Should you choose to start with the Corporate life path (like IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey did in his playthrough, which you can read about in his preview), you’ll start in a district called City Center that’s filled with pristine skyscrapers. In the Street Kid life path, you start in Heywood, a district run by the Valentinos gang that has plenty of bars and clubs. Regardless of which path you start with, you eventually make your way with Jackie – your burly good-natured sidekick from all the trailers and demos so far – to the Watson district. This is where I spent most of my time.
Cyberpunk 2077: Night City’s Distinct Districts
Night City is layered; even though I only got to run around a bit of the Watson district – which is only one of six districts in Night City – I was impressed by how much I could access so early on. I almost felt guilty driving to a destination knowing I was passing by layers of alleyways and buildings I could have explored. It’s worth noting you can’t enter every building, but I was able to access far more nooks and alleys than I would have normally expected. Granted, there isn’t always a ton to do in each of these places (sometimes that was because my low level prevented me from engaging in higher-level encounters), but I could almost always loot something, chat with strangers, or help an NPC being threatened by another. I even found a nice sniper rifle and rare crafting materials on a quiet rooftop after taking a random elevator.
Where Would We Be Without Side Quests?
As I expected, it seems like there will be plenty to do aside from looting boxes and pocketing abandoned items for crafting. Upon entering a district, you’ll receive a text from a local “fixer” about the available gigs in the area. These individuals essentially alert you to various kinds of side activities you can take on. When you get close to one, you’ll receive additional details about the requested task, including its recommended level. The first one I came across was a level 5 kill contract on a woman who was causing trouble in the area. I was only a level 2, so I figured it’d be better to leave it, though I’m curious to see how involved these Gigs can get.Then, there are NCPD Scanner Hustles, which are basically tasks put out by the Night City police department that anyone can take on. There were six icons to mark the various kinds of criminal activity that needed addressing, but I didn’t get a chance to check out what they all meant in the map legend. I certainly ran into some violent gang activity while driving around, however. It went from something as mild as a few people running around a corner yelling about gunfire, to full-on explosions and firefights a few blocks away from my destination. It seems there are all sorts of people causing mischief in Night City.
Another activity involves tracking down bounties — dead or alive. I wasn’t entirely sure if this was something that aligned with the Scanner Hustles, but after I had upgraded a certain eye part, I was able to get more data after scanning people. Many are just random civilians, but some are affiliated with gangs or criminal activity and have a bounty on their head. You don’t have to act on a bounty when you see it, though. I encountered a person with a bounty while finishing up a side quest in a small shop. I figured a skirmish in there wouldn’t end well for me, so I passed on the opportunity.
I also came across a few side quests given by NPCs. One was from my own ally, a netrunner named T-Bug who managed intel plus my hacking and other simulated training. She called and told me to pick up something from an acquaintance of hers that would assist in my hacking. This one felt like an extended tutorial, so it didn’t take too long to complete. Another was from a random guy I passed in a gym that I didn’t have time to complete (Ryan did, however, and it turned out he was looking for boxers to participate in an underground fighting ring). I’m sure there will be plenty of interesting side quests to dig into, and CD Projekt Red confirmed some of them will directly play into the background you choose for V.
Collectibles, Crafting, and Cats
I’m a collectible hunter, so, naturally, when I was dropped into a world littered with items, I shoved everything I could into V’s pockets — they proved to be quite deep! V can only carry so much weight by default, though I assume that we’ll be able to upgrade that. Finding items is made easy by simply taking a look around a room or area with the scanner.
I grabbed everything from burritos to empty syringes, but aside from that sniper and rare crafting material, I didn’t really find anything particularly special. Given that there are all sorts of weapons and clothes, I’m hoping we’ll see some special kinds hidden throughout the world.
The other vague collectible I found were Shards, or book-like devices strewn everywhere. The actual data I collected from them varied from short stories to bits of actual Night City history. If you want to have a good read and really dig into the lore of Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll definitely have the opportunity to do that with shards, though I’m hopeful that some of the side quests will be fun and interesting world-building activities too.
I had initially started grabbing everything I could get my hands on in hopes of having enough junk to craft something cool, but the crafting system unfortunately wasn’t available in the demo I played. However, all those handcuffs and other garbage didn’t go completely to waste when I sold them for some extra credits at a weapon shop. My collecting tendencies helped me buy some nicer upgrades later on too. Selling junk in Cyberpunk 2077 is easy; you can visit a shop or a Drop Point, a little kiosk that serves as a selling station. This wasn’t present in the build I played, but there will also be a “sell all junk” button to help get rid of the trash in your pockets.
Oh, and I pet a cat! That’s very important. I didn’t see any dogs for you dog people out there.
Getting Around Night City
CD Projekt Red trades in horses for horsepower with Cyberpunk 2077 but, funnily enough, you still summon your futuristic car the same way you summoned Roach in The Witcher 3. With the press of a button, your chosen car (you can have more than one, and if you’ve got the right skills, you can hack into and steal random cars too!) will appear nearby. Either my car has an attitude, though, or I need to get it looked at, because the one time I did call it, my car decided to stop in the middle of an intersection.
Either way, getting around Night City is mostly enjoyable – though the actual handling of cars could use a bit of tuning before the November launch. I do appreciate that it seemed like there were fewer cars on the road while I was driving, but then more on the road when I traveled on foot. There’s a level of realism and a few mundane activities I appreciate in games, but sitting in rush hour traffic is one I’m glad I won’t need to worry about.
If you don’t even want to have to think about accidentally hitting a pedestrian or other car, fast travel is fairly accessible in Night City too. Fast travel spots are unlocked as you pass them while exploring. Then, all you need to do is approach one to get to any of your other unlocked destinations. I unlocked maybe three or four while exploring the Watson district.
Cyberpunk 2077: June 2020 Screenshots
I wasn’t able to experiment with what it was like to traverse the entire city due to some story constraints, but even still, if I was reading my map right I think I barely saw a small part of what just Watson alone had to offer. I only really got to shop for new weapons and didn’t even get to check out what sort of futuristic fashions were available, and I’m curious to see what sort of special gear we’ll eventually be able to find and craft. Cyberpunk 2077 is certainly shaping up to be an exciting place to explore.
Be sure to check out our Cyberpunk 2077 preorder guide to see which version or edition is right for you.
Miranda Sanchez is the executive editor of guides at IGN. You can chat with her about video games and anime on Twitter.