. He can actually stop you if he finds you with the profiler.”

Those who want a highly competitive team-based throwdown will find it with this four-against-four PvP mode. It’s fast, it’s intense, and it’s fully integrated into the open-world Chicago. See it in action in the video above. (Note: Decryption is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.)

Watch Dogs – Multiplayer Guide

If you enter someone’s game, you can follow and observe him. The goal is to gain valuable information before escaping. As Belanger explains, both the tailing and intrusion gameplay are built to “create a neutral-positive dynamic between two players that’s in the universe of Watch Dogs. If someone comes into your game just to kill you, it’s not fun.”

As straightforward as it sounds. Players can use different cars and race on different tracks, all set within the game’s world.

Time Out

Just to clarify: Yes, you can turn off the online multiplayer options. If you don’t want anyone hacking into your game or tailing you, simply toggle this off in the menu. But before you do that, keep in mind that the game naturally turns off the multiplayer during missions. “If you’re in a narrative experience, that’s your narrative experience you’re living in,” Belanger says. And that’s not the only time when multiplayer is turned off. If you’re in any activity where it’d be intrusive to have someone enter your world, the game doesn’t allow another player to enter. “We try to make sure it’s when you’re available and during your free-roaming and you’re not doing something else that could be disrupted. That’s when we turn it on and allow players to come in and invade you.”

Watch Dogs – Multiplayer Guide

Another important aspect of the seamless online: it adapts to each player. “We have a shield,” Belanger explains. “So if someone comes into your game and hacks you, you’re protected. It can’t happen. The less you partake in the multiplayer, the longer the shield. If you’re not hacking people and you’re not into that gameplay, the game will recognize and acknowledge that you’re not into that. That’s fine. The shield will slowly become many hours because we’re trying to adapt. There are so many different players and we’re trying to adapt to all of them and make an experience that works for them.”

Always Aiden

The biggest question we often get: If I’m Aiden Pearce, and I hack into your game, and you’re also Aiden Pearce…are we both Aiden Pearce?

The answer is yes. But also, no. (Stick with us, because it’s actually not confusing at all.)

All players will always see themselves as Aiden Pearce. It’s that simple. So when I hack into your game, I see myself on my screen as Aiden. And when someone else hacks into my game, I continue to be Aiden. The same goes for the other player. However, each of us sees the other as a “fixer” whose appearance is chosen from the pool of NPCs.

Watch Dogs – Multiplayer Guide

That way players always stay in character, always retaining their identity in their own world. “It was better to do that than to create a very complicated system with multiple people,” Belanger says. “You are Aiden Pearce and a fixer is in your game trying to hack you.” Or, conversely, you are Aiden Pearce and you’re trying to hack a fixer. Either way, this system helps support the fantasy and immersion of the game’s world.

Rewards… and Risks

With the seamless online, it’s all about Notoriety. In order to track how well you’re doing with the various multiplayer modes, the game has a Notoriety rating that moves up and down in relation to your activities. “It’s your fame,” Belanger says. “It’s your rank as a hacker. If you are hacked you’ll lose a bit of notoriety.”

As Belanger says, Notoriety works like a thermometer. When it goes up you can gain skills – meaning that the seamless online isn’t just fun but also provides a benefit. There are even specific Notoriety skills in the skill tree.

Watch Dogs – Multiplayer Guide

Belanger is quick to point out that for most players, acquiring the skills gained through the seamless online gameplay should be easily achievable. “We didn’t want it to be frustrating or a punishment,” he says. “The goal was just to create a cool dynamic with something at risk, but not something that will make you upset and angry.”

Where Notoriety becomes a true gauge, though, is when a player really embraces the more competitive aspects of multiplayer. “The more you participate, the further you go – and then Notoriety becomes a leaderboard,” Belanger says. “You can remove some points from people and that will affect the leaderboard. People will be competing to be the best.”

Set Free

Along with the fully integrated seamless online multiplayer, Watch Dogs also lets another person challenge you via a second screen. The companion app (also shown in the above video) puts players in the role of a ctOS agent controlling the city and trying to stop Aiden Pearce by deploying the police (including a helicopter) and triggering hacks in the world. It’s a lot of fun for both players, and the app is totally free – you don’t even need to own the game to download and enjoy it. While the app isn’t set up to sync with your in-game profile, it does have its own progression; players can gain Notoriety and earn money, skills and experience points using the app. (For more on ctOS Mobile, check out: Watch Dogs – ctOS Mobile App FAQ)

Watch Dogs Companion App

Watch Dogs also includes the ability to free roam with multiple players, which Belanger describes as a more of a “bonus” than a full mode. “We give the city to the players and it’s all about building your own rules. It’s unstructured. You could jump in with a bunch of friends and just have fun with the city and the hacks and the systems.” (Note: Free roam is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.)

Master Hacker

The seamless online gameplay is there for you to enjoy, but how you play is totally up to you. “You can be disconnected and there’s still a very big action-adventure open-world game,” Belanger says. “This just gives you more choice. It’s the same for the companion app. If you’re online there’s more gameplay you can enjoy.”

Having tried out several of the online modes, I’m happy to affirm that the seamless online multiplayer does indeed feel natural to the Watch Dogs experience and fully integrated into the world. What’s more, it created a real push-pull, where I either wanted to protect myself from any threats or strut my stuff by hacking into someone else’s game. And that’s one of the primary goals for the seamless online.

“Someone could come into your game and hack you,” Belanger says. “To me, you feel invaded so there’s this sense of honor. This guy is in your game and you want to track him down. It’s the fantasy of surveillance. Aiden Pearce is a master hacker and he has all these tools, but as a player, if you’re not living the fantasy of someone watching you, there’s a piece of the puzzle missing.”

For more Watch Dogs intel, hack into these UbiBlog features:

Watch Dogs – ctOS Mobile App FAQ

Watch Dogs – Easter Eggs (*Spoiler Alert*)

Watch Dogs – Open World Guide

Watch Dogs


Release date — May 27, 2014
Developer — Ubisoft Montreal
Players will assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a new type of vigilante who, with the help of his smartphone, will use his ability to hack into Chicago’s central operating system (ctOS) and control almost every element of the city. Aiden will be able to tap into the city’s omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control systems such as traffic lights or public transportation to stop a chase, and more. The city of Chicago is now the ultimate weapon.

ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
The Author

Gary Steinman has won numerous editorial awards, but you probably don’t care about that. He also ran multiple industry leading publications and websites including PlayStation: The Official Magazine,, PC Gamer and Newtype USA – but that’s all in the past. The real truth about Gary? He loves cats, he takes too many selfies on Facebook (according to one co-worker, at least), and he occasionally crochets. And now he’s helping share stories about Ubisoft’s amazing games and their incredible creators in his role overseeing the UbiBlog and other select Ubisoft social channels. Follow him on Twitter: @GarySteinman

sudrabs 5pts

I have game Wacth dogs, but i dont nov where i go to online in wacth dogs??? ( i not good talk to english, sorry) plese wrire instruction here    ( Latvia)

nicktheconman 5pts

Just a question. When the fuck are you going to stop ripping us off and add free roam to the PS3 and the Xbox 360? Your claim of "hardware limitations" are absolute bullshit. If we can go in someone's game, steal data, and get away, and race, as well, why can't we do free roam? Until you fix the game and your ridiculous claims, you've lost my business.

AngryPerson 5pts

Wtf please make free roam for PS3 watch dogs in multiplayer, because this next gen shit is bullshit

Daniel 5pts

Would be great if a free mode for ps3 was to be updated into the game..!!

ANONY 5pts

Hee Can some body tel me of the update for watchsdogs free roam for ps3 wil come?

i want to play i dont have money for a ps4 and the game!

Doreen 5pts

No matter if some one searches for his required thing, therefore he/she wants to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

Lorenzo 5pts

I read this paragraph completely on the topic of the resemblance of newest and previous technologies, it's awesome article.

Pat 5pts

This is the right web site for anyone who really wants to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that's been discussed for years. Great stuff, just great!

Mabukz 5pts

If I hear any hardware limitations reasons again. I SWEAR.

THERE IS NO HARDWARE LIMITATIONS! Ubisoft is f@ckin with you! Go play a race and see the short time span of Freemode ability between the races. Online hacking n tailing ! Its pretty much FREE ROAM! only you are timed and given an objective. The only limitation is the time Ubisoft gives you online. Otherwise the PS3 IS capable of online free mode. Don't be blind.

Russell White
Russell White 5pts

It's a pitty ubisoft doesnt ban the hundreds of obvious leaderboard hackers. Untill then I see no reason to touch the online aspect of this game in a competitive manner.

zaku210 5pts

I cant join multiplayer stuff it says i dont got access to online content or someting like that

dropdeadRush 5pts

Way to scam your last-gen customers, not including modes that you obviously could. Do you just want us to waste our money on Playstation 4s or what ?

primeTime 5pts

Wilk there be a dlc where we can free roam online with other players??

Ju9ern0t 5pts

I just found the answer to my own question. "Why with the next gen exclusive free roaming and decrypting?"

If you guys read up some you will find an answer form another user. The reason that the two game modes are exclusive to next gen is because of the hardware limitations of current gen. On most games the multiplayer is entirely hosted on a server (maps, rules, weapons, etc.) but in watch dogs, as you all know with the other game modes, it is integrated into your own world.

While that is KIND OF an answer, I don't under stand why Ubisoft doesn't just use the servers then. Things like reputation, money, and the police reaction scale thing could be transferred back to the player's own world when they are finished with playing using the servers. And things like hide outs and missions are probably not going to be a big deal if they are not available in online free roam.

I still think that Ubi pulled a D**k move and I would not have bought the game if I know about the limitations. You have lost my business Ubisoft. Go join 343 and the other let down developers.

Ju9ern0t 5pts

I have a few things to say.

First I will say that I came across this game at game stop by chance and some how never heard of it before then so I didn't really know what to expect as I loaded it onto the drive of my xbox 360 for the first time. I was surprised that it was a very good game. The story line is excellent and the side missions are very in depth. Over all everything is pretty awesome. But I digress, I do have some complaints.

First of all I will say that the driving physics and damage animations and effects are extremely sub par. For a game where you pretty much spend half the time in a car I have to say that Ubisoft seriously dropped the ball. I found myself reminded of the car physics and damage effects of Mercenaries, a game by Pandemic Studios for PS2. I mean seriously, they are very lacking. Also while I talk about vehicles, yes there are boats in the game but the do not have a very strong purpose except for in the end when *no spoilers* you played that last mission.. they one where you shoot the one guy at a place where a boat is very near. I think you know what I mean. So I think more could have been done with that.

Now on to the multiplayer. Yes this "seamless" multiplayer is cool and new, but the fact that you can not free roam on the "current gen" consoles is honestly a d**k move by Ubisoft. I love Ubi and never thought that they would stoop to something that low. And not only that, but I have never found an answer as to WHY they did that so it is obvious that it is for $$$. This reminds me of the fact that DISNEY is making the next Star Wars AND it wont be according to the book. Ubisoft chose a very bad time to pull a low down stunt like that in the midst of time when most people don't have the $500-ish to spend on the xbox one or ps4, the game, and online subscriptions and stuff. You disappoint me Ubisoft and I feel that I have lost faith in yet another game developer. *rrrrrhhhmmm* *cough* 343 *cough* *Halo 4 was a let down* *cough*

So I guess my question there is why with the next gen exclusive free roam?

My last thing to say is glitches. It might just be that I play xbox 360, but I have run into a lot of glitches such as the Focus ability not working even when I have online play disabled. Some times when I turn it on the blue glare pops up but nothing slows down. I have also run into issues with exiting "digital trips" where I re-enter regular free roam but the air is still either thick blue fog or thick red fog. But the digital trips are balls to the wall epic, I will give Ubisoft that.

Over all I give the game a 4.5/5 for overall, a 2/5 for attention to non-scenic detail, and a 1.5/5 in terms of keeping their players happy.

The game is like a mix of the Assassins Creed series, the Mercenaries series, and Grand Theft Auto series.

Parker Carothe rs
Parker Carothe rs 5pts

I am sooo upset that you make last generation console users lay the dame price for the game and then dont let us have the same options. I mean if you dont lower the price or lut online free roam for last gen consoles your privably going to loose money. Just think of it that way. I hope you add free roam.

matt 5pts

Funny that GARY STEINMAN since the end of may when ppl had real questions needing answers you or no c@nt have said anything ! , thats it get it your private jet an fck off on holiday you shareholding prick .

matt 5pts

Your about to announce €315 million profit on the 10th of jully since release NOW INVEST 1% OF THAT INTO FIXING FREEMODE ON PS3 YOU DIRTY ROBBING C@NTS!!!

Jon 5pts

Ubisoft has a nice Single Player game here.

They do, however have a far ways to go with the online game play. Their concept of online gameplay (unique to them in the WHOLE of game design) is utter trash.

I am regularly able to be killed by a player, then see my killing hits reflected almost 30 seconds after my death. They cannot figure out projectile timing.

To laud the online gameplay is to say that you like waiting for the choppy lag of European players. Ubisoft has to make great progress here.

Bottom line, Ubisoft needs to lift some real-time bullet code and proper physics engines from Source games.

And why for idiocy's sake, did they create UPlay?? Why do i have to open 2 game shells (Steam, then UPlay to play?

Are you trying to piss everyone off with your mine, mine, mine perpetual propriety? Your games are weak and growing weaker in a world that appreciates sophistication without obvious lag and poor physics modeling.

The Source Engine used in the original Half-Life games beats the Watch_Dogs online hands-down...and it was written 9 years ago..

Justin 5pts

Surely they will try to maje a dlc for the miltiplayer freeroam on ps3? So much complains, they need to do it, hopefuly they are in the midst of programming it.

Ricky Mason
Ricky Mason 5pts

Ok, with all do respect towards Ubisoft, the disappointment of Watch Dogs fans began as soon as ppl found out that last gen consoles did NOT even AT LEAST get online free roam let alone online decryption; To completely honest if I had known that since before I pre ordered Watch Dogs, I WOULD NOT have done so-- it would of been just as simple as adding online modes to Assassin's creed 3&4, and I personally believe that there was no excuse for not updating online free roam OR decryption to last gen consoles... It was a outrageously unfair act-- don't get me wrong it's still a fun game in all, but limiting our online gameplay experience is where you all dropped the ball and I think I speak for everybody when I say, "Send us another update!"

Brayden 5pts

Will xbox 360 players get to play free roam ever???

waqas 5pts

can i play watchdogs co op with my friend on the same ps4?

CJ 5pts

You guys really need to add free roam and decryption for the last Gen Consoles. You're losing a lot of business. I was really disappointed with this. There needs to be a patch or some sort of update/DLC for 360 and PS3 for free roam and decryption.

Ed 5pts

Its kinda sucks that this free roam on xbox 360 and ps3 isnt available if i knew that feauture is not going to be in the last gen i wouldve not bought it.

Sipho Ndaba
Sipho Ndaba 5pts

If you're gonna remove really fun looking game modes like Decryption and Free Roam then why bother releasing Watch_Dogs on last games consoles? If I had known Ubisoft was gonna remove easily integrated multiplayer modes from my PS3 copy, I wouldn't have bothered buying the game.

Kuuppon 5pts

So basically I finished the game and now I'm stuck with no T-bone side campaign, none of the promised season pass campaigns AND no decryption or free roam (360) Seriously? I truly love the game but now I'm feeling rather empty and used. I may never give Ubisoft another iota of my money if this is what they offer after what? Five years of development and you couldn't figure out how to get the last gen gamers involved with online play aside from some stupid hacker invading your game, racing or having to tail some n00bs!?

Grayson 5pts

I love the game !!! But I believe that the "free roam" mode should be allowed to all consoles. You all promised great online experience and the Watchdog creators took that away from last gen gamers.

A random guy
A random guy 5pts

Why do it to us gamers i wanted this for multiplayer i beat the campaign got all guns wildfire goblan spec ops and nothing to do but i payed 100$ for this preordered it gut season pass game guide but no multiplayer bad mistake Ubisoft and guess what farcry 3 fans FC4 is coming out for both gen but borderlands the pre sequel is almost here and 2K is like "screw you next gen were going to old gen" but us old gen get 4 player co-op i have 1 and 2 but back on topic i want multiplayer me and 7 friends so a full lobby wants multiplayer so you dont have to do this but im never getting a nother Ubisoft game until multiplayer for old gen think about the gamers and not be greedy rich hippys.

Flare 5pts

Most of my friends won't upgrade to next gen, I know it said next gen only but why do that your restricting so many people from fully enjoying the game.

Aboodshadow 5pts

I've waited for this game for like a long time, and i told my friends about this game and they bought it, all my friends including me have PS3 and everyone wants Free Roaming Online, on the current-gen consoles like PS3 and XBOX 360, please try thinking and making an update enabling free roam. :l

srinu 5pts

I playing on a ps3 and a lot of players are still playing on ps3 and every one doesn't have enough money to buy a ps4. I don't play single player missions. When I buy a game it is solely for the multiplayer. Ubisoft didn't communicate properly to tell us that the two modes are not available. OK people are saying it is a hardware limitation as of is hosted from the console side but hat 5 is server sided. Why not make watch dogs server sided in the first place. Why do you treat is like this? The only reason I bought this game is mainly to play online decryption and then online free mode. I wouldn't have been so disappointed if at least the game included online decryption where you can shoot other players and have a lot of fun. Give am update to make the game server sided and give us the two game mode. I swear that is ubiaoft do not give us at least online decryption I will never buy another ubisoft game. Hey ubisoft you did a big mistake not giving us the two game modes. You need to have a proper plan from the first and you need to work to provide us the two game modes. And that too you took 5 years and in the end this is what you give us. Do something and give us the two he modes.

Joshua 5pts

Can you solve an argument that I'm having with some friends. When tailing another player are they immediately alerted to your presence and given the purple circle when you first enter the game or does the alert have to be triggered by something else for example trying to start a mission.

JoelyMcFoal 5pts

Will they add the two extra modes to ps3 and Xbox 360?

Dizzyslapper 5pts

I really was dissapointed with not having the multiplayer.. I wish you guys could have incorporated at least one game mode such as decryption or especially free mode. Other games have done it no problem such as GTA5 so I don't understand the problem would be to add those game modes. Just hoping one day you might patch one of them in, if not I'm sorry but I've lost a lot of hope in Ubi as game devs.

Pinball Wizard
Pinball Wizard 5pts

It sucks that you can hack only random players and there's no way to hack your friends

John 5pts

Will free roam ever ve on 360?? Ik it says only x1 ps4 n pc but come on why would you not have free roam in a game like this.. most will just return the game qhen they find out.. that means you guus lose business... I hope you guys put an update for 360 n ps3 so we can have free roam

Pissed off guy
Pissed off guy 5pts

I'm so pissed they better adapt this game to some sort of online mode I'm only getting more pissed every time I look at this game. I want to play online dammit!

Pissed off guy
Pissed off guy 5pts

I guess it won't beat gta online as I expected. Time to dust off gta v and get back on to doing fun missions with friends. You really pissed me off Ubisoft.

Pissed off guy
Pissed off guy 5pts

Honestly I'm disappointed that I can't acces free roam or decryption on ps3.. I'm so damn mad, I'm upset I even have the game now because the most important part is missing, nobody but rich snobby hipsters have the ps4 most of us can't afford it yet. You fucked up big time ubisoft.

Wow ubisoft!
Wow ubisoft! 5pts

Can I ask you guys One question?

Why the f*ck do you take away the two online modes that every one waited to play Huh!?! Why do this to every current Gen players.

It makes no f*cking sense.

If you say that every thing is the same on both gens. Let it be it then! It's not bonus!

I am just so… ahg!!!

God pleassssseeeeee fix this and put a stop to this madness!!!

This must be the most laziest thing I have ever seen. This would never have happend if you guys haven't delay this game.

Ricky Mason
Ricky Mason 5pts

And another thing... From all the past comments I just read, I bet more consumers bought Watch Dogs for last gen consoles than next gen, just to give you something else to think about!...

kb 5pts

agreed. i am SUPER disappointed by the game because of the lack of 8 person free roam on my 360. i bought the game expecting it (none of the big advertising mentioned that last gen get a big middle finger)..and i got nothing. so now i have a game that while fun has zero re-playability for me because they didn't warn us in advance. this needs to be patched in immediately..i've already told my friends not to bother getting it now and unless it is changed soon this will be yet another credit at game stop for me.

and before anyone says "buy an xbone then!" ...yeah limited selection of games, not enough increase in performance for the price..i pass. will drop consoles altogether and go pc before i get an xbone without a massive performance upgrade on it.

Matthew Gargan
Matthew Gargan 5pts

It's a hardware limitation, the game unlike GTA V Online's use of Servers hosted by Rockstar, Watch Dogs, uses the console to host the game, so Basically the Last Gen consoles is very outdated and due to the hardware and console hosting its not possible, since the current(PS4,XBOXONE,PC) gens are extremely more powerful then last comparison thus why its not possible... sorry. :\