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Cyberpunk 2077 Builds: Maximum Carnage (Shotgun) Character Guide Weapons Perks

In this Cyberpunk 2077 Build Guide I’ll be showing you my Maximum Carnage Build which is a Build that uses the Shotgun Carnage to absolutely shred enemies with pellets, even from medium distances. If you’ve been looking for a way to use a Shotgun effectively, but haven’t been successful, then you’ll want to check out this Guide.

Cyberpunk 2077 Builds: Maximum Carnage (Shotgun) Character Guide Weapons Perks

The Maximum Carnage Build takes advantage of the Shotgun: Carnage, which is the pound for pound king of Shotguns when it comes to damage per shot. What makes Carnage different from most other Shotguns is that it fires double the pellets (20) per trigger pull, while most other Shotguns fire 10 or less. The Iconic Shotgun: The Headsman also does this as well, but it needs to be crafted, and has other drawbacks like holding one less round. The Carnage can be obtained rather easily, after a quick boss fight.

The way this Build works is that you’ll stack damage reduction, and Armor and go into combat Terminator style blasting everyone in your path. You’ll get stronger and stronger after each kill thanks to Cold Blood, making things die faster and faster, and you take less and less damage.

Additionally, Carnage absolutely knocks enemies on their ass even from medium distances, disrupting their attacks on you. And, a lot of times, if you have a Carnage with a damage type that can set Burning or Poisoned, they’ll just bleed out while laying their if they didn’t die from the initial shot. The one drawback to this Build is that reloading takes a long time, and you’ll need to find some cover while reloading.

Maximum Carnage Attributes

The Attributes needed for this Build are Body and Cool, though I like to put some points into Intelligence and Reflexes as well. Body is needed to increases your Health and Stamina, as well as grant you access to Athletics and Annihilation Perks. Cool is needed for access to Cold Blood and a few Stealth Perks, and Intelligence allows you to use some Quickhacking (if you don’t use Berserk), as well as some Cyberware that increases your Critical Hit Chance and Critical Damage. Reflexes is good for Crit Chance, Movement Speed as well as one specific Perk you’ll want: Slow and Steady.

Your Attributes should look something like this eventually:

  • Cool: 20
  • Body: 20
  • Intelligence: 9
  • Reflexes: 7

Although you need far more Cool than Body, you will crank up Body first to gain access to Annihilation Perks that improve Shotguns early on, before starting to pump Cool. Once you’ve maxed Cool, and Body is at 12 take Intelligence to at least 9 for access to some good Cyberware, and Reflexes to 7 for the Slow and Steady Perk. Then max out Body.

Maximum Carnage Perks

In this section we’ll take a look at what Perks you should acquire in order to get the best performance from this Build. Body is our top priority, and since it contains Annihilation and Athletics Perks, we’ll begin there. It’s important to note that in many cases higher level Perks are better than lower level ones, so if you haven’t maxed a lower level Perk out when you unlock a higher level Perk, you might want to come back to it later on.

Annihilation Perks

In Your Face – This Perk reduces the reload time of your Shotgun, and this is likely to be the hardest part of this Build to deal with so you will absolutely want this one, and you’ll want it as early as you can get. Don’t spend any longer than you have to reloading!

Hail of Bullets – This Perk increases your damage with Shotguns by a small amount, so you won’t likely max this one at the beginning, but you will eventually to get the most damage you can.

Dead Center – This Perk increases your damage when hitting the torso of the enemy, which you will do often. When flying around at full speed you won’t have time to aim perfectly for the head, and will instead aim for center mass, so this Perk is great.

Bulldozer – This Perk gives you a modest increase to Crit Chance when using a Shotgun, which you will absolutely want. More Crits equals more damage, so take this one as soon as you can.

Momentum Shift – This Perk increases your Movement Speed whenever you kill an enemy. You want to move fast in order to close the distance to your target as quickly as you can, so take this Perk.

Mongoose – This Perk increases your Evasion significantly while Reloading. Since this is where you are at your weakest, this can help keep you alive until you finish, so take it.

Bloodrush – This Perk further increases your Movement Speed when using a Shotgun, and you want to move as fast as you can. You don’t need to take this one early on, but take it later when you don’t have many good options left for your Perk Points.

Massacre – This Perk will increase your Crit Damage by a large amount at max rank, and you will do lots of Crits since each pellet can Crit separately. Max this one out when you can to get the most benefit from it.

Heavy Lead – This Perk increases the Knockback of your Shotgun blasts, which allows you to crowd control enemies that you cannot kill because they are far away. Use this to knockdown enemies that have a clear shot at you until you can close the distance.

Skeet Shooter – This Perk increases your damage vs. moving targets by a modest amount, so you should take this one. Most enemies will be moving when you shoot them, even if some will stay in cover.

Speed Demon – This Perk will increase your damage the faster you are moving, which should be lightning fast with this Build. More damage is always good, and this is Perk has great synergy with this Build.

Athletics Perks

Invincible – This Perk increases your Health making you harder to kill, and you will be taking some gunfire so you need to stay alive through it. Max this one out eventually.

Divided Attention – This Perk allows you to reload while sprinting, sliding and vaulting. This is vital to this Build because you don’t want to stop Sprinting if you can help it. Reload while you close the distance to your target at full speed.

Multitasker – This Perk allows you to shoot while sprinting, sliding and vaulting. You’ll be doing all these things a lot, and you don’t want to have to stop firing if you can help it, making it a solid Perk for this Build.

Cold Blood and Stealth Perks

Cold Blood – This Perk gives you a buff that lasts 10 seconds when you kill an enemy. It starts out as only a movement speed increase, but as you progress you’ll unlock other benefits as well. Take this one immediately in order to begin gaining experience in this Perk tree since at level 2 you gain a permanent Crit Chance boost.


Will to Survive – This Perk increases your Resistances with each kill. It’s not the greatest of the Perks here, but it will increase your survive ability, which is needed on harder difficulties.

Critical Condition – This Perk increases the duration of your Cold Blood buff. You want this to be as long as you can, so this is a must have Perk for this Build. Max it out as soon as you can.

Coldest Blood – This Perk increases the max number of stacks you can have by 1, up to 4 from the 3 if you maxed out Cold Blood itself. Every stack you can gain just makes you stronger, so take this one.

Assassin – This Stealth Perk increases your damage against Human enemies, and there are a ton of humans in Cyberpunk 2077. You want every Perk you can when it comes to damage, so this one is an easy pick.

Defensive Clotting – Another Perk that will help keep you alive, but this one increases your Armor with each stack of Cold Blood. You can never have enough defense, so this is good to have.

Frozen Precision – This Perk just increases your Headshot damage, plain and simple. Many of your shots will be headshots (even with Smart Targeting), so this will increase your damage when that happens.


Cold and Calculating – This Perk gives you a chance of gaining a Cold Blood stack when you Critically Hit. You do lot’s of Critical Hits with this Build so that synergizes nicely.

From The Shadows – This Stealth Perk is amazing because it ups your Crit Chance by 50% for the first several seconds of combat. This allows you to absolutely blow away the first few enemies near you before they even knew what hit them!

Coolagulant – This Perk makes you lose only one stack of Cold Blood at a time, further increasing the duration you maintain its buffs. This one can make your buffs last much much longer, so take it.

Unbreakable – This Perk does the same thing that Coldest Blood does, and will increase your max stacks from 4 to 5 if you maxed Cold Blood and took Coldest Blood. The more stacks you can have at once the stronger you get.

Cheat Death – This Perk reduces incoming damage by half if your Health falls below 50% for several seconds, and has a 1 minute cooldown. This is amazing, because this will happen often and it will keep you alive when it does.

Merciless – This Perk increases not only your Crit Chance, but also your Crit Damage as long as you have Cold Blood activated. This can be a staggering amount of damage, so you’ll definitely want this one.

Maximum Carnage Equipment

In this section we’ll take a look at what equipment is needed to play the Maximum Carnage Build. We’ll begin with Weapons first since they are very important to this Build.


As I mentioned earlier we’ll be using the Carnage Shotgun for this Build because it fires double the pellets of nearly every other Shotgun, allowing you to kill most enemies in one shot. The biggest trouble I had when putting this Build together was finding a Shotgun that could actually kill enemies on the hardest difficulty in one shot, but thankfully the Carnage Shotgun does just that. In some cases it’s well overkill, but I find it finishes enemies off at short to midrange, where some pellets are sure to miss, better than other Shotguns.

This Shotgun does not have a scope, which I think is actually great since you really don’t want one, and instead just uses the gun’s sights. Additionally, at Legendary quality it has 4 Mod slots, and I like to put Countermass in at least one of these slots to help with recoil when aiming, but you don’t have to. However, make sure you add Crunch Mods in order to increase your damage of the weapon. The schematic for these can be purchased from Wilson at the 2nd Amendment near your apartment at the beginning of the game. Note that Weapon Mods have random quality, so you’ll have to craft several to get Rare ones, and you don’t need Technical Ability to do this.


Armor-wise, you want to look for bonuses to Crit Chance or Crit Damage ideally. However, you will need a shit-ton of Armor for this Build, so if you don’t have either of those Mods on your Armor, then make sure you craft Armadillo to add more Armor. You can find this Mod at one of the Assaults in Progress happening in the southeastern tip of the Northside District. The Armor value it provides is based on the level you are, so make sure to craft new ones as you level up, and like Weapon Mods, the quality is random. So craft several.


There is some great Cyberware for this Build, and I’ll go through them here. Probably the most obvious choice for this Build is the Berserk Cyberware, which allows you to increase your Armor, Resistances, Health and Stamina for a short time. This will help keep you alive through the worst of the gunfire, and you should start off each combat with it if possible. However, you cannot hack if you use this, and you don’t have to use it. If you like hacking then I recommend not taking it, since there are some great Quickhacks.

I also like to use Kerenzikov and Synaptic Accelerator which allow you to slow time occasionally during and at the beginning of combat. They are a ton of fun to use, and add a bit of flare to the shooting of this Build.

The Threat Detector Mod really helps with this Build because it allows you see targets that are hostile to you, allowing you to plan your next move while your reload.

Another Cyberware you’ll absolutely want for this Build is Subdermal Armor, since you’ll be taking a ton of gunfire, and this helps keep you alive. It doesn’t have any requirements, so anyone can slot it.

Additionally, once you gain some Intelligence you’ll be able to use some great Cyberware: Limbic System Enhancement and Visual Cortex Support which increase Critical Hit Chance, and Critical Hit Damage. They are some of the best Cyberware in the game.

Final Tips

Learn to shoot at enemies that are farther away than you should be able to hit them when you have no place to cover. This will knock them down, preventing you from taking further fire while you close the distance to them. You can shoot much further than you think with this Build, and just a couple pellets need to hit to knock them down.

Switch targets immediately after firing if you are close up, even if you don’t kill the target. A lot of times they will have like 10 or 20 percent of their health left, but they’ll be knocked down and have Poison or Burn if you have Chemical or Thermal damage on your Carnage. This means they’ll bleed out before they get up, so there is not much worry.

Turrets can be a pain in the ass with this Build, but you can ignore them until the end of most fights since they won’t kill you easily. It usually takes 2 or 3 shotgun blasts to kill them, and it’s not worth it if you’re taking gunfire from other enemies while doing so. Clear out the other enemies, and then come back and finish them off.

Reloading can be a pain in the butt with this Build, and but remember with the right Perks you can Reload while Sprinting at your target, so there is no need to slow down. Keep moving fast, and get to your target while you reload, saving time and keeping your Cold Blood buff up. This will be easier to do later in the game, but you need to stay on the move early on to keep it going.

Lastly, learn to hipfire with the weapon, especially during reloads. You don’t always need to aim to get a good shot off, so learn how to fire out of a reload to kill someone that is unloading into you. Sometimes it’s worth interrupting the reload to get a kill.

Stay tuned for more of Cyberpunk 2077 Build Guides, and be sure to drop by the Cyberpunk 2077 wiki for all your Night City needs. Or you can drop by our Twitch Channel and say hi as we stream the game over the next couple of weeks! And make sure to check out our Early Impressions and Character Creation!

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1 response to “Cyberpunk 2077 Builds: Maximum Carnage (Shotgun) Character Guide Weapons Perks”

  1. Hello and thank you for this guide. I notice that there are still 15 pts of perks to ask. In your opinion, what advantage can they get, since there are no longer any uses in the manufacturing advantage because profitability starts at 18 points?

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