CD Projekt Red has shown behind-closed-doors demos and previews to journalists at E3 for Cyberpunk 2077. The roughly 45-50 minute demo was shown to media outlets like IGN, PC Gamer and Gameinformer and revealed a lot of new details. The reaction to the gameplay is overwhelmingly positive, with PC World labelling it “the most mind-blowing game demo we’ve ever seen.” Here’s a rundown of the biggest details revealed.
The biggest reveal is that this RPG is in first-person, unlike The Witcher 3. While this shift has caused some fan backlash, Peter Gelencser, Level Design Coordinator at CD Projekt Red, states that this is to give players a closer and more interment look at the Cyberpunk world. From the first person perspective, the HUD is entirely dependant on the cybernetic augmentations the player acquires. The information seen on screen is dependant on the lore and acts as a mechanic itself. There will be vehicles and driving as well as customisable skills and upgrades. Upgrades are purchased and installed through the Ripperdoctor. According to PC Gamer, jobs and missions are acquired through ‘Fixers’, but random events will trigger organically in the world.
Tom Marks from IGN noted that as the demo was hands-off, there was no way to tell if driving and shooting felt mechanically sound. However, he says it looked impressive. There is a synergy between storytelling and combat, in which players can tackle a scenario in their own specific way. Whether this is through conflict resolution in dialogue, stealth or traditional firefights, players have multiple ways to play. This is reminicent of the Deus Ex series, where cybernetic enhancements allowed players to upgrade specific skill trees to suit their playstyles.
The open world highlights one of CD Projekt Red’s biggest strengths. PC World believes that Night City, the metropolis the game takes place in, pushes gaming technology and the benchmark for open worlds in the same way Morrowind, the first Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto V did. Gelencser states that learning from the Witcher 3, they don’t think a big world is what matters and that they are focusing on a detailed world. Everything in the game has a purpose and a function. Night City, in the Free State of North California, is impacted and effected as a result of the player’s actions and how they approach various systems.
This huge city is traversable by car, taking either a first or third person perspective. NPCs fill the city, doing various activities. Similar to the dense city of Novigrad in the Witcher 3, the sprawling population isn’t just scenery but an actual living location. PC World states, “there’s a realism to Night City I’ve never seen, and again: I didn’t think it was possible.” Gameinformer state that players have an apartment that act like the safehouses in GTA, but have the presentation of Fable 3’s Sanctuary. Every outfit and weapon is on full display, showing off the player’s collection. However, Gelencser assures players that they can still conveniently swap equipment outside of the apartment.
Gelencser outright states that storytelling and narrative are the “bread and butter of the game”. Everything in this game, from the world to gameplay to customisation, is to serve the narrative. Players are able to fully customise the appearance of the game’s protagonist, V. V is less of a set character, like Geralt of Rivia, but not an outright blank slate, like in the Bethesda games. So V is more in the vein of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect or the Warden in Dragon Age. As V, the story is essentially about, at times literally, constructing yourself and your identity. As such, every customised outfit, cybernetic upgrade and modification serves this theme.
Many people have also noted that the world and tone isn’t as dark as the first trailers made it seem. IGN state that it is less Blade Runner and more Fifth Element on the Sci-Fi spectrum. This brighter tone is clearly seen in the E3 trailer, that shows a vibrant and sprawling city despite the dystopian narrative. However, IGN also note that the game is very mature, with nudity, drugs and a whole lot of violence plaguing Night City. As the game is so story driven, it is entirely single player. PC Gamer state that CD Projekt Red are open to adding multiplayer in after launch, but the single player narrative experience is their priority.