Intelligence determines your netrunning proficiency. Every level of Intelligence will:
|Increase Cyberdeck RAM capacity by 4%.|
|Increase quickhack damage by 0.5%|
|Increase quickhack duration by 1%.|
Your Intelligence attribute also determines the maximum level your Breach Protocol and Quickhacking skills can reach.
While Technical Ability cover’s a character’s affinity towards mechanical devices, Intelligence determines your character’s competence in the digital world, a realm of code and numbers, not grease and metal. By default the game seems to force V into something of a netrunner role (although your actual commitment to this profession varies, depending on your investments), and it’s perhaps not surprising that it may just be the most useful attribute in the game. The term “useful” here is a bit of a double-edged sword, and aims to take nothing away from Body and Reflexes (although Technical Ability and Cool on the other hand…); you can still achieve great gains with even a moderate investment in Body and Reflexes, but Intelligence is more of an all-or-nothing affair.
Intelligence governs two unequal skills, Breach Protocol and Quickhacking, and while Quickhacking has more combat utility (while also being far more demanding, in terms of attribute and perk investment), it synergizes well with Breach Protocol. Breach Protocol generally covers your ability to infiltrate networks and install daemons (long-term, network-wide debuffs), while Quickhacking covers the deployment of quickhacks - which are the closest thing Cyberpunk has to spells. It’s hard to overstate the difference in power between a character who has invested nothing in Intelligence, and one with max Intelligence, a legendary operating system, and legendary quickhacks. Almost anybody can pick up a legendary revolver, add a scope and some damage/Crit Chance mods, and become a stealthy headshotting machine, but to truly see the best of what quickhacking has to offer, significant investments have to be made.
Not only are the skills governed by Intelligence potent, but cyberware with Intelligence requirements are as well. These include RAM Managers (regenerate RAM when RAM falls to a certain threshold), Ex-Disks (increase max RAM), Visual Cortex Supports (increases Crit Damage) and Limbic System Enhancements (increases Crit Chance). Surprisingly, none of the netrunner legendary operating systems have an Intelligence requirement, and simply dropping some eddies on one is a fine way to boost your hacking abilities, regardless of what your Intelligence is. It’s also worth noting that the legendary Crit Chance/Crit Damage cyberware provide huge boosts to these stats (+25% and +45%, respectively), making Intelligence not only desirable for what it’ll allow you to do with daemons and quickhacks, but it’s a pretty damn good investment for the damage boosts, as well. Suffice to say, it synergizes well with Reflexes, as it’ll make your critical headshots even more overpowered, and having the ability to use quickhacks like Reboot Optics and Ping make stealth much, much easier.
If you have any inclination to use daemons or quickhacks to debilitate, detect and/or defeat enemies, or if you just want significant, passive boosts to Crit Chance and Crit Damage, Intelligence is a no-brainer. Pun intended.