When you start a new game in Cyberpunk 2077, you’re asked to pick one of three life paths: Street Kid, Corporate, and Nomad. The path you choose will have some effect on the stories you see, the characters you meet, and the conversations you might have. While your life path will inform your V’s backstory, it won’t drastically change the game–but there are a few key elements that the choice will alter, including the prologue and your path into Night City.
Here’s what you need to know about the three Cyberpunk 2077 life paths and how they’ll change your Night City experience. It’s worth noting that, after the prologue section, all three paths merge together with the game’s main story to take you on a similar journey. Your life path will change some of the details, however, and it’s important if you want to immerse yourself in V’s experience. Your life path choice will bring you some specific side quests related to your prologue.
We’ve also got some essential tips for Night City newcomers, a guide to help you make money in Cyberpunk 2077, a rundown of how romances work in the game, and our full Cyberpunk 2077 review–so check those out too.
The Street Kid is a Night City local. They were born and raised in Heywood under the stark shadows of Night City’s neon-drenched skyline. They know the ins and outs of the city, like where to get weapons, drugs, and–most importantly–work.
The Street Kid path kicks off in the El Coyote Cojo, a dive bar located in Heywood that protagonist V frequents. Unfortunately, the bartender has found himself in a sticky financial situation with a local fixer named Kirk. V agrees to chat with Kirk to see if they can convince him to erase the bartender’s debt.
Kirk tells V that if they can steal a car from a specific Arasaka employee, he’ll cancel the debt. V sets off to do the job, but unfortunately, someone else also wants to get a hold of that car. Midway through the heist, V gets a gun shoved in their face by one Jackie Welles, a solo, or mercenary, who also has been assigned this particular job. But before either of them can make a getaway with the vehicle, the Night City Police ambush, detain, and beat on them both–although that’s because V knows one of the cops, and getting a little roughed up is better than going to jail. The story resolves with the bruised and battered V and Jackie bonding over the experience and becoming friends.
Starting out as a Street Kid gives you something of a relationship with some people in Night City, including local fixers, making you a known quantity early in the game. It also unlocks dialogue options related to gangs and the realities of being poor in the city, with V drawing on their experience growing up close to Night City’s criminal element.
If the Street Kid is the Night City local, then the Nomad life path is that of an outsider. Most nomads roam the badlands, an area outside of Night City, in clans. However, V is a lone wolf. Their Nomad family is in shambles and V is trying to put their own life back together at the start of the game.
The Nomad path opens up in a backwater garage in the California desert as V is getting their car repaired. Before V can leave, a not-so-friendly sheriff shows up and questions V. Soon after, V meets up with a Solo named–you guessed it–Jackie Welles, in order to smuggle a package across the border into Night City. As you approach the border, Jackie starts to get cold feet. A border agent asks V to step out of the vehicle for an interview.
Of course, this doesn’t go as planned and Arasaka agents ambush V and Jackie. A fierce vehicular gunfight ensues, but V and Jackie ultimately escape and make it into Night City, where V begins their new life.
If you want to go into Night City for the first time with fresh eyes, the Nomad path is probably the one for you. It presents a V that is a bit warier of the city and its flash, and who has little or no prior experience with its gangs or corporations. This V also has a better sense of what life is like outside of Night City–and before long, the story will take you beyond its borders, where that knowledge will also be useful.
Compared to the Street Kid and Nomad, the Corpo path almost seems a little too clinical to be cool at first glance. Corporations are, of course, the bad guys. But the journey of Corpo V, who begins by enjoying life in Night City’s upper crust, is actually pretty exciting.
The Corpo path begins with V throwing up in a bathroom sink in Arasaka tower, where they currently hold a job in counter-intelligence. V is on the phone to Jackie Welles, this time a lifelong friend, venting about problems with their job. Someone has leaked corporate intel, and everyone’s on edge.
From there, you meet up with your boss, Jenkins, who is infamous for being a cutthroat dude, and you watch him remotely massacre the European Space Council when you go to meet him in his office. He’s got some underhanded plans in the works to help him climb the corporate ladder and forces you to take part, giving you a wad of cash and ordering you to discreetly hire someone outside of the corporation to kill his boss, Abernathy.
V knows this is a bad idea, but equally bad is refusing to follow Jenkins’s orders, so V heads to a bar called Lizzie’s to meet Jackie and farm out the job. Unsurprisingly, Jackie thinks it’s a terrible idea and suggests cutting ties, but before V can make any decisions, some Arasaka employees appear. Abernathy has caught wind of the plan, and her goons hack into your cybernetics and wipe away all of V’s corporate perks–home, insurance, money. Jackie manages to talk the Arasaka guys out of killing V, but at this point, his Corpo life is over and he’s stuck rebuilding from the ground up.
With a Corpo background, V gets insights into how the rich and powerful of Night City live and work–and maybe more usefully, how corporations operate. You’ll get extra dialog options based on those insights when dealing with corporations and their employees, which often let V suss out the power struggles and corporate malfeasance happening in Night City in ways that help them complete jobs, or even save their life.
No matter which life path you choose, there are a lot of constants throughout Cyberpunk 2077–so while it’ll affect the game you play, you’re not going to have a hugely divergent experience choosing one over the others. That said, each of the paths have unique elements, and you’ll get the most out of your experience by embracing your V’s specific background. When you get opportunities to answer with knowledge that only a V with your background would have, you should definitely use it. And don’t forget what happens in your prologue, because elements of that story will come back into play at some point (if in small ways), and you’ll want to be ready.
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