As of this writing, I’ve now passed 130 hours in Cyberpunk 2077 and I doubt I’ll be slowing down anytime soon (I’m currently about 10 hours into my second playthrough). In that time, I’ve learned an awful lot about the game, some of which I wish I had known when I was starting. So with that in mind, hopefully I can share some aspects of the game you may not be aware of. While it’s possible to play through the game at a surface level, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you understand, and utilize, all of the RPG elements at your disposal. Let’s dive in!
1. Attribute Points are Permanent While Perk Points can be Reset at a Cost
Very early in the game, you will begin to gain levels which earn you 1 attribute point and 1 perk point. Most players will immediately being putting points into what they believe is best at the time. But be warned, attribute points are permanent and cannot be changed. And given the very wide range of builds and perk combinations, you’ll want your attributes to be just right in the late game. Thus, it pays to map out your build ahead of time and prioritize your leveling based around bonuses and unlocking perks (which unlock in each tree at specific levels).
You begin the game at level 3 in each of the 5 Attributes and 7 free points to use for a total of 22. You can then earn 49 additional Attribute points for a maximum total of 71. Thus by the time you reach the level cap of 50, you can technically have 3 of the 5 Attributes at the max of 20.
Perk points meanwhile can be reset. Typically at Ripper Docs, tab over to the Trade tab and you will find the “Tabula E-Rasa” for 100,000 Eddies. If you explore and play many of the side missions/jobs, you can finish a job for a particular Ripper Doc that will give you a discount and thus you can buy it for 80,000 instead.
2. Understand, and Maximize, Your XP Gain
The experience system in Cyberpunk 2077 is a hybrid of multiple models. It’s very well implemented, but can be a little confusing at the start. Your overall level XP, which provides attribute points, is raised by doing nearly any core activities including missions, gigs, jobs, etc. and is rather straightforward. However, you also gain experience towards each skill individually as you use those actions. For instance, if you complete a combat mission by using a mix of handguns and shotguns, you will earn XP towards the Handgun and Annihilation skill trees. There are 12 different skills so again, going back to planning out your build, you’ll want to be sure you’re using weapons and skills which provide you XP towards the skill trees you want to level. This does two things. First, it gives you a skill specific bonus each time you level it. This can be additional perk points or stat bonuses. Second, once you reach the cap of 20 in the skill, it unlocks the “Trait” for that skill which is a special perk that can be leveled endlessly. The Trait is the bottom most perk of each skill tree and often provides large bonuses.
Another aspect to be aware of with XP, is there are ways to earn extra XP by doing small actions you wouldn’t normally do. For instance, using Quickhacks like Breach Protocol or putting cameras in friendly mode every time you enter combat is an easy way to gain XP in Quickhacking. You can, and should, do things like put a camera in friendly mode, and then when combat is complete, walk to the camera and turn it off using your Tech attribute. You can also pick up bodies, even after combat, and simply dump them into containers to gain XP towards Stealth. Essentially, think of any skill actions you can perform at any time and you’ll constantly be earning new stat bonuses and skill points.
Lastly, there are “Skill Shards” hidden throughout the world that will provide you with extra points as well. Some go towards specific skills while others can be used for any skill.
3. Crafting is Incredibly Powerful
Crafting exists in the Tech Attribute, and while it doesn’t play a large role early-on as you’re frequently finding upgraded gear, it really comes into its own in the late game. If you maximize your skills in crafting, you’ll be able to create the highest armor clothing and highest DPS weaponry (by a long shot). It is a very worthwhile investment. Given the many other items you can impact via Tech throughout the game, it is the one Attribute I recommend focusing on for nearly every build. You can unlock the ability to craft Legendary items via the “Edgerunner Artisan” skill at level 18 in the Tech Attribute via the Crafting Skill.
Also be aware, crafted items will roll with several random attributes including the capability to be created in rarities that are more rare than your crafting spec. For instance, if you have a common crafting spec and craft the same item five times, you may end up with three commons, one uncommon, and one rare. It pays to craft repeatedly.
4. Romance Options are Specific to Your V
There are four core romance options in Cyberpunk 2077. No matter your choices, you can only “fully” complete a romance with two of the characters if you’re male (Panam and Kerry) and two if you’re female (Judy and River). To be very specific, for Judy you must be female and have a feminine voice. And for Kerry you must be male and have a masculine voice.
This is important to know ahead of time as a few of the endings have the capability of including an extra mission with your primary romance option. So if you really enjoy one of the major NPCs, you may want to think about that ahead of time as well. Note that if you romance two partners, the first one you completed takes precedence during the ending.
5. Do Not Neglect Your Cyberware
While it’s very easy to fall into the trap of playing Cyberpunk 2077 by just running around and equipping new weapons and armor, Cyberware plays a vital role in the game. In-fact, if you build towards being a Netrunner (IE Intelligence and Tech), you can decimate enemies before they even know you exist.
No matter your build type, you can supplement it greatly with upgraded Cyberware at your local Ripper Docs. Your OS will provide you improved capabilities for hacking but can also be changed to suit more Gun or Melee focused builds. You can also give yourself substantial boosts to armor, critical hit percentages, health, evasion, and more. Each Ripper Doc can sell unique items with varying rarity and you will have to go to a Ripper Doc to change your Cyberware.
Lastly, I highly recommend unlocking the Reinforced Tendons for your legs as soon as you are able (45,000 Eddies). It unlocks a double jump which is by far one of the most useful purchases you can make. With the game’s climbing and parkour system, it makes traversal through the city much faster and even helps in combat.
6. Iconic Weapons Have a Few Special Attributes
Throughout the game you can find special weapons which are titled “Iconic”. These weapons will often show as Legendaries when you find them, but will usually not be Legendary in your inventory immediately. This is because when you find an Iconic weapon, you will also receive the crafting recipe for it with which you can craft a Legendary version of the weapon later in the game.
Iconic weapons will say Iconic in the title and the background will be gold lines instead of the typical grayish. They are unique and the only weapons that can be upgraded continually using crafting components. And lastly, some of these weapons can be displayed in V’s apartment in your stash room when you’re done with them.
7. Many Builds are Viable
While many games advertise the capability to “play the way you like“, Cyberpunk 2077 does a truly remarkable job of making many different playstyles viable. Even when playing on Hard or Very Hard, it’s possible to advance using greatly different builds. Thus, build the V that you want to play, not what you think will automatically do the most damage. Besides, you’ll often be surprised at how that can evolve throughout the game. And yes, as I mentioned earlier it is fully possible to decimate large groups of enemies simply with hacking and by never firing a shot.
8. Exploration is Worth Your Time
Very similar to their celebrated Witcher 3, CD Projekt Red made it worthwhile to explore in Cyberpunk 2077. There are many things scattered throughout the world ranging from small side missions, to easter eggs, to funny side stories, and of course, gear. You can often find upgraded equipment, including many legendaries, hidden throughout the world on rooftops, dead bodies, or just out in the wilderness. So explore away as you never know what you’ll find.
9. Vendor Offerings are Partially Randomized
There are many vendors scattered throughout the world selling a wide range of goods. Nowadays, it’s a habit to look up or ask friends where you can find specific items. In Cyberpunk 2077 this will work some of the time, but not always. The items that vendors sell is partially randomized and thus what you find at one vendor may differ for someone else. And in particular, high level gear like legendaries and rare crafting specs are spread amongst the vendors so you cannot buy them all in one place.
10. Do Not Automatically Disregard Common/Uncommon Items Even in the Late Game
Cyberpunk 2077 features a wide range of random rolls on gear. However, it also has a threshold for every randomized roll by rarity. And unlike some RPGs where say an Epic item will always be better than a Rare item, the stats on the rarity thresholds in Cyberpunk can often overlap greatly. This means that it can be a regular occurrence to find an Uncommon item that has better stats than a Rare or even a Rare item that has better stats than an Epic. So while it may be habit to completely disregard more common items as you play on like other games, they are still worth examining in Cyberpunk 2077.
The more important difference in rarity relates to the number of mods/enhancements that can be added to a piece of equipment, with legendaries able to be modded extensively. Optimizing those aspects of course comes down to your personal journey and build.
11. Quality of Life Items
As usual, there are some quality of life aspects that are not made immediately apparent. As with some other recent titles, hitting the “start” button will bring up the menu, but if you hold it down it will take you directly to the map.
Another one that comes in very handy is the ability to track each mission objective separately. Often times you’ll have more than one objective during a mission with many objectives showing as “optional” and requiring you to reach specific locations. If you open your Journal and move the cursor to the right side of the screen while you have the mission selected, you can actually track each individual objective. This will then apply to the cursor and directional line on your map as well which can be very helpful.
12. Understand Weapon Types and Elemental Damage
There are three ranged weapon types in Cyberpunk 2077. They are Power, Tech, and Smart weapons and each has a specific bonus.
- Power weapons have the ability to ricochet their bullets off of surfaces. Ricochet chance and damage can be enhanced further by skills and mods. By default ricochet chance is 5%.
- Tech weapons have the capability to penetrate obstacles such as cover and walls. Tech damage can be enhanced by skills and mods as well including the ability to ignore enemy armor completely.
- Smart weapons have the capability to home in on enemies allowing you to hit shots easily while moving or without proper aiming. To utilize smart weapons, you’ll need a “Smart Link” cyberware on your hands (done at Ripper Docs). Typically a Smart weapon’s DPS is lower than comparable Power/Tech weapons due to their ease of use.
There are three core elements related to damage beyond simply “physical” damage. They are shock, poison, and thermal.
- Some physical damage guns can also add a bleed status effect which will tick additional damage off of enemies over time.
- Shock, poison, and thermal damage will also add bonus damage to enemies that will tick off over time.
- You can scan enemies to see what type of damage they are more susceptible to. This is especially useful to know before entering major battles, so plan ahead of time and keep weaponry on hand with varied attributes.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an incredibly deep game. From the overlapping systems, to the loot, crafting, and build options, to the mission variety and open-world, it’s truly a world to engross yourself in. Understanding the many aspects of the game design and how best to utilize them can truly enhance the experience. So take your time, experiment, and enjoy yourself!