“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 to do so. With the two hacking skills available in the game, Device Hacking and Target Hacking, you can take control of the entire facilities and their security systems and wreak lethal havoc in your enemy’s base, or hijack your opponents and make the toughest enemies entirely helpless in your grasp. An expert Netrunner’s control over their surroundings can be almost god-like.
First, we will walk you through the basics of How to Level Hacking Skills — the Device Hacking and Target Hacking skills and the Intelligence Ability, followed by their Perks. Then, we will look at How to Use Hacking by breaching access points within enemy facilities (per the Old System) and Quickhacks that allow you to mess with the hacked systems 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.
Quick note on outdated information before we begin: in its current state the guide is a hybrid of new information we have learned by studying November footages and the functionality of the old system. We try to make it clear when we talk about the old Hacking system, and it’s likely that a vast majority of it, along with the old Quickhacks and “daemon uploads” has been heavily restructured. We just want to offer as complete of a picture of this part of the game as possible before Cyberpunk 2077‘s release.
Ready? Let’s get inside.
How to Level Hacking Skills
Intelligence is one of the five character Attributes you can invest Experience and Street Cred points into. The Attribute dictates upper limit for the Skills under it, which means that the Intelligence level 5 will only allow your hacking skills to be leveled up to 5. Hacking skills, just like all other skills in Cyberpunk 2077, are leveled through use.
Device Hacking and Target Hacking Skills
Instead of investing points into your Skills like you would do with Attributes or Perks, you will need to actually use them in the field in order to level them. In this case you will be dealing with Device Hacking and Target Hacking skills.
You can also find someone who will train you in it to get a little ahead. Whether you want to commit to hacking as a major part of your character build or not, you can start leveling it early on to unlock more skill-related actions and level it more easily.
Cyberdeck and RAM
There is a uniting feature to both the Device Hacking and Target Hacking skills: and that’s your cyberdeck (installed as a Cyberware into your Operating System slot) and its RAM. Your Cyberdeck can serve both as a defense and as a Netrunner weapon: it will protect against others trying to hack you, but will also allow you to perform quickhacks and provide you with RAM for them.
Think of RAM as your hacking stamina: you use it with every Quickhack you perform and it regenerates unites every 60 seconds.
Your Cyberdeck will determine your Base RAM and your regenerative capacity. It will also dictate the types of device hacks you can perform and it will slow down other netrunners trying to hack you.
Let’s start with the Device Hacking skill. This skill is mainly responsible for gaining access of surveillance and security devices inside a facility. With this skill you can literally open some doors for yourself, control or deactivate cameras, and create some distractions for your enemies.
See “Quickhacks” section for a list of Quickhacks offered by the Device Hacking skill.
Messing up your opponents in the field can be quite satisfying, and in some cases you won’t even have to do any dispatching yourself. Make them blind by rebooting their optics? Absolutely. Make them activate an explosive they are carrying in their belt or blow their own brains out? Easy. Target hacking is all about messing with your enemy’s cyberware and taking out enemies from inside their own bodies.
See “Quickhacks” section for a list of Quickhacks offered by the Target Hacking skill.
We do not know a lot about the Device or Target Hacking skill perks under the new system as of yet.
In the past, you would unlock additional “malware daemons” (they were likely merged into the new Quickhacks system) for device and target hacking, and it’s likely that the new system will unlock additional interactions, reduce RAM cost, and make the hacking quicker and easier to perform overall.
How to Use Hacking
Breaching Access Points (Old System)
Note: the old system required you to breach the Access Point of a facility before you could perform Quickhacks within it. Per new footage we still see that V will be plugging themselves into such a point, but we don’t know which parts of this feature and the related mini-game were cut as of yet.
Breaching Access Points is necessary if you plan on performing Quickhacks. 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.
Hacking Mini-Game (Old System)
(This is a part of the old Hacking system and might have been changed significantly. 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.
Once you gain Basic Access of a local network through an Access Point (per the Old System, 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 Quickhack cyberware of our opponents during the battle to create disruptions in their ability to use it.
Each Quickhacking will consume RAM, our Cyberdeck’s energy that functions alike stamina, 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, have a set duration, cooldown, and an upload time.
New List of Quickhacks
Camera Control (Tier 0): Grants full remote control of the camera.
Duration: 0 sec
Cooldown: 0 sec
Upload Time: 1.5 sec
Base cost: 3 RAM
Turn off [Remote Deactivation] (Tier 0): Manipulates basic device functions, such as opening/closing doors and activating/deactivating cameras.
Duration: 0 sec
Cooldown: 0 sec
Upload Time: 1.5 sec
Base cost: 2 RAM
Base cost: 2 RAM
Base cost: 14 RAM
Base cost: 5 RAM
Details unknown as of yet.
Old List of Quickhacks and Daemon Uploads
We left this list in to give you an idea of what else Cyberpunk 2077 might offer for Quickhacks upon release.
Costs 2 Energy
- Turn off the security systems, such as the surveillance cameras.
- Upload a Daemon “Lead_Jammer” into your enemies’ Cyberware in the field.
Costs 3 Energy
- Upload a Daemon “Overseer” with your ID into the security system to avoid triggering alarms.
- Override safety on the training robots to deal lethal damage to unsuspecting trainees.
- Override weights of a bench press to crush the enemy underneath.
- Upload a Daemon “JackPot” to overload the vending machine’s dispenser mechanism and create a distraction.
Costs 5 Energy
- Upload a Daemon “Hard_Shutdown” into your enemies’ Cyberware in the field, compromising their ability to fight back.
- Upload a Daemon “Pinpuller” into your enemies’ Cyberware in the field, causing them to detonate their own grenades.
Costs 6 Energy
- Remotely take over the security systems, such as the surveillance cameras (allowing you to look around with it).
Note: in this section we had build suggestions based on what we knew about the old hacking system. We do not know how much of this information has changed as of yet, but most of our advice is likely to remain applicable.
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, and unlock more paths on the level for you to explore.
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 Target Hacking abilities to disable a few of your enemies while assaulting the rest of the crowd, you don’t necessarily need to keep progressing the rest of your hacking skills 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 your enemies and their entire facilities without drawing a weapon. Sometimes it’s more fun to just take that surveillance camera down in a loud explosion and kick that door open on top of a gang member’s head.