“In this world, almost everything is connected to a local network. And that means it can be hacked.”
Hacking in Cyberpunk 2077 is not a mere support feature or a neat sidequest entertainment, it’s an entire way to approach the challenges that the game will throw at you. It’s a set of menacing skills that can help you take out your enemies en masse without them getting a chance to touch you. Hacking in Cyberpunk 2077 becomes a unique experience even if it makes up just a part of your character build. On the other hand, becoming a full Netrunner is a whole another.
Warning: This guide is based on the in-progress information available before the official release of the game. The guide will be updated as more information becomes available.
In this guide we will tackle how you can effectively unlock and level the Hacking abilities in the game, but also offer examples of what these abilities can do for you to demonstrate why you might want some. From taking control of the entire facilities and their security systems to wreak lethal havoc in your enemy’s base, to hijacking their body and making the toughest enemies entirely helpless in front of you. Netrunner’s control over their surroundings can truly be god-like sometimes.
First, we will walk you through the basics of Leveling Hacking through the Intelligence Ability and its Hacking Skill, followed by the Skill’s Perks. Then, we will look at Breaching Access Points within enemy facilities and Quickhacks and Daemons that allow you to mess with the hacked machinery and the Cyberware of your opponents. Finally, we will finish off with the Build Strategy for the Hacking Skill, as either a part of a character’s skillset, or its main pillar.
Ready? Let’s get inside.
Intelligence is one of the five character Attributes you can invest experience points into. The Attribute dictates upper limit for the Skills under it, up to level 10. This means that the Intelligence level 5 will only allow your Hacking Skill to be leveled up to 5.
Intelligence is one of the two Attributes that modifies only a single Skill, but Hacking definitely has enough to offer to compensate for that.
Meanwhile, instead of investing points into your Skills, you will need to actually use them in the field in order to level them. The alternative is to find someone who will train you in it. Whether you want to commit to Hacking as a part of your character build or not, you can start leveling it early on to unlock more skill-related actions to level it more easily.
Finally, you can solidify your Hacking prowess by investing your Street Cred points into your Perks. There are 5 unlockable Perks per every character Skill, with 5 levels of progression, so you can really play around with all of the enhancements offered within.
Hacking 1 will unlock additional advanced malware daemons for your character to assist you in performing a variety of Quickhacks on the machinery and enemy Cyberware.
Breaching Access Points
When you are traversing the enemy facility, you could locate the wiring (for example, scan a surveillance camera and then follow its wire) or explore the rooms within to find something that you can think of as an electric outlet. Although, to be fair, it looks more like an old-fashioned home security dashboard. In Cyberpunk 2077 that’s called an Access Point and you can plug into it with enough Hacking Skill using your Cyberdeck. You can then attempt to breach the system.
To give you an example, you needed 2 in Hacking to connect to the Grand Imperial Mall in the Deep Dive Video.
Depending on what the level of security is in this facility, the process of hacking (the mini-game) will be different. For example, a level 2 network used in this example will unlock basic access through simple command input and additional access when you encode a string of commands to match those of the programs and network on the dashboard. However, a more complex security system could involve an entirely different puzzle. Time limit might become a concern for more difficult infiltrations as well.
(Some of the functionality discussed below is inferred.)
This will open up the interface, at the center of which is a grid populated by letter-number combinations such as “55,” “BD,” “1C,” and “E9”. At any point a column or a row within the grid will be highlighted, limiting the cells that you can click on to the ones within the highlighted selection.
Once you click on a cell, the row highlight will switch from the row to a column containing the cell you chose. The array of cells you can choose from now will change to be limited by the new column highlight.
This is how you will be creating your sequence input. The example from the Deep Dive Video shows how to select “1C” for the input below.
That input matters when we consider our Main and Side Objectives listed within the dashboard. The sequences within each are called the Instructions. The Main Objective will provide us with the basic access (that will grant us the ability to perform Quickhacks), and to satisfy the condition we need to have “1C, BD” within our sequence to match the Instruction.
The Side Objectives make it all more interesting, since they introduce the challenge of integrating strings like “55, 1C, 1C, 1C” into the input but reward us with the access to helpful programs and the network data.
So, looking at the Deep Dive Video example, inputting “1C, E9” followed by “BD, 55, 1C” and then “BD” will give us access to the Camera Log, Officer Tracing, and then the Main Objective’s Basic Access (we add “BD” at the end to have “1C, BD” within the input string to match the Instruction), finishing our input and leaving us with a good number of systems unlocked in addition to the basic Quickhacks.
Quickhacks and Daemons
Once you gain Basic Access of a local network through an Access Point (see above), you will be able to perform Quickhacks on the technical equipment in that facility. For example, you could override a training robot to kill a gang member using it.
This comes in addition to our ability to upload Daemons into the Cyberware of our opponents during battle to create disruptions in their ability to use it. Whether our Cyberdeck’s Nanowire is necessary to perform most of the direct breaches (such connection, as we saw, can be established from a distance) is yet unknown.
Each Quickhacking or Daemon Uploading will consume our Cyberdeck’s energy, which means that our mastery with this device will be important for how much we can rely on it. Each action will cost us a different amount of energy.
List of Known Quickhacks and Daemon Uploads
Costs 2 Energy
You will be able to turn off the security systems, such as the surveillance cameras.
You will be able to upload a Daemon “Lead_Jammer” into your enemies’ Cyberware in the field.
Costs 3 Energy
You will be able to upload a Daemon “Overseer” with your ID into the security system to avoid triggering alarms.
You will be able to override safety on the training robots to deal lethal damage to unsuspecting trainees.
You will be able to override weights of a bench press to crush the enemy underneath.
You will be able to upload a Daemon “JackPot” to overload the vending machine’s dispenser mechanism and create a distraction.
Costs 5 Energy
You will be able to upload a Daemon “Hard_Shutdown” into your enemies’ Cyberware in the field, compromising their ability to fight back.
You will be able to upload a Daemon “Pinpuller” into your enemies’ Cyberware in the field, causing them to detonate their own grenades.
Costs 6 Energy
You will be able to remotely take over the security systems, such as the surveillance cameras (allowing you to look around with it).
Now that you know how to level Hacking and why you might want to level Hacking, let’s discuss some strategies of making the best out of what it can offer us.
Did you know that the Nanowire that you would use to plug into your enemies and the Access Points can also be used as a melee weapon? That’s right, the Netrunner’s blazing Nanowhip can slice anyone into little bits. Of course, you can always carry more weapons on you to use when you are not trying to perform Quickhacks. In fact, a quick handgun or a rifle, and especially a katana blade could be a good match for your quick whip.
See where I am going with this?
Leveling Reflexes could help you quickly navigate the field as well as give you a number of quick and efficient weapons to finish off your disadvantaged enemies.
Or, why not go extreme carry a Shotgun or a heavy Two-Handed weapon for dealing massive damage when your enemy gets too close? Who said you have to be either a Solo or a Netrunner? With close-combat melee fighting and a variety of lethal hacking you can easily be both.
On the other end of the spectrum, focusing on the Technical Attribute and adding Engineering to your arsenal will give you even more ways of manipulating your environment and your enemies from the distance. A pet robot can tweak switches, make heavy items drop onto your enemies, and join you in the battle when needed.
Another way of enhancing your ability to deal with your opponents from the shadows would be leveling the Cool Attribute and its Assassination, Nerve, and Sniper Rifles. It’s pretty easy to see why: after creating a distraction with Quickhacks you can more easily aim at the occupied enemies gathered around the scene and, say… snipe them with a rifle!
Before they have a chance of locating you, you could clear a large hall packed with gang members in this manner.
However, at the end Hacking can be a convenient way to assist you in the battlefield or allow you to find secret passages, even if you focus only on the basic abilities of this skill, preferring to engage most of you enemies more directly instead.
If you enjoy using a few basic Daemons to disable a few of your enemies while assaulting the rest of the crowd, you don’t necessarily need to keep progressing the Hacking Skill and focus on your other Attributes instead. Perhaps, for you, it’s more about not missing out on some secret locations and a few little story bits more than overriding entire facilities. Sometimes it’s more fun to just make that surveillance camera explode and kick that door down on top of a gang member’s head.