by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
NIGHT CITY, 2077
This year at Gamescom 2018 I was very lucky to see CD PROJEKT RED’s presentation of Cyberpunk 2077, highly anticipated by a huge number of gamers (including me). We were shown the same demo that played at E3 this year, albeit with a few updated changes. The demo started with V, a merc and the game’s protagonist, searching for a girl that had gone missing, with her associate. As we learnt from the earlier screens, V can either be a man or a woman and can select a variety of traits, the most exciting of which to me, were the narrative traits. In a similar vein to Mass Effect, there were three choices: ‘Childhood hero’, ‘Key life event’ and ‘Reason for being in Night City’. I can only assume that these will have a significant impact upon the narrative, especially the third, which would seemingly alter a big chunk of the games main story. There are also no classes in Cyberpunk 2077, you can make your ‘class’ as you go, which allows you to keep options open and better tailor your character.
The first thing that struck me in the first-person gameplay was how well-integrated the HUD is; it doesn’t feel like a game HUD, but more like POV with visual cybernetic implants. This idea is enhanced more by features which are added to the HUD when you get new implants. The implants we saw V get from her ripper doc allowed her to zoom in, but also to scan enemies, bots and turrets, analysing for weaknesses. There are also black market ripper docs, who install military grade cybernetics (I would wager the mantis blades are among them).
We saw V and her partner burst into the apartment, V taking a combat stim that allowed her to jump, then fire off shots in slo-mo (somewhat similar to the time-freeze in Dishonored). The combat was bloody, but not absurdly so and as bullets hit their targets, the enemy health bars rattled down, damage indicators flashing up as they did. As V walked through the apartment we also saw a fair share of nudity; naked women, violently stripped of cybernetic implants, victims of the cybernetic black market. Cyberpunk 2077 has been described as a “mature game for mature audiences”; nudity and violence are frequent and sex plus the choice of who you have sex with is a fair component of the game. Night City is a dark place, ruled by extreme gangs and greedy corporations and these aspects reflect that darkness.
VARIETY OF APPROACH
In the mission that followed we saw interaction between these two central sets of factions; a gang of psychopathic cyber-junkies called Maelstrom, stole some military hardware from a corp. V is hired by a crime lord to get that military tech. She has the choice of going to the corp agent investigating and making a deal, going to Maelstrom, playing both, bursting in and shooting everyone, or a tonne of other variations upon those choices. This huge variety of approach is what I would call the ‘Witchery-ist’ part of the game; it’s the world depth and decision making that has actual impact on the factions who live within the city plus the characters you know. While driving through the streets, V was set upon by the implant harvesters who she attacked earlier and that’s just one of the ways your actions echo and have repercussions. Interesting characters also took the forefront, whether it was the desperate and ruthless corp agent, the resplendent crime lord, or the cyborg-esque gang leader of Maelstrom. This is just another facet of Cyberpunk 2077’s world building.
There is a large variety of weaponry in the game, but some of the pieces showcased were: a high tech sawn-off capable of shooting through walls, a katana that emitted a bullet-stopping magnetic field, a versatile machine pistol and the iconic mantis blades. This was just a small fraction of the weaponry on offer. Weaponry can also be customized at one of many gunsmiths throughout the city. There were also some late game skills showcased, such as the ability to ricochet bullets off walls and home bullets at enemies once targeted. Also in true cyberpunk style, everyone has a port which they can ‘jack’ into (similar to Ghost in the Shell) and one late game skill was jacking into an enemy and hacking his squad. This allows you a variety of mischief, including making their guns jam. It was also revealed that driving would be a big part of the game, with a selection of bikes and cars. I was pleasantly surprised to see a first person view for driving as well and many scenes that took place inside cars.
Cyberpunk 2077 is still a fair way off, but I was blown away by the level of depth that was showcased in the game. The city looks amazing; a dark, vibrant metropolis, inhabited with a huge variety of characters. The implied possibilities for customization, in terms of style, narrative, class, vehicles and implants, is going to make for an incredibly diverse player experience. Now I’m older I rarely get hyped for specific games anymore, but this is one game that I am jacked to play. If it can successfully fulfil on a large scale, what the demo already does; it’s going to be quite special.