Cyberpunk 2077: Learn How Everything Works With Our Beginner’s Guide Tips

By | December 11, 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG at heart, and it employs many types of systems and mechanics you may not be aware of, or may seem fairly complicated, especially early on in the game. This applies to everything from combat to exploration, and making your way through Night City’s various districts to become a legend.

This Beginner’s Guide is divided up into several sections – which range from the game’s Life Path prologue, through Act 1 and getting to know the first district, up to when Night City fully opens up in Act 2. The sections will include basics like character creation and attributes, movement, scanning environments, to weapons and armor, crafting, combat and stealth, making money, and different types of hacking.

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This section of the Beginner’s Guide focuses on things you’ll encounter in your first hour of Cyberpunk 2077, including character creation and getting a feel for the world in your Lifepath origin story.

Character Creation

Cyberpunk’s character creator is fairly robust, and you should feel free to sculpt the character of your choosing. Even though you won’t get too many opportunities to see your own face while playing, you’ll be able to enable photo mode at almost any time. You’ll also spend a lot of time looking at your hands, so pick some fingernails you won’t get tired of looking at!


However your character ends up looking, it’s what’s on the inside that counts – literally. You’ll have 5 different Attributes to assign a number of points into, and these will be key in laying the foundation for building up your character’s potential. These include:

  • Body – This attribute governs your physical prowess, which not only increases your health and stamina, but is essential for using brute strength to solve problems (like opening doors with your bare hands, or ending a conversation with a knockout punch!). Those who invest in Body will be able to deal more melee damage, better handle larger weapons, and perform feats of athleticism.
  • Reflexes – This attribute governs your speed and dexterity, which can allow you to evade faster and critically strike more often with precision. Investing in your Reflexes will boost your prowess with smaller weapons like handguns and blades, as well as better handling rifles and submachine guns for a better offense.
  • Technical Ability – This attribute governs your finesse with machinery, gadgets, and explosives, and not only allows you to become better at crafting, but also gaining more use out of armor. By investing in this attribute you can enhance your crafting abilities to make more for less, unlock doors and disable security, and increase the destructive capabilities of explosives.
  • Intelligence – This attribute is all about your capacity to become a master hacker, or netrunner. Those who value intelligence will be able to increase their hacking bandwidth and abilities, and unlock new types of hacks when first breaching into an enemy network, as well as unleashing ruthless quickhacks against individual targets.
  • Cool – This attribute governs your abilities while in stealth, making you operate better when crouching to deal more damage and blend in more. Beyond increasing your capacity to murder and poison from the shadows, investing in Cool can even unlock some really smooth dialogue responses!

There are plenty of builds you can try to plan out, and you should generally try to focus on prioritizing 3 out of the 5 attributes that align with your playstyle the closest. Want to be a sneaky assassin? Invest in Cool, as well as Reflexes so you can snipe from afar. If you’d rather destroy everyone as loudly as possible, go for Body to overpower your foes, with a bit of Technical Ability to use the most explosive version of grenades. You can also become a master hacker by focusing on Intelligence, with either a bit of Cool to never get your hands dirty, or Technical Ability to help craft more potent quickhacks.

The good news is that you’re never really tied down to one playstyle. While you can’t exactly respec, you’ll find that performing related actions will increase your Skills governed by the main attributes. If you find yourself constantly gaining levels in the Stealth skill, it may be worth dropping a few points in Cool next time you level up!

While we all have playstyles we want to follow, certain attributes will literally open doors for you. This can make some tough encounters easier or even offer new dialogue lines. You can still refine your playstyle through your perk points, though, so try and use some of those early attribute points in these three categories:

  • Technical Ability: 5+ – Open some locked doors and disable cameras without hacking
  • Body: 5+ to force things open and take certain physically intimidating actions
  • Intelligence: 4+ for netrunning – specifically to get rewards by hacking Access Points. Hack into systems that could make an encounter easier.

Lifepath Decision

It may sound like a daunting decision, but picking your Lifepath doesn’t have to be an agonizing choice. In reality, your background will only affect very specific conversations for the most part. Sometimes this may let you talk your way out of a dangerous situation, but many times it will only give you added insight that your experiences have given you.

As you venture beyond the prologue, you’ll notice some conversations may have your Lifepath name – indicating that this response won’t be available to others. However, not all of these will have a dramatic change to your current situation. It is possible that certain side gigs may only become available to certain lifepaths, but it doesn’t appear that your lifepath will have that big of an effect on the majority of the game.

Generally speaking, you may want to pick a Lifepath that most fits with the type of character you want to roleplay as: If you want to appear business savvy and able to sniff out corporate bullshit, pick The Corpo. If you’re looking to impress the various gangs of Night City, The Street Kid might be for you. If you fancy yourself a gearhead or loner, The Nomad might be your pick.

Movement and Control Basics

Once you’ve been thrust into life in your current path, you don’t need to worry about gunning down dozens of people just yet, but it pays to know about how you’ll move around and traverse both in and out of combat:

  • You can mantle most objects by tapping or holding the jump button. Since this is an RPG game, there’s often more than one way to infiltrate places – and you may find that climbing up onto balconies, through open windows, or jumping across gaps can help you uncover new areas.
  • Dodging in this game can be a bit finicky, but it can help you both evade and counter enemies in close combat, or duck into cover quickly. Either quickly double tap the crouch button when moving in the direction you want to dash, or double tap the movement key on PC for a quick move.
  • Cover is important, but doesn’t always make you impervious to hits. Crouch behind cover before combat to avoid detection and plan out your attack, or take cover during combat to wait for the opportunity to strike – but remember that many objects can be torn to shreds by gunfire.
  • You can equip up to 3 different weapons at a time, with the fourth being your plain old fists. You can swap between them with the number keys or mouse wheel on PC, but you can also bring up a radial menu for your weapons on both console and PC. This not only allows you to select a needed weapon when time is paused, but you can also quickly use a grenade or health item – and cycle between different types of recovery items and grenade types without having to go into menus.
  • Going into the radial menu for weapons also allows you to put away your weapon by selecting the red gun icon with the strikethrough. Some people really don’t like it when you point a weapon in their face, so try to keep your weapons holstered when in safe zones or meeting with trigger-happy folks. You can also simply double tap the weapon swapping button to holster your weapon.

Conversations, Choices, and Consequences

As an RPG, as much of Cyberpunk 2077 is built off dialogue as it is on combat. Your ability to navigate obstacles with words can be as important as your ability to shoot your way out of a tough situation, but certain dialogue choices can have you completing your tasks without a shot fired.

Conversations can begin in the flesh, or even on your retinal display that allows you to send and receive calls while on the go. Some conversations you’ll have to initiate yourself, by pulling up your list of contacts on your phone icon. Some contacts you meet will send you text messages you can read or respond to, while others will want to have an actual conversation.

As far as important dialogue decisions go, here are some tips worth remembering:

  • Options listed in yellow will advance the conversation, and usually indicate an active choice in how you respond. Sometimes these will just move the plot along and give V a bit more personality, but other times this may indicate a time to make a decisive response. Conversation options in blue can be chosen to gain more information before making the aforementioned decisions. These won’t have any consequences, so feel free to ask no matter how stupid the choice may seem. You may even learn valuable intel that could influence your major conversation choices!
  • Some responses are timed – as indicated by a meter quickly falling above your choices. Sometimes you can choose to say nothing at all – whether to be stoic or cryptic – and other times you may miss out on making a decisive reaction that can put you in an advantageous position when the talking stops and the fighting begins. Generally, the less time you have, the more important the decision usually is.
  • Certain icons can appear when you are picking a response to make, which are tied to either your attributes, or your life path. If a number is displayed next to the icon, you can see how much of an attribute total you’d need to be able to choose that option. For instance, having 6 technical ability points may allow you to observe a faulty piece of equipment, or having enough Cool may let you diffuse a tense situation. Not all of these locked responses will actually have a decisive impact, and may just offer more insight into your situation – and the same goes for lifepath options, which will not appear outside of your chosen lifepath.
  • In true CD Projekt Red fashion, some choices you make may change everything, or nothing, and the ramifications may not appear until much later in the game. If you decide to kill someone important, spare someone and leave them in your debt, or screw them over royally – you’d better prepare to face the consequences down the line in ways you may not expect.

Note that you can actually pause mid conversation to access your character attributes – meaning if you have extra attribute points banked, you can essentially raise your points before answering in a conversation if you were too low to access a certain dialogue option!

This section of the Beginner’s Guide focuses on things you’ll encounter just after the life paths converge to the central story of Cyberpunk 2077, but before you can fully explore the entirety of Night City. This includes aspects like using the scanner, managing your inventory, leveling up, and hacking.

Scanning the Environment

In Night City, there’s no shortage of things to interact with – from lootable junk, to hidden containers, explosive objects and not to mention almost everything can be hacked in one way or another.

You can scan the environment at any time (Tab on PC) to cover the area with the green overlay. This will highlight important information in the area you’re currently in, letting you know what’s worth checking out, where potential enemies may be patrolling, and what you can hack to disrupt or distract your opponents. You can tap the button for a quick scan pulse, or hold it down to get more detailed information on targets, and even slow down time while you prepare to hack targets.

  • Box icons indicate the presence of loot that can be pilfered – no matter where you are, people don’t usually seem to care if you swipe stuff from them. This can include junk items found all over the place, container boxes and storage, and the bodies of fallen foes. The color of the box will indicate rarity – white for junk and common, green for uncommon, blue for rare, and purple for epic, and orange for legendary. You may even find rolls of Eurodollars, and nobody will yell at you for snatching them up!
  • Red diamond icons with lines in them indicate hackable objects, and often will develop a green overlay when scanned. These can range from computers to televisions, light fixtures and cameras, generators, and anything in between. Some of these can serve as breach points for gaining access to an area’s systems, while others can be used as distractions or hacked to operate the device in different ways. As you develop your hacking skills, more options may become available when holding your scan over these objects.
  • Red boxes with arrows indicate a safe spot to dispose of enemy bodies so that others won’t find them and alert their friends.
  • Yellow bullets indicate a non-civilian, meaning if threatened or approached in a hostile environment, they will attack you. Sometimes you may see them in neutral areas, like police officers at a crime scene or gang members on orders to stand down – but it may be worth marking them (middle mouse button on PC) to remember their location when things go south. You can even hack most of these targets too, as most all people in Night City have augmentations.
  • Thin yellow icons indicate the presence of a Shard, usually containing tidbits of lore that you can hang onto.
  • Yellow magnifying glasses either indicate a quest item or important object that may be relevant to your current situation, and are always worth investigating.
  • In addition to these icons, note that surfaces appearing with a blue overlay are often the sign of objects that can be altered in some way, like window shutters or sealed doors. Sometimes they can be hacked, some can be opened with brute strength, and others you’ll have to find a way around.

For these reasons and more, it’s always a good idea to constantly scan areas you enter, even if it’s just a quick tap. There’s plenty of junk to find in any given room, and they can end up selling for a lot over time.

Inventories – Gear, Consumables, and More

With so much loot to find in Cyberpunk 2077, you can expect to spend a good deal of time navigating menus to make sure your character has everything they need to make it big in Night City.

The most important thing to remember is that V does have a weight limit, and trying to exceed that limit can often slow you down at the worst times, and drain your stamina. That said, the key to managing your inventory efficiently is knowing when to stop, sell, and store.

Your inventory is divided into two main sections – your Backpack and your Cyberware. Your backpack stores everything you pick up off the ground or loot from containers, bodies, or buy in stores. Your cyberware are the implants you can have installed into your body by a professional Ripperdoc – for a cost. Things you can cycle through in your inventory include:

  • Components – these are permanently displayed on the right of your backpack, tiered by rarity, and are used for crafting. Most any item you find can be disassembled on the spot to create more components – and the better the item, the rarer the component.
  • Ranged Weapons – this section is for all your guns: pistols, rifles, and everything in between. You can also compare them to what you currently have equipped – a green arrow indicates that it may be better, and you can also see how much total ammo you have for each gun type on the gun itself. Weapons are usually the main culprit for the bulk of your weight limit, so try to only carry around a few essentials, and don’t wait too long after looting a bunch from your enemies to either sell them off, dismantle them, or store them back at your apartment.
  • Melee Weapons – From flashy katanas to small knives, wrenches, bats and anything else, melee weapons can also be one of the three weapons you equip and swap between at will. The bigger the weapon, the slower it will swing.
  • Attachment and Mods – This section is for anything that can augment your gear. Most every weapon you find will usually have one or more open mod slots – and some gear may already come with something installed. Clothes usually have to be higher level to allow mods, but you can equip and unequip the attachments as needed to make sure whatever you’re using is at its best.
  • Cyberware – Essentially, this is your mod section for cybernetic implants. Much like weapons and armor, a lot of cyberware you can have installed at a ripperdoc can hold certain kinds of cyberware mods, which can further bolster their capabilities, like a vision mod to see grenade blast radius, or elemental damage for your mantis blades.
  • Clothing – Also known as armor, this section holds all of your swappable clothing that you carry on you. Clothing can have more stats on them then you might think, so be on the lookout for rare threads or higher level shoes with armor mod slots to bolster your defenses.
  • Grenades – This section is all about different types of grenades you can use, ranging from the normal explosive blasts to poison grenades or even flashbangs. You can equip one type to your quick-bar – but remember that using the weapon wheel, you can highlight your grenade and swap between different kinds in a pinch.
  • Consumables – You’re bound to find a lot of consumables when exploring Night City: booze, burrito paste, something resembling food – and tons of energy drinks. This also includes actual medical items like the Maxdoc and Bounce Back, which will grant you a boost of immediate healing energy. It’s very important to note that no consumable has any weight on them, meaning you can always stockpile as many healing items and snacks as you please, and use them before, during, or after combat to stay in fighting shape!
  • Junk – Likely the bulk of your inventory, junk is found everywhere and anywhere, and consists of as many disgusting or surprisingly expensive things as you can think of. Most junk items don’t sell for much – but luckily you can press a button to sell all your accumulated junk at any Drop Box station in Night City, or at vendors (even the weapon vendor wants a stapler sometimes). While they can also be dismantled into components, be wary of what you choose to break down into parts. A dildo may only be worth 3 dollars, but a 750 dollar pair of earrings will also dismantle into the same basic components, and you’d lose out on a good bit of cash from certain junk items!

As for your cyberware, you’ll start out with an operating system which provides the basis for your hacking software. Like weapons or clothes, it also has mod slots that you can equip cyberware mods into by clicking on the cyberware you wish for augment. For your operating system, this means equipping quickhacks, while other cyberware you can install will use other specialized mods.

Cyberware is rare and expensive, so be sure to visit ripperdocs around Night City to see what they offer, and look into upgrading your cyber gear to improve your capabilities – like getting a better operating system to include more RAM needed for quickhacks, more slots to vary your hacking tools, and a bigger buffer to infect networks with more daemon viruses when breaching them.

Leveling Up – Experience and Street Cred

It won’t be long into your adventure in Night City before you finally start leveling up, but there are different ways to do so, and a lot of kinds of experience bars to keep track of, points to spend, and rewards to unlock.

V has three main characteristics to level up: your Character Level, your Street Cred, and individual Skills governed by the Attributes. Everything you do in Night City will continually level up all three categories, but it’s important to know which is which, and what they can do for you.

Defeating enemies, completing main missions and objectives, side jobs, gigs, and other such activities will all award you experience toward your Character Level. Raising your character level will be a major step in being able to equip and use certain gear that requires a high level to use. More importantly, you’ll also gain two types of points: Perk Points and Attributes Points. Every level up will net you a new Perk Point, while every three levels awards an Attribute Point. This allows you to both bulk up the attributes you value the most, and invest into unlocking perks in each of the skills therein – and you’re free to increase one attribute while unlocking perks in a skill tree from a totally different attribute.

Each Attribute has multiple skill trees that they govern, and it’s more than possible you may only choose to invest in one of the trees. It’s worth noting that your attribute level isn’t a factor when unlocking perks – but some perks can only be obtained when you’ve leveled up individual skills

Unlike your regular character level, skill levels are gained just by doing the things relevant to that skill. For instance, simply sprinting around, mantling and climbing objects will increase your Athletics Skill level. Kill people with pistols to increase your Handgun Skill level. Craft or upgrade items to increase your Crafting Skill level. These things can be done in and out of combat – though you may only see your total experience bar grow once a combat scenario is concluded.

Leveling up a skill doesn’t just increase which perks you can unlock – each skill also its own dedicated rewards tree, which can unlock everything from extra perk points to passive bonuses that benefit that particular skill, like more RAM for the Hacking skill, or additional crafting recipes for the Crafting skill. Oftentimes you may find a skill you didn’t know you were employing to level at a faster rate than others, and it’s worth making sure that the Attribute that governs it also gets increased to further benefit your playstyle.

Finally, many of your actions, quests, and choices will increase your Street Cred, a green experience bar that is very separate from your character level. You can think of it as your notoriety. The more jobs you take on, the more you become a legend of Night City. Increasing your Street Creed has its own set of unlockable rewards just like any skill, and you may find that weapon, clothing, and ripperdoc shops will start selling you new and improved items as you get more famous, and new missions may become available from Fixers to those with a high Street Cred.

Hacking – Breach Protocol vs Quickhacks

Hacking is an integral part of Cyberpunk 2077 – more than you might think, as it governs everything from infiltration, reconnaissance, debilitation, damage, and more! Almost all of your hacking is governed by the Intelligence Attribute, and is further bolstered by your cyberware – specifically your Operating System. All of your hacking abilities fall into two categories: Breach Protocol, and Quickhacks.

Breach Protocol is something akin to an initial hack to enter a larger system where the real work can be done. Imagine that an area has a Wi-Fi router, and every device and person in that area is connected to the network. By using Breach Protocol, you’ll be able to target and access everything on that network that much easier, and even unleash several viruses to whatever and whoever happens to be nearby.

Not every device is an entry point, so you may need to look around with your scanner to find a target that allows you to perform a Breach Protocol. You may even find certain panels called Access Points that can be breached or accessed with a high enough Intelligence in particular to award you extra cash and even free quickhacks if done correctly, so always inspect your environments!

Each Breach Protocol begins with a short hacking minigame, which will ask you to match a string of characters to enter the network. Depending on your Operating System Cyberware and the perks you’ve unlocked, you may be able to string together several sets in one go – but you’ll be limited by your OS’s buffer – the maximum amount of characters you can input at a time.

Your OS should start with an Icepick Daemon by default, a virus that will lower the cost of hacking everything in the area once the breach is complete. Later on, you can choose to try and upload different daemon viruses during your initial hack – things that can let you disable security systems or weaken enemies before a fight.

Once the breach is complete and you can proudly proclaim “I’m in” , in your best hacker voice, the time will come to perform Quickhacks. Unlike a breach, you won’t need to worry about minigames – but you will have to worry about RAM. RAM is essentially your rechargeable hacking currency – every quickhack costs RAM to use, and the more powerful the hack, the more it will consume. Your OS will have a base amount of RAM to start with, and you can further increase RAM by increasing Intelligence and unlocking perks. Similarly, RAM will also recharge at a very slow rate – especially in combat – until you invest in certain perks, which means early on you’ll need to be careful about what you hack and why.

Your OS will come with several built-in quickhacks, things like being able to trigger a device to distract nearby enemies, or ping something to detect nearby targets. Each OS also has slots to equip other quickhacks, which you can use in battle to do things like blind an opponent or deal damage to them in a way that they can’t avoid – though it will take a few moments for the hack to upload.

Be wary – as there are enemy Netrunners who can do the same things to you. Enemies can use security systems just as well as you can – meaning if a camera spots you, a Netrunner can use it to gain line of sight and begin hacking or, or do it in person. You’ll have a short window of alert to stop the hack from completing, which means you’ll either have to destroy the camera, or injure the Netrunner to stop their hack in progress.

This section of the Beginner’s Guide focuses on things you’ll encounter just after getting a feel for Night City and opening up the borders beyond the first district, allowing you to explore all of Night City and make use of all its features.

Making and Saving Money

We have a whole guide on how to make money fast, but here are some quick tips for you:

  • Early on pick up everything. There’s a chance some of the junk you find is worth over $750! Every European Dollar (eddie) counts early on.
  • While wandering around Watson you might find random rolls of Eurodollars. Pick ’em up! There’s no such thing as “stealing” for V in Night City, meaning there’s no repercussion from taking things that are lying around.
  • Take on Reported Crimes missions. You can sell weapons you collect from your victims and you’ll get the bounty from the targets you eliminate too. Read more about reported crimes and bounties in our explainer guide.
  • It’s usually not worth taking out an individual person with a bounty.
  • Do not buy the crafting perk that automatically disassembles junk. It’ll destroy the junk that sells for a lot of money too!
  • Take on Gigs from other fixers. These are often, but not always, short tasks.

Cars and Fast Traveling

Fast travel unlocks after you complete a main job called “The Ride.”, but you won’t get too much use out of it until Act 2. After that, all you need to do to unlock additional fast travel points is simply pass them. You don’t even need to access them. It’s a good excuse for a casual drive around Watson.

For more on Fast Travel including all fast travel locations and fast travel points of note, visit IGN’s Cyberpunk Fast Travel guide.

More info coming soon!

Crafting and Upgrading Gear

Coming Soon!

Essential Early Side Jobs and Activities

The Gift: Get a free daemon (a hack program) that allows you to find the access point in an area and will reveal all enemies in an area. Plus, you get some free money out of it too.

The Gig: As soon as you get access to the rest of Night City, visit Wakako in Westbrook‘s Japantown. She’ll pay V in more than money for completing the job.

NCPD Scanner Hustles: Want more street cred? How about extra money? Do these. They can take multiple steps to complete and some are more difficult than others. If it’s asking you to take out a whole gang, well, maybe you want to wait on attacking them, even if you’re doing it with stealth.

These don’t go away so there’s no rush. If you feel like you weren’t rewarded after completing one, there may be another step in the crime before you get your payout. Check the NCPD Scanner Hustles in the Journal for more information.

These things may seem simple, but given how much there is to keep track of, you might want a refresher.