Give me that Seinfeld bass line because it’s time to ask: what’s the deal with leveling up in Cyberpunk!?
Thank you, thank you. Seinfeld has been off the air for more than twenty years, so I’m sure opening my article with that joke isn’t going to fall flat at all.
So, leveling in Cyberpunk 2077 is both simpler and more complicated than it appears from looking at the character skill tree menus. On the one hand, the core of the leveling system of putting points into overarching attributes and skills isn’t that distinct from what you see in the majority of action RPG games. However, the sheer breadth of options for leveling your character can be daunting, and it’s handy to go through a quick breakdown of the three leveling systems in Cyberpunk 2077.
Starting from a bird’s eye view of leveling, attributes are going to be what governs your play style in Cyberpunk the most. When you gain a level in the game you’ll typically be rewarded with a set of attributes as well as skill points, which we’ll get into next. The five categories that you can put these attributes points into along with a gif for reference are:
Body determines how beefy and swol your character is. This includes everything from health and stamina, hand-to-hand and melee combat, to effectively using heavier weapons such as shotguns and light machine guns.
Reflexes determine how nimbly you dash through the game as well as your effectiveness with assault rifles, handguns, and blades.
Technical ability, for the most part, governs how effective you are with technical weapons such as grenades and smart guns as well as with crafting.
Intelligence determines the effectiveness of breach protocols, quickhacking, and RAM capacity, which is essentially Cyberpunk’s MP for said quickhacks and breach protocols.
Cool for the most part governs passive effects such as chance of critical damage, debuff resistances, stealth damage, and speed at which enemies can detect you after moving into their vision cones.
Going one level deeper, within each attribute category there are two to three perk trees which are filled out with the previously mentioned perk points and further specialize your character build. For instance, within the body attribute, there are three separate skill trees: body, which focuses on stamina and health; annihilation, governing effectiveness with heavy weapons; and street brawler, determining hand-to-hand and melee combat efficiency.
However, it’s also worth noting that your skills under attributes such as quickhack proficiency, stealth, melee strength, bullet, and so on level up through use in the game. It’s also important to note that the perks available to put points into is governed specifically by the attribute level of that perk.
All three of these leveling systems interacting with each other means that you’re free to experiment with what you want to put points into early on. But the further you progress into the story, the more it becomes necessary to specialize in specific skills. This probably becomes the most obvious when you start running into body and technical attribute checks for opening locked doors.
Choosing a play style and committing to a build at the start can be a daunting proposition, but don’t stress about committing to anything early on. The best practice I’ve personally found is determining whether you want to level into body or technical attributes so you can get past locked doors and then just figuring which one or two of the other three attributes appeals to you.