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November 2018

Cyberpunk 2077

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: CD Projekt RED Studio


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Cyberpunk 2077'

by Redmond Carolipio on June 18, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Cyberpunk 2077 will be designed for mature and demanding players who expect to be treated seriously, and the game will be richly detailed, non-linear, and with a complex and gripping story.

Pre-order Cyberpunk 2077

There have probably been entire theses written on what the term "cyberpunk" actually entails, but if there's one certainty I've witnessed as a fan of sci-fi, it's that everyone has an idea of what it means to them. You already have images in your head of things like "Blade Runner" or "Ghost in the Shell." Perhaps you remember D&D-style games like Cyberspace and its sourcebooks that talked about sprawlgangs and megacorps. Maybe you remember reading "Neuromancer" for the first time, when you'd flip back to previous pages because you maybe, sort of, though knew where William Gibson was going until he hit you with a literary, fantasy-tech curveball. Or, maybe you binged on "Altered Carbon" one weekend.

The point is, you hear or read "cyberpunk," and you can almost feel what it is. CD Projekt Red, with Cyberpunk 2077, looks like it's taking all of that — whatever you want to call cyberpunk's "it" — and putting it in a singular, breathing vessel.

America is in tatters in the world CD Projekt Red has created, and the metropolitan avatar for the futurist chaos is Night City. A mix of organized crime and corporate powers holds real rule over the city, and within it exists a skilled gun for hire named V. That's going to be you.

From what we saw in the E3 2018 theater demonstration, V is going to look exactly how you want her (or him) to look. Players will be privy to an intricate character creation/customization system where they can dictate things like build, eye color, hair or tattoos. You'll also be able to craft a backstory for your own personal V that can be a mix of archetypes, as CDPR made it known that there really isn't a straight-up class system.

The setting for the demo is that V is signed on for a rescue mission of sorts, and we're plunged more or less into the middle of it. This is where Cyberpunk 2077 shows off another element that will probably surprise a few people: The game is played from a first-person perspective, and it has the look and pace of a shooter. CDPR has gained a lot of fans because of its work on The Witcher, enchanting players with its wealth of developed characters, adventures and a hero who operated in third-person. Many people, sight unseen, may have though CDPR would take a similar approach and essentially bring us Witcherpunk 2077. While that probably would have been immensely dope, this near hour-long look showed that, at least from a perspective standpoint, Cyberpunk 2077 is its own fully realized animal.

The combat we see V execute (with the help of her partner, Latino cyber-badass Jackie) are a flurry of some very tight gunplay with some nods toward what you might have seen Takeshi Kovacs or Major Kusanagi pull off in their respective worlds, like scanning enemies through walls, using armor-piercing rounds to end said enemies, and some bullet-timey slow-motion moments. There's a "cool" factor to the entire sequence, where all of these elements tie together for a seamless-looking experience. After all the enemies are done, V and Jackie find their rescue target, who is unfortunately laying limp and lifeless in a bathtub.

Here, we get a touch of some of the "cyberpunk" mythos and atmosphere CDPR is trying to create. V pulls the victim close enough so V can see her vivid facial features and blank stare, then accesses her neurosocket to grab some information as to how this happened. She then calls in a "trauma team," which consists of a squad of paramedics packing some very sizable firepower and rolling in a flying, and probably armored, ambulance. You get the sense that no one, even heavy-hitting mercs like V and Jackie, get very far trying to mess with them. V heads home.

A cut scene in V's apartment shows CDPR's adult viewpoint toward their characters, with V getting out of bed wearing very little (she also apparently had company from the night before) and starting off her day. By the way, knowing CDPR, if V were a dude, he'd be probably waking up next to naked himself. They've never been bashful about showing flesh from either side. Anyway, V's apartment serves as a sort of nexus that ties into everything else in the game. CDPR tells us a little bit about earning "street cred," which can actually be seen as a tangible form of currency in some regard down the road when it comes to side-quests and other things.

Jackie hits up V and asks her to meet him outside, and V agrees, but adds she has a standing appointment with her "ripperdoc," a specialized doctor-cybermechanic combo who can fix up V's wounds and any busted tech. He can also install the occasional illegal upgrade, should V desire (and she probably will). When V sets out of her apartment, we notice how big her apartment complex is with multiple floors, and CDPR tells us that each floor has a number of NPCs and side-quests.

When V steps out of her building, we're treated to a wide, establishing shot of Night City in all of its bustling, cyberpunkish glory. Flying cars; bright, massive signs adorning a skyline that really does seem to touch the sky; and throngs of people living their lives in the city and walking around. CDPR is aiming for an immersive city experience, which includes no loading screens.

Meeting Jackie outside, V is informed that she and Jackie have gotten the attention of renowned fixer Dexter Deshawn, who wants to chat. V agrees to meet up with "Dex," carrying Jackie's hopes that this meeting is the way in to the "big leagues" of merc work.

Dex — who looks like a mash-up of Ezekiel from The Walking Dead, Rick Ross and Thanos (he has a somewhat ornate gold forearm/hand) —wants to sign up V for one of his undertakings. We see some of the conversation system, where a variety of responses pop up and the player can choose one, depending on where they want V to drive the conversation or the desired outcome of the overall encounter. This Dex mission is a way of testing out V and Jackie's merc chops, so he's asking them to acquire a military robot that's currently in the possession of a street gang known as the Maelstrom. Dex says he would buy the robot himself, but he doesn't get along with the Maelstrom at all.

V takes on the job, which then opens up the demo even further to include some other new characters and options on how to complete this particular mission. V can either head down to the Maelstrom and take the robot by force, or — as CDPR showed us — she can contact the abrasive and snotty agent from the Militech corporation, who is also trying to track down the robot and see if they can work together.

Of course, the meeting with Meredith Stout, the Militech agent, doesn't go very smoothly, and during the hardball conversation, V's options include playing hardball back, playing it cool, or deciding to break conversation and just fight/kill everyone. We get the sense that last option would not help the cause, as Stout rolled in with a heavily armed and optimized team of security. Eventually, though, a deal gets gone. Militech fronts the money for V to go into Maelstrom digs and buy the robot, leaving V options ranging from keeping the money and just taking the robot or playing along and deciding where the robot ultimately goes. This wealth of possibilities is where you can feel the CDPR stamp from games past.

Before heading to the mission, V makes her appointment with her ripperdoc, Doctor Victor, who gives her a new eye that can augment any scanning capabilities and zoom in.

In heading to the Maelstrom hideout, we saw a piece of how the game handles driving. It can be done in first- or third-person, and it's the primary way to get around the city. We're told that motorcycles will also be a part of the final game, and there will be chances for vehicular combat.

Upon getting to Maelstrom, V and Jackie meet up with Royce, the Maelstrom leader. More conversation options pop up, but instead of giving you a blow-by-blow, let's just say a firefight ensues and we see a few more of this demo: strong V's combat tricks, like a ricochet/bouncing bullet shot, some wall-running, and some savage arm blades. The conflict ends with Royce donning a battle suit, which can be felled with some timely weak-spot scanning from V's new eye. V and Jackie emerge victorious, only to be intercepted by Meredith Stout and Militech on the way out.

Cyberpunk 2077 has roots that date back to the tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020 from the late 1980s, so this universe of ideas has been swirling around for a long time. Seeing how CDPR has given life to these ideas and packaged them together in one experience (we haven't even gotten into how Night City has six different districts), makes Cyberpunk 2077 an event release — whenever it comes out.

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