Preview: Our first look at Cyberpunk 2077

One of most anticipated reveals of E3 2018 was Cyberpunk 2077, the latest game from developer CD Projekt Red, who created a monster hit with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in 2015.

The developer teased us with a CGI announcement trailer back in 2013, but had been mum about the game for five years. Now, in 2018, we got a reveal trailer during the Microsoft Media Briefing, and for some lucky journalists (that’s us!) and fans, a healthy 50-minute presentation, featuring gameplay, during E3.

Night City

CD Projekt Red describes the world of Cyberpunk 2077 as an alternate American timeline. Taking place in the fictional free state of North California city, Night City, the streets are run by organized crime. The city is comprised of six districts, each with its own unique community and culture. Each district has it own issues with crime and poverty but also unique opportunities.

The Watson District is where we started our demo and it was very reminiscent of scenes from movies like Blade Runner. There were neon lights everywhere with streets that were alive and vibrant with vendors selling items, homeless characters talking to themselves, and other characters who appeared to be wanting to speak to you. It’s an immersive open world that you could easily get lost in. Oh, and there aren’t any loading screens.

Create your character

Cyberpunk 2077 will have an in-depth character creation system where you not only get to choose to play as a man or woman and how they look, but you also get to create your backstory by choosing to be a Netrunner, Techie, Solo, or a little bit of all of them. Your character, however, will always be a very skilled mercenary. For the hands-off E3 demo, V, the main character in the game, was a woman. She doesn’t align herself with any organization or any corporation, which allows her to move more freely in the world.

Yes, Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person role-playing game, and as with any role-playing game you can customize your character’s attributes and skills. We didn’t get too in-depth here on what attributes and skills will be available, but throughout the demo we saw some actions requiring hacking skills and engineering skills, plus opportunities to increase or decrease your strength, intelligence, tech, reflexes, constitution, and others

First mission

The first mission in the demo had V and her partner, Jackie, a gun for hire, looking for a missing person. The two mercenaries entered a Scavenger hideout and started searching the area for information on the missing person. When the two crossed paths with enemy combatants, V took a reflex booster. A reflex booster is a type of cyberware that temporarily enhances your combat skills. The one used in the demo is called the Kereznikov, which slowed down time during the gun battle, like The Matrix or Max Payne's bullet-time, giving your character the upper hand when diving and shooting at the enemy.

As we made our way through the hideout, we finally found the missing person, near death in a bathtub. It looks like the Scavengers (a gang that’s in the game) were trying to harvest her for parts or trying to get information. By the way, it seems like every character in the game has some sort of android-like enhancements in every part of their body, very much like Deus Ex.

Once V and Jackie recovered the missing person, they called in the Trauma Team, armored paramedics who are hired to take care of very special clients. They’re also very well armed. Once the mission is complete, V and Jackie are paid nicely. During the presentation we were told that Cyberpunk 2077 is a very mature game that offers a lot of interaction possibilities. Then in the next scene, we see V and an unknown naked male character wake up and get out of bed. It looked like V had a fun night after an intense job.

Second mission

After the male character leaves, we explore the V’s apartment, including her wardrobe. Certain clothing can boost different attributes including Street Cred, which opens new opportunities and options when making decisions, and even new vendors if it gets high enough.

Once we’re dressed and ready to go, we meet Jackie outside, who has information on another job. He lets V know that a character named Dexter Deshawn wants to meet with her for a very lucrative gig. In talking with Dexter, there’s a dialogue tree to direct the conversation, allowing us to accept or decline the job. We accept of course, though the job won’t be easy. Dexter wants us to retrieve a military weapon, but there’s a twist.

The weapons were stolen from Militech, a megacorporation, and Dexter knows who stole them. What he proposes is reaching out to Militech to let them know where the weapons are for cash, but before we hand over the thieves to Militech, we buy this special spider robot weapon from the thieves using Militech’s money. Pretty sneaky.

Before we started the mission, we visited a Ripperdoc named Doctor Victor who enhanced V’s eyes to zoom and scan environments and people, as well as an improved weapons grip which shows us ammo count, alternative firing modes, and adds a bit more damage to attacks.

The demo continued with going to meet up with a Militech agent. On our way to the meet, however, we were attacked by Scavengers, who were probably still mad about the missing person we took from their hideout. A car chase ensued, with V firing shots outside the driver window, making the Scavengers crash. Driving in the game will be an essential part of traveling through the city. Also, you can switch between first person and third person view while driving.

When we finally meet up with the Militech agent, it turned out to be a very tense conversation that could have ended up with everyone going down in a blaze of glory. But luckily, the Militech agent, embarrassed because they were robbed, relented and gave V the cash for the information and for us to buy the robot.

Once that deal was done, we went to meet with the gang who hijacked Militechs weapons to buy the spider robot. Another tense conversation takes place before the sale is made. Unfortunately, the credit given to us by the Militech agent causes some sort of blackout that closes every way out. Of course the gang thinks it’s a setup, and another gun battle happens.

During the presentation the developer stressed many times that there are many different choices, outcomes and possibilities for every conversation and encounter in the game. We could have attacked the Militech Agent and her guards during the meet. Or we could have kept the money she gave us for ourselves and deal with Dexter’s wrath later. We could have went in with guns blazing and just stole the spider robot from the gang or used our own personal money to buy the bot, avoiding the whole environmental shut down.

Once we took out all the thugs in the hideout, we used our newly installed vision tech to find a way out. We also grabbed and used several weapons during our escape. There was a very powerful shotgun V used to blow off enemy limbs, there was a smart rifle where the bullets track and follow enemies, and a pistol with ammo that ricochets off walls to take out enemies hiding behind cover. There’s also those insane looking mantis blades installed on V’s arms, that you may remember from Cyberpunk 2077’s very first teaser trailer. They’re pretty much the perfect melee weapon, and she can also use them to climb walls.

You can also hack into enemies, and since most enemies are part of a network, you can also hack into that network giving you access to entire squads. This gives you the opportunity to install all types of malicious software into the network. For the demo, V decided to jam all their weapons, making the enemies easy prey. The demo ended with V battling a heavily armored gang member, which took a bit of time to finish off.

Overall, it appears that CD Projekt Red is meeting the high expectations thrust upon them from everyone who loved The Witcher 3. The game looks great, the RPG elements are in-depth, the shooter mechanics look solid, and the narrative choices offered look refreshing. We can’t wait to play the game for ourselves.

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