CD Projekt Red’s next major title, Cyberpunk 2077, might still be an RPG where choice is paramount, but it’s nonetheless a massive departure from the developer’s previous efforts on The Witcher series. Instead of lush forests, picturesque fields, and towering mountains, the devs are creating a world set in the concrete jungle of Northern California in the distant future. Unlike a lot of fiction focusing on a darker future, Cyberpunk 2077 aspires to move away from grimdark and towards a more exuberant but equally cynical vision for a future where capitalism and technology has run amok.
Inspired and influenced by the original Cyberpunk 2020 pen and paper RPG, 2077 extrapolates many of the themes and iconography while capitalizing on the developer’s skillset for crafting dense and visually rich environments. We saw a near hour-long gameplay demo behind closed doors at E3 2018, showcasing many of the game’s systems and locales, and came out impressed by the scope of CD Projekt Red’s ambitious project. But now, gameplay has just been revealed during CD Projekt Red’s livestream, allowing everyone to see just what all the fuss was about during E3 2018.
Set in an alternate universe 2077, you’ll take on the role of V, a vagabond and hustler living in the bustling Night City located between SF and LA. You undertake sketchy gigs to fund cybernetic enhancements and pay off debts from society’s most unsavory characters, and dive further into the seedy underbelly of the technopolis and its surrounding areas–all which are run by factions and mega corporations vying for power. Unlike CD Projekt Red’s previous games, your protagonist, V, is entirely who you want them to be. At the beginning of the game, you’ll be able to create a custom character–choosing their gender, characteristics, and picking backstories–along with tweaking particular stats.
The open world of Night City is a massive urban environment encompassing several regions with different warring factions . With no load times (according to the devs), you’ll be able to freely explore the city both on foot and in your vehicle, even engaging in high-speed shootouts on freeways, tightly packed streets, and alleys–leading to some of the more unsavory parts of town.
During the demo, V traveled to a gang hideout with their close associate Jackie–an imposing but ever jovial ally–to find a missing cyborg. Things quickly went south as the player engaged in a shootout with a gang of scavengers running a black market harvesting operation. Action looked punchy and impactful, with V sliding in and out of cover–with bits of the environment, including walls, tearing apart from all the gunfire–to get the jump on the bandits. Sticking to its RPG roots, attack damage numbers pop up in real-time when attacking enemies, which takes into account the statistics of your current loadout. After taking out the gang, V and Jackie bring their target outside to await pickup from the Trauma Team, a crew of heavily armed EMTs assigned to the super-wealthy of Night City.
Experiencing all these aspects of Cyberpunk lore took some getting used to, as key terms and locations were referenced quite often. However, the core concepts behind them are familiar enough to get a handle of. The heavy sci-fi aesthetic, where advanced technology gives people some extraordinary abilities, gives it a very familiar vibe akin to CD Projekt’s past fantasy games. Seeing the setting in action showcased the game’s superb visual style and aesthetic, which feels like a heavy contrast to other dark and gloomy cyberpunk fiction like Blade Runner, Altered Carbon, or Johnny Mnemonic. In Cyberpunk 2077, there’s a lot more variety on display, which plays with many of the sub-genre’s familiar tropes.
Cyberpunk is deeply entrenched in its PC RPG roots, and The Witcher devs wanted to lean in harder on the more adaptive and varied styles of storytelling from their past games, with many of your decisions altering the course of your character’s journey in strange ways. 2077 features an involved dialog system, where you’ll be able to make choices that can determine your path towards a number of different outcome. In the dialogue system, you can show off different facets of V’s personality as you appear imposing, curious, or outright lie to other characters in order to get what you want. However, certain characters are able to turn the tables and use some similar tricks against you.
During a character interaction–which can be avoided entirely if you choose–V is taken captive by a Milicorp agent who has one of her bodyguards hack into the main character. This invasive hack made certain dialog choices more difficult, with the bodyguards being able to tell when the main character was telling the truth or not. After cutting a deal with the corporate agent with some non-confrontational options, V headed into an engagement with the Maelstrom gang, a group so heavily upgraded that they have the appearance of neon-lit ghouls.
Cyberpunk 2077 Xbox E3 2018 Trailer
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