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April 2021

Cyberpunk 2077

Platform(s): Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: CD Projekt RED Studio
Release Date: Dec. 10, 2020

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Cyberpunk 2077'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on June 12, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Cyberpunk 2077 is a narrative-driven, open world RPG set in the most vibrant and dangerous metropolis of the future — Night City.

Pre-order Cyberpunk 2077

We're inching closer and closer to Cyberpunk 2077's release date of Apr. 16, 2020. At E3 2019, I got the chance to sit down for a 50-minute presentation of some of the real gameplay that players will experience.  In the roughly mid-game sequence that was presented, the mercenary outlaw V is to meet up with a contact in a gang called the Voodoo Boys in the Pacifica District of Night City.  While V has their own goals, they first must do a quick job before the Voodoo Boys are willing to entertain their end of the bargain.

Starting off the demo covered the game's approach to character customization.  You can play as either a male or female V, and you can alter their look from different hair styles, the surface wiring on their face, eye color, etc.  As you create your character and play the game, you also put skill points into five categories: Body, Cool, Intelligence, Reflexes and Technical.  These skill points seem to feed into the perk tree and also affect certain gameplay elements.  For example, a strong character can force open doors that a weaker character would not be able to open, or a skill point minimum may be needed for certain conversation options.  Finally, you pick one of three origin paths for your character — Corporate, Nomad or Street Kid — which also feed into the game in different ways.

Keanu Reeves was a memorable part of the Cyberpunk 2077 portion of Microsoft's press conference this year, and it's now known what his role will be in the game.  V has a biochip in their head that also contains a sort of "ghost" of Johnny Silverhand, Reeves's character.  He is occasionally a voice in your head but also sometimes a sort of hologram that only you can see.  Essentially, it comes across like he's sort of V's own Cortana, just chain-smoking and kind of an asshole.  The biochip in V's head also purportedly has the secret to immortality, which seems like it probably plays a much larger role in the main story than our demo covered.

Wandering through the very Haitian Pacifica District led to the discovery of a neat implant that V had in their head.  Characters would speak Haitian and Haitian subtitles would appear above their heads, and then in real time translate into English subtitles.  This is apparently one of the many implants you can gain during the game, and it was a neat touch.  Pacifica itself was an interesting place; it's a district that was intended to be a fantastic getaway with skyscrapers and malls that started development, only to have the money pull out and leave the husks of partial construction dotting the skyline.  It's a great place for a secretive band of net runners like the Voodoo Boys to take up shop.

Your contact within the Voodoo Boys has a simple job; there are members of a rival gang called the Animals that have taken up residence in the husk of the never-completed Grand Imperial Mall.  They have access to some high-end tech, and the Voodoo Boys want someone to go in and clean up that mess.  It seems like a simple job, which means no one was really surprised when it started to go sideways.

Ironically, before it was time to go to the mall, the presenter first wanted to do a little shopping.  They went to a shop that sold some clothing, each with their own stat bonuses, as well as some cyberware.  The cyberware slots into V's cyberdeck and allows them to have different combat abilities.  One such ability uploads a daemon into the cybernetics of a target enemy, forcing them to use their sidearm to blow themselves away while they are powerless to stop it.

After the shopping excursion was complete, the sun was setting in the game's dynamic day/night cycle.  V mounted atop an Akira-looking motorcycle and headed toward the mall.  While in a vehicle, you can toggle between first- and third-person view and choose the in-game tunes you want to hear.  It was also touted that the game doesn't have any load screens that split up the gameplay as you traverse from area to area, or from the interior of a building and back out into the district at large.  Upon arrival at the mall, a pair of Voodoo Boys lookouts informed V that the rear entrance seems to be the better way in, and V rode their bike to that side of the mall.

Initially, the presenter took a stealthy approach with V, sneaking past some chatting guards while eavesdropping on them with an implant that amplified distant conversations.  They snuck up behind one guard and grabbed him, and then used the environmental takedown system to eliminate them.  In this case, they slammed his head into a large piece of metal and threw him down a garbage chute.  It was then noted that technically, you can play through the entire game without killing anybody.  Technically.  Even the game's equivalent of bosses don't have to be killed if you want to extend your mercy that far.

For a little while, that certainly was the case.  The presenter skulked around and found a network panel to hack via a minigame that didn't seem to make too much outward sense.  It involved matching pairs of hexadecimal characters to achieve certain outcomes.  It wasn't a straight pass or fail type of minigame; there are three to five possible rewards to get, and while it is possible to get none of them if you fail too badly, you also cannot get them all.  These rewards might include shutting down a camera or overriding a turret's targeting system.  It might also let you access other nodes on the network.  The presenter chose the latter option, and soon after hacking that panel, the presenter hacked a boxing robot to literally punch its sparring partner's head off.

The presenter then switched to a different V (just for presentation purposes and not something you can do in the game) to show how a more direct approach can be used.  This "strong solo" V ripped open a couple of doors, found a room with a bad guy in it, and proceeded to let their fists fly.  After a few hooks to the head, the baddie pulled out a knife, which prompted V to finish him off and use that knife on his buddy.  Finally, a broken beer bottle was the weapon of choice to finish off the third enemy in the room.

This V's approach was to slide into the adjoining courtyard and start opening fire with their rifle, cutting down enemies while avoiding return fire from an automated turret.  When close, the presenter grabbed a dazed enemy and used him as a human shield to absorb a few turret shots before throwing him aside.  Up close, this V used their strength to rip the turret free from its housing and use the gun like a belt-fed machine gun.  Lead was flying, enemies and bits of the environment alike were shattering from the rounds, and V essentially became the Terminator.

The belt ran dry, and the presenter switched back to the original V and their sneaky approach to showcase some other stealthy mechanics.  Your nanowire allows you to remotely hack the cyberdeck of an unaware enemy, similar to the aforementioned hacked network panel, to reap similar benefits.  The nanowire can also be used as a melee weapon that literally cuts people in half.  You can hack a guy and then hack up the guy with the same equipment.

It all led up to stumbling into a room with another net runner in it, this one an agent for NetWatch.  This government-run cybersecurity agency has its own agenda in the Pacifica District and asks V to work with them instead.  V refuses with a punch to their face, knocking them out and then jacking into their system.  Almost immediately, their world goes black due to a double-cross by the Voodoo Boys that should have killed them, and they wake up eight hours later next to the agent's corpse and otherwise alone.  Their survival is a surprise to the Voodoo Boys, who uphold their end of the bargain when V returns to their hideout.  There's a meeting with the mysterious Alt Cunningham, who is a consciousness that was uploaded to cyberspace decades ago, and there's an ominous notion that V might be the first person to venture beyond the Blackwall in cyberspace.

With the Deus Ex series seemingly back in stasis, the cyberpunk torch seemed to be falling.  With what I've seen from Cyberpunk 2077, not only is that torch safe, but it might be in better hands now.  The game has an aesthetic that it nails across its large open world, and the gameplay seems wide enough to allow for many styles of play.  Its release date is almost a year away at this point, but from the impression I got today, Cyberpunk 2077 will be worth the wait.

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