When Cyberpunk 2077 (hopefully) launches on December 10, it will transport players to its futuristic world of megacorporations, body enhancements, and cyber warfare, and Night City will be the backdrop for all of it. Walking the streets of the future promises to be an exciting activity, and it seems CD Projekt RED are dead set on completely immersing players in the game’s world.
Cyberpunk is an old and established property, of course, which means Night City has a rich history. What we’re concerned with here, however, is not that history, but rather the state the city finds itself in in the year 2077. By the time Cyberpunk 2077’s story kicks off, the city will already have been around for nearly a century, having gone through conflicts, upheavals, redesigns, crime wars, corporate takeovers, and so much more. In 2077, Night City is an independent and international city-state, populated by nearly seven million people, riddled with crime and corruption and poverty- but it’s also the hub of the entire world. It’s where anyone and everyone wants to be.
In 2077, Night City is divided into six districts (and over a dozen sub-districts). At the heart of the city is the City Center district, which is the commercial hub of the city, and some might even say the world. Megacorporations like Arasaka, Militech, Kung Tao, and more have their headquarters located in the Corpo Plaza of the district. Arasaka, in fact, more or less run Night City from their headquarters in Corpo Plaza, and one look at this district’s imposing and bustling skyline is enough to tell you everything you need to know about its status.
Then there’s Watson, which isn’t doing nearly as well as some of the other districts of the city. Though Watson was once a bustling center of activity with skyscrapers, corporate towers, what have you, the district has fallen into disrepair over the years. Now, this rundown part of town is home to immigrants of several ethnicities.
Acting as the staging ground for a vicious gang war between two groups known as the Maelstrom and Tyger Claws, Watson is now known as the bad part of town. Maelstrom, known for having many members with heavy combat augmentations, and the Tyger Claws, who have become fixated in equal measure on cyberware enhancements and riding motorcycles, have differing ideologies. While the former are obsessed with cyberware and the Net, the latter are essentially a futuristic, cyberpunk version of the Japanese Yakuza. Meanwhile, another gang known as Moxes also largely operates in the Watson district.
But the Tyger Claws have influence in other districts of Night City as well- such as Westbrook, which is essentially the swankiest and wealthiest part of the city. While City Center is the commercial hub of Night City, Westbrook is its cultural hub. It is where its wealthiest elites hang up their hats at the end of the day, and some of the most influential and powerful corporate figures, gang members and leaders, and celebrities of the city live in this part of town. Westbrook’s also got a sizeable Japanese community, thanks largely to the Tyger Claws and their Yakuza leaders and members who essentially run the entire district.
Then there’s Heywood, one of the most interesting districts of Night City, and simultaneously home to some o the richest and some of the poorest sights in the city. While the northern sector of the district is dominated by dazzling skyscrapers and beautiful parks, the southern part of Heywood plays home to large slums that act as a hotbed of activity for illegal and illicit activities, with two gangs in particular being highly prominent here.
The first of these is 6th Street. Formed originally in the 2020s by veterans of the Fourth Corporate War, in 2077, the gang comprises of veterans of the military and corporate security forces, who have come together to take security and justice into their own hands. All of their members receive military training, but the 6th Street’s interpretation of justice is shady at best and often self-serving, which makes them quite dangerous. The second gang that runs amok in Heywood is the Valentinos, whose ambitions seem to be limited to partying and… having a good time? Yeah, we’ll see how that turns out.
Then there’s Pacifica, a district of the city that once held much promise and was building toward a bright and wealthy future, but has fallen on bad times in recent years. Pacifica was once meant to be the vacation resort of Night City, with beaches, luxury hotels, tourist attractions, and what have you, and attracted some of the wealthiest and most influential people from around the world. Economic upheavals hurt the district terribly though, the corporate funding that was routinely being funneled into the district’s construction dried up.
Now, Pacifica is a half-constructed hellhole, full of gang wars and free and unchecked combat. The law enforcement groups of Night City, NCPD included, have all but given up on the district altogether, and its streets are now controlled by the gang known as Voodoo Boys. Once a group of terrorist drug dealers, the Voodoo Boys are now comprised largely of netrunners who are all singularly focused on uncovering the secrets of the Old Net and getting behind and destroying the Blackwall, the virtual wall that is said to keep AIs in check and prevent them from breaking into the larger virtual world and wreaking havoc. Other gangs such as the Animals an the Scavengers, also tend to operate mostly in Pacifica, though they have a presence in other districts of the city as well.
Finally, there’s Santo Domingo, which is one of the oldest parts of Night City. Not only is this district the industrial hub of the city where megacorporations running tests for many corporate projects and routinely construct and re-construct factories, Santo Domingo is also one of the most densely populated areas of the city. Thousands upon thousands of inhabitants live crammed together in megabuildings, and none of them seem to be doing too well for themselves. Like Heywood, Santo Domingo, too, sees a lot of 6th Street activity.
Meanwhile, outside the bounds of Night City proper, there are the Badlands, which are not technically a district of the city, but will be part of Cyberpunk 2077’s map. Massive landfills, chemical wastelands, derelict and burning oil fields, rancid winds, and acid rains have essentially turned the Badlands around Night City into a barren wasteland that is populated largely by Nomads and exiles of Night City. There’s no shortage of lawlessness in these parts, even in areas that are relatively more developed.
Clearly, Night City promises to be a diverse and large playground, with dozens of different groups to interact with (or fight with, if you so choose), lots of history to learn and dive into, and plenty of room for exploration. What’s exciting is that depending on what Lifepath you pick for your own V, you will begin the game in different parts of the city. The Nomad Lifepath will take you all the way out to the Badlands, playing as a Street Kid will see the game beginning in the Watson district, while the Corpo Lifepath will take you straight to the heart of things, in Arasaka Tower in the City Center.
Since the moment CD Projekt RED first re-revealed Cyberpunk 2077 a couple of years ago, walking the streets of Night City and getting immersed in that world has been one of the game’s most alluring prospects. We might have to wait a bit longer to finally be able to do that, but hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait.