Cyberpunk 2077 E3 Impression
Physically and mentally exhausted, I shuffle into a darkened theater in a small meeting room away from the bustling halls and concourses. In spite of my exhaustion, I’m ready. The game it feels like I have been waiting ages for, I’m finally going to get an opportunity to see. I nestle in an uncomfortable seat squeezed in next to excited others in equal discomfort. But that doesn’t seem to matter now. The thing everyone in the room is focused on is a screen, on which is projected a colorful backdrop with bold text that proclaims Cyberpunk 2077.
The long in-development new title from CD Projekt RED following The Witcher 3, Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person, open world RPG set in dystopian universe in the style of its namesake. While the demonstration wasn’t hands on, CD Projekt RED offered a meaty forty-five minute demonstration of the game, giving a look at multiple combat scenarios, the open-ended nature of the game’s conversations, and a mere glimpse of what may be the most detailed world ever built in a video game. It’s a radical departure from The Witcher series but CD Projekt RED seems to have taken to change quicker and more adeptly than many of its peers.
The demo began by showing an incredibly in-depth character creator that featured both standard things like physical attribute sliders and stats to more unique elements that inform your character, such as who their childhood hero was. The game does not have classes, opting instead to provide more fluid player agency than what was available in The Witcher. The character –known as V — settled on was an urban mercenary who plays by her own rules. The game opens with her and her friend doing a job to rescue a missing girl. This opening action piece introduced some of the mechanics that would expanded upon later, but it was most notable for setting the tone with frank depictions of squalor and nudity. That, and to highlight just how smooth the gunplay looks. I wish I could speak personally to how it feels, but it was astounding seeing how smooth the game looked during the initial firefight.
After completing the mission, the game jumps ahead three days to V’s friend calling to inform her of a big time job an infamous crime boss wants help with. But before he is willing to let the two on the team, they have to prove their worthiness by doing a favor for him. The favor takes up the remainder of the demo and it’s a considerable chunk of gameplay. This is also the first chance the game takes to show off the open world of the game and it looks incredible. The scale, the detail, the sheer number of NPCs walking down the street give the impression of a lively city that I am unsure has ever been represented this well in a video game before. Colorful ads litter the walls and street corners like many games but, in a perfect blend of theme and function, interacting with the ads will update the HUD with where exactly to buy that item. This is a world that I actively want to inhabit, a feeling I have not felt in quite some time.
The first stop is preparation. V goes to meet with her ripper, a street doctor who who gives people their body modifications. V is given a new eye, with an advanced ability to scan the environment, and sub-dermal grips on her hands to increase melee damage and reduce recoil when firing weapons. She also makes contact with the representative of a powerful corporation who wants something from her. After driving to meet the contact — yes, you can drive vehicles in this game — V ends up going into a trap where she is subdued and forced to tell the truth via a device that plugs into the hole in a USB port — seemingly everyone has these — in her head. This is where the breadth of options presented by the game’s dialogue system become available. The ability to lie still appears, but V’s captors are able to correctly identify it as a lie. Other options also appear to attempt to break free, such as pulling the gun off of the guard holding her down. Ultimately, what the representative is looking for is at the place the crime boss wants V to go anyway, and she gives V the means to get what she needs: a credit chip worth fifty thousand “Eddies”.
Now armed with a nonviolent solution to the problem, V and her friend arrive at the compound to make a fair trade with a gang that has a near-religious obsession with replacing their human parts with machine ones. The deal goes bad when it turns out the chip the representative gave V is bugged and locks down the compound. At this point the game mission turns into a truncated Deus Ex-style level. This is also the point at which the developers mentioned they gave V some end-game abilities. Soon, she is double-jumping, air-dashing, utilizing a drug-enabled bullet time, and equipping smart guns with the ability to have shots track to their target. The finale is a fight against a man donning a suit of power armor and a big laser. CD Projekt RED says this is only a small taste of the full range of options that will be available to the player.
It’s not difficult to put into words what exactly is so appealing about Cyberpunk 2077. It’s a fresh new look in an E3 dominated by very good but generally safe titles, an engrossing experience even without hands on the controller, and an absolutely stunning game both visually and conceptually. CD Projekt RED repeated several times that the game is still in development, but the parts it showed generated the most well put-together demo that I saw at the show. Cyberpunk is an easy win for my game of the show and the only downside to the whole thing is that the game currently has no release date.