The first impression is that the Cyberpunk 2077 marks the arrival of a new generation of games. Promising to evolve what is expected of open world games and RPG. Night City, the city that will serve as the basis for this story, has everything to be a memorable place, and the stage for an intriguing and engaging story.
The demonstration started from the construction of the character. The customization system has already been noted for the diversity of options and details. They range from cybernetic implants and scars to the size of your genitalia. We were able to prove this variety in fact. The important thing at this point is to choose your origin, which has a crucial impact in the first hours of the game and how your character is seen in the Night City society.
There are three options: Corpo / Corporativo, which places V as an employee of one of the megacorporations that give the cards in the city. Street Kid / Marginal, origin that makes V a child of the streets of Night City. And Nomad / Nomad, someone who lived on the desert plains around the megalopolis.
We decided to approach the Street Kid route, to observe the city up close. In addition to influencing the start of the test, my V returned to Night City after two years of trying life elsewhere. The origin also determines how you know your partner Jackie Welles. In our case, we were united by misfortune: we tried to do the same theft. A very rare car belonging to a corporate rich man. We ended up caught by the police, but we survived, and from there our friendship was born.
The world of Cyberpunk is dominated by corporations, while several gangs try to appropriate the spaces left by these companies. In this tension of permanent violence, you are a mercenary. You can choose very well with whom you want to work in the city.
V and Jackie’s luck starts to change when the pair is noticed by Dexter DeShawn. A customer whose reputation is to select the best mercenaries in the city. If he calls you for a coup, it’s because you’re moving up the ranks of Night City society.
Although this was the main mission available in the test, it was also possible to go around the city and get to know a little more about its streets, skyscrapers and power dynamics. In many ways, CD Projekt RED seems to want to bring Cyberpunk closer to other classic crime games, like Grand Theft Auto. As you meet people and carry out missions, your contact list on your cell phone grows. You can communicate with them freely through calls or text messages in the best style of GTA IV.
As you fulfill your contracts with the most diverse agents in the city, your reputation increases. One of the most important elements of V.’s evolution It is no exaggeration to say that reputation is as essential as increasing attributes on your character sheet or improving specific proficiencies.
Cyberpunk promises a fluid class system, but some progression systems are very traditional. You have an experience level, which gives you points for improvement of the five main attributes. Body, reflex, intelligence, technical ability and “cool”, which determines your self-control and improves stealth. Each attribute has specific skill trees. This results in many options for customizing the character.
While all of these options allow you to make a V just the way you want it, reputation allows you to get better equipment at stores and more advanced cybernetic implants. Therefore, it is not enough to just improve the protagonist’s body and level, it is necessary to earn the respect of Night City.
While Cyberpunk tries to unite the freedom to customize an RPG with the classic structure of open world games like GTA, the DNA of CD Projekt RED is revealed in the way the narrative unfolds. Parallel missions began popping up on the screen in seemingly casual conversations with several of the city’s inhabitants.
At one point, the main story itself gives optional missions that were directly linked to its narrative. But that could or could not be fulfilled. Before hiring me for his grand plan, DeShawn asked me to get a spider robot from the Maelstrom gang. Known for the radical adoption of cybernetic implants.
Within that mission, there were several different paths. DeShawn had an agreement with the Maelstrom, but a change in command made it difficult to acquire the robot. It was possible to negotiate with them peacefully, taking money out of your own pocket. It was possible to steal the robot by force. Or even use the money of a third party interested in the business to deceive the Maelstrom. Each option resulted in different consequences, and changed the direction of the narrative.
These branched narratives, which CD Projekt RED refined throughout the The Witcher trilogy, promise to give Cyberpunk 2077 a much-coveted flexibility for today’s high-budget RPGs. Along with this apparent vast web of causes and consequences of your actions. Cyberpunk 2077 seems to have a script far above average compared to other open world games.
With its neon lights and architecture heavily influenced by Japanese metropolises, the city is divided into six major districts, and the test action focused on two of them. Heywood, a poor and insecure neighborhood with strong influence from the Latin gang Valentinos. Watson, a seedy district full of alleys and dead ends.
What was most impressive was the amount of things that happen on the streets around him. At one point in the test, V returned home. Your apartment is in a mega residential complex that, on its floors closest to the ground, resembles a mix of street fair and shopping mall, full of stalls, restaurants and people everywhere.
The number of NPCs is a testament to the potential of machines capable of running Cyberpunk 2077. Whether on the PC or on the consoles, both current and next. Also a testament to how complex it is to make a high budget game today. Living up to more than eight years of development and the size of the team, in the home of 500 developers.
The result is a fictional city in the best state. Fanciful, but with problems close to our reality, so well represented by the concept “high technology and low quality of life” that defines the cyberpunk genre. Night City seems alive, vibrant and full of secrets to be discovered.
Combat, movement and hacking
With the controller in hand, Cyberpunk 2077 does not deviate much from the basic controls of other Western RPGs. The great thing about CD Projekt RED is to give conflicts the same philosophy of freedom of action as when creating your character. Especially because these two elements are totally interconnected.
An option for a V with more developed body or reflex attributes will certainly do better in direct conflict. With more physical strength and dexterity in handling weapons or skills. In the test, I balanced my attributes between intelligence, dexterity and less strength. This ended up taking my character naturally to the path of stealth.
But all this versatility should only be obvious when you create your own character. In appearance, Cyberpunk resembles its genre pairs, combining the action of the shooter with the numbers coming out of enemies typical of an RPG. The controls are very responsive and the character is very agile. Anyone who wants to view Cyberpunk as an action game can do so, if they think so.
Outside of combat an important aspect of what you do in the game is the ability to hack machines. Like cameras and doors, or even taking control of other people. This is all done through a minigame that involves guessing sequences of hexadecimal codes. This last action is full of options, such as forcing the enemy to eliminate himself, detonating a grenade in his pocket, among others. Again, all of this is tied to the level of your character and your skills.
One of the most unique moments in the technological aspect of gameplay is neurodance. In which V can relive someone else’s memories. This mode has already been detailed by CD Projekt RED at events and did not leave a good impression, but playing it is more interesting than watching it. Neurodance shows specific scenes from a specific point of view. But it also allows you to leave the “conscience” of those who witnessed the event to run around the scene around you.
And the camera?
During the development and dissemination of Cyberpunk 2077, criticism is recurring. The adoption of the first person perspective for the game. Many criticize the choice, arguing that the game could be better in third person.
The game works very well with first person view. Be it in the level of detailed exploration that the city has to offer. Whether it’s the idea of cybernetic implants affecting information displayed on the screen, like an update to your brain’s operating system.
It is understandable to want the game in third person, since the experience delivered by CD Projekt RED with The Witcher 3 was the starting point for many to visit the Polish studio. But when I spend three hours inside Night City, the impression is that I want to explore this city much more with my own eyes.