The Heat Level is a system that indicates how much the player is wanted by the triggering faction. For the police, it is gained by having a crime reported or witnessed by the authorities, and starts at low, where they attempt non-lethal arrest to high threat which is lethal force. The police Heat Level increases as more crimes are committed by the player. Other factions, such as Umeni or the gangs, have Heat Levels that are given by them noticing the player invading a restricted area or other hostile actions, and they begin with lethal force and grow more aggressive the higher the Heat Level is.
There are five triangles with an exclamation mark in them and with depending colours, a black triangle with white sidebar indicates the player has committed a crime but is not being chased by the authorities, on the other hand, if the triangle is red with black sidebar, this indicates the player is currently being chased by the authorities.
The heat level will be cleared completely after a successful evasion from the authorities or other factions. If the player has outstanding heat levels from authorities, they will be slowly cleared one by one as time passes by without committing another crime.
The Heat Level has been expanded to other faction members as well. If a faction member(s) commit several crimes in a row (i.e Shooting and killing several police personnel) the heat level on them will be increased slowly at which point the police will send tougher forces to stop them (i.e SWAT). The player can also receive a heat level if they are actively chased by other factions such as Unemi, Tezcas, Bratva, etc which can be increased if the player kills several faction members. If two or more factions are in conflict each other, the heat level will give a hint to the player indicating the certain factions in conflict each other but will not necessarily mean the player is being chased by the factions unless the triangles are flashing red colour with exclamation marks as stated above.
Attracting the Police
Due to the persistent presence of law enforcement in the streets, attracting police attention is somewhat easy. If the player commits a crime, there is a chance a pedestrian may call the police and report him for a certain crime, depending on the seriousness. A call will take only a few seconds before authorities will be alerted and arrive on the scene. Another way to attract police attention is simply committing a crime in front of a police car or a police officer.
Unlike in the previous installment, pedestrians will not call the police that often - they will call the police if the player has repeatedly committed a crime (Punching up to 2-3 pedestrians at a time, for example). Pedestrians may call the police if they witness the protagonist:
- Wield weapons on the street
- Hurting or killing civilians
- Fire weapons on the street
- Use explosives on the street
- Steal a car
- Run over multiple civilians in a car
To cancel a 911 call, the player has to use distraction hacking ability, walk to a pedestrian and drop his or her phone, driving by them too close or aim a gun at them. Killing them is an option as well which will increase the heat level if doing so.
If a patrol car or foot officer witnesses a crime on sight, they will immediately pursue the player and stop them by arresting them or using lethal force. If the player is losing them, patrol cars will drive around the player's area, looking for him.
The following crimes will attract immediate police attention:
- Wield weapons on the streets.
- Harming and/or killing civilians.
- Fire weapons on the streets.
- Use explosives on the streets.
- Steal a vehicle.
- Climbing ontop of police car.
- Insulting a police officer.
- Stealing a car and escaping from the Dealership with it.
- Driving a police car.
There are certain crimes which will NOT attract police attention, but will only increase the heat level, which are:
- Repeatedly using hacks on a patrol car.
- Killing police personnel by using certain hacks or stealth.
First Phase - 911 Callers
At the first phase, Marcus has committed a crime which attracted an unwanted civilian attention, thus civilians begin to report him to the police by dialling 911.
Marcus can stop the caller by approaching him and using a takedown action which will grab their phones and smash them, driving too close to them, aiming gun at them or using distraction hack. Shooting a witness caller may sometimes attract another civilian calling the police.
If a patrol car witnesses Marcus committing a crime on spot, this phase is skipped to second phase. If Marcus is on foot when the witness call finishes, phase 3 usually starts unless he was driving a car or had more than two heat levels.
Second Phase - Police Pursuit
During this phase, the police has received the call, located Marcus and are giving a chase. This phase is very common and happen a lot by police sight over witness calls, especially if the player is trying to do illegal activities in the public as the police patrols more often.
To evade a pursuit, Marcus has to break police line of sight by keeping a long distance from every patrol car for several seconds. Using vehicle hacks is highly recommended during this phase, as shooting will make matters worse and escalate more heat levels, thus bringing tougher and larger police force. Marcus can use traffic light hacks, steam pipe hack, blockers and so on to destroy certain police vehicles. There will be automatic usage of hack by pushing a prompt button on the screen if the player has unlocked a certain skill, similarly in predecessor. The player can also take a boat and evade on the water, but there is a high chance for police boats to appear and give chase making all police pursuits around very difficult, especially at higher heat levels particularly at heat level 5 where the police shoot through their windows.
Once all visual contact on Marcus has been lost, the police will enter the third phase. If Marcus had one heat level and was on foot during witness call, the second phase is usually skipped to third phase.
Third Phase - Search Mode
During this phase, police has lost all visual contact of Marcus and are beginning a vicinity search for his sight. Police cars will slowly drive around the area looking for Marcus. Police will also enter third phase if Marcus was on foot with one heat level if a witness call was completed.
Depending on the heat level, the higher it is, the longer time it will take for the search to be called off. Police officers will never leave their patrol car during search mode and no police foot patrols will spawn around the area.
- One triangle: 2 police cruisers will be dispatched. All officers will attempt to arrest the player. More police cruisers can respond in vicinity. Police officers do not wear kevlars.
- Two triangles: 3 police cruisers will be dispatched. All officers will use lethal force on the player. Roadblocks formed with police cruisers will be placed. Police officers wear kevlars.
- Three triangles: 4 police cars dispatched. Police Talos along with Police Cruisers will respond. Police Helicopter will respond as support unit and will open fire if being fired to. Roadblocks formed with police cruisers will be placed. Police dogs will also assist the police, but there will be a small number of dogs helping. Other players will be able to start a bounty hunt to kill the player that's being pursued.
- Four triangles: 5 police cars dispatched. Police cruisers will be called off as Police Talos and one or two MRAPs will respond. MRAPs are being driven by two Elite SWAT members. Police Helicopter will open fire. Roadblocks formed by Police Talos will be placed. The police dogs have a larger appearance than at three triangles.
- Five triangles: 6 police cars dispatched. MRAP are taking over the pursuit as only one or two Police Talos will still respond. An Enforcer and a regular SWAT member will be in MRAP. All police officers will shoot through the windows at the player. Roadblocks formed by MRAP will be placed. There will be a large number of police dogs as well.
Gang Members such as the 580s, can be in conflict with every other Illegal factions. The police will only be in conflict when they see gang members committing a crime, or if Marcus has forged evidence against them.