When E3 rolls around once a year, all of us gamers are wondering: What’s going to be the next big thing? What will be the best surprise of the show this year? Definitively, that game this year is Cyberpunk 2077. This is a game so meticulously crafted down to its smallest point, that its world doesn’t feel like just any game, but a living, breathing metropolis teeming with visceral substance. This world has a story, tucked in every corner, down every street, and it’s up to you to discover its secrets.
Its not something you can just see outright; its something you can taste in the stale air, breathed a million times over from every citizen struggling to survive in Night City: a place where dreams are reality, but lies line every street. The truth is out there, hidden somewhere in the fold of Night City’s constant moving parts, waiting to be found.
Developer CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person, open-world, western-style RPG, set in the fully-realized world of an alternate ‘Free-State of North California.’ In this behind-closed-doors hands-off demo, we had a chance to see how far Cyberpunk 2077 has come along; and at this moment it’s already looking to be hailed as one of the greatest games of this generation.
The game starts off with the ability to set up a fully customizable character to your liking. In the demo, the developers chose a female named V. Upon the game’s release, you’ll also have the ability to choose more options before starting the game, such as a backstory creator that unravels throughout the expanse of the game.
"It’s time for V to pull out a cyberware item to use on the go. This piece she uses it a booster enhancement in the form of an inhaler. As she takes a whiff of the inhaler, her reaction time is rapidly raised."
V is a citizen of Night City, a place controlled by MegaCorps in the towering skyscrapers above. There’s a sense of aura flowing through the sky in those towers high above, dwelling over Night City. Below, goons and gangs rule the cold streets behind colorful flickering neon lights and glowing atmosphere. V is a cyberpunk, an enhanced human with cybernetic abilities that come from upgrades to her body from cyberware that she’ll need to survive Night City’s rampant urban culture.
You’ll immediately take note at Night City’s bustling metropolis; a world where everything is in constant flux, where danger lurks around every bend and down every narrow alley. Cars fly from above, citizens watch their backs walking down the busy sidewalks, and stores and vendors line the streets hoping to make an eddie (the in-game currency).
V and Jackie, a skilled assassin, are on the hunt for a missing person. Their lead takes them to an old apartment complex, rundown and definitely the sort of place you’d expect to find a missing person. The action revs up in the first moment of gameplay as V and Jackie rush into the complex to an assortment of enemy types throughout, loaded with cybernetic implants, hysterically firing off their weapons in V’s direction. V quickly hides behind cover as she quickly reacts and returns fire. Sure enough, a blaze of bullets engulf the apartment rooms as everyone’s cover is blown, and walls become helpless to resist the trail of fire.
This is an RPG, so a well-placed shot to the head or body will only trigger damage points that fly off of the enemies’ health, rather than a single-shot kill. Weak points and trigger points are present on enemies, but for right now, the enemies are of a weaker ilk and a few shots here or there are good enough to kill them.
Stacks of enemies continue to pour in, quickly outnumbering the heroine and her sidekick. It’s time for V to pull out a cyberware item to use on the go. This piece she uses it a booster enhancement in the form of an inhaler. As she takes a whiff of the inhaler, her reaction time is rapidly raised. Entering a time distillation, everyone is slowed down to a crawl and V’s reactions are sped up. This gives V a reactive time to avoid bullet fire, rush past smoke an flames and take out the enemies face to face without them even knowing she was there.
"The developers also noted that there is more than just a car to ride around it. So here’s hoping we get to do some flying sometime later in the game."
After eliminating the remaining enemies, the duo find who they’re looking for. Two bodies; one male, dead, the other, an enhanced female, still alive. Barely. V hacks into the dying woman’s body to discover the exact details of her situation. After V calls for an trauma team to try and save the dying woman, we find out that there’s something important about her. It’s not revealed in the demo, but the trauma team are paramedics with guns. They’re designed as a form of insurance for rich citizens.
Back inside her apartment, V wakes up and readies herself for today’s work. At this point you’ll get to select what weapon you’d like from your armory; then into V’s closet to select an outfit for her to wear. The outfits are very interesting; not in fashion or design, but the mechanics behind them. Depending on which outfit you select, you’ll have a chance to boost your character stats, as usual, and a new stat titled Street Cred. Having a higher Street Cred will allow V to have a better standing on the streets, sometimes opening up new dialog or even giving her discounts at stores. The CDPR rep demoing the game selected a jean jacket that raised V’s Street Cred, but the full potential of this class is not showed off.
After wandering the streets of Night City, seeing the sites such, crime scenes, street brawls, and citizens living their every day lives, V finds herself in the back of Dexter Deshawn’s car. Deshawn is a fixer — a sort of contractor who runs a guns-for-hire program. Deshawn has a job for V; she needs the money, so she takes it. Her job: extract a piece of high tech weaponry from a gang known as Maelstrom, in the district of Watson, who stole it from Militech — a private military megacorporation, on the level of the American military forces. On each mission there are several ways to go about taking on the situation. You can use stealth, guns blazing, get help, or use a mix of any of those. The developers chose a branch that sends V to need to speak with one of Militech’s agents, Meredith Stout, nearby to gain credits from them to buy back their own stolen equipment. It’s a crazy plan, but V believes it will work. Of course choosing different dialog branches could not even make this option possible.
V’s first stop is to find the ripperdoc for some cyberware upgrades. The ripperdoc is a sort of in-game store where if you have the eddies and parts, several variations of upgrades are available to purchase. Doctor Victor is V’s ripperdoc, a medical technician who is half doctor, half engineer. Ripperdocs run throughout the districts of Night City and carry variations of tech upgrades. We were warned at the demo that some ripperdocs will supply legal cyberware upgrades, while others are more into underground, illegal ones, such as military weapons upgrades. Luckily for us, Doctor Victor didn’t apply anything that would get V in trouble with the law so easily. A Kiroshi optical scanner eyeball is then implanted into her eye socket. This new abilities allows V to scan enemy weak points and positions, and zoom in — sort of like a sniper scope. For her second upgrade, V’s hand is equipped with a cyberware piece that allows her to grip her weapon, making weapon damage higher toward enemies. It’s time for the next mission.
"Arriving at her destination, V makes use of her newest cyberware implant, the Kiroshi, and scans the Militech guards and their vehicles before approaching the situation. This is a good way to go about certain missions, as it can give you early info on what’s happening and what you’re getting yourself into."
During the live demo, we were told that to get around Night City’s vast, open-world, it is essential to use a car — unfortunately, the car in the demo wasn’t much for futuristic, as it had wheels and drove along the streets, as other cars flew around town. The developers also noted that there is more than just a car to ride around it. So here’s hoping we get to do some flying sometime later in the game. It’s time for V to take the wheel. The driving looked relaxed and fluid. It’s not going to compare to any racing game, but it doesn’t have to. It simply works really well in an open-world.
A battle breaks out with V in the driver’s seat along with Jackie on the passenger side, as a group of assailants pull out heavy artillery and begin to try and take her down. V pokes half of her body out of the driver side window as the car continues onward, following these strangers with guns. V becomes fully controllable as you are able to aim and destroy the enemies in their vans. Strangely, V’s car drives perfectly as she’s out and aiming for the kill. Does the car become automated or does the player control both her and the vehicle movement?That’s unclear right now, but nonetheless, V takes down her enemies and clears herself from the danger at hand.
Arriving at her destination, V makes use of her newest cyberware implant, the Kiroshi, and scans the Militech guards and their vehicles before approaching the situation. This is a good way to go about certain missions, as it can give you early info on what’s happening and what you’re getting yourself into. V proceeds as everything checks out and she confronts Meredith about gaining access to a line of credit. Meredith sicks her guards on V, then proceeds to upload her data into their own heads. Here, we learn that every one with a cyber implant has a weakness to get hacked. V goes into branching dialog again as they ask her very specific questions, and now that she’s being hacked, they know when you’re lying, so choose your answers carefully. This is such a unique aspect, usually lying in other games with dialog doesn’t have much for consequences. This game can have deadly ones. Eventually she gets out of the situation by using specific dialog choices, and gets the credit line from Militech to try and trade with Maelstrom. The developers said that you can actually do what you’d like with the line of credit. You can keep it, spend it, or do other things with it. What you do is up to you, but that doesn’t mean consequences won’t follow.
V makes her way to the Maelstrom hideout and tries to negotiate with its leaders: money for the tech. Maelstrom proves to be impossible to deal with, and all hell breaks loose. With all dialog options now expired, V’s only option is to break in and steal the tech herself. Again, V and Jackie have to fight their way through the Maelstrom gang’s lair, which includes different routes and enemies types on the way.
They soon find the Militech item of interest in the form of a spider-like robot, after a few variations of rooms and enemies. The spider can follow V around and attack enemies for her as an added attack. As they try to escape a much larger enemy appears: a human with massive armor equipped. More shooting occurs as smaller enemies come in to help assist the boss in the fight. We now see the full extent of the Kiroshi as V activates the cyberware and every weak point on the boss appears, allowing V and Jackie to attack the vital points. Soon enough the enemies are cleared and V has a chance to return the tech spider to Militech.
"Not only was the engaging story, gameplay mechanics, and lively world impressive, Cyberpunk 2077 is easily my best game of the show for E3 2018."
After her successful mission, V is thrust into a world of unknowns and many variables as it becomes her job to unlock the secrets of Night City. Every question has several answers in the branching dialog; and every answer has potential consequences. But V isn’t alone; her sidekick Jackie will help her along the way from time to time, as well as cyberware implant enhancements, and intriguing moments filled with cunning detail. Weapons will be varied, as will cyberware implant modifications to help navigate your way around the six districts of Night City.
And that’s only a taste of Cyberpunk 2077. There wasn’t a moment in this edge-of-your-seat thriller where fatigue sets it. Every second I had my eyes wide open, ready for more. Every scene is filled with attention to detail that you’d only notice in a real life setting. Not only was the engaging story, gameplay mechanics, and lively world impressive, Cyberpunk 2077 is easily my best game of E3 2018.