With the release of so many fantastic titles coming both this year and next year, the delivery of content for those arriving in 2019 have been a little quiet, in terms of showcasing their games. I personally didn’t expect anything to come from Cyberpunk 2077 for a long time, but a mysterious stream appeared across social media channels. Curious George’s everywhere tuned in, some for a whole two hours before the stream reveals its true intent, an incredible 48 minutes gameplay footage of Cyberpunk 2077. Hats off to you CD Projekt Red, you’ve provided a lot of us with that ball-tickling anticipation we get when we are hyped for a game. I dive into the gameplay trailer a few more times to dig out what features we see, and might expect to see, in the upcoming FP-RPG.
On first impressions, it doesn’t seem as in-depth customisation as I thought; there are a lot of presets to choose from, instead of manually shaping and sizing your character however you desire. But this is ok, don’t worry, it makes up for it. It features a lot of pre-set selections for specific parts of your face and body. But it is more in-depth in other ways. Apart from normal features to pick and choose from, you then choose augmentations, such as glowing tattoos, digital contacts and how much wiring you want shown from your character. Players will be able to pick what backstory our protagonist V will have, including childhood hero, key life event, and why they chose to live in Night City, the games base location. Choosing and deciding V’s backstory will “…unlock new possibilities in the game”. It wouldn’t be an RPG either if there wasn’t any statistics to determine a character’s strengths and weaknesses. This comes in the form of Biostats, each stat resembling different traits and characteristics for V.
The one feature they highlight but don’t reveal to us straight away, is that they have a ‘Fluid Class System’. Modifiable in the game, this means there is likely more than one class, and that you can put your skills all into one, or spread them across however many there are. I did a little bit more digging, and actually didn’t realise that this game is based of its table top predecessor, Cyberpunk 2020. If we look into the classes and roles that were involved into 2020, we could expect to see them creep up in 2077. We are aware of a couple of references made towards the end of the gameplay to what certain classes can do; Solos can use their brute strength to perform feats no normal individual would be able to perform, such as double jumps, wall slides, and generally being more physical. Another loosely noted class could be a Techie. Techies trade their physical power for knowledge in the art of engineering, enabling them to hack into hardware and open new pathways or equipment.
Netrunners is mentioned very early on, which could be another possible hint as a selectable class. Like Techies, Netrunners also trade it physical power for knowledge, but to a more diverse degree; during the gameplay, V takes down a goon and begins to access his neural network. From there she was able to bypass and access specific sections of his mainframe which affect everyone linked to his network. From there, she accessed and hacked into the personal mainframe, where she unlocked the ability to perform quick hacks on enemies. This is all to be confirmed however, as well as seeing if any other classes from Cyberpunk 2020 making an appearance in 2077.
Part of the character creation feature that caught my eye in particular, is that it the whole theme looked like it was from some sort of criminal search database. It was as if it was set to look like we were searching for V, as well as creating here to play as. Whether this is any resemblance to the main story, we will have to see.
Night City wouldn’t be renowned for its crime and danger if it didn’t feature some incredible baddies and factions, every one of them distinct from each other with their own features and looks. The gameplay kicks off immediately with V and her partner, Jackie, search through the Scavengers hideout. Scavengers don’t seem to be well equipped as such, but that shouldn’t mean they aren’t lethal, since their profession is to kidnap, butcher and harvest implants from anyone they can grab.
After V receives a job opportunity, she decides to contact an Agent working for the Militech Corp, nicknamed ‘Corpo’s’ for short. Corpo’s are extremely powerful corporation factions, with a lot of powerful weapons and tech to suppress the people to bend them to their will.
Finally, the last faction we see is the Maelstrom gang. In the last part of the gameplay, V attempts to buy a spider bot from the faction, and thanks to a bugged cred-chip, things go south after the deal, forcing V and Jackie to escape the hard way. The Maelstrom Gang are obsessed with tech and modification, so much so that they end up looking so disfigured they are more cyborg than human.
Each faction has their own resistances, combat techniques, weapons, tech, and their own reasons for wanting to control Night City for themselves. It will be down to the player and their choices on how Night City will be shaped by one or more of these factions throughout the game.
Taking down these gangs on your rise to the top of the food chain, can be utilised in many manners; from straight up run-and-gun, to stealth, melee combat and much more, you decide how you approach each situation. Damage indicators, or ‘Damage Floaties’, are present in the game, giving players an indication on how much damage they are delivering, but it is remained to be asked if these can be turned off. Stealth seems to be possible too, as from the start you witness V taking out a scavenger by shooting him in the head in the bath, making the shot silenced. It’s interesting to see the choice between Lethal and Non-Lethal takedowns, and what other possibilities can spiral from performing either action.
There does seem to be a presence of damage resistances; during gameplay, V uses a scanner on several people and enemies, which show an indication of their resistances to different ‘elements’. This in turn indicates that you can deal different damage types as well, so you can pack the biggest punch against a targets weakest resistance. The damage types and resistances are as follows: Physical, Thermal, EMP, and Chemical. Now, we only seem to experience the Physical damage type during the gameplay, at first glance, which allows you to deal normal damage but negates through certain cover. If I was to hazard a guess, and using the same theory from the Borderlands game series, I’d put my money on Thermal dealing damage over time, EMP stunning and potentially having a chance to chain to other enemies, and chemical, well, potentially disorientating or dealing damage over time as well? It’s hard to say without seeing these in action.
The gameplay shows a little sneak preview on weaponry. It seems that standard bullets and guns are still present as always, although there were futuristic guns on show. After the deal with the Maelstrom gang goes south, V opens a chest which reveals a Tech Shotgun; a standard double barrel which has been ‘street modified’ to allow rounds to penetrate through walls and cover, as well as an alternate fire mode to power up shots, and in my opinion, looks completely badass. Later on, V also finds a submachine gun called ‘a Smart Gun’, which is one of the more advanced weapons, which allow rounds to track and follow their target. Weapons are made up of modules which change their characteristics and how they can be used; The standard pistol V uses when busting out of the Maelstrom hideout has a module installed which allows the player to ricochet rounds off of hard surfaces to hit enemies behind cover. It seems there are hundreds of different weapon types, all varying from street level standard, right up to Corpo grade military gear, and all the weaponry is customisable with a variety of modules to suit your play style.
Other combat features include advance manoeuvrability, such as double jumps, dashes, sliding and wall running, although this could be dependent on what class you choose. It’s always fascinating to see a bit of gore and dismemberment from tech-advanced shotguns too, as V carves through Maelstrom gang members like she was a hot knife and they were butter. A slow motion, bullet time feature called ‘Kolesnikov’ is previewed right at the beginning, and although I’ve seen a lot of slow motion effects in shooter games, they seem to have done a brilliant job of this one. It looks destructive, deadly, and one of the top 3 best slow motion features I’ve ever seen in a long time. Gameplay also revealed that it doesn’t have to be restricted to gunplay; Mantis Blades, augmented into V’s arms, allow her to anchor herself onto walls, allowing for aerial attacks and deadly execution. Finally, a potential feature we might see ourselves using is exosuits; A final battle with the leader of the Maelstrom Hideout, Royce, sees him donning an armoured exoskeleton, allowing him to hold a powerful Gauss like weapon in an attempt to take V out. So maybe there is a chance that there were more of these can be used for our own benefit in some way.
Dialog is a lot more intense, adult and diverse than some of the current RPGs I’ve experienced personally. The choices you make during a conversation can be critical, and may even depend your life on it. We see two examples of intense dialog cutscenes during the gameplay; V chooses to meet up with a Militech Corp Agent, so she can exploit her situation to be able to take a non-lethal path to acquire the spider-bot they’ve been tasked to retrieve. Right from the start you understand that this is someone not to be trifled with, and soon V finds herself being hacked into, exploiting what information she holds. V had the option to take the gun that was pointed at her head, but considering that they are well armed and much higher levels than V, it was wise to play it cool and role with the punches.
After one heated showdown to another, this one takes place in the Maelstrom hideout, where V and Jackie are attempting to buy the spider-bot off the gang. It starts with Jackie being reluctant to sit down, and the player being able to decide to tell him to sit or escalate the situation. V tells him to sit, since they are trying to go down the non-lethal approach. After some negotiations, Royce, the hideouts leader and a real prick, storms into the deal guns out. Now is the time to escalate one further to push our agenda, as the player chooses to draw V’s weapon into Royce’s face, in an attempt to reason with him that they were only the to buy the spider-bot. The strategy works, and the deal is done.
It’s all incredible to watch and see how situations like these play out. It’s also interesting to see how a situation might go if V hadn’t met the agent, or had decided to take the place by storm, draw or take a weapon, leave Jackie to argue with the gang member about sitting and standing. The possibilities and the paths you can take seem incredible vast and optional.
I mean, the word ‘Cyber’ in Cyberpunk should be a huge indication that this is a game based around futuristic but idealistic tech, tech that seems so relatable that we could very well see these features in real life. There are hundreds and hundreds of Tech upgrades for you to exploit and use; Scanners, Jacking systems, Drones, modules for V, modules for your weapons and possibly your vehicle’s, the customisation value this game holds will feel endless. It might be that some of the tech we wish to use may either be class dependant, skill or stat dependant too, but that remains to be seen as of yet.
First off, I don’t know if everyone in Nightcity has trouble breathing or not, but the use of inhalers during gameplay was every 5 minutes. It seems that this then is the norm in Nightcity, as inhalers vary from being legal or illegal drugs and medicine, to being used as stat boosters or temporary ability buffs, such as the Kolesnikov bullet time ability. It might even be possible to create our own in some way.
Next, V says “I got a date with my Ripper Doc” during gameplay, and this doesn’t refer to someone with a high medical profession who goes to the gym to get ‘ripped’. Ripper Doctors are specialist vendors and individuals that install and supply cyberware enhancements and modules for V. The upgrades we see in the gameplay are a Scanner, enabling V to scan objects and people to view their characteristics, weak spots on enemies, damage types and resistances, and their threat level, which most likely corresponds to their character level. With a low-level scanner showing this much information, imagine what higher level scanners can reveal. The cinematic is awesome to see as well; it shows the doctor getting to work and going straight in for V’s eye, squeamish to see but you can’t stop watching. Another cyber upgrade V implants is into her hand; a Subdermal weapon grip which works alongside the scanner, updating it to reveal ammunition count, increasing damage with handheld weapons and giving V’s hand a sleek new metallic look. It also seems that this kind of tech can come in many varieties and levels, as mentioned before. The Ripper Doc mentions the scanner is ‘Kiroshi’ tech, which would prove this. The cyberware can be installed by legal means, or black market, illegal modifications which may have military grade cyberware.
Going back to the Maelstrom Hideout situation, just after the deal goes south, we see V weighing up her options on how to escape, and can clearly see that doors can be hacked and maintenance panels can be disassembled, meaning that some skills and abilities may, again, be required to perform such actions. One of the more advanced and incredibly epic tech features is the ability to jack into enemy neural systems. Because of the advanced world, and especially the enemies V is against, she takes one of them out by surprise and hacks into his neural system to access the enemy network. From there, she was able to filter through the network and everything it connects to. Once accessed she can deploy software which will affect the entire gang. In the gameplay, she unlocks the ability to perform quick hacks; hacking into an enemy gangs weapon to disable it from use, before she assassinates then both with her Mantis Blades. This is a high skill trait though, so will take time to unlock during gameplay. Still, with all this tech available the gameplay will feel endless and completely customisable to you.
Personally, I didn’t expect it to look as free roaming as it did during the gameplay. Night City is located on the coast in North California, and can be explored in foot, or in a vehicle. There are a lot of bustling pedestrians in the more public areas, which I’m hoping doesn’t get downgraded for console at all. We also see the player passing the police and abiding by standard laws such as J-Walking, crossing the roads and waiting for green lights, which made me curious on what does happen if you ignore them.
The driving itself looked completely immersed, and at first, I thought would be quite difficult if it was in first person for driving all the time, but you can drive vehicles in first or third person. Great – A good way to scan the surroundings and look at the amazing details of the metropolis Night City. To keep you on your toes, miniature events, such as the scavenger minivan ambush we see during gameplay, can happen at any time, and all depend on the actions you’ve undertaken.
An interesting quote was mentioned during the game play that said: “Players can explore Night City on cars, bikes, and many different vehicles”. With this being a big, bustling city and state to explore, should we be expecting flying aircraft to pilot as well? Something the developers are trying to achieve with Cyberpunk is seamless gameplay, so they are attempting this by trying to use no loading screens. It’s a big feat, and possible, but I reckon some cuts or sacrifices will be made for this to happen.
It seems to be that this might be one of the base reasons for the storyline; having to climb up to the big leagues from street level, and deciding who shall be the ultimate controlling power over Night City. The climb will begin with Street Cred, which is used to unlock more content and gained by completing side missions. Street Cred gear is everywhere; V’s jacket before heading out her apartment isn’t just for good looks and protective resistances, but also has a 5% Street Cred levelling speed, to raise her Street Cred more quickly. I’m thinking that Street Cred doesn’t only just unlock new content, but has perks built in to different gear, weapons and maybe vehicles too, that’s one of my many theories anyways.
These features are the little details that make a game just a little bit better. Sometimes, it’s the little features that go the extra mile which really stand out. The Medical response team we see near the start that picks up V’s target, are armed and don’t hold back with their aggression either, carrying high tech weaponry and equipment, something the NHS in the UK could do with, they might be more efficient then. Depending on the level of cover a person has, depends on how quickly they should arrive.
We know this is going to be a mature game, that’s why certain aspects like nudity or ‘extra activities’ are implemented in the game. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, Witcher 3 was saucy enough from the start, so wouldn’t expect this to be any different. Also, to make the world seem more immersive, Mike Pondsmith, video game designer, wanted the game to feel more realistic, so bands and such on the radio, like Johnny Silverhand, have their own punk-rock music implemented into the game.
Our own apartment is used as not only our home, but also our armoury, so you can properly load yourself out before diving straight into a mission headstrong. Another cool little feature is adverts are tailored to the player, so if you have a preference, advertisements will direct you towards your favourite product, which are not completely useless as they are used to either buff or heal V.
We also got a little glimpse of the menu structure, during where they had just equipped the smart gun. Now going from presumptions here; Codex would contain the lore of enemies, weapons and factions and so on. Quests, Inventory and GPS seem pretty self-explanatory, but what’s interesting to see is the Crafting; this could involve making those inhalers we’ve see people huffing all over the bloody place, or maybe crafting weapon modules or even our own cyberware to equip or sell. BioMonitor remains a little elusive to me still, I’m not sure what to expect from that yet so will have to see. The last tab, social, I don’t recall the game involving other players, so I’d imagine it’s a list of contactable NPC players you can get in touch with. Another good little feature is the ability to inspect items for hidden features, or to discover what it may do. We can see this happening when V looks into the spider-bot chip a little further, so there may be a chance for us to play detective with this feature.
We knew this game was going to be a good looking one. Witcher 3 set the example of being able to just stop somewhere high, and look over the beauty and creation below. This for me will be no different. It is a beautiful dystopian and gritty setting and ambiance, full of danger and grey, but with the beautiful vibrant neon colours of the future right there in front of you. The feeling of realism, with normal constructions, cars and buildings, mixed beautifully with futuristic tech, to push players into that reality of the future. Night City is filled to the brim with life, death, opportunities and danger, even during the day.
I wouldn’t get too carried away though with the ambiance of Night City, nor would I hide behind a piece of cover for too long during a fire fight, as cover and the surroundings is a destructible environment. Gore and dismemberment make the gameplay even grittier, not to mention the music. I mean, the music and symphony definitely set the tone just right, whether you are hyping up through a scavenger hideout, or huffing an inhaler at an intense Maelstrom meeting, the music adapts to the tone of the situation and it, is, beautifully electronic. It couldn’t be a more perfect overload of the senses.
I mean, you probably get the idea, I like – no, I love the look of this game. It looks and sounds exactly how a futuristic dystopian, criminal underworld setting should be. Although I’ve seen criticism about this already, it is in Alpha stages. Yes, there will be bugs, and yes, there will be glitches, probably all the way up till launch and maybe even afterwards. But they will always try to improve issues like that. I’m in awe of the characters, the details and the design of the different factions, as well as the ‘Dredd Style’ buildings and mega-complexes. I’m putting a theory through that if they released gameplay already this early on, should we expect a release as early as March, maybe April 2019? Either way, this is looking to be a fantastic game, like no other, for a long time running.