If you’ve touched a controller in the last five years, chances are you’ve heard of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game, which was announced way back in 2012. Since then, we’ve been privy to hours of trailers and gameplay, countless stills, and intense speculation about the game.
Through its neon baked cyberpunk aesthetic (duh!), seemingly vast world and incredible potential as a choice-ridden, completely customizable RPG, one of its most exciting draws is its developer, CD Projekt Red. They’re the Polish developer behind The Witcher franchise and, the absolutely world-shaking The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Given that game’s incredible execution and impact on gaming as a whole, we certainly can’t wait to get our hands on Cyberpunk 2077.
Adapted from the original Cyberpunk franchise of the early 2000s, Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the dystopian megacity named, in true on-the-nose sci-fi fashion, ‘Night City’. This independent city, not connected to any nation-state, is controlled by corporations at the top and by gangs at the bottom. It’s embroiled in endless clashes between the gangs themselves, and the corporations’ well equipped private forces.
Of course, this is a Cyberpunk world, meaning everyone is intrinsically tied to tech. People have augmented limbs and implants, while futuristic vehicles fly, drive and race through the streets—taking us right to the heyday of cyberpunk, evoking Blade Runner (1982) or Ghost in the Shell (1995).
World aside, what we really care about is what we, the player, will get to do in this world—and boy is it a lot. We take control of ‘V’, a mercenary who we can inject with our looks, gender, voice, body type, body modifications, clothing, and even backstory, giving us unprecedented levels of customization. Moreover, with multiple stat categories, from hacking and machinery to combat, perk trees, and incredible branching dialogue, it is clear that to experience the full range of Cyberpunk’s story and gameplay, you will surely need to create a few Vs and play through the game multiple times.
More specifically, in the gameplay CD Projekt Red has released to date, we can see how all these elements manifest. Behind their incredible character design, grimily evocative world, and astonishing neon lighting, we find the dialogue decisions all occurring in real-time, outside of dialogue menus, clearly taking a page from Red Dead Redemption 2’s book. With dialogue taking up a considerable portion of the game’s personality, this will increase the levels of immersion and realism lost in older titles like Deus Ex or Skyrim.
Traversing the city will definitely be another highlight, with the newfound verticality of the metropolis, as opposed to The Witcher’s sprawling, but flat, world. And with countless vehicle types and modes of transport to get around, from trains to flying cars, it will undoubtedly be a joy to explore it all. Although it is not quite clear which we will be able to control, and which will be passive observation-only modes of transport.
The game’s gunplay also looks weighty and sufficiently stylized. Yet touting an on-the-rails sequence shooting out of a car window in the opening gameplay reveal leaves me with some doubts, as this mode of combat is out-dated and has always amounted to the most tedious parts of games.
Furthermore, the weighty brawling being accompanied by little numbered hit point markers, somehow leaves a sour taste in my mouth. With a game so set on a realistic future, why do we have a feature inherited from MMORPGs, tabletop games, or the cartoonish Borderlands lingering in the foreground of every combat encounter. It seems a little contradictory, but perhaps there is a narrative explanation through all the in-game augmentations.
Regardless, CD Projekt Red’s dedication to removing loading screens throughout the city, including moving into cutscenes, will allow us to sink hours into this work when we finally get our hands on it.
Initially, the game was set to be released for the PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One on September 17, 2020, but it has, been delayed again and we will now be able to grab it on November 19, 2020, on these platforms. Releases on Google Stadia, PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X will follow soon after. And it may well be worth the wait to experience the game in its true next-gen glory.