Despite huge announcements from every studio this year at E3, all of the news was focused around West Hall Room 512. CD Projekt Red’s next in-depth RPG takes to the streets in a dark future. Cyberpunk 2077 was shown in a fifty-minute demo which kept everyone in awe by its scope, adaptability, and amazing visuals which bring a new level to the first person and RPG genre. We jokingly referred to it as Grand Theft Blade Runner, but it is much more than that.
The demo began with the start of a game showing off the in-depth character design. You have limitless options on gender, look, tattoos, and upgrades. V is the character you play, an ace street mercenary who can play all the sides. Once Ms. V was created in the demo. It began running the player through a quick action sequence to save a tech heavy girl with some government secrets from a local gang. After seeing the action in first person and getting a peak at the world you will ultimately explore, Cyberpunk lures you in quickly, but this is a marathon game, not a sprint.
The world that CD Projekt Red has built is amazing. The environments are a combination of Blade Runner, mixed with brighter colors from The Fifth Element, and a dash of Akira. As you stare at the massive city, the real gem is how much you can interact with everything in it. There are ways to talk to everyone, get information, and follow the quests. As you drill down into the narrative, there are corporations who control the tops of civilization, while crime and gangs control the under current. They are all fighting for the same thing, technology. V goes after some military tech in the demo as eventually you acquire a pet, which in Cyberpunk is a spider robot that can climb, see, and give you a unique perspective on the landscape. Yes, the robot is hooked into your skull and you can switch to view what it sees. More on that later.
The cybernetic interfaces on the screen are simple amazing. The game gives you loads of information to read across the screen at any given time. Think of the first time you saw the Terminator’s view in the movie and multiply that by one hundred. It is intense, in a very supportive way. Besides upgrading your own technology in back room doctors’ offices, some high end, some street level, you also have an array of weapons and ammo. The visuals on the “smart ammo” where unreal, they followed the target no matter where they go. The other visual was the ammo that ricocheted off the corner to kill one of the gang members. These enhancements will follow you throughout the game and offer a ton of customization on how you play.
You end up on a quest for a corporate agent who, well let’s just say she is not nice, needs you to hunt down missing high-grade military style gear. Threats, bribes, and action are all part of the story here. You can decide what to do in the moment, however, fighting her and the thugs she travels with would prove very tricky at a low level. You end up working with your partner to bring down a gang of crazies who look like they stepped out of Warhammer 40k. Part of the corporate scheme involves a crime boss who gives you the job on the street level. We do not want to give too much away, so we can stop the story there, but this game needs to be experienced, not read about.
The mechanics of game play and the full first-person immersion came into question from the press this week as E3’ers asked why so much of the game was in first person. CD Projekt Red countered with that there are a lot of ways to show your character in the game. The first-person view adds to the pace of combat, the deep environments, and also the cybernetic view. You also have a way to slow down combat and make precise shots through drugs and stimulants in a fight, similar to Fallout, but it is done more stylistically like Dredd. The first-person mode did change for a car chase in the game, but it was short, hopefully we see more on that mechanic later.
Cyberpunk 2077 will be one of the most played games when it comes out. It will appeal to a huge cross section of gamers. Shooter fans, RPG fans, and narrative fans of games have so much to enjoy in this title. You cannot even scratch the surface of how much there is to do in this game. Hopefully CD puts in a side game similar to Gwent somewhere that we can also enjoy.
Any fan of dystopian sci-fi from anywhere on the planet has to play this game. CD has done a masterful job of bringing out the best on the genre and mixing it in a beautiful package that has no end in sight. Big announcements and popular sequels all got slowed in their tracks when The line for Cyberpunk started to form on Tuesday morning. It is a game to remember from E3. The hardest part now is waiting until launch to play. If the demo showed us anything, it is a game which will make people take off from work. Those are rare now-a-days. With competitive gaming ruling the world right now, it is great to see a narrative game making such a huge impact at E3.