Cyberpunk 2077, by all accounts, is going to be a massive game. CD Projekt RED has been hyping its improvements to role-playing and world-building for a while now and on November 19th, we’ll get to experience it for ourselves. In the meantime though, we’re going to go over almost everything you should know before buying the game. In fact, there’s so much to cover that today’s part will cover the story, world, Life Paths and the various groups vying for control in Night City. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
The story sees protagonist V seeking the “chip of immortality.” Details for the prologue see V and Jackie Welles having to steal it from the Arasaka Corporation. Of course, things go wrong and V is betrayed and seemingly killed. Except not really and top it off, legendary rocker Johnny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves) is haunting them. The chip of immortality is seemingly keeping V alive but why and to what ends? And why does Johnny want to burn Night City to the ground? A number of questions must be answered but it could all begin a whole lot more differently.
Three different Lifepaths are available from the outset, providing a different background, starting point and prologue for V. These are Nomad, Corpo and Streetkid, each providing their share of changes for dialogue choices and quests. Nomad sees V starting in the Badlands and venturing into Night City after their family is reduced to pieces. Streetkid has V as a citizen of Night City, running foul of Night City PD and Arasaka’s Kaoru Fujioka after a car-theft gone wrong. Corpo V works in Arasaka Corporation as a counter-intelligence agent and receives a request to off another employee (which also goes wrong, obviously). All of these paths will tie into the meeting with Johnny Silverhand but provide a more distinct flavor to each playthrough
Along with Lifepaths, an extensive character creation suite is available for customizing one’s very own V. We’ll cover stats, cyberware, Skills and perks in the next part but there are plenty of cosmetic options worth mentioning. You can choose from different sets of faces, hair-styles, eyes, noses, jaws, ears and mouths; modify makeup, scars, piercings and clothing; add tattoos, eye mods, skin mods and surface wiring; and go with different voices and body types (along with other more explicit modifications). Whether it’s a sleek Street Samurai or a mess of cyberware modifications, the choice is yours.
For all the character creation options available, it was perhaps most surprising to fans that Cyberpunk 2077 would be a first-person game. Community lead Marcin Momot said the decision to go with this is something that will benefit the immersion greatly “from gameplay and story-telling perspectives.” Though the third-person perspective does pop up occasionally, this will only be in some cut-scenes and while driving. V will also be visible in the inventory menu and when looking at mirrors. It’s a big shift but one that’s started making more sense as more gameplay is revealed.
The world of Cyberpunk 2077 has a fair amount of depth. Night City is fully independent from the rest of the country, its main attraction being the six districts – Heywood, Pacifica, Westbrook, City Center, Watson and Santa Domingo – that are further divided into 16 sub-districts. Each district has its own distinct style, story and gang that dominates it. City Center is the lush centerpiece that serves as the location for numerous megacorps. Meanwhile, Pacifica is a vacation resort that was left to die after investment evaporated and is now home to all kinds of crime. There’s also the Badlands, located outside of Night City, that features heavy pollution and which the Nomads inhabit.
With all the crime that occurs in Night City, V will run into a multitude of different gangs. 6th Street inhabits Santa Domingo and Heywood and is all about patriotism. The Animals are a booster gang in Pacifica using cyberware and substances to enhance their physical abilities. The Voodoo Boys are also found in Pacifica and consist of netrunners and edgerunners investigating the Old Net and Blackwall. Maelstrom is focused in Watson and uses all kinds of cyberware to the point of obsession. Scavengers can be found all over but like to hang out in Pacifica – they like to illegally extract cyberware and sell it on the black market. The Tyger Claws inhabit Westbrook and are akin to the Yakuza in their dealings – they’re also one of the biggest gangs with thousands of members. Finally, there’s the Moxes, a motley group interested in self-defense especially against the Tyger Claws. Each gang has its own motivations, style and story, and V can take missions from fixers for each one.
The megacorps are omnipresent in Cyberpunk 2077. They own and control pretty much everything. We’ve thus far been introduced to Arasaka, one of the most powerful megacorps in the world. And while Night City belongs to it, there are other groups to keep in mind. MAX-TAC aka Psycho Squad figured in the 2013 trailer for the game and has popped up briefly in some more recent screenshot. Meant to deal with cyberpsychosis victims, the Psycho Squad boasts significantly more firepower than the NCPD. Trauma Team International is a paramedical corporation that’s all about responding quickly to medical emergencies but charges premium prices for the same. Other megacorps like Militech, Kang Tao and Budget Arms also exist and seem to contribute to the weapons that players will discover. More details on them, along with groups like Biotechnica, are needed though.
Those interested in the overall lore and history of Night City might want to seek out Shards. These are collectible lore items that will outline a number of things, from Johnny Silverhand’s backstory to the history of each gangs, the megacorps, and perhaps even how the world got to be this way. It would be interesting to see if collecting these Shards will trigger a secret ending or revelation. Regardless, it’s worth keeping an eye out for them all the same.
Jackie Welles has popped up quite a bit as V’s companion but there will be others that can fill that role. Quest designer Philipp Weber said in a developer Q&A that there would be several different companions throughout the game. Along with accompanying V on different quests, they can also hang out with them and will serve important roles in the story. Interestingly, some of these characters can become friends or foes depending on your choices.
Though CD Projekt RED hasn’t explicitly outlined how romances will work, quest designer Paweł Sasko told GameSpot in August 2019 that meeting characters whose goals align with V’s “may spark interest on the side of the NPC” (depending on the decisions made, of course). They won’t fall for you immediately though and some may even opt to just be friends. Sasko also noted that, “Players’ choices define how many relationships V is going to have – but some preferences are impossible to change, almost how it is in real life. We believe that this is one of the key factors that makes characters feel genuine, natural, and real. We pay a great deal of attention to characters in the story, as they are the main pillars of the plot.”
Branching Dialogues and Quests
Every choice has a consequence but even simple conversations will have a range of options for players, whether it’s the usual dialogue choices or specific lines based on one’s Lifepath, stats and so on. During last year’s demo, which saw V taking on a job for the Voodoo Boys, it’s possible to either successfully connect the gang to Netwatch’s network or distrust them completely in favour of Netwatch, which opens up even more choices. Different Lifepaths will also have some content exclusive to them, though CD Projekt RED won’t divulge too much on that front.
Main Quest Length
The main quest in Cyberpunk 2077 will be shorter. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have less content overall but it should take less time to see the conclusion to V’s main story. In fact, you could end up finishing the game without even completing the main quest. Lead quest designer Pawel Sasko described the story to Spider’s Web as “the main storyline with different subplots surrounding it, which can be triggered in various ways. Those subplots allow us to do something that we have never done before – they change the main plot of the game and they are doing that in such a way that you may not even finish the main plot, but still finish the game and get a completely different epilogue than the player with a different Life Path who made different choices, met different characters and formed relationships with them.” So even more variety is in store for players who choose to do their own thing.
Along with the main quest, players can indulge in Street Stories, side quests which follow a certain template but that “are customized to make them feel unique” as per producer John Mamais when speaking to OnMSFT. Though you won’t see some of the more “advanced cinematic storytelling sequences” in these quests, they will have some story to them and provide ways to level up V. Expect “around” 75 Street Stories in total to go along with various activities.
“Game Over” and Quest Failure
V can’t stay dead thanks to the chip of immorality but that doesn’t mean they can’t die at all. This will cause a “Game Over” screen to appear but, no matter how badly a quest is failed or who dies as a result, the story will carry on. This fits into CD Projekt RED’s earlier confirmation that GTA-style rampages will be possible but that players may be dissuaded from doing so due to the number of choices available. Whether some NPCs are unkillable or not remains to be seen but the sheer number of ripples in the game world could be immense.
To no one’s surprise, there will be multiple endings to the game. With the number of choices, Lifepaths, NPCs and so on, this seemed a given. How different each ending will be, what can occur in the Epilogue and the ramifications of one’s choices is all yet to be revealed. Suffice it to say though, that there will be plenty of reason to replay Cyberpunk 2077 for months, even years to come.