Building Your First Character in Cyberpunk 2077

When you look at the available attributes for Cyberpunk 2077, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a basic RPG. There are only five options: Body, Reflex, Intelligence, Tech, and Cool. The options are comparatively low, making it seem like Cyberpunk is perhaps heavy on the action, light on the RPG; more GTA than Dragon Age.

But don’t let that scare you off. Under the hood, there are an overwhelming amount of character customisation options, and we’re not talking about cosmetics. Beyond your starting attributes, there are Skills, Perks, Capstones, Cyber Mods, Gear, Street Cred, and your backstory. It’s a lot more than a simple decision between a techhead who loves hacking or a blade-wielding warrior who loves… well, hacking.

Each of these will affect the solutions available to you in any given situation, and it’s not always clear how. The possible combinations of the above are mind boggling. It goes even deeper, too — each Skill and Perk can be upgraded to different levels.

So we’ll be going through how to build a character around your desired playstyle, and while you can’t have everything you want in Cyberpunk 2077, with this guide you’ll have a coherent plan so you’re not a hack of all trades, master of none.

Choosing Your General Playstyle

Attributes are where it all starts. You’ll always be able to stealth, but it’ll be limited without investing in Cool. Similarly, you can only augment your strength so much if your Body is weak to begin with.

Here are the main Attribute effects:

  • Body affects your max health and bullet spread.
  • Reflex affects your critical chance for shooting and your attack speed.
  • Intelligence reduces hacking difficulty and shortens program upload duration.
  • Tech increases your armour, and chance of harvesting craftable loot. Get access to exclusive augmentations and become more adept at crafting gear.
  • Cool increases your stealth effectiveness and speed, as well as critical hit damage.

Pick two or three of these Attributes to support the general playstyle you’re after. Body and Tech opens the door to a tanky brawler made even stronger through armour and strength mods. Cool and Intelligence is the path to a stealthy assassin, or perhaps a sniper.

Just be aware that it’s not always as simple as the stealthy build getting a free pass from combat. Each Attribute will have its own tricks, such as Body giving you the strength to force open locked doors, revealing side paths.

How the Skills and Perks Work

Put simply, Attributes are the core of your character, but you’ll also get Skill points to invest in things like hacking, weapons, crafting, melee, stealth, athletics, and more. These Skills are attached to various Attributes, so you can’t advance a Skill beyond the value of its parent Attribute.

Digging deeper, Skills have around 20 Perks attached to them which correspond to specific bonuses – things you can do in the environment. There’s a Capstone Perk for each Skill Tree, which you can think of as the “main” bonus of the tree:

Attribute points are gained by levelling up, but you can level up your Skills and Perks just by playing that style. For example, getting kills with a rifle will automatically give you rifle Skill XP points. That’ll also get you Street Cred, which eventually will unlock more vendors with more powerful gear.

So you’ll essentially build your character just by playing, but it’s important to know what style you want to go for, as you’ll spend lots of Attribute points right at the start of the game.

We haven’t even touched on gear, or body mods yet, but these will undoubtedly be used to support the general playstyle you’re going for. Not just in terms of stats, but whole new abilities as well — such as a bionic eye that lets you scan citizens of Night City to see if they have an outstanding warrant, so you can act out your futuristic detective fantasy.

It’s worth thinking about weapons, too. Some of the more advanced weapons in the game will have near-automatic targeting. Similar to Winston from Overwatch, as long as your target is close to the centre of your screen, your bullets will hit their mark.

That actually makes things a little easier — if you’re a Corpo or plan on crafting lots of high-tech weapons, maybe it’s safe to skimp a bit on rifle-based Skills?

It’s All in the Setup

It is possible, if you play your cards right, to beat Cyberpunk 2077 without killing anyone. That’ll require a combination of stealth and favourable dialogue options, but most of all, it’ll require knowledge of which missions you’ll take on.

The Fandom Cyberpunk wiki will be a great resource for that — make sure the mission you’re about to accept won’t force you into combat. Your backstory, as well as Attributes (mainly Cool), and previous choices in the game will all offer dialogue choices that avoid confrontation.

But for the rest of us, the playstyle we decide on is best viewed through the lens of how we initiate combat. A recurring theme in the Perks of Cyberpunk is a bonus for ten seconds after you kill an enemy. Focusing on rifle skills might mean this bonus eliminates recoil, which is a huge deal if you’re wielding a large weapon. A melee specialist might instead get a bonus to their critical hit chance, setting up a chain of crits until the battlefield is clear.

The key is getting that first kill. These bonuses are powerful — imagine holding a large rifle with every bullet hitting its mark exactly, or every hit critting. So many combat situations in Cyberpunk will be about setting the fight up in your favour – whether that’s isolating a few guards, or debuffing them into oblivion – so you can get that clean first kill that sets up your main Perk bonus throughout the fight.

So remember — decide how you want to play before you go in, and spend your Attributes accordingly. Pick two or three that support how you want to role-play as well as how you want to fight. Then build your skills around how you want to initiate combat, and after you’ve set up a confrontation to be favourable, you’ll be able to maintain your Capstone bonuses through the whole fight. Happy hunting!

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