Cyberpunk 2077 was easily my most anticipated title at E3 2018, and my already high expectations are just a mere speck of what they once were now that I saw 50 minutes of gameplay. It’s one of the most immersive games I’ve seen, taking the best parts of GTA V and some of the best RPG choices in any game and wrapping it all up in one of the most gorgeous presentations yet.
In Cyberpunk, you’ll take the role of V, an up and coming hired gun attempting to get into the upper echelons of Night City’s underworld. Corporations rule everything, the city is plagued by many different gangs, and the sole purpose of any citizen, aligned with the all powerful and evil corporations or not, is to just survive. V’s found their route in the criminal world.
There’s a lot that sticks with me after what I saw, but what my mind always wanders back to is Night City. What we saw was a future metropolis packed with people and vehicles going about their way in every direction. The density of actions going on can’t be understated, including the variety of people on display. From the street urchins to the business executives, they’re all there and all unique.
The most memorable thing was just the sound walking through the city. Loud music played, vehicles were loud, people talking were loud … it seemed to be intended to be overwhelming. Anyone who’s walked a busy street in a big city knows how loud it can get, and Cyberpunk 2077 is the first time I’ve seen that realized in a game.
Cyberpunk 2077 will even give you the chance to change the language of the crowd chatter if you so wish. Do you want to understand what they say or hear the languages of Night City? [Edit: While seeing so many E3 games, I mixed this tidbit of information up with something else. Shadow of the Tomb Raider will have this feature, my apologies.]
At one point the demo went through a market that was full of different vendors from various cultures, and as V would run by, different kinds of music would be blaring. The overwhelming sounds really helped sell Night City as an actual place and that it is just so much bigger than any individual.
The crafted world is a big reason that Cyberpunk 2077 is so intensely immersive. To help that even further, Cyberpunk is a first-person RPG, and taking some inspiration from noir, everything is seen from their point of view. And I mean that quite literally, as at one point in the demo V was getting a tech upgrade for their eye, which consisted of removing and replacing it. It all took place from that point of view.
It looked as though any permanent UI element was directly tied to something in-game. When driving in a car, for example, your speed and all other related info is displayed on the windshield in a fantastic ’80s aesthetic. Anything V can scan is due to some upgrade you chose to give her, not anything to do with the game giving it to you. So, even some of the way the game looks for some players should be at least a little different.
Night City’s extremes between cultures was no better put on display than the mission the demo opened with. V and a friend Jackie were infiltrating an apartment of a group that was harvesting cyber enhancements from people taken against their will, the apartment littered with bodies. They were there to rescue someone, who they find and deliver to the Trauma Team. The Trauma Team is a group of paramedics equipped with guns, their sole purpose to rescue and resuscitate their client when activated. That’s some expensive insurance and perfectly serves to show what kind of world Cyberpunk will take place in.
Just imagine a world where the wealthy felt it was necessary to have an elite team of medics and mercenaries on standby to rescue them, just in case they get into something terrible. A team that will literally die trying to rescue you. Those on the streets live in danger, but those in the high-rises are vulnerable too. Often the powerful are the most dangerous, after all.
Most of what was shown of was some shooter gameplay, but CD Projekt RED have emphasized that this is a first-person RPG, not a first-person shooter. You will have plenty of opportunities to customize your character the way you want to play, starting first with how they look and with the promise of an in-depth backstory creator. CDPR said they won’t force you to choose a class either, instead letting you pick and choose what it is you want your character to be along the way. Your character will be your own unique hybrid of all they have on offer, with the ability to focus on fighting in the streets or hacking networks.
Those choices are not just choosing abilities for your character, either. They are often attached to cyberware, like the eye upgrade mentioned above. In that, V was getting new cyberware tech for their eye that then gave them the ability to scan items and even have a minimal HUD to display their ammunition.
These sorts of choices in gameplay come up with the choice of clothing you wear as well, of course, which offer different resistances or buffs of some kind but also affect the less tangible street cred of V. So what you wear is not just for combat but will play a big part in how people view your character.
There was a lot of combat variety shown as well. Of course there was a lot of shooting, but even there had a lot going on. If you have the correct sort of weapon and bullets, as well as the cyberware upgrade to display this, you can ricochet bullets around corners to hit enemies in hiding. With the cyberware upgrade you can see the path the bullet will take and kill your enemy. Bullets will go through certain materials as well, limbs can be shot off, heads exploded, and more.
Aside from guns, some other interesting abilities were shown off. First, at one point V seemed to have some sort of telekinetic ability to throw something at another. If you remember the original Cyberpunk 2077 teaser, the woman in that had these blades coming out of her forearms., Well, those are of course weapons you can use to stab your way through enemies and even climb walls.
Movement was also key in the combat. V was sliding around and into enemies, climbing walls, jumping over debris, and more. It appeared that if you wanted to be a fast flying force through the battlefield, you certainly have the ability to.
They didn’t get into the ways you can get around shooting a gun, but the arm-blades (the names of which escape me) offered a new style of melee play and investing in something like an engineering ability will give your character the opportunity to do things like turn security systems against your enemies. I’m sure more information will come on that later, but seeing the demo and the amount of effort put into the gunplay and its variety, that certainly seems to be the focus first.
To keep this from being crazy long, here are just some quick facts about Cyberpunk 2077:
- It is played in first-person.
- Classes aren’t set, so you aren’t stuck in any one. You pick and choose what you want to do with your character.
- There will be an in-depth character creator and backstory creator.
- It is fully open-world, with Night City having six districts.
- The city is full of activities all around, and you will of course be able to steal cars.
- Exploration is designed to be vertical, with many megabuildings with a ton to explore.
- You will be able to invest in properties around the city to spend your money.
- All of Night City is connected and there’s the net to explore in addition to the city itself.
- There are many different kinds of guns with different properties, using a common, uncommon, epic, etc system.
- Many quests have several outcomes and paths to complete the quest.
- Dialogue is somewhat similar to The Witcher 3 in the sense there are quite a few options to choose from with different consequences.
- Some of the dialogue is based on what you know and what abilities you have.
In the end, I walked out in awe of what I just saw and an intense desire to see more. “Holy shit” is the most succinct way I know how to sum up how I felt walking out of Cyberpunk 2077. It was one of those moments where I felt I was getting a glimpse at one of not only gaming’s best upcoming games, but something truly significant.