Cyberpunk 2077 Builds | tips for finding the best character build

By Alex Donaldson
10 December 2020 16:51 GMT

Cyberpunk 2077 might greatly resemble Grand Theft Auto when you’re tooling around the streets of Night City, but it’s a full-blown role-playing game at heart. You know what that means: numbers, stats, and character builds!

If you want help understanding the character attributes of Body, Reflexes, Technical Ability, Intelligence, and Cool, hit that link for a full explanation of them. On this page, we want to give you some tips on how to figure out the best build for you.

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In this guide:

How character builds work in Cyberpunk 2077: Attributes, skills, and perks

Three elements make up a Cyberpunk 2077 character build: attributes, skills, and perks. These are interconnected, so here’s a quick run-down on how they work:

  • Attributes are V’s five base stats. You begin distributing Attribute Points among them in the character creator to give a basic sense of where your build’s strengths lie. You also get one additional Attribute Point every time you level up in the game.
  • Skills are V’s abilities. All 12 skills in the game are affiliated with an attribute, but they also increase as you use them.
  • Perks are one-of-a-kind traits bought with Perk Points. You earn one Perk Point every time V levels up, and additional Perk Points are earned by increasing skill thresholds. There are hundreds of perks in the game, broken down into trees based on the 12 skills.

Best character builds in Cyberpunk 2077: our recommendations

Rather than give you a list of recommended builds direct from us, we want to encourage you to play Cyberpunk the right way for you. The truth is, there is no absolute ‘best build’ in Cyberpunk 2077 – the game gives you a wealth of options to play with, and that can lead to many completely valid ways of playing.

However, we do have some tips for you to consider, based on a combined hundred-plus hours of play across multiple characters and builds.

Tips for distributing Attribute Points

The five attributes that act as a base for your character build are Body, Reflexes, Technical Ability, Intelligence, and Cool.

You’ll start out in character creator with three points already locked in to each attribute, and an additional seven to spend as you please. However, at this stage you can only increase any given attribute to a maximum of six points total.

Over the course of the game you’ll receive a further Attribute Point every time V levels up, to a maximum of Level 50. That’s a grand total of 72 Attribute Points to distribute across five skills, all of which are capped at 20 — meaning that while you’ll get the chance to have V become pretty proficient in everything, they can’t become a master of all attributes equally.

Here are a few helpful tips we’ve come up with to help you get over the first hurdle: deciding which attributes to focus on as the basis of your build.

Don’t sweat your early purchases too much

Early on in the game, and even in the character creator after you’ve picked your Lifepath, it’s easy to get paralysed with choice – first by the attributes you can pump points into, and then by the perks you can purchase within each category. But try not to panic.

There’s over two hundred perks total, and over the course of the game, you’re going to accrue an absolute tonne of points with which to buy them. In an average play-through, you can expect to level up around 30 times, so you’ll get plenty of attribute points to buy, too.

It is true that you’ll eventually want to specialize and target specific areas. But initially, consider keeping things balanced. For our money, the best initial categories to focus on are Body and Intelligence – these unlock lots related to strength and hacking, two pillars of Cyberpunk. But ultimately, you do you – until you figure out how you want to specialize.

Body, Intelligence, and Technical Ability stats will open up new story options more frequently

You’ll notice quite early on that some stats will open up more options within dialogue trees and also around quests. For example, a character with a high Body stat might be able to rip open certain closed doors with sheer force, or might be able to more successfully intimidate and threaten NPCs in dialogue, which might help you avoid a fight or two.

All of the stats can be used this way – like Cool often unlocks new conversation options – but the three that can most commonly be used to open things up are Body, Technical Ability, and Intelligence.

Intelligence relates to hacking and the like, so you’ll be able to converse about tech whiz issues more smoothly with that stat high, as well as perform certain hacks to access different areas in story missions and so on. Technical Ability relates to crafting for the most part, but in dialogue and story prompts can impact your ability to take things apart or understand how things work. If you want the most options possible, these three stats are important.

Tips for developing Skills

Each Attribute in Cyberpunk 2077 has two or three skills associated with it. They are:

  • Body skills: Athletics, Annihilation, Street Brawler
  • Reflexes skills: Assault, Handguns, Blades
  • Technical Ability skills: Crafting, Engineering
  • Intelligence skills: Breach Protocol, Quickhacking
  • Cool skills: Cold Blood, Stealth

Unlike Attributes and Perks, there are no points to be spent on skills. Instead, V needs to learn by doing: skills increase every time they perform a related action, and doing this enough times will cause the skill to level up. Rewards for levelling up skills come in the form of either permanent bonuses (to damage, hacking ability, stealth, etc.) or a Perk Point to spend in that skill’s perk tree.

Here are our tips for making the most of your skills as part of a character build:

Even if you’re a soldier build, upgrade Intelligence and Quickhacks

One of the great things about Cyberpunk 2077 is just how good the shooting feels. It’s way better than pretty much every other shooter/RPG hybrid going, which means some of you will be inclined to lean into guns and just keep blasting. However, don’t ignore the intelligence section and your quickhacks.

Quickhacks can be used any time during combat, and you can even pause time while selecting them. They can turn the tide in any battle, no matter your chosen weapons otherwise – so be sure to put some points into it, pick up some good ones as loot or through stores, and equip them and make liberal use of them. Often, they can balance out any weaknesses of a build – such as jamming the weapons of powerful enemies if you’re a glass cannon sort of character with little health, and so on.

Tips for distributing Perk Points

Perks are the culmination of attributes and skills: powerful one-off abilities that can really define the greatest strengths of your chosen build.

Because of their focused nature, you can only purchase perks if you meet the required skill and attribute levels to equip them, in addition to the Perk Points that they cost. But, thanks to their reliance on the other two elements of the character build, you earn Perk Points both for levelling up V and for increasing their skills.

With literally hundreds of perks to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which perk trees to put your points into. And while we’d encourage you to develop a build that reflects your preferred play style first and foremost, we do have some tips to help you make those tough decisions:

The Street Brawler and Blade perk trees include useful general survival skills

Cyberpunk knows that some players might want to for a pure physical build using your fists or blunt and bladed weapons. However, the skill trees in the perks section around these elements of combat are actually useful across the board.

In the Blades category, for instance, there are skills that’ll make dodging successfully recover stamina, or give you extra armor while on the move. Even if you only occasionally use blades, these skills are useful in general.

If uncertain of where to spend perks, hit up Athletics

The Athletics tab of the Body perks is one that no matter the build will be useful to V, so if you have perk points that you’re desperate to spend and you’re trying to figure out what to do, hit up that tab.

There, you’ll find a bunch of useful general-purpose skills – including things like boosting your stamina, health, and carrying capacity. It’s a great way to power up your V and make them more survivable.

You can reset your Perks, but not your Attribute Points – and it’s expensive

If you feel like you’ve gone somewhat down the wrong path and want to respec, you can do this – but it’s an expensive proposition. It’ll set you back 100,000 Eddies. To respec, go to any ripperdoc and head to their ‘trade’ screen. There you’ll find the Tabula E-Rasa legendary item.

Buy and use this item and all of your perks will be removed and the points refunded – you can them redistribute them as you see fit.

Tips for purchasing upgrades, cyberware, and weapons to support your build

While V’s innate strengths — as defined by their attributes, skills, and perks — are at the core of your character build, the equipment you choose for them can be just as important. Whether it’s installing cyberware or making sure you have the best weapons for the job at hand, here are some of our recommendations for supplementing your character build with items and upgrades:

If you want to use Stealth, get a Nervous System upgrade fast

To be completely honest with y’all, stealth is probably the weakest part of the video-gamey elements of Cyberpunk 2077. But it does get better if you buy a few specific upgrades.

While there’s a whole bunch of stealth-related perks under the ‘Cool’ attribute – stealth gets its own tab, even – what you actually need is a Nervous System upgrade, available from any of the Ripperdocs around the city. Remember, each Ripperdoc has unique stock which changes over time, so if you can’t find what you need right away, revisit later on.

Anyway, what you want for stealth is a “Synaptic Accelerator”. It sort of looks like a traffic light with two yellow lights.

The Synaptic Accelerator basically slows down time whenever you’re about to be spotted in stealth – which helps you to both know you’re about to be seen and gives you more time to react. This is genuinely life-changing for stealth.

Exactly how much of a slowdown you get, and for how long, will depend on the rarity and quality of the item. You can upgrade this throughout the game, but basic ones are available from as early as the prologue.

Arm and Leg Cyberware is a game changer – don’t ignore it

Don’t let how good moment-to-moment gunplay feels distract you from some of Cyberpunk 2077’s classic augmentations. They’re excellent.

I ended up settling on Gorilla Arms and a Double Jump, but these skills can seriously change both traversal and combat throughout Night City. These are expensive investments, but regardless, we recommend that you pay up sooner rather than later to enjoy these unique skills, which fit into an otherwise empty slot but expand your ability set significantly.

However you spec, you have to be ready for a fight

It’s important to make one thing clear – no matter how you spec your character, you’ll need to be ready for a fight. Depending on which quests you undertake, and even during the main story, there will sometimes be boss battles that you cannot avoid. There’s no option to use stealth against these bosses, and hacking will only get you so far, so you should always be equipped for a full-on fight.

Luckily this is less of a concern in Cyberpunk than in something like the recent Deus Ex games, as Cyberpunk is a loot game at heart, meaning it’s constantly feeding you a huge number of new weapons of varying power. Always carry a few good guns on you – you’ll have plenty of room – but also consider looking into some of the perk upgrades for fighting.

At a base, we’d recommend carrying an assault rifle and picking up just a few Rifles Perks from the Reflexes category to increase damage and make aiming down sights faster and smoother. Reflexes is a great category for beefing up your offensive output in general, in fact, as you can also power up handguns and blades. For bosses you’ll want a high-output weapon; my favourite ended up being tech assault rifles, which can be charged to deliver devastating shots even through cover or fired rapidly from the hip.

If you’re a stealth build, for instance, a silenced handgun with a lot of power-boosting perks can also be a very useful stealth option, able to take enemies out with a headshot when spotted before they can alert their buddies.

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