Content Type: Gaming Guides
As an RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 centers on your character: how you equip them, what weapons they wield, what skills they practice on and — a little unique to this game — what’s installed inside their body, type of their voice, and what’s between their legs.
Take that assault rifle, some grenades, and shower hell upon your enemies — screw the rules. Or, maybe the body count isn’t what you are looking for. In that case you can train your Intelligence and Cool Abilities, take on some hacking and stealth, and roam this world freely outside the perception of your enemies and their cameras. Craft you loot or take it from the best. Take your enemies with a non-lethal hit on the head or a very much lethal headshot. Make it through in your style.
And yet, the amount choices can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. With your build decisions having consequences even before you start altering the world around you, your first playthrough might feel a bit too chaotic and even confusing. That’s why we want to guide you through both major decisions and minor tweaks you can make, with some insider tips and strategy suggestions.
Below, we will discuss the importance of Lifepaths, Attributes, Skills, Perks, and Cyberware in customizing your character build and direct you to the guides on our website that will walk you through each one of these in detail. Feel free to look into them in any order that you like and focus only on the parts that interest you the most. Or, if you like, you can come back to our guides later to inform your character build planning as your replay the game (and there are totally reasons why you might want to. Try something new, experiment, min-max, have some fun!).
Not everything you pick for V on the Character Customization screen will be purely cosmetic. Sure, everything from your facial cyberware and tattoos, beard, piercings, makeup, teeth, and genitals and nipples can be customized, and that’s an important part of the Cyberpunk 2077 experience (tell me that picking your genital or chest size isn’t a unique experience). Yet, your V’s body and appearance may sometimes affect the behavior of other characters towards them.
What parts actually matter in character customization?
Actually, it’s not that many. You will see us talk about Lifepaths below, but appearance-wise you only need to worry about your character’s voice and body type. Why? Romanceable characters. If you are looking for more than just a quickie in a No-Tell Motel, you will see that characters in the game care about your body type, and some care about your voice type as well.
Romance is not mandatory in the game, although you will encounter some main story sex scenes. So, whether you care about this part of your character or not is up to you.
In Cyberpunk 2077 your background is more than just a flavor element that hangs out in your character details.
What do Lifepaths affect in the game?
Who you are at the start of your story will affect where and how you will begin your journey, what people you already know, and unique things you can point out in dialog interactions throughout the game.
Lifepath is more of a starting place along with some unique insider knowledge, not necessarily a defined character archetype. Any major experience in the game is still open to you all the same. Yet, if you care about the roleplaying part of the plot, do you wonder what difference it makes to make your way through the Night City as a sharp Streetkid, an outsider Nomad, or a bossy Corporate? What special options are available to each?
Attributes will be the foundation of your build.
What do Attributes do for your character?
- Each Attribute will give you passive bonuses per each point you invest into them.
- They will unlock Attribute-related dialogue lines in your playthrough.
- They will allow you to use weapons and cyberware that require a certain Attribute level.
- They will literally open doors for you in Night City.
- They will regulate the maximum level to which you can upgrade Skills under their umbrella.
- Finally, they will allow you to unlock higher level of Perks (except for one special Perk that can only be unlocked by reaching highest level of the Skill it’s under).
In other words, a lot.
Here’s an example: level 12 in Technical Ability will let you level Engineering up to level 12 (by using Skills related to it, like neutralizing targets with grenades). It will also unlock Perks under Engineering like Tesla (increases the charge multiplier for Tech weapons, requires level 12 in Technical Ability Attribute), even if your Engineering isn’t level 12 itself. Likewise, you can grab higher-level perks under Crafting as well, since it’s also under Engineering.
Because Technical Ability increases your Armor by 5% with each level, you will have a total 60% increase to your armor on level 12, not counting your perks and other modifications.
Things can get a little complicated when Attributes alone regulate so much. Oh, by the way, we didn’t even cover examples of dialogue options, door unlocks, quest progressions, and weapon unlocks that come from leveling your Attributes.
Skills are the only part of your character build that aren’t leveled via investing points. Instead, you will be leveling your 12 Skills by using them in the field. Of course, you can only level them as high as their Attribute level — we give a good example of how Skills and Perks are regulated by Attributes in the section above.
What do Skills do for your character?
- Each Skill level above the 1st earns Skill Progression Rewards, which award passive increases along with Perk points. They are the main source of your perk points in the game (read about Perks below).
- Getting your Skill to level 20 unlocks an exclusive Perk for that Skill.
- For most ranged and melee weapons, your Skill level significantly improves the experience of wielding that weapon due to Skill Progression Rewards.
Skills make your character feel skillful in the area you choose to pursue with them. While DPS of weapons will still be largely determined by their base stats and rarity, the speed of your wielding and your Crit stats can still be helped out a lot by your Skill levels, in combination with Perks (see below). In Skills like Crafting and Quickhacking, your Skill is the way to decrease cost, increase speed, and increase efficiency. The combined effect will be definitely noticeable as the quest challenges you face in the game get harder and your enemies begin to require a reliable strategy to defeat.
Perks provide for most customization and tweaking of your character build. After you decide on your Attributes, you can pretty much go ahead and start chipping away at your various available Perks. You will still get most of your Perk points from Skills (see above), but Perks is where you can unlock further upgrades within fields that interest you, unlock new actions, provide yourself some action advantages, and ultimately help you level those same Skills to get more points to invest.
Why bother about Perks?
- With Perks you can pick your specific damage, speed, unlocks, efficiency, and defense. Many of these allow multiple Perk points investment and scale accordingly. If you choose wisely you can gain massive advantage in certain areas of your build. It will becomes the strength of your build.
- Some Perks allow you to inflict new status effect or even unlock new actions and crafting levels. It will give you more things to try out, give you more options for your build, and help you level your Skills.
- Some Perks are hidden gems which will help your Skills level much faster or give you very high situational advantages.
There are so many Perks, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed after opening up a Skill and staring into the expansive tree of greyed-out squares, with some increasing some percentage, others unlocking something, and yet others offering bonuses for doing something that you think you already do often…? Well, aside from long lists of Perks we also offer summaries, as well as tips and tricks to help you navigate through your options. We will tell you which Perks you can try and grab as soon as they become available, as well as when to hold back and save up your points for something better.
Oh, the wonderful “Cyber” in the Cyberpunk. What is Cyberpunk 2077 without the a customization system for your Cyberware Implants? They are your second armor, your smart and power weapon link, your high-level perks, your gateway to hacking, your ultimate melee gadget… really, they are a little bit of everything, their bonuses are high, their slots are limited, and they are quite (and sometimes quite, quite) expensive.
Why invest into Cyberware?
- When you have some eddies piled up, cyberware can offer unique and/or high bonuses on the level no other area of your character build can provide. Highest rarity can match or exceed stats provided by your armor or even your Attributes, Skills, and Perks and in many cases you have multiple slots occupied by the best cyberware to compound the effect.
- If you care about Quickhacking, your Operating System is your gateway to and your baseline in this endeavor, since that’s the slot for your Cyberdeck.
- Cyberware unlocks some of the other exclusive experiences in the game, like using Mantis Blades, Gorilla Arms, Monowire, projectile launching, or double/charged jumps. Some of the combat and navigation tactics you might have started to associate with the game come from these implants.
- Some Cyberware unlocks the full potential of some of the most powerful weapons in the game: Power Weapons and Smart Weapons.
You won’t get any cyberpsychosis by outfitting half of your body with implants, so why not? Gather some currency and ascend limitations of the human body.
If you would like to learn about what types of cyberware are available for each set of slots (so that you know what to look out for and what to save for), what cyberware generally gives you better bonuses, and where to look for rarer implants or how to earn them, we discuss that in our separate guide.