Preview: Cyberpunk 2077’s E3 2019 demo shows off play styles and options

At E3 2018, we got our first look at Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay. Now developer CD Projekt Red has a returned to show us more.

At the start of the E3 2019 demo, we’re about midway through the game. The player character, V, is leveled up and has already unlocked a number of skills and perks. At this point in the game, V has been implanted with a bio-chip that apparently holds the secret to immortality.

Pacifica

At the same time, V is “haunted” by a technoghost named Johnny Silverhand, who is portrayed by Keanu Reeves. V’s goal in this demo is to learn more about the bio-chip by meeting up with some hackers named the Voodoo Boys. The Voodoo Boys, a Haitian crew, are in a district called Pacifica (there are six districts in the game), and the area looks like a war torn third world city with guys randomly shooting guns in the air while makeshift shelters line the roads.

Compared to the cityscapes we saw in last year’s demo, which was reminiscent of a Neo-Tokyo or Blade Runner-type of world, the Pacifica District looked like something from a present day city overseas ravaged by civil war. According to the presenter, Pacifica was once a resort district that attracted a lot tourists and investments from different corporations. When the economy collapsed, corporations pulled out as did the government leaving the area a lawless region with no infrastructure. The game still looks gorgeous, if not a little too real.

Before we dove further into the demo, the presenter showed us how deep character customization will be in the game. You’ll be able to choose gender, skin tone, shapes of eyes, mouths, ears, nose, body type, among other options. There will also be a number of attributes you’ll be able assign to your character like body strength, intelligence, reflexes, technical expertise, and others. You’ll be able to assign your character a background too.

You could make V a person who grew up in the streets and has the type of reputation to make it easier to get in good with local gangs to a person with a corporate background who left the corporate world to get deeper into the technological side of things. Your background determines some of the conversation options you have in world with different characters.

The mission

As we continue through the demo we learn that the Voodoo Boys are obsessed with the mysteries of cyberspace and they usually don’t work with outsiders. Luckily for V, we got a connect and the Voodoo Boys is making an exception. We meet up with a middle man at some church who then directs us to go to a butcher shop to meet up with Placide. The presenter also mentioned that the meat we see in this butcher shop is synthetic meat, and that real meat in Night City is a luxury.

When we finally meet Placide, he instructs us to follow him and there’s a bit of small talk about Pacifica, its history, and their rival gang, The Animals. When walking with Placide we pass by some vendors and the presenter tells us as we play the game we’ll be able to buy, upgrade, and customize our gear. In addition, as you play the game you earn Street Cred, which unlocks more content.

Brigette is the leader of the Voodoo Boys and who we want to see, but before we see her, Placide says we first need to do something for the Voodoo Boys – infiltrate The Animals hideout.

To get the information needed for the mission, Placide “jacks in” to V by plugging a cable into his arm like it’s a USB port. Our presenter said that, in the game, this is like giving someone control of your brain. Placide is now in our head to guide on this mission.

On our way to the hideout, we hopped on a motorcycle. Controlling a vehicle we were able to see both first-person view and third person view as well as the option to select radio stations. We didn’t get too many details on how many stations, but there will be some music to cruise too. You’ll be able to drive (or walk/run) throughout the entirety of Night City, all six districts, without any loading screens. There’s no word on if there will be a fast travel option.

When we arrive to the location, we’re instructed to sneak in through the back area. The Animals are described as a gang obsessed with a substance called “Juice.” Imagine if steroids had an immediate result and made you bigger, stronger, quicker, and more powerful, that’s what juice does to whoever takes it.

Stealth or guns blazing?

When entering the hideout, which is an old abandoned mall, we have the option of going in with guns blazing or stealth. Placide suggested stealth would be the best way to proceed. And despite all the weapons and cool gadgets to be found in the game, the entire game can be 100 percent completed without killing anyone. But from the looks of the current situation, that would be very difficult. We’re supposed to find a van that’s hidden somewhere in the mall.

For the impatient gamer, the stealth option may seem a bit tedious. There was lots of sneaking around, overhearing conversations from enemies, and a couple of stealth takedowns. One takedown we were able to attack a guy from behind and throw him down a garbage chute.

Playing as the Netrunner “class” or playstyle gives the player the ability to hack cameras and other items in the environment, similar to Watch Dogs. There’s a little mini-game to the hacking. V was able to hack a boxing robot to kill one of The Animals it was sparring with as well as a mechanical bench press that dropped some weights on a guy working out. Everything is the game is connected to some sort of network, and the network can be hacked.

At this point we switched to Strong Solo Mode “class.” Cyberpunk 2077 has a fluid class system where players can choose what skills to acquire and what playstyle to invest in. The Strong Solo mode doesn’t have the skills to hack into the network, but is super strong and can rip open metal doors with ease and is pretty handy with shotguns and machine guns. The stealth movement also isn’t very stealthy in this class, so V is discovered roaming around the hideout.

While the enemy abilities are cool, being able to move quick enough to look like they’re teleporting, and jumping in front of you, I felt the same uneasiness as my colleagues at Rock Paper Shotgun about battling an all-Black gang called The Animals. Can we diversify it a bit?

Combat evolved

The overall gun battle moments aren’t that imaginative and look like any other first person shooter you might play from Ubisoft or Activision. It looks great, but run of the mill. Using the Netrunner’s nanowire is a lot more interesting where the player can use it like a whip and sever limbs off foes coming after them. The final boss fight in the mission was interesting where you have to avoid and move around rising and lowered walls while aiming for the boss’s tank filling her with juice.

Once the mission is complete, there’s a bunch of cut scenes and we finally get to see Brigette, who agrees to help us, although the mission her crew sent us on was suicide. Regardless, the Voodoo Boys trusts V now and brings us inside the gang’s lair to find out more about the bio-chip. This was pretty much the end of the demo.

Overall the game still looks on track to be a massive and immersive experience with a lot of options for players on how they want to play. You can’t help but look forward to trying everything and attempting this particular mission in a different way and customizing your character to the way you play. Despite some run of the mill gameplay and the need to diversify some of the bad guys, it’s still a game that deserves to be on everyone’s highly anticipated list.