Watch Dogs 2 – Key Data locations and puzzle solutions to unlock all Research abilities

Getting your hands on all Research abilities not only requires points, but you have to collect every piece of Watch Dogs 2 Key Data across the city to gain access to them first.

These Key Data locations have you enter restricted zones across the map to retrieve Key Data in specific ways, some by hacking – either in person or drone – or simply collecting them, once you have evaded or neutralised armed resistance along the way.

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We recommend the same routine on each one; locating their position (which we list below) and using NetHack to add them to your map and heads-up display. Then as you would with any other restricted area, use Cameras or a drone to scout enemy locations. As well as upgrading some of your research to make taking on foes easier, the following are required if you want to obtain them all:

As such, we’d recommend playing some of the main Watch Dogs 2 walkthrough until you have a handful of research nodes, unlocking the above essentials and anything you feel would make things easier, then ticking off all the Key Data locations from one area of the city to the next. As such, we’ve organised the list by city region, then Key Data location within there in alphabetical order. As a bonus, once you get them all, you also pick up the Research Trophy / Achievement.

Key Data locations in Alcatraz and Yerba Beuna Island

Alcatraz Key Data

Research unlocked: Speed Boost (Remote CTRL)Requirements: NoneLocation: Inside the roof of the Prison.Solution: Go into the prison – there’s a set of double doors you can just push through from the front – and head to the cells. Go to the top floor, and in the central row of cells, in the middle there is a vent the Jumper can go through. Jump up the ledge, but don’t go any further – if you look to the side, you’ll see the Key Data through the grate, which you can hack.

When you leap up the vent inside the cell, the Key Data is to the side. Easy to miss!

Yerba Buena Island Key Data

Research unlocked: Botnet Savings: Vehicle Hacks (Vehicle Hacking)Requirements: NoneLocation: This is located smack bang in the middle of the south part of the island, in a complex that’s above the main freeway tunnel.Solution: It’s guarded but out in the open for the taking, and the easiest way to do this is by the northish unguarded entrance, where the dog pen is, then turning right and right again by the crates.

Key Data locations in Marin

Kirby Cove Key Data

Research unlocked: Steady Hands (Marksmanship)Requirements: JumperLocation: Located south west of the Kirby Cove text on the map, not far from the coast. While seemingly safe outside, there are enemies inside a small room.Solution: Approach from the west-most point and use your Jumper to go through the space, then under the car. From there, you can shoot out and grab it from the left wall before anyone sees.

Vista Point Key Data / Horseshoe Bay Key Data

Research unlocked: Expert Tinkering (Tinkering)Requirements: NoneLocation: The game labels this as one in Horseshoe Bay, but it’ll unlock the one in Vista Point. Found underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, practically west from the ‘Horseshoe Bay’ text on the map.Solution: To get this one, you have to use a motorbike from the east, using the dirt skip as a ramp onto the central platform, then onto the scaffolding at the end, before dropping down the alcove on the right where the Key Data is. Whether to clear the base first is up to you, but you can choose to ignore everyone. You can find a motorbike parked along the south fence, and you don’t need much of a run up, as you need to land on the central platform to make use of that ramp to the end. This one feels similar to something you’d do in the Trials series, wouldn’t you say?

If you view the area from this angle, it’s a series of ramps. Take them all the way up to get the Key Data.

The Gates Houseboats Key Data

Research unlocked: Massive System Crash (City Disruption)Requirements: Vehicle Direction HackLocation: In the roof of the building next door to the Torque Rate Bike Shop, in the east of Marin.Solution: To climb onto the roof, you must hack the forklift round the side of the building, grab one of the crates, lift it up and mark it round the back in the corner, so that Marcus can climb the forklift, then the elevated crate, and onto the roof. From there, go into the door, use the Jumper to go through the whole and access the terminal, allowing you to open the vent to get the Key Data.

Climb up a forklift like so to reach the roof.

Key Data locations in Oakland

Prescott Key Data

Research unlocked: Fast Trigger Finger (Marksmanship)Requirements: NoneLocation: Located in the block below the ‘Prescott’ text on the map.Solution: This one is really easy – it’s a tiny area with just a couple of people, so you may as well sprint in, collect it, then out again.

Jack London Square Key Data

Research unlocked: System Crash Upgrade: Blackout (City Disruption)Requirements: NoneLocation: Found on the rooftop of a building in the middle of the district.Solution: Use the stairs on the north side to get to the top, then find your way into the outbuilding in the centre, where the Key Data is there for the taking.

Elmhurst Key Data

Research unlocked: Gang War (Social Engineering)Requirements: NoneLocation: This is in a gang stronghold just north west to the ‘Prescott’ text on the map.Solution: This one is really easy – it’s a tiny area with just a couple of people, so you may as well sprint in, collect it, then out again.

Key Data locations in San Francisco

Cliff House Key Data

Research unlocked: Target Weakness (Marksmanship)Requirements: NoneLocation: West San Francisco, on the coast.Solution: The Key Data is available to collect on a balcony round the back, behind a lot of heavily armoured guards. Either take them out by brute force to clear the way, or jump onto the forklift round the south side, ride it round the corner and elevate to the balcony level, then hop over the railing and straight to the Key Data. We died from gunfire shortly after, but you get keep the data.

Coit Tower Key Data

Research unlocked: Strong Grip (Marksmanship)Requirements: NoneLocation: This is south of the park, in an enclosed alley.Solution: You can approach this from the street or from the rooftops if you come from the park and climb over some rocks. The later gives you a better vantage point, but in theory you could just run in and simply pick it up, since it’s out in the open.

Either take out the guards from afar, or simply run in and flee. Your choice!

Chinatown Key Data

Research unlocked: Massive Vehicle Hack (Vehicle Hacking)Requirements: QuadcopterLocation: Located on a rooftop in a block in the middle of where the ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Lombard Street’ districts are.Solution: Go down the alley, climb the ladder and unlock the terminal to activate the link to the vent above. Pilot the Quadcopter through it and then hack the Key Data.

Embarcadero Center Key Data

Research unlocked: Engine Overdrive (Vehicle Hacking)Requirements: NoneLocation: North West San Francisco – go underneath the Center from the east and into the car park, where the room is off to the side.Solution: It’s a tiny room with three guards, but their close proximity means you can quickly overpower them with brute force. Or, simply stroll in and take the Key Data out in the open. Note you have to do this as part of the CyberDriver mission.

Ferry Building Key Data

Research unlocked: Remote Gadgets (Marksmanship)Requirements: QuadcopterLocation: East coast of San Francisco.Solution: Simply pilot the copter to the roof of the main terminal and hack the Key Data.

Fort Point Key Data

Research unlocked: Botnet Savings (City Distruption)Requirements: QuadcopterLocation: Head to the large building at the tip of Fort Point – it’s under the Golden Gate Bridge and hard to miss.Solution: Head all the way round to the West side to find a door that is hiding the Key Data behind. Hack the box to start the Network Bypass puzzle.

In short, you need to trace the blue path going left as it winds through the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge; the path will split into two several times, and you have to follow each linear strand, fix the nodes on the way until they join again, and continue.

Use the Quadcopter to fix all the nodes under the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you’re stuck, here’s the specific positions of each node in order:

  • On the building-facing edge, rotate T-junction to create two new paths
  • Follow path going up to the sea-facing edge, rotate to continue linear path
  • Return, follow path going down to the upward facing girder in the centre further down
  • Both paths lead to a node further down the sea-facing edge to create new path
  • Next node is underneath the bridge facing the ground, spin to create two new paths
  • Follow path seaward to near the ground, rotate to continue
  • Return, follow building-ward path to the middle of the girders
  • Both paths lead to node in far wall, creating a new path
  • Follow path to the very top of the girders, facing up
  • Unlock final node next to the locked door

Lombard Street Key Data

Research unlocked: Tweaked Blast (Tinkering)Requirements: QuadcopterLocation: North part of San Francisco. This is not on the street itself – instead, go to the road on the south, and the Key Data will be on the roof on the south west corner.Solution: Fly the Quadcopter up and squeeze underneath the decking to get it.

Go south of Lombard Street proper and use a Quadcopter to get its Key Data.

New Dawn Facility Key Data

Research unlocked: Security System Shutdown (Social Engineering)Requirements: NoneLocation: Inside the main complex, in the south west corner.Solution: To get the Key Data safely, go right round the outside fence when you come up to the entrance to an opening. You can go from cover to cover along the right side to the gazebo area, where the Key Data is for the taking. There’s also a $4000 or so money bag off on the bench just beyond that that’s also worth grabbing. If you don’t want to take on the guards, you could grab and sprint onto the beach, and run until you lose them.

Nudle Park Key Data

Research unlocked: Keen Eye (Marksmanship)Requirements: Environmental RCLocation: South East San Francisco. Go right round the corner from the entrance to the stadium to discover a gated and guarded lot round the side.Solution: Remote control the forklift outside the bountries to the corner, and move the crates blocking the entrance to the red container, allowing you to get the Key Data inside. Either go in yourself, or pilot the Jumper to get it for you so you don’t have to step foot inside the protected area at all.

Command the forklift just outside and take it to the container in the corner.


Research unlocked: Chopper Retreat Exploit (Vehicle Hacking)Requirements: Vehicle Direction Hack.Location: Round the back of the museum, in the alleyway.Solution: Approach from the south east side, take down the guard, and the containers directly ahead contain a car. Reverse it backward, then leap up and grab the Key Data inside.

Sutro Tower Key Data

Research unlocked: Export RC Engineering (Remote CTRL)Requirements: JumperLocation: At the base of the Sutro Tower, between San Francisco and Silicon ValleySolution: Approach from the north road, but don’t personally go into the restricted zone. Call the remote controlled Jumper, and go left outside of the fence to find a gap that will get you past the guards watching over the entrance. Go straight ahead to the corner outbuilding. On the short side of the outbuilding is a little gap the car can squeeze through, with the Key Data ready to collect inside.

To easily avoid all the guards, take the Jumper round the outside fence and through the hole.

Want more tips? Our Watch Dogs 2 walkthrough and guide provides an overview of everything you can do in the open-world game, from all finding all Key Data locations, unique vehicles and finding hidden gnomes and gnome outfit, through to tips on races, ScoutX, Driver SF and multiplayer. We also have walkthroughs on Trophy and Achievement specific side-quests Ubistolen, $911 and Shadows as well as how to get more Followers and how to make money.

Key Data locations in Silicon Valley

Crystal Spring Dam Key Data

Research unlocked: Electro Shock Optimization (Tinkering)Requirements: Environmental RCLocation: Directly above the ‘Crystal Springs Dam’ text on the map is a large complex. Take the roads from the north, or possibly even highway to here, then leaping over the edge onto the scaffolding above.Solution: Hack the crane and move its explosive payload to the nearest building, and detonate it over the boards. Drop the crane to ground level, get onto it, and now drop yourself in through the hole where the boards were.

Drop the explosive payload and remote detonate with a hack to clear the boards.

Galilei Key Data

Research unlocked: Explosive Optimization (Tinkering)Requirements: NoneLocation: South of the campus, on the corner in a heavily-fortifed area.Solution: To gain access, approach from the nearby road entrance and leap onto the building and container, then onto the perimeter wall to bypass the locked gate. You then want to go round the front of the corner building – by sneaking or force – up the ladder and hack the terminal, allowing you to then hack the comms tower above for the Key Data.

Palo Alto Key Data

Research unlocked: Enhanced Spring (Remote CTRL)Requirements: Quadcopter, JumperLocation: This is located at the top of the building just above where the ‘Palo Alto’ text is on the map.Solution: On the east corner is a terminal you need to hack, trapped behind two crates. Using a Jumper, leap over the crates and access; you can either do this by getting the jump upgrade, or what we did was park a car in front of it, and using it as a leg up. Once the terminal is active, swap to a Quadcopter and fly to the roof, then hack the Key Data.

Stanford University

Research unlocked: Stun Amp Up (Marksmanship)Requirements: Quadcopter, JumperLocation: Standford Tower – head to the campus and you can’t miss it.Solution: The node is located underneath the Stanford Tower. Go to the North East corner to find some ledges you can climb up, then run to the south for some air conditioning you can climb. You have to open the door on the north side to enter, but requires a Network Breach first.

You’ll want to climb up these ledges to get higher up the tower.

On the south side is a air duct the Jumper or the Quadcopter can go through. In the ducts inside, go left, right then right again to find the first node. Follow the activated route back outside, where it’ll split into two, ground round the North and South sides of the tower.

North side:

  • Drop down to street level, reverse the van to expose the node, and spin the node once.
  • Follow the newly activated path round to the north side. Spin the single line node below the junction to unlock the node above. Unlock it.
  • The newly activated path now goes one level up the Tower – you should be able to scan it from the ground. Unlock the node and spin it twice. This should unlock paths to the top of the tower on this side.

South side:

  • Go to the south most node. Move the van to expose a node, and spin it twice.
  • Follow the newly activated paths round the side. Spin the two nearest nodes to make the south-most one appear, and spin that until the next one up unlocks. Spin until the path ahead to the tower is active.
  • The newly activated path now goes one level up the Tower – you should be able to scan it from the ground. Unlock the node and spin it once. This should unlock paths to the top of the tower on this side.

Fix the nodes both sides of the Stanford Tower and then follow them up.

Now both paths are open on each side of the tower, put Marcus back up to the same level as the locked door. Use the Quadcopter to go to the top of the tower (you need to be on this level in order for the signal to reach). Activate all the paths based on the ground nodes you’ve just unlocked, then work down the north side to the door. Unlock it, and grab the Key Data.

Swan Leavitt Observatory Key Data

Research unlocked: Botnet Savings: Personal Devices (Social Engineering)Requirements: NoneLocation: Inside the grounds of the complex, which is above the freeway where the text on the map is.Solution: This is on a roof of a building inside, and is a simple job of breaking in, getting past the guards and taking the ladder up.

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