The 50 minute live gameplay demonstration of Cyberpunk 2077 threw a ton of information at us at E3 2019. First, to learn more about Keanu Reeves' character Johnny Silverhand, check out this article, and check out this article for more information about how you can customize the main character V. There's a ton of info, particularly quite a bit on combat, so let's dive in.
Night City's Pacifica District
The demo took place in the Pacifica district of Night City. Pacifica was created to be the tourist section of Night City with a ton of high-class resorts and other attractions to bring people in. Eventually, investors pulled out and Pacifica became an unfinished wasteland.
Pacifica has become a lawless area full of crime and violence. The corporations have no interest in it anymore and the government just let's it be. You aren't going to see law enforcement patrolling in Pacifica. Rather, the various gangs take on their own justice from their palaces of unfinished resorts.
There have been plenty of video games with dangerous and "lawless" areas to explore, but aside from a darker aesthetic they usually don't give off that impression. In this demo, though, Pacifica was definitely dangerous. When first walking out into the world, V goes by a guy randomly shooting a rifle into the air yelling something. The denizens of Pacifica didn't even flinch, though. In the background were large ships shooting into and blowing up floors of some highrise. Again, with those around taking little notice.
I bring up Pacifica because it is a great example of the attention to detail on display in Cyberpunk 2077. I don't need to spend much time describing that, as you can see it in the gameplay demo from last year's E3 they released to the public. The same level of detail for that part of Night City is on display here for Pacifica as well. I could watch that video 10 times over and find new and interesting things.
The Voodoo Boys and Cyberpunk 2077's Dialogue System
The real meat of the demo was to go over the gameplay, combat specifically. However, they did show off the dialogue system quite a bit. The questline they were going to had V doing a job for the Voodoo Boys, a group of netrunners—hackers essentially—that operate in Pacifica. V makes a deal to do a favor for them, and then he'd be given a meeting with the leader of the Voodoo Boys who may be able to tell V what the mysterious chip implanted in their head may be. (For more info on that, click here.)
As an RPG based on a pen and paper RPG, the dialogue and choices work as you would expect. Some are based on attribute checks, skill checks, and even some on the background of your character, such as whether or not they are from the streets. Nothing new to systems many will be familiar with already.
V is sent to this massive unfinished Mall, where another gang has taken up residence. They have been tasked by the Voodoo boys to kill the leader. The added tension is that the Voodoo Boys can see everything from V's point of view. Earlier, one of their requirements was for V to let a Voodoo Boy jack in to their personal cybernetics, which they set up basically a sort of spyware. That's a huge risk for V considering the skill level the Voodoo Boys have in technology and hacking. Nevertheless, V goes on their way to do the task knowing they have to do exactly what the Voodoo Boys say.
Cyberpunk 2077 Hacking
Once it came time to take on some enemies, the demo swapped a few times between two different character builds for V. The first was a netrunner who was skilled in technology and hacking. They could do some interesting things with the hacking, many of which you've probably seen before in a game.
One of the obstacles to get around was a security camera. Because of that V's high level in hacking and technology (and possibly a cybernetics upgrade) they could scan the environment to see where a nearby access panel to hack into its system could be. Once found, a hacking minigame commenced, which looked pretty interesting but was unexplained.
With hacking, it's not a simple pass or fail, either. There is a progression to it. The more successful the hack, the more control you have over whatever it is you hacked. So, certain options may be restricted to you depending on how well you do it.
They had V succeed and they snuck on by turning the camera off from a distance. They also used that same hacked in system to get into a nearby door.
As for the combat, the netrunner is definitely more of a stealth character. The gang in the mall are portrayed as your standard meatheads, so they had things like weights around. To take out one enemy, V waited until they went over to the high tech bench press, hacked into it, and forced all the weight to fall and crush an enemy's head.
In another instance, one of the enemy's was sparring with a boxing robot, as has been seen in some trailers released so far. V turned up the difficulty level essentially, which led to the robot landing a massive blow to that enemy's head, knocking them out if not killing them. That also led the few other nearby enemy's to investigate what just happened.
Hacking was used in a few more ways, but those were the most inventive. There are certainly going to be a ton of different ways to use hacking to your benefit to get through an area as easy as possible or without detection.
Cyberpunk 2077 Combat
Then we see this same scenario but with a different character. This one is built to be incredibly strong and just wants to kick some ass really. So instead of the security camera and door being a problem, she just goes up to the door and rips it off the hinges.
The first enemy she sees, yea they get blown away with her gun. The shootout begins, with V leaning in and out of cover—it's not cover based—as they blew the enemies away. Enemies have health bars and all the different attributes you'd expect, like armor, etc, and where you hit them depends on the damage you do.
As for the guns themselves and how they handle, it's hard to say much other than seeing enemies get hit was always super satisfying. Without hands-on time, it's hard to say anything definitively about the gunplay.
As another example of the two different playstyles, there was a moment where the enemy had a turret. The netrunner could hack it to disable it or turn it on V's enemies. They of course chose the latter. As for the strong V, they just ripped that turret off of where it was and walked around with it, obliterating enemies.
One of the coolest weapons shown off was Nanowire. Nanowire, the best way I can think of it, is like a whip if it were a lightsaber. It cuts through stuff pretty easy and leaves behind the burns a lightsaber would. It was pretty cool to see in action.
It ends with a really cool boss fight where V must then go to another area to find a netrunner who was messing with them while taking down this gang. Turns out that netrunner was a member of the Netwatch, the government's cybercrime taskforce. V speaks to him and he says the Voodoo Boys are playing them, using them for their own ends.
Cyberpunk 2077 Story Strings
That turns out to be true and the Voodoo Boys try to kill V remotely through the neural link but V survives. Then V makes it back to the Voodoo Boys, who are surprised to see them alive, and V gets the meeting with the Voodoo Boys leader. I mention this because an interesting character by the name of Alt Cunningham.
The Voodoo Boys leader states that Alt's digital ghost is beyond the blackwall, a part of cyberspace nobody ever returns from if they go beyond. The mystery of Alt's importance, I believe, will be a big part of Cyberpunk 2077's story.
All in all, it was another stellar demo. Just like last year, I hope in the next couple of months CD Projekt RED will release it to the public. It packs in a ton of information and I for one cannot wait for April 2020.
Some other things I noticed or was told:
- You can own multiple vehicles.
- Vehicle huds, when in first-person, use the actual displays within the vehicles themselves.
- There are multiple music stations to choose from, featuring many different genres made for the game.
- You can go through the entire game without killing anyone.
- Beyond the very first loading screen to get into the game, Cyberpunk 2077 has no loading screens.
- You can go into cyberspace. It's represented as a very glitchy looking, computerized version of the world where the our laws of physics don't seem to really apply.
- Four resistances your character can have: Physical, Thermal, Chemical, and Electrical.
- There were over 20 perks on the screen shown, but these are all that I have written down (aside from the many different gun types): engineering, assassinations, athletics, melee, hacking, technology. Upgrading the handgun perk increased its damage
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2019 Coverage Hub.