Cyberpunk 2077‘s 2.0 update and Phantom Liberty expansion do a lot of great things for the controversial RPG. While they may not make you forgive Cyberpunk 2077 for its previous sins, those updates do make the game…well, pretty great, actually. Of course, no elements of Cyberpunk 2077 benefited more from those updates than the game’s various character building systems.
While building your Cyberpunk 2077 character was always a good time, Phantom Liberty and 2.0 overhaul that entire process in ways that really allow you to come up with some truly creative stuff. Of course, all of those new, interesting, and complex options also make it that much more difficult to figure out how to build an optimized character even if you know what kind of basic playstyle you’re shooting for. Well, that’s why we’re here to (hopefully) help.
Before we get into all of that, though, please note that these builds are optimized for the Phantom Liberty expansion and the 10 extra Attribute and Perk Points you get from that expansion. While you can make some of these builds (or versions of them) work without those extra points (and the expansion’s Relic Perks), you may have to cut some corners or look elsewhere if you’re trying to stay under the 2.0 level cap.
Finally, while this article only contains a few builds that have already proven their worth, I will be sharing additional builds once I have more time to experiment with them. I’ll be sure to share those builds via updates and future articles if there is any interest in them.
Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty: Best Netrunner Build
Essential Cyberware, Weapons, and Gear: Smart SMGs, Militech Paraline Mk.4, Ex-Disk, Cox-2 Cybersomatic Optimizer
Full Build Perk Tree
This is a pretty standard Netrunner build that ultimately aims to utilize as many quickhack abilities as possible. It turns out that Cyberpunk 2077 2.0‘s revamped quickhack abilities are kind of broken, so you’re going to want to grab as many of them as possible.
With that in mind, let’s start with the Intelligence tree. Simply put, your first goal with this build is to acquire the Overclock Perk. That powerful ability allows you to utilize quickhacks even if you are out of RAM. While you have to pay 10 Health for every used RAM slot over your current limit, Overclock actually comes with some useful sub-Perks that mitigate that effect or even take advantage of it to offer additional damage bonuses.
Among other things, Overclock allows you to ensure that you can almost always utilize your quickhacks in battle rather than needing to pick and choose their deployment quite as often as you did in the past. That synergizes well with the abilities on the left side of the Intelligence tree, which largely affect your ability to queue multiple quickhacks on single targets and more effectively utilize quickhacks while recovering RAM.
Once you unlock the bulk of the middle and left side portions of the Intelligence tree, you’ll essentially be the hacker sorcerer you always dreamed of being in this game. By the time you acquire Spillover (which grants your quickhacks a modest chance to spread to nearby enemies), you’ll even be turning your already devastating single-target quickhacks into devastating AoE bombs. You’ll reach a point where your biggest threat will be the damage you do to yourself by overloading your RAM.
That’s why the secret MVP of this build is your Smart SMG (or Smart SMGs, more specifically). The Intelligence tree allows you to greatly enhance the effectiveness of Smart weapons (which makes those Perks a natural pickup), but the real prize of this package is the Reflexes Perk: Submachine Fun. That powerful Perk lets you instantly reload an SMG by swapping to another SMG in your arsenal. That same tree allows you to acquire a number of Perks that reduce your overall Stamina costs while moving and shooting.
At worst, you’ll often be able to utilize your buffed Smart SMGs whenever you may need to rest your hacking abilities for whatever reason. At best, though, you’ll often be using those attacks in conjunction with each other in order to maximize your damage output against even larger groups of tougher enemies.
The rest of this build is in the “flex” territory, especially if you don’t have the Phantom Liberty expansion. The Technical tree is a natural companion to what we’re doing, though you won’t actually invest too many Perk points into it if you’re not picking up Edgerunner (which probably isn’t worth it). Body is actually a better overall investment as it allows you to make up for some of the health losses you get from Overlocked. That middle part of the Body tree is also a great investment for most builds. Again, though, it depends on whether you have the expansion and where you want to prioritize the leftover points.
Finally, your choice of quickhacks and Cyberware is largely up to you and will change depending on what stage of the game you’re in. However, top-tier quickhacks like Cyberware Malfunction, Contagion, Synapse Burnout, and Weapon Glitch are quite nice. As for Cyberware, you’re largely looking for anything that grants you extra health, extra RAM, and anything that enhances your primary sources of damage. However, Cox-2 Cybersomatic Optimizer crawls into the “essential” tier due to the fact that it allows your quickhacks to trigger Critical Strikes. However, there are a couple more pieces of Cyberware that accomplish the same thing if you need to use one until then.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty – Best Blade and Throwing Weapon Build
Essential Cyberware, Weapons, and Gear: Mantis Blades, Errata Thermal Katana, Militech Berserk Cyberware
Full Build Perk Tree
For this melee build, I’m opting for Blades (specifically, Mantis Blades) over Gorilla Arms and other blunt options. Why? Personal fun factor, mostly, though I do find that the Blade Perks in the game are slightly better than their alternatives.
Most of your early points in this build are going to be split between the Reflex and Body trees. Reflex is where we pick up the majority of our Blade and movement-enhancing abilities, which are the cornerstones of our build. While you may think you want to pick up all of those Blade abilities on the right side of the tree as soon as possible, you’ll actually want to veer between the middle and right branches as you level.
That’s because the middle branch contains both those incredible new movement abilities that help make Cyberpunk 2077 2.0‘s combat so much more enjoyable and invaluable Stamina reduction modifiers that make melee combat viable in the first place. By acquiring all of the relevant Perks in these trees, you’ll be able to do what this build is intended to do: dash between enemies while pulling off enhanced blade attacks and regularly triggering finishers. You should always be moving and always be attacking with this build in order to enjoy all of its benefits and enhancements.
As for Body…well, even elusive melee builds are going to put themselves in harm’s way, and those Body perks will keep you alive when you should be dead. They’re not always the most exciting Perks to acquire, but you will need to pick them up from time to time once you feel the difficulty ramp up. For what it’s worth, Adrenaline Rush actually does greatly enhance the effectiveness and enjoyability of this build.
However, the quiet star of this build may be the Throwable weapon Perks you get from the Cool tree. These Perks greatly enhance the power level of Throwable weapons in ways I was not anticipating. The raw damage you deal to enemies with all of these Perks enabled is impressive enough, but it’s the surprising effectiveness and synergies of the Poison effects that really make this Perk path shine. Poison makes it that much easier to wear down larger topics as a melee player, and those throwable headshot Perks greatly enhance your overall power level when you manage to proc them (which is surprisingly easy to do).
Granted, you have to take some less-than-ideal Perks to unlock that incredible Style over Substance Perk, but given how often this build will be sliding, dodging, and dashing, guaranteed Critical Hits for your Thrown weapons is too good to pass up. Once you get the hang of starting your fights with a properly aimed Thrown weapon (and weaving them in and out from there), you’ll wonder how you ever lived without these abilities. It just feels broken at times.
The rest of our Perk points go to the Technical tree, largely due to a relative lack of viable alternatives. The Technical tree is filled with universal buffs to the Cyberware and healing items you’ll certainly be using, so there isn’t any reason to just pick them up and make the things you’re already doing that much more effective. You could incorporate some quickhacks into your build instead, but I honestly find that slowing down for even a moment with this build can throw you off your rhythm. The same goes for guns. You can definitely make a Blade and Pistol combo work, but you can’t really do it with the points left over after you acquire the other essential parts of this build.
Finally, let’s talk about gear. The Militech Berserk Cyberware implant takes this build to another level as it allows you to reduce your Stamina costs by 100% while increasing your Attack Speed and Attack Power for the low cost of only using melee weapons. Oh, and it also makes you invulnerable to damage for its 12-second duration. It’s basically the “god mode” implant.
Also, while I would have recommended a katana over Mantis Blades prior to the Phantom Liberty expansion, the Relic Perks you get from that expansion do enhance the general effectiveness of Mantis Blades in ways that work perfectly with the rest of this build. Try both and see which works best for you, though I think many will end up opting for Mantis Blades most of the time.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty – Best Edgeunner Build
Essential Cyberware, Weapons, and Gear: Gorilla Arms, Adreno Trigger, Leeroy’s Ligament System, and Militech “Falcon” Sandevistan
Full Build Perk Tree
This is essentially a variation on the old “David Martinez” build from the base game, which is now more viable than ever thanks to the power of the Edgerunner perk.
Generally, the Edgerunner Perk allows you to push your body past its reasonable limits by installing more Cyberware than you probably should. Along with being able to enjoy more (and more powerful) Cyberware, this Perk will also occasionally grant you an absurd damage bonus that allows you to instantly kill most things in your way. The downside is that you sacrifice more maximum health the further you push your character past their pre-determined Cyberware limit.
That being the case, you may be wondering why you would want to focus on melee and close-range attacks for a build that has to sacrifice max health. Well, there are two main reasons.
The first is Gorilla Arms: the heart of this build. With the right combination of Perks, you can turn Gorilla Arms into arguably the most powerful melee damage option in the game. Most of your Gorilla Arms strikes will turn enemies into piles of goo, which is obviously an ideal outcome for any blunt melee strategy. However, Gorilla Arms also boast incredible Shockwave AoE stun abilities (especially once you unlock Relics), and allow you to actually throw enemies at other enemies for devastating damage bonuses. Of course, picking up Gorilla Arms and building around it means that you’re inherently “spending” quite a few Cyberware points. At the very least, Edgerunner allows you to make up for those spent points.
That’s the other big benefit of picking up Edgerunner with a melee-focused build. The biggest downside to Edgerunner is losing your Max Health, and one of the best ways to gain additional health benefits is to invest in the Body tree. Well, the Body tree also happens to contain some incredible melee abilities. The synergy between Edgerunner, Body, and strong close-range/melee attacks is just too good to pass up. Investing heavily in Body means that you can pick up all that extra Cyberware without needing to ensure that all of that extra Cyberware is just there to compensate for taking Edgerunner in the first place.
Admittedly, going that route does make the rest of this build slightly awkward. For instance, you’ll notice that I invested quite a few points into the Cool tree without actually taking any Perks in it. Well, that’s because I’m opting to go with Shotgun-based Perks instead of picking up Pistol Perks. That’s largely because it’s easier to use Shotguns in the close ranges that we’ll regularly be operating in. If, however, you’d rather have additional ranged options, then I do think that picking up Pistol Perks is your best bet (which is why those extra points are going into Cool in the first place).
I suppose you could also remove some Perk points from the left side of the Technical Ability tree, but I wouldn’t advise sacrificing that part of the build. Not only do you get some fantastic Health item buffs from that section, but the amount of Cyberware you’ll be taking basically turns Ticking Time Bomb into a nuclear weapon.
Gear-wise, Adreno Trigger, Leeroy’s Ligament System, and Militech “Falcon” Sandeveistan are your essential pickups alongside your Gorilla Arms. Each of those pieces of Cyberware allows you to close larger gaps in record time and deal more damage once you’re there.
While you may be tempted to fill your remaining Cyberware slots with defensive/health regen items in order to compensate for Edgerunner, I would caution against making that assumption. You really only need a few good pieces of Circulatory Cyberware and perhaps another good defensive installment in most situations. This build is actually designed to be inherently durable, so you actually want to best more in your close-range/melee damage whenever possible.