Cyberpunk 2077 Could Be a Beautiful Electric Dream Come True

Cyberpunk 2077 Could Be a Beautiful Electric Dream Come True

Louise Blain

Until now, Cyberpunk 2077 has felt almost too good to be true. Like a brilliant dream that if you try and remember too hard, it disappears. But now, with a confirmed April 2020 release date and a ludicrous Collector’s Edition that sadly doesn’t come with Keanu Reeves, CD Projekt RED’s neon-lit Witcher 3 follow-up finally feels real. While gameplay was shown off last year, the E3 2019 behind closed doors demo at last reveals what it’s actually like to play Cyberpunk 2077. At last, it’s easy to see exactly how this world of power, glamour and body modification works. Night City is brimming with potential and, quite frankly, dangerous amounts of choice. This in-depth future RPG is all about you.

First off, we see mercenary outlaw V as he appears on the box art but the hands-off presentation immediately dives into the character creation mode. This isn’t just skin deep modification, though, as you tweak scars, eye colour and hair, it’s here that you’ll create your own backstory. Is your V a nomad? A street kid? Does he or she have a corporate background? And this isn’t just so you know your V better. Like RPG perks, choosing your origin story will influence how you speak to characters. While you’ll see every dialogue option, V can only select certain responses if you’ve had the right upbringing. Every choice here defines how your story will play out and it’s an impressive touch to be able to see how things could have been different. Plus, it turns out that if you want to play the entire game without trialling any of the glorious future violence for size, you can do that too. Cyberpunk 2077 can be played entirely non-lethally.

And, if you’re wondering where Keanu comes into all this, his Johnny Silverhand is watching, disinterested from behind his shades. “You really think they give a rat’s dick about how you look?” he drawls as V leaves the character customiser and enters first person again. Think of Johnny as your new best, imaginary friend. He lives on the chip implanted in V’s neck, the one that the secret to immortality may or may not also be hiding in, and Johnny’s ghost will flicker in and out of view every so often, complete with witty comments. Maybe Cyberpunk 2077 is just a good dream after all.

The demo takes place in an area called Pacifica, a once up and coming Las Vegas-style development for the rich and famous, but never completed and left in ruins. It’s the stomping ground for hackers the Voodoo Boys as well as another gang, the Animals. Pacifica is a stark contrast to the neon delights we saw last year. Concrete skyscrapers loom dully overhead and rubbish is scattered across the streets. A golden sunset brings it to life with a rich yellow hue. V’s world never looks less than tantalising to explore. After catching up with a high ranking member of the Voodoo Boys, Placide, who hacks into your brain to keep track of the situation, V jumps on a motorbike to head to a mall where the Animals are lurking. And of course, the first thing CD Projekt RED does is switch between synth radio stations to make sure we know we’ll be able to choose our own music too. Phew, we can make it sound like we’re listening to Gunship.

It’s when V gets to the mall that things get even more interesting. The Animals need to be taken down but how it’s done is up to you and your style of play. Refreshingly, there are no set classes, letting you choose between attributes at will. The options are vast. Rifle and blade skills... Engineering, cold blood, melee, tech.. It’s like a shopping list of your ultimate cyberpunk. Pile all your attribute points into your Nanorunner skills, though, and you’ll be an adept hacker, and we watch V hacking into security cameras as well as activating a vending machine to distract guards before quickly disposing of them when their backs are turned. One particularly inventive hack sees V wirelessly sneaking into the settings of a robot that an Animal member is boxing with. He cranks up the difficulty and sneaks past as a painfully crunchy KO takes place in the ring. It’s these little moments that show the brilliantly deadly potential at work here.

While a stealthy V could play non-lethally, you’d miss out on the fun of the nanowire, a stretch of deadly orange glowing string that V casually uses to lop off limbs. The demo also shows off superhuman strength in action. If you’ve invested enough points in becoming the Terminator with augmented tech, you’ll be able to prise open previously immovable doors to reach new areas or skip sections entirely. As this super buff V, you’ll even be able to yank machine guns from turrets to decimate the odds when it all comes down to an old fashioned gunfight. It almost feels strange when guns come into play after the elegance of hacking and whips of nanowire, but the gunplay looks solid enough as bullets rip through gang members.

We watch as V takes on a high level Animal called Sasquatch who is armed with a sledgehammer. The Animals are high on what’s known as Juice which gives them super speed and in Sasquatch’s case, the ability to wield a Mjolnirlike. All V has to do is shoot the tank supplying the juice and the hammer falls to the ground. It’s the most videogamey that things have looked but it’s important to remember that V could have chosen never to engage the Sasquatch and reached their goal in an entirely different way.

This is only a ridiculously enticing and short glimpse at what  Cyberpunk 2077 has to offer. It’s clear now that this isn’t just a magical concept anymore but a compelling RPG with a thrilling level of choice. Beautiful, nuanced, and as violent as you want it to be, Cyberpunk 2077 is looking, well, breathtaking.

  • I hope it's awesome.
  • i can't say i really care about having choices/options in games (this isn't 2005 anymore...who's still impressed with options?). i just want quality design and execution from the developer. give me a big, beautiful, dirty, dangerous city that stimulates the imagination and complement it with tight action and colorful characters. the setting, narrative and action should be the stars of a game like this. the option to play stealthy, guns blazing or some kind of pacifist isn't that important.
  • #2 Too each their own but personally, I really enjoyed the choices and ramifications that came with it in The Witcher. It's one of the reason I went back to play it multiple times.
  • #2 I'm confused by your expectations. How is one's imagination stimulated with a lack of options?
  • Absolutely cannot wait for this game!!! I'm taking a couple weeks off to play it (vacation time my fellow workers!) :)
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