“Watson used to have it all. Nightclubs, skyscrapers, corporate offices, a top-end medcenter — but economic disaster put an end to all that. Now, it’s known as ‘the bad neighborhood of Night City’. The kinda place that suits gangs like Maelstrom and Tyger Claws down to the ground.” (CD Projekt Red official forum post).
What is the Watson District?
During the time of Rebuilding of the Night City, a few well-off Japanese corps had their sights on Watson, pouring millions of dollars into the district. Back then, Watson was destined to be a self-sufficient and prosperous district, with its towering skyscrapers and thriving nightclubs, but it eventually became one the poorest.
It was Arasaka’s return to the city after the Unification War and its special agenda for Watson that brought the area down to its knees. When Saburo Arasaka decided to finish off his competitors in the area and obtain exclusive access to the port at the Watson Waterfront, nobody could stop him. The economy of the district and local corporations took a serious hit from the manipulations of Saburo’s lawyers and bankers, and the financial sector was permanently destabilized. The Northside Industrial District and its cutting-edge technology park was left with no jobs to offer to people, leaving many out on the street.
The resulting power vacuum allowed Arasaka to take over and the district was converted into their personal sea port, guarded against any unaffiliated visitors.
Today Watson is not much more than Night City’s “bad neighborhood”: a living area for struggling factory employees who still work for the shrinking Industrial District and a battleground to the area’s two major gangs, Maelstrom and Tyger Claws. The many roadblocks on the bridges leading into Watson serve to contain the people within instead of addressing piling issues of the district’s recent history.
Little China: A Vertical Melting Pot
This is the location of the Afterlife club: owned by the biggest fixer in town, Rogue, the bar boasts as the ultimate destination for the legendary Edgerunners. Yet, Little China itself feels more like the poorer areas of Night City. It became overpopulated during 2040s, flooded with Asian immigrants, mostly from Chinese diaspora. That’s how the subdistrict got its name, its ethnic feel, its Chinese food, shops, and lingo.
What was once destined to become an extension of Downtown, a second City Center, is now a bustling mix of all kinds of businesses — living residences, affluent condos, illegal gambling dens, and business buildings all piled up on top of each other. To this day this area has not been claimed by any gang, although the local cheap entertainment became one of the favorite pastimes of Tyger Claws.
Kabuki: A Bazaar Both Bright and Shady
The famous Night City Med Center was once situated adjacent to the Kabuki, a pride of the Japanese medical corporations that brought prosperity to the area. Now, Kabuki might possibly be the poorest subdistrict of the city after Pacifica, all because Arasaka eliminated any corporate competition in the area after its return.
Before it had a chance to completely collapse, Kabuki was held up by the flood of the Chinese diaspora, its streets transformed into tangled alleyways of the most disreputable bazaar in the city. Kabuki shines bright both during the day and night, its stalls decorated with Chinese lanterns and flickering neon lights. Lizzie’s Bar and The Mox proudly contribute to the colorfulness of the place.
However, the cosmetic boutiques, flea market junk, and chop suey joints transform during the night time. Illegal drug, organs, prototype cyberware, and questionable braindance trade takes over, making Kabuki the kind of place to go to when you need to buy something that is not available anywhere else. As long as you know the right people, of course. You probably want to avoid merchandise supplied by unknown sources, like Scavengers. These gangers will have no issue dragging someone off to a murky basement and harvest their bodies for cyberware and organs to resell to unscrupulous Kabuki ripperdocs.
Northside Industrial District (NID): Abandoned, But Necessary
Once Watson’s prosperous factory subdistrict, NID was abandoned due to failed investments and the extensive earthquake damage that disabled its facilities. Downtown corpos tried to create boundaries around this area to keep it out of view by erecting new apartment blocks at the edge of the district. Now these buildings house mid-level employees who manage the few remaining factories in the subdistrict.
Yet, the prospects of working in the NID area seem to be very grim. What once might have seemed as a wonderful opportunity to work in a factory for someone eager to start a new life ends up being a trap of endless working hours and no promotion options in sight. What is worse, Maelstrom took to the abandoned buildings as hideouts, which makes the area highly dangerous during night hours.
Arasaka Waterfront: Private Access
The Waterfront is the sobering symbol of the effect Arasaka’s return had on the district. The port access was something that the corporation wanted to acquire to supplement its local supply chain, at any cost. They did succeed, eliminating all other competition and prosperity in the area, and now the towering Arasaka Waterfront processes hundreds of shipments every month, sending them on their way to other corporate warehouses and outposts.
The area within the walls is heavily protected against all unauthorized Watson inhabitants, including the district’s gangs and the Scavs. It’s a corporate territory segregated from the rest of the colorful, wild, bustling district. Motion detectors, electric razor wire, and turrets all make sure that no unwanted visitors make their way in, even if their hands are itching to steal from the corporate transports.
This section will be updated with locations that will be particularly helpful to V once that information becomes available.
Maelstrom have settled in what remained of the Northside Industrial District (also known as the NID): mostly abandoned factories and working-class apartment blocks. They use the abandoned buildings as illegal braindance studios, storage space for what they steal from corporate cargo, or just as hideouts for the members. You definitely do not want to be accidentally walking into one of them without decent weapons at your disposal.
Learn more about the Maelstrom in our Maelstrom: Cyberpunk 2077 Gang guide!
Moxes mostly gather around and spend their time inside Kabuki and Lizzie’s Bar in Watson. They see the latter as their home: their main source of income and their protective community made up of underrepresented sex workers and sexual minorities. While they don’t seek active confrontation with other gangs, they definitely can stand up for themselves — they have already proven that to Tyger Claws.
Read more about them in our The Mox: Cyberpunk 2077 Gang guide.
Tyger Claws control both the Little China and Kabuki in Watson. Today Little China is practically overrun by the Kabuki Market, and the current community was built upon the ruins of Watson’s former high-density urban region, overpopulated with Asian immigrants and proud of its famous old Med Center. Kabuki Market became a maze of narrow alleyways with a bustling bazaar unfurled during nighttime: local stalls that offer implants, organs, steroids, and about anything else you might be looking for.
You can read more about the Tyger Claws in our Tyger Claws: Cyberpunk 2077 Gang guide.
Watson’s poor population became a prime target for Scavs, a ruthless group of organ and implant harvesters sustained by their high demand on the black market.