By Noe Ponce (Inohe)
As a journalist, I’ve previewed many a game but have never left a press presentation speechless, unable to digest what I just saw. That is until my 50-minute gameplay demo with Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt RED’s latest and greatest FPS RPG. I tried discussing what I saw in the presentation with a friend of mine but literally had no idea where to begin. CD Projekt RED has clearly been hard at work since Cyberpunk’s first reveal six years ago. The game blew me away and I only saw one mission.
As you might know already, Cyberpunk 2077 takes place almost entirely in the first-person perspective. The only exceptions are cut-scenes, conversations, and occasionally while driving (yes, you can drive in this game). While I’m used to the first-person perspective in RPGs, it was odd seeing it used in a game by the same guys that made The Witcher. This was not a negative mind you, just unexpected. Character creation looked complex but fun! Instead of choosing a class, players can give V, the game’s protagonist, stats, skills and abilities that fit their playstyle. Some such skills include hacking (which sounded a lot like futuristic lock-picking) and engineering. There’s even an option to create a backstory or “life path” as CDPR called it. Players can also choose V’s gender. The devs made her a girl during my presentation so I’ll be referring to her as such.
CD Projekt RED made it very clear early on in the presentation that Cyberpunk 2077 is a mature game for mature players. This is most apparent in the crime-ridden city V lives in and her chosen profession. She’s an up-and-coming urban mercenary known for taking on jobs no one else will, a useful trait in a city where crime rules the streets.
Night City, a sprawling dystopia set somewhere in northern California, is where V calls home. While the actual size of Night City remains to be seen, it’s still a wonder to behold. CDPR stated they have been working very hard to increase the realism of Night City and dubbed it their most realistic environment yet. It’s a fully realized world with no loading screens and hundreds of civilian NPCs out and about: an RPG fan’s wet dream.
As V’s main hub, Night City is a player’s one-stop shop for everything in the game (so far anyway). It’s where she sleeps after her nights of debauchery, meets with clients, accepts missions and buys guns, clothes, and cyberware. Cyberwares are technological augmentations and implants commonly found in people throughout Night City, V included. They play a major role in not only the game but character development as well. The only way to install such devices, however, is with the help of a Ripperdoc.
They’re sort of half-doctors half-engineers and can do everything from stitch you up after a fight to install your latest piece of cyberware. V visited her preferred ripperdoc, Doctor Victor, during the demo. Based on V’s request, the good doctor updated her optic’s operating system and even upgraded her hand. The upgraded cyberware made a huge impact too. V was now able to zoom-in on things and scan objects and enemies for various pieces of information, Horizon Zero Dawn style. Her hand upgrade, the Subdermal Grip, buffed her grip strength, increasing how much damage her guns do and even added an ammo count to her HUD. The coolest part though was that you could actually watch him work on you as he modifies your body in real time.
With V’s new tech installed, she was finally ready to begin her next mission. It was a big one too. She was contacted by Dexter DeShawn, one of the best fixers in town. Fixers are essentially the middleman between those needing something done in Night City and the mercenaries who’ll do the job. This includes anything from burglaries and kidnappings to trafficking and assassinations…for the right price of course. And Dexter has one hell of a mission in store. If V and her mountain of a partner, Jackie Welles, can pull it off though, they’ll finally be working for the big leagues.
Combat in Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the few things I could easily wrap my head around. While there was, of course, a few exceptions, at the end of the day players were still ducking behind cover and taking out enemies from afar. Combat looked fluid and fun though. V can swap between weapons on the fly, some of the weapons fire unique ammo that can ricochet off walls or home-in on enemies, and there’s even a “bullet-time” functionality where V is able to slow down time in battle. The real beauty of Cyberpunk 2077, however, is that there are multiple ways to approach nearly everything, including combat.
Should players not wish V to be the guns blazing, terminator-style mercenary, they could pursue a different method of combat. For example, in the presentation, we got to see the stealthy Mantis arm blades in action, as well as a late-game wall-running skill. V was essentially a ninja, making death an up-close and personal experience for her enemies. We also saw V jack into an enemy gang’s personal network, remotely jamming their equipment and unlocking previously sealed doors in their facility. CDPR noted that combat really all depends on a player’s skill load-out and I would assume, weapons/cyberware. This is all assuming the player chooses to fight in the first place, however…
As I stated previously, the best part of Cyberpunk 2077 is the freedom to approach the game how you see fit. CDPR brought this up a couple of times during the gameplay presentation but I didn’t realize how strongly they meant it until the demo was done. During the play-through, V had to interact and deal with many people. Similar to The Witcher, V could say a variety of things during these conversations and receive different outcomes. That’s not what blew me away though. CDPR told us post-demo that V could have not talked to the one person that caused her to fight-off a gang in the first place. She got a loan from this person during the presentation but could have simply earned the money herself apparently. Granted that might have taken a bit of time, but maybe then she could have befriended the gang leader and worked with them in the future. Who really knows?
All I know is that a release date for Cyberpunk 2077 can’t get announced soon enough! So far we know it’s coming out for PC, PS4 and Xbox One but the closest thing we have to a date is, “when it’s ready.” While I’ll be surprised if it’s this year, the game HAS been in development for over six years now. And based on what I saw at E3, it can’t be much longer.
Cyberpunk 2077 blew my expectations out of the water and then some. It remains one of the best games we saw at E3 this year; definitely the best RPG. It will appeal to so many types of gamers too! RPGers, Shooter fans, Action-Adventurers…they’ll all find something to love about Cyberpunk 2077. So be sure to keep an eye on OnRPG for any upcoming Cyberpunk updates or insights. You should also visit the game’s official website for more information. Rock on.