Let’s get this part out of the way first: Cyberpunk 2077 looks even more incredible than the last time we saw it. From its massive open world, branching dialog, and multiple ways to play it’s going to be one of the most talked about games in 2020.
After a year of waiting for more details and information, the day is finally here as CD Projekt Red pulled back the curtain with a brand-new demo for E3 2019. In that hour-long, closed-door guided gameplay walkthrough, we learned five new things that helps to give Cyperpunk 2077 an incredible level of depth, immersive world design, and lots of Keanu Reeves.
In-depth Character Customization
The hands-off demo began with showcasing some of the in-depth character customization features for the game, reminiscent of the great Mass Effect series, but turned up several notches. From face, to hair, to muscle, and gender there’s a lot here for you to customize the appearance of your character that all fit the cyber and punk aesthetic the game is nailing in spades.
While looks are nice, it’s what’s underneath your character that will really deliver a unique experience in Cyberpunk 2077. Built into your character is their origin story: Nomad, Street Kid, or Corporate. Each of these will impact your interactions with those you meet in-game. Like with Street Kids, you’ve got the swindle and deception game down since you’ve likely pulled the same tricks, so you know what to look out for, keeping you from potentially being taken advantage of by NPCs, or being able to suss out when something isn’t quite what it seems.
Multiple Ways to Play
Last year at E3 2018 when we had a look at the game it was heavy on the combat and gunplay. Which still looks great, by the way. But what really impressed us was seeing the branching and multiple ways to complete a job. From combat, to stealth, to hacking — and depending how you’ve been putting points into your skill tree — you’ll have a variety of ways to utilize the environment to your advantage. Like hacking cameras, robots, or even cybernetic implants of our enemies just by looking in their direction. If we were to reference it to another game, it’s similar to the multi-path and alternate combat approaches from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Dishonored and tweaking them just enough to fit well within the world of Cyberpunk 2077.
It was also revealed that you can complete the entire game without killing anyone (challenge accepted!), but that’s not to say you can’t rough a few people up along the way. Just knowing this is an option for us for our eventual playthrough gives the game another layer of incredible depth that we’re now looking forward to, in addition to a wide variety of dialog choices with NPCs based on your character’s attributes and background. Because as awesome as all of the gunplay is – and it does look like a lot of fun to just go in guns blazing – knowing there’s a whole stealth element to the game is awesome to hear.
It’s Not Always Clean and Neon
Everything we’ve seen on Cyberpunk 2077 to this point has been that of Night City: epic skyscrapers, tons of cyber-modified people, and awesome looking cars. This year we got to experience more of the darker side of the game in the abandoned city of Pacifica. We’re told the dark history of this city is that it was supposed to be a new destination for residents, but due to an economic collapse investors pulled out of funding this new city leaving it largely unfinished as evidenced by the towering, incomplete buildings and abandoned high-rise construction cranes.
We really liked seeing the juxtaposition of Pacifica with that of Night City. It adds a deeper, more grounded element of this future, one of dirt, rust, and worn-out tech and a reminder that with the advances of technology, there will always be a group that’s left behind in the shadow of “success.”
Just because our demo wasn’t clad in neon didn’t mean it wasn’t impressive to see in action, showing more of the game’s world design and art direction with rusted pipes, displaced people laying against graffiti-clad walls, worn-out movie posters that have long since left the theater – it all adds a tremendous layer of player immersion. We can’t wait to learn more about some of the other locations in the game and it would be great to see if they’re treated with this much care and attention to lived-in detail as Pacifica.
Keanu is in Your Head
Keanu Reeves made a big splash during the Xbox E3 2019 Briefing shortly after the premiere of a new cinematic trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 that will go down in history as one of the greatest surprises ever (“You’re breathtaking!”); I mean, c’mon. It’s Keanu. He’s rad.
He also appears to play an incredibly prominent role in Cyberpunk 2077 as Johnny Silverhand, a ghost A.I. that only you can see and hear who we’re told is a residual effect of a damaged chip that’s in your brain – this demo takes place roughly at the half-way point of the game which will deliver some more context regarding this chip.
During the hour-long demo, he appeared frequently during interactions with NPCs in the game adding some sass and humorous quips to your character’s more direct and gruff response, as it appears he’ll also work as the player’s narrator in the story here. Which is great because we can never get enough of Keanu.
Throughout our demo you were on a quest to get help regarding the chip in your head from a local small-time gangster by the name of Placide, who leads the Voodoo Boys, and is willing to assist in exchange for you to rid the nearby Grand Imperial Mall of a rival gang that has set-up shop: The Animals. V (your character) succeeds in this quest and is introduced to Bridgette, Placide’s boss, who guides V into a bathtub of ice surrounded by several Netrunners – hackers who dive into the world of Cyberspace – and we’re going along for the ride on the information superhighway.
Soon the world around us vanishes away and reboots into one of lines and grids and outlines of characters – sort of like when Neo finally “sees” the matrix in the climactic scene of “The Matrix.” We see Bridgette again, now as a red humanoid outline of a person, mentioning that V’s help is needed to help access another entity that’s trapped in this world – and with that our guided demo ends.
Knowing that there is a whole other realm to explore, beyond Night City, beyond Pacifica, is really intriguing after this newest, small taste of the larger adventure that remains in store for us in Cyberpunk 2077 when it comes out next year on Xbox One. We can’t wait.