Cyberpunk 2077 Beginner's Guide: 13 Things To Know Before Playing
Night City is huge and there's a lot you can miss, especially early on--use these tips to help you get on your feet, build your rep, become a living legend, and survive.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an enormous game with a lot of systems to understand. The game gives you a ton of freedom in how you'll deal with its many missions, and that means there are a lot of elements of the game that are easy to overlook. Especially in the first few hours, it's easy to get overwhelmed and miss some things that can turn you into a more-effective merc and make your life in Night City a little easier. In this guide, we've rounded up some of the best beginner's tips and other things to know before playing Cyberpunk 2077.
Be sure to read our Cyberpunk 2077 review for our full thoughts about the game, and read our guides on how to earn money in Night City, how romances in Cyberpunk 2077 work, where to find Iconic weapons, and which life path is right for you. You'll have everything you need to tackle Night City.
1. Check your messages
Social interaction is a huge part of Cyberpunk 2077, and V's phone is constantly blowing up and you shouldn't ignore it. Most of the time, you'll get calls and texts from Fixers sending you details on jobs or flagging a set of wheels you can purchase. However, sometimes the friends you've made in Night City will drop you a line. These messages can range from just talking to kicking off some of the best missions in the game. And responding to messages also builds your relationships with characters that seem essential if you want to eventually unlock romance options. Text back!
2. Cover is essential
You'll see it briefly in the combat tutorial early on in Cyberpunk 2077, but a really crucial aspect of fighting through Night City is the effective use of cover. Whenever V approaches a low wall or a corner with a weapon drawn, you can take cover behind it, and your aim-down-sights button will cause you to peek out or over to take shots. Taking cover is fairly intuitive (although it won't always trigger) and it's essential to staying alive, because a lot of enemy weapons hit very hard, and even the toughest of V's can't take much prolonged punishment.
It might not be immediately obvious, but you can also use cover when you're hacking enemies. Hold the Scan button while you're in cover, and you'll peek out just as if you were aiming a gun, giving you a chance to sight enemies and upload your quickhacks. Scanning slows time slightly, so you'll have a minute to assess the battlefield as well. Finally, note that not all cover is perfect, so if a position seems weak or you're still taking a lot of damage, get out of there.
3. Tag your enemies
While you're scanning enemies from behind cover, you'll want to tag them. This is a feature I completely missed during Cyberpunk 2077 previews but is absolutely essential, especially if you want to be stealthy. While scanning, you can tag enemies with a button press (on PC, click the mouse wheel while scanning; on console, press R3 while scanning), which keeps them visible through walls and behind cover. You can also scan and tag enemies while through hacked security cameras, allowing you to fully assess the strength of enemies before you even set foot in many locations. Tagging enemies is great for avoiding them more easily in stealth. You can also use Tech guns to hit enemies through cover and walls, which is way easier when they're tagged and brightly lit on your screen.
4. Attribute points vs. skill points--know the difference
Like many RPGs, Cyberpunk 2077 is built on a system in which you spend Attribute Points to advance character's base statistics (Body for strength, Intelligence for hacking, Cool for stealth, and so on) and Perk Points to purchase specific skill tree upgrades. You get both kinds of points as you level up, but it's a good idea to approach each set of points differently. It's worth spending your Perk Points pretty quickly on upgrades you want based on how you play the game, amping up your combat, hacking, crafting, and stealth abilities.
You can also spend Attribute Points immediately, but it can often be smarter to bank a few and sit on them. Perks give you various buffs, but Attribute Points are what counts for doing things like passing conversation checks, hacking tough systems, interacting with certain objects, and opening particularly tough doors. If you have a few points banked, you can usually quickly spend them to increase a skill to unlock a new dialogue option or tear a door off its hinges during a mission. Just don't sleep on upgrading your V too long because enemies get tougher the deeper you get into the game.
5. Hack constantly
But you also get Skill Progression points that are awarded for the actions you take based on your playstyle. If you use handguns a lot, for instance, you'll get skill points that unlock bonuses for using handguns. That allows you to grow your V based on how you play the game, but also means you can get bonuses even if you don't want to invest your points in certain skills. With that in mind, you should use hacking often, even if your V isn't a Netrunner. Using Breaching Protocol and low-level quickhacks on enemies and tech like security cameras usually won't cost you much and is an easy way to build up skill progression.
You might not want to be a super-hacker, but just having a little progression in these easy-to-build skills can net you some useful benefits, like the ability to reliably shut down cameras or defenses. And it's always worth it to jack in to a terminal and hack it for a little extra cash.
6. Break down or sell any rare guns you find that you don't need
In Cyberpunk 2077, you will constantly cycle through new weapons. Rather than just tossing your outdated firearms on the ground, you should sell them or break them down for crafting and upgrade components. Early on, guns are probably the most valuable things you'll commonly find, which makes selling them to any vendor a good move for funding your upgrades. The more funds you can get early on, the more weapons and upgrades you can buy for V that will make you much more survivable. The downside to carting around many guns is that they weigh a lot, so you should try to sell all your unused, unnecessary guns to a vendor every chance you get.
Alternatively, you can break down weapons, which will net you some weapon components that can be used to upgrade your favorite weapons or craft rare weapons. Breaking down weapons is also a good way to lighten your load if you're over-encumbered, and you're eventually going to want those crafting components to boost your high-quality gear, like Rare and Legendary weapons and clothing, and Iconic weapons.
7. Don't trash iconic weapons--upgrade them!
While you're breaking down and selling guns, you'll want to be careful not to get rid of any weapons marked as "Iconic." These are special, unique weapons that can only be obtained from specific places, usually during major story quests and side-quests. Iconic weapons always have perks that make them more effective than regular guns, and they'll often still be effective even after you level up and start finding stronger equipment. For that reason, it's best not to break down and sell Iconic weapons, even if you're overleveled for them. Instead, keep your Iconic weapons viable by heading to the Crafting menu and using the Upgrade tab to amp them up.
8. Call your vehicles and use them as stashes
Your apartment has a "Stash" area where you can store weapons, equipment, clothes, and other junk that you want to keep but not haul around. It's less obvious, but your cars have this option as well. Any vehicles you own--the ones you buy from Fixers, the car you start with, and vehicles you earn from completing some missions--typically have trunks that you can use to dump your equipment. You can also summon your cars when you're near roads, and they show up pretty reliably, so use them to offload gear you want to keep but can't carry between missions. Just make sure to add some cars to your collection early so you have them when you need them, as an early story event will take V's first car out of commission for a time. A quick way to do that is to purchase cars from Fixers when they call about them; early on, finishing the Heroes side job will get you a new vehicle as well.
9. Netrunners: upgrade your Cyberdeck ASAP
If you want to play as a Netrunner or hacker (or even just do some in-combat hacking from time to time), you won't be able to do much with the Cyberdeck you have at the start. Cyberdecks determine how much RAM you have and allow you to equip quickhacks for use against enemies. The nicer the Cyberdeck you have, the more quickhacks you have at your disposal. Adding RAM is essential as well, since all quickhacks cost RAM to use, and it recharges slowly over time. Your base Cyberdeck has few quickhack slots and low RAM, undercutting your ability to hack enemies or even do useful things like remotely turn off security cameras. A Cyberdeck is a good early investment, even if you're not going the full hacker route.
10. Netrunners: buy quickhacks
By the same token, if you want to be an efficient Netrunner, you'll need powerful quickhacks. An early side mission from T-Bug will dispatch you to a Netrunner store, where you can pick up new and more powerful quickhacks to slot into your Cyberdeck. You can use Quickhacks to mess with enemies' cybernetics or just damage them, and they're handy to use either in combat or to help maintain stealth. Again, even if you don't intend to do a ton of hacking, having the option to do a few useful things like distract enemies or shut down their optics can make stealth much easier and more effective.
11. Drive, don't fast travel (at least, most of the time)
There's an extensive fast-travel system in Cyberpunk that's easy to unlock--whenever you move around the city, you'll pass glowing holographic stations that get marked in blue on your map and you can use them to travel to any other station you've already discovered. Even early on, you'll quickly build an extensive fast-travel network that makes getting around the city very easy. It's great, but you should still prioritize driving over fast-travel a lot of the time.
As you drive around Night City, Fixers and other characters will call you on the phone, especially as your Street Cred climbs and you complete missions. Those calls unlock side missions and lower-level gigs you can complete for money and other rewards, including weapons, Street Cred, and experience points. Passing through different areas of the city is what seems to trigger a lot of these interactions as your Street Cred climbs, so you'll miss out on some of those opportunities if you're fast-traveling all the time. Take the scenic route to access more of what Night City has to offer.
12. Do side jobs, especially for characters you like
Side Jobs, Gigs, and other missions pile up in a hurry, and it can be tempting to ignore them to mainline the main story, which has some pretty compelling stakes. Don't sleep on side content, though, as it houses many of the best moments in Cyberpunk 2077. You should also focus on trying to do jobs for major characters you like. The more time you spend with these people, the more your relationships with them will deepen. You'll also unlock some of the best missions and win some of the best rewards in the game by spending your time with secondary characters.
13. Save often
This should go without saying, but save often. Chances are, encounters won't always go as you hoped and you'll want to take another shot at it. The autosave function is pretty generous, but occasionally I found myself rolling back a little further than I would have liked. This is also important because quests will undoubtedly break and the game might crash. The more you save, the less progress you could lose. You can also quicksave easily from the pause menu.
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