WELCOME TO NIGHT CITY
Cyberpunk 2077 is set in the free state of Northern California. Specifically, the action takes place in Night City, a coastal metropolis lodged smack dab between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Night City is a fictional place, but it has a rich history all its own. It was the setting for Cyberpunk: The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future, the franchise’s original tabletop RPG product first published in 1988. A second edition was released in 1990, titled Cyberpunk 2020, along with a detailed sourcebook called Night City. Today, it’s also the setting for Cyberpunk Red, the official tabletop prequel to CD Projekt’s video game set some 30 years before the events of Cyberpunk 2077. Everything that happened in those games is canon, so far as we’ve been told, so if you’d like to head straight to the source you can visit R. Talsorian Games and start downloading PDFs right now.
The most recent, and likely the most relevant, bits of lore come from the World Book included with the Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit, released in August 2019. It tells the story of a world rocked by waves of revolutionary new technologies, nations hollowed out by generations of intractable corporate greed, and a populace utterly chained to cybernetics, drugs, and violence.
According to its timeline, by the year 2045 the entire West Coast of the United States has more or less become unmoored from the traditional democratic union we live in today. While what’s left of the federal government still maintains control over portions of the East Coast, the interior of the country is more or less a wasteland. That means the residents of Night City are on their own.
The city itself could have easily fallen many times over, but the biggest danger came in the 2020s when a tactical nuclear device went off under mysterious circumstances. The air bursting munition took the tops of some buildings, while a colossal shockwave leveled others. But not even that could stop its vibrant people from bouncing back.