It should take around 10 hours to complete the story, and another 15-20 hours to complete the rest of the main game's achievements.
The story is a very straightforward, objective-based experience. You should have no trouble playing through it. There is no difficulty-related achievement, so feel free to pick the easiest difficulty, if you want.
Remember to upgrade your hacking and crafting skills first, but also work towards the combat skill which allows you to takedown enforcers with a melee attack.
After the opening cutscene, you'll find yourself in a room with Maurice. After you follow the simple instructions and take him down, you'll unlock:
Next, hack the phone and exit the room. After the cutscene, go towards the police and sneak past them by hacking a speaker to distract them, before going up the roadway on the left. Once you reach the door at the top, the game will walk you through the camera hacking mechanic. Once you've unlocked the door and entered the room, follow the instructions in order to lure and distract the guard, to then move past him up the escalator into the next room. From here, hug the left side of the room and move into the next room. Now, after having followed the instructions and created a blackout, enter the next room, hugging the left side again, to then go down an escalator and run towards the exit. Once you make your way outside, run towards the car marked by a yellow icon on your minimap. Once inside the car, drive North until you exit the large grey circle (which is the police scan area), while avoiding any red-and-blue flashing lights on the minimap. After escaping the police, head to your hideout and spend your skill points once you're there, to then complete the mission.
Next, go to sleep, and go through this short mission which introduces you to the profiler and the crime detection system.
After completing this mission, head to a crowded intersection and pull out your M1911 Spec Ops to then shoot out 1 tire on 15 different vehicles for:
Then, as civilians inevitably start calling 911 to report you, run up to them and press to terminate their call. Do this for 10 different civilians to earn:
For now, if a civilian manages to fully call 911 and alert the police, just allow them to find and kill you (you don't lose money, and your ammo is even replenished).
Next, move on with the story. In "Big Brother", after you enter Nicky's backyard, enter her house. Listen in on the phonecall she receives, and then pursue and takedown the caller. After you've taken him down completely, hack his phone, and after a bit of talking, the mission will be complete.
Remember to spend skill points as you acquire them and plan ahead which skills you'd like to get first.
After you purchase the 416 Assault Rifle, move on to the "Backstage Pass" mission. From here, you'll want to locate (using the profiler) and hack a guard who has an access code. To do so, move forward into the compound with your M1911 Spec Ops pistol, taking out guards as you see them, along the way.
In general, in any stealth or combat situation, it's always better to kill everyone in the area, because you get points for doing so (note that you get double points for killing them with a headshot). You'lk also want to pick up their weapons, as this permanently unlocks them for you.
Once you find the guard you need to hack, hack him, then hack into the server room. After doing so, you'll complete the mission.
After the short mission where you have to find and kill 2XTheTap (an enemy NPC in on ground level, outside, on a walking area with fountains and caged trees), then access the online contracts, move on to the "Backseat Driver" mission.
Here, you'll need to reach a fugitive, then deliver him to Lucky Quinn. This is easier said than done, however, so follow this video to know which path to follow to evade the police (credit for the following video goes to hopeplaysgames on YouTube):
After you deliver the fugitive to Quinn, there will be a cutscene and a bit of talking, after which the mission will be complete.
For the "Open Your World" mission, after first meeting with BadBoy17, you'll want to head to the ctOS Executive Offices and enter the building via its underground entrance, clearing through the guards patrolling the area. Once you enter the building, take cover behind the pop machine, hack it to lure a guard, and silently take him out. Now, hop on top of the pop machine and take cover against the wall at the corner, then use the various cameras to find the guard with the access code and work your way up to see the access point which is essentially directly above your position. Once you breach it and hack the computer, exit the building through where you came from, and enter a vehicle to then drive away and escape the police scan (use jam coms to facilitate this task if you want). Once you escape the police scan, you'll have completed the mission.
For the "Thanks for the Tip" mission, you'll start out by having the reach the mystery caller's signal source. Once you do, you'll have to unlock 2 ctOS boxes. To do so, take out your profiler and follow the white lines/trails that appear. After doing so, you can breach the access point and investigate the apartment. After hacking the phone, kill all the fixers that attack you, then reach Damien's location. After the cutscene and a monologue from Aiden, the mission will be complete.
For the "Not the Pizza Guy" mission, after you climb up to meet Jordi, head across the canal to the rail yard, and kill everyone in sight on your way to reach and interrogate the Fixer Boss. After doing so, kill all the Fixers to complete the mission.
For the "A Wrench in the Works" mission, simply use the profiler to identify Angelo Tucci's niece, then locate and kill Tucci before he reaches the prison. After this, simply kill all of his allies.
Next, for the "Dressed in Peels" mission, you'll want to start by escaping your cell, then locating the survivor, by hacking your way towards an access point which will allow you to find Raul Lionzo in the prison yard. Once you identify him, you'll want to make your way to the basement to then kill all the corrupt guards (if you're having trouble with this part, remember to use your environment to your advantage). After you've killed them all, confront the prisoner, after which you'll make your way to the exit.
NOTE: when you're about to exit the police station through this door:
Instead of barging outside and fighting with police, step slightly outside the door (enough to give yourself a level 4 wanted level), then step back into the doorway to make sure it doesn't close behind you. Then, shoot some police from that location until you see that your wanted level in the bottom right under the map has progressed to level 5. Now, head back inside the building in the hallway, and sit here, defending yourself from a dozen or so police officers who'll come in after you. Once they're dead, keep waiting here until they eventually lose interest and you'll eventually have escaped the police chase, thus completing the mission, as well as earning you:
After completing that mission, you'll have completed Act I, and you'll have netted yourself:
At some point before the end of Act I, you should have also naturally earned:
As well as:
Now that you've completed Act I, I'd suggest going to unlock every ctOS tower on the map, thus revealing the whole map (which will make things a bit easier later on) sooner rather than later. Plus this will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with the map and various aspects of the game.
Here is a visual aid (credit for only the following video goes to PowerPyx on YouTube):
Once you've unlocked all of the towers, you'll unlock:
For the "Hold On, Kiddo" mission, start off by meeting Damien at the Plaza, then going to Nicky's house. After that, reach the train station and hack the train to get Jackson away safely. Then, kill ALL of the fixers, and board the train to reach Jackson, thus completing the mission.
After buying some crafting supplies, advance to the next mission.
For the "Breakable Things" mission, obtain the access code to Robert Racine's office by hacking it off a guard, then head to the office, clearing out all enemies along the way. In the office, hack in the computer then hack Racine's phone. After exiting the office and blowing up the enforcer, get in a vehicle and kill Racine, which will complete the mission.
For the "Collateral" mission, safely escort Clara to her vehicle, then escape the area to complete the mission.
For the "One Foot in the Grave" mission, start out by finding the bridge access, then after following Clara, profile the homeless people to eventually hack a phone. After that, get in a vehicle and kill the marked fixers. Next, go in the poker game and play normally until Tobias runs away. Immediately chase him down to catch him, but don't kill him. This will complete the mission.
For the "A Blank Spot There-ish" mission, you'll need to reach the bunker, then you'll have to power up the generators by looking around with cameras in order to reach certain panels that need to be activated. Once you do this, enter the bunker and power it up on the inside. Cutscenes and talking ensue, after which you'll complete the mission.
For the "Jury-Rigged" mission, simply go to disable the three security terminals, killing all enemies in the process. Next, unlock the ctOS tower and leave the area to complete the mission.
For the "Grandma's Bulldog" mission, you'll need to remotely infiltrate Rossi-Fremont via the cameras, then move around with them until you've obtained the necessary information, to then complete the mission.
For the "Not a Job for Tyrone" mission, tail Bedbug by hiding by pieces of cover. Then, get on the cameras, and once he meets up with Rabbit and things go awry, you'll have to guide Rabbit to safety without getting him detected. After you guide him to safety, leave the area to complete the mission.
For the "Uninvited" mission, at the point where you have to prepare an ambush for the Viceroys, place some I.E.D.s at the black arrows with some tire tracks. Wait for the men to arrive in their vehicles, and once a vehicle is on top of an I.E.D., activate focus and immediately hack the I.E.D., thus netting you:
As well as:
Kill 4 enemies within a single instance of Focus
If you fail, you can reload the last checkpoint and try again.
Once you've gotten that, move on to complete the mission by finding and tailing Bedbug to ultimately hack a terminal.
For the "Breadcrumbs" mission, you'll need to find a briefcase, then tail it by boat, to eventually infiltrate the marina to scan its contents unseen, before escaping the area to complete the mission.
For the "Stare into the Abyss" mission, begin by finding and killing Crispin, to then hack his phone and kill all of his backup. After that, go to the Infinite 92 private lounge, do the "activity" in there, then leave, to complete the mission.
For the "A Risky Bid" mission, go to the auction and find Iraq, to then scan his dogtags. After that, escape unseen, to then retrieve your weapons, before escaping the entire area to complete the mission.
For the "Role Model" mission, you'll need to kill absolutely everyone, before retrieving Jackson to complete the mission.
For the "Planting a Bug" mission, get into position and guide Bedbug through the building to eventually have him plant a bug in Iraq's server room. Next, you'll need to escape the Viceroys to complete the mission.
For the "Way Off the Grid" mission, you'll have to enter the bunker, before reaching Kenney's last signal location. Once here, kill all fixers. Then, upload data, while defending this position from incoming fixers. Finally, wipe the hard drive and chase down the final fixer to complete the mission.
Upon completing completing this last mission in Act II, you'll earn:
For the "Hope is a Sad Thing" mission, you'll want to hack the marina computer, before profiling people until you find the sought-after code. Next, after entering the code in the computer, infiltrate the ctOS tower and activate the station. Next, you can go find Kenney at the bar. Once you find him and beat his little drinking game, there will be a cutscene. After the cutscene, follow T-Bone in his scrapyard. You'll then be tasked with retrieving a truck. In the area where the truck is, silently take out all the enemies, then hop in the truck. Now, you'll need to drive the truck back to T-Bone's scrapyard, all the while getting chased and attacked by militia. Once you reach the scrapyard, get out of the truck and eliminate all of the enemies to complete the mission.
For the "A Pit of Paranoia" mission, you'll need to tail a helicopter until it reaches a trailer park of sorts. Once here, you'll need to identify and kill 2 officers, all while remaining undetected. Use the cameras to your advantage, and be mindful of the constantly patrolling helicopter. Once you kill the 2 officers, kill all enemies (or simply escape if you want) to complete the mission.
For the "Unstoppable Force" mission, you'll simply need to take out a convoy before it reaches Blume. To do this, I'd recommend getting in a vehicle and planting it in the middle of the main road that runs through Pawnee (along the marked path that convoy will take). When the convoy gets close, take them out however you prefer to complete the mission.
For the "The Future is in Blume" and "For the Portfolio" missions (you're forced to start the latter after completing the former), you'll want to start off by infiltrating Blume, and activate the boxes, all while remaining unseen. Then, you'll hack into the system and install T-Bone's spyware, before locating Damien's meeting inside Blume.
After that, exit Blume and reach the motorcycles on the West side of the compound, which will complete "The Future is in Blume" and start "For the Portfolio". From here, you'll need to quickly get to T-Bone's scrapyard, and defend him by eliminating all of the attacking militia. Use the traps to your advantage to help trim their numbers down to size. After that, escape with T-Bone on a boat.
For the "By Any Means Necessary" mission, you'll need to infiltrate Rossi-Fremont and reach Iraq's server room (following the path on which you led Bedbug in Act II) to then download the data. After this, exit the room, and you'll find yourself on the roof after the cutscene. Here, you'll have to prepare against an attack from Iraq and his men. They will be very heavily armoured. To take them down, place some I.E.D.s near entrances, and prepare some grenades, and also bring out your heavy-duty weapons (for example, the GL-94, the automatic shotgun, or the LMG). Once they arrive, give them everything you've got, and once you kill Iraq, you'll complete this mission, as well as Act III, thus earning you:
By now, you should've encountered enough crimes in progress to have earned:
Use the Crime Detection System to take down 20 confirmed criminals
For the "Someone's Knocking" mission, you'll want to enter the bunker, before tracing the hacker by solving the hacking puzzles. Once you do so, you'll complete the mission.
For the "In Plain Sight" mission, you'll firstly have to take down a fixer. Next, you'll be in a police scan. Don't waste your jam coms here, as you can't evade this scan no matter how hard you try. What you need to do is reach a secluded location (such as a parking garage that you can enter by opening a vertical metal gate), then hiding in your car until the police give up their search. Once you've succeeded, you'll complete the mission.
For the "The Rat's Lair" mission, infiltrate the system, then guide T-Bone to safety (not dissimilar to the way you guided Bedbug in Act II). Once you've done that and T-Bone drives off, you'll get attacked by several fixers in vehicles. Kill them all (or escape) to complete the mission.
For the "The Defalt Condition" mission, get inside the club and profile guests to reach Defalt. Then, solve the puzzle, before chasing Defalt towards the roof. From here, fight your way across, eliminating all fixers in the way. After this, get down to street level and get in a car, to then chase Defalt, and staying close to him while T-Bone downloads the data. After he completes the download, takedown the car, then kill Defalt to complete the mission.
For the "Little Sister" mission, you'll have to rescue Nicky. To do this, hack into the system and use the cameras to guide her safely to a car. After you do so, kill all the fixers to complete the mission.
For the "Ghosts of the Past" mission, after picking up Nicky and Jackson, head to the out-of-town location, all while avoiding being detected by the police. It may take a bit of trial-and-error to find the right path, but once you reach the location safely, you'll complete the mission.
For the "No Turning Back" mission, you'll have to eavesdrop on Quinn, then you'll have to infiltrate the hotel and reach the roof, clearing all enemies along the way. After this, once you're back inside and hot on Quinn's tail, go in the office and hack the device under the desk. After quite a bit of dialogue, profile Quinn and hack his pacemaker, then watch the scene unfold. After you kill him, download the video from the computer, then head outside. Once outside, you'll have to escape the police. Once you do so successfully, go quickly to save Clara.
When you arrive here, after the cutscene, you'll be forced into focus mode. Here you'll have another chance to get the "Magic Smoke" achievement if you missed it in Act II. Upon killing all enemies, you'll complete the mission, as well as Act IV, thus earning you:
There's only one mission in Act V. It's a bit more challenging, but it's still linear and straightforward.
For this final mission, you'll have to enter the bunker and locate Damien. After this, you'll have to shut down the ctOS by uploading T-Bone's virus into a few terminals. To determine which terminals are correct among the many fakes, you'll notice the fakes disappear for a brief moment every minute or so. Once this happens, you can head to the correct terminals and upload the virus, all while avoiding the many traps set off by Damien in the goal of slowing you down or even stopping you. Once you've shut down the ctOS, pursue Damien by boat out to the lighthouse. At the lighthouse, find Damien and follow the simple instructions as this final scene unfolds. After you choose to either kill Maurice or walk away, you'll have completed the mission!
Once you complete it, that's the end of the story. This will earn you:
Now, let's move on to the miscellaneous achievements.
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