If Cyberpunk 2077‘s Night City needs a samurai, then you might as well be a well-informed one.
Cyberpunk 2077, no bones about it, is a big game. There is a lot to see, a lot to do, and a lot of interlocking mechanics, characters and stories to weave up. Even over the course of the first ten or twenty hours — barely half the game, and that’s if you’re rushing through things — you’ll be bombarded with decisions. Decisions for what to do in the middle of a fight. How you tackle the fight. Dialogue choices. Constant options in terms of your character build. Perks. And then more perks, because the perks system takes cues from Skyrim, and eventually you’ll start unlocking more things.
And then you’ll have choices about where to go and what to do. So to help deal with just how relentlessly overwhelming CD Projekt Red’s long-awaited sci-fi world is, here’s a primer to help budding samurais like yourself.
This story has been updated with more tips and guidance, and retimed following the game’s re-release for PS4 and PS5.
Hack everything, all the time.
Here’s something that’s real easy to overlook, and a great tip from a fellow Kotaku reader (cheers transientmind!). You can hack basically anything — and you should be hacking everything in sight, as soon as you get access to it.
Cyberpunk 2077‘s perks systems works off usage. So the more you hack something, the more your skill in Breach Protocol goes up. That doesn’t just make you a more efficient hacker: it also unlocks free perks as you go up the levels, which can be a real neat boost in the early game.
And there is no shortage of things around for easy hacking. You get 75 XP for hacking something for the first time, and 7 XP for subsequent hacks. And it’s the same for all items. Hack a vending machine. Deactivate an elevator. Mess with a billboard sign. That’s all free XP that you can very easily and quickly use to boost your primary hacking skill, and you can basically do it as soon as the game starts.
Try and get all your base attributes to 6 as soon as possible.
This isn’t something you’ll necessarily want to do for future playthroughs, but for your first Cyberpunk 2077 experience, I can’t recommend it enough. Each of the game’s base stats will feed into the choices you can make in any given scenario, and within the first 20 hours, a lot of simple choices will be tied down to whether your attributes are high enough.
For instance, you’ll come across doors that you can either “hack” through, or force open, if your body and technical stats are high enough. If your cool stat is high enough, you’ll get extra dialogue options in major and minor plot scenes. Having a higher intelligence value early on, for instance, can help you avoid sticky situations with people who are trying to hand you malware.
I haven’t come across too many instances where the game didn’t give you an alternate path if your stat wasn’t high enough, though. So don’t be worried if you want to deliberately leave one or two stats low. I found there was little need for the main body stat, because the initial health and stamina perks offer enough of an improvement to help you get by. Which is a great segue to…
Unless you really want to, don’t worry about Body too much.
Out of all the stats — and yes, you can see a potential sixth stat there! — the one that’s the least necessary, even on harder difficulties, is the Body stat. There’s a few reasons why. From the off, you can put perk points into Invincible, which adds 30% to your max health. Regeneration is obvious, but not that necessary given how generous the game is with healing items (and how easy they are to craft). You can boost you carrying capacity as well from the off, and I’ve never hit the carrying limit after equipping a single perk point into that.
It’s worth remembering you will also get extra carrying capacity, armour, health boosts and the like from your cyberware, depending on what you buy/find/craft in the world.
Critically, a lot of the other attributes get very crucial perks once you hit 7 points, 9 points and 11 points. If you’re going to be using a lot of pistols/rifles/sniper rifles, for instance, you’ll need 11 points in reflexes. This unlocks Nerves of Steel, which boosts your headshot damage with sniper rifles and precision rifles by 20% just for one perk point. You can max that out to 40%, and it pairs up with any previous headshot and crit bonuses you might have applied to your character via cyberware, to your guns directly via mods, or just through other perks. (Your critical damage is also tied to your cool stat.)
Anyone wanting to go a pure netrunner build will also need to invest heavily into intelligence, since a lot of the best daemons can only be unlocked with a heavy investment in attribute points, followed by perk points. Guns, on the other hand, can be equipped immediately once you hit a certain level of player level / street cred.
Don’t automatically throw bodies into dumpsters/bins/lockers.
During the original mission you’ll be told that you can kill or takedown an enemy, and hide their body in the same motion. What the game doesn‘t tell you is that if you do so, you won’t be able to loot them afterwards.
I don’t know if this is intended behaviour, but to be safe, always takedown/kill first, loot the body, then hide them in the dumpster/locker/whatever body receptacle the level has laying around.
Get the motorbike as soon as you can.
I’m not going to talk about the specifics around how you get the bike, but there are two opportunities that come up within the first 10 or 15 hours, depending on how you play and what missions you end up doing.
One of them is a side mission, and the other mission that marks your first return — or experience — with Panam in the Badlands. Panam’s mission is a key part of the story, so it’s unmissable, whereas the other is technically optional.
Either way, once you get on the bike you’ll see how awesome it is. The way the dashboard lights up and stays in focus, especially at higher resolutions, is one of the most visually satisfying things all year. Trust me.
Go see Wakako Okada straight away.
This is something you can do immediately in the first chapter. Wakako is the fixer around Jig Jig Street, Night City’s red light district, and she’s also responsible for giving you the game’s very first mission.
You don’t have to go and see her straight away — I didn’t collect until the game’s second act had begun, in fact. But you should absolutely see her as soon as V gets access to a car. Why? It’s because as payment for your job, Wakako will send you to a nearby ripperdoc, who will give you a free cyberware implant.
The implant is a tiger claw tattoo that goes onto your hand, with one very special ability: it feeds visual information into your guns. That basically means you get a mini-wallhack when aiming down the sights of your pistols, rifles, shotguns and such, which absolutely turns the tide of every single firefight you’re in.
Having the ability to just knock people off at will means you don’t have to overinvest in your guns or perks, either. All you need is access to a good gun or rifle, unless you’re doing a specific melee/hacker build or something like that.
Also, it’s worth seeing Wakako anyway: the Jig Jig Street area is one of the prettiest areas in the game, particularly if you’re playing on PC and turning all the ray traced reflections and lighting up to max. It’s also where you can get down, if that’s your thing.
Upgrade your cyberdeck’s operating system early on.
The amount of hacking you can do is limited by your cyberdeck RAM. You can grow this through perks and improving your breach protocol skill (which increases over time as you hack and hack more things).
But the fastest way to upgrade this is just by ripping out your cyber OS and installing a new one. As you play, you’ll encounter enemies that require a lot more RAM to hack. That seriously limits your options for tackling areas, especially if you haven’t crafted, bought or picked up more quickhack options.
So make upgrading your cyberdeck OS a priority. I find it’s easiest to do it in the game’s opening chapter: it’s where you start with a ton of money. You might be compelled to spend it by paying back Victor, the ripperdoc who fixes you up early on, but you can do this in the game’s later acts without any penalty. Upgrade your gear first.
Whatever your build is, make sure you get this one quickhack perk ASAP.
Biosynergy should be considered essential for every Cyberpunk 2077 build. It lets your RAM regenerate during combat, meaning you’ll be able to consistently hack enemies as you go along (rather than having to disengage from combat immediately).
I cannot stress how absolutely crucial this is. You don’t necessarily need to upgrade it beyond the first level, especially if you’re doing more of a gun focused build and your hacking is largely going to be limited to distractions/taking over cameras/disabling turrets. But if hacking’s something you want to do frequently, then max it out all the way. And there’s a good use case for just maxing it out anyway, given the more powerful daemons you can install will eat up your entire RAM budget.
It’s good. It might actually be the best perk in the whole game. Get it, and get it ASAP.
Your crafting won’t level up unless you’re actively doing it, so work out whether that’s something you want to do before investing points.
I haven’t spoken much about crafting, and for good reason: it’s one of the weakest areas of the game. Cyberpunk 2077 throws so many healing items at you, and so much loot, that you can legitimately play 20 or 30 hours and not ever need to use the crafting system at all.
That’s helpful if you want to min-max your build. And not levelling up in crafting doesn’t stop you from disassembling junk, or using spare parts you find, to upgrade your weapons. You might find you want to save all your components for upgrades instead, anyway. The different classes of weapons might not always be to your style: I specialised in pistols early on, but later Tech handguns I found would be reliant on charged attacks, which ended up minimising the amount of max damage I could do via repeated headshots. So it was more practical to upgrade a slightly older pistol, rather than just going for the newest one with the biggest DPS value.
But you might want to roll with assault rifles that literally bend bullets. It’s up to you. But I would recommend looking at the crafting system, and its perks, and making a very early call. And if you want to get into the quickhack/weapon/armour crafting game, you can equip a perk from the beginning that automatically disassembles all junk into components.
Ask all the side questions if you’ve got time.
Here’s another little emergent thing. Chances are most people will do this anyway, because it’s a big RPG and everyone wants to see it all, but it’s worth knowing.
As you go through the many conversations with different characters, you’ll be given a mix of dialogue choices. Critical ones that move the conversation forward are marked in yellow; filler, or side questions are marked in blue.
But what the game doesn’t tell you is that sometimes asking the blue questions first will open up more information, or change what your yellow dialogue options are. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when these options appear. It makes sense in gameplay — if the question leads to new info that tangibly changes how V would approach a situation, then it can impact what their next question might be. But you’ll just have to playthrough the game and read all the options as you go.
Just enjoy driving and walking around the city.
The game has a lot of emergent moments that pop up, external to any of the main missions or side missions you’ll discover. Some of these might be as simple as a couple of thugs beating up someone for their wallet. Go snot the shit out of them: chances are the NCPD will give you money for your troubles. Sometimes you’ll just run into a side mission that’s undiscovered. And sometimes you’ll just enjoy the many sights and scenes that Night City has to offer.
The game’s visuals are its biggest treat, especially on high-end systems. Absorb as much of it as you can. It’s worth it.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a big, big game. We’re still working through all the possible options, quests and permutations, so there’s plenty more to discover and learn. I’ll keep updating this post as more info comes out, but otherwise my biggest piece of advice: enjoy it.