CD Projekt Red reaffirmed its pre-eminence in the open-world RPG genre with the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back in 2015. The success of that game made the developer one to not take lightly. After releasing two expansions for The Witcher 3, the studio sought to adapt its model of excellence to a new kind of RPG, thus creating Cyberpunk 2077. With Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red is doubling down on its ability to create sprawling open-worlds full of deep, meaningful customization options, varied play styles, and consequential decisions for players to make.
CD Projekt Red had a significant presence during Microsoft’s conference at E3 2019. While Cyberpunk 2077 was not playable at E3, a 30-minute demo was shown to attendees of the show.
The demo began at the character creation screen. A breadth of options are available, from outfitting V’s appearance to the skills the player can invest in that will influence a particular play style. The skills should allow for players of varying levels of skill and to find a play style that works best for them. At no point are skills locked into a specific part of the skill tree, so players can experiment until the most comfortable combination of skills is found. For the sake of time, the developer had already customized V as to jump right into the mission.
Once the action started, a gang leader enlisted V’s assistance in tracking a certain enemy that has been causing problems for his operation. V talked with this leader before a couple of major decisions are made.
The first major decision that occurred during the dialogue with V and the gang leader. CD Projekt Red seems dedicated to offering an array of options that dictate how characters around V react. Most notably in this sequence, some commotion occurred in the background. A member of the gang approached the leader who quickly dismissed him. V had the choice of inquiring about what had happened or continuing on gaining information for the mission. The representative playing and talking through the demo explained that V may have gotten on the leader’s bad side by asking about the commotion.
Little moments such as this will allow endless possibilities in Cyberpunk 2077. The distraction occurred briefly during the conversation between V and the gang leader, but presented the player an opportunity to stray from the main path that the mission encouraged. Potentially, inquiring about the commotion behind the scenes and similar instances throughout the story will allow for many branching story paths.
The second thing that stood out was Keanu Reeves’s character, Johnny Silverhand. A decision needs to be made to “jack in” to the network so that the leader can see everything V sees while out on the mission. Silverhand warns that this action may not be ideal as it could have the lasting consequence of allowing the gang leader access to V. The developers explained that consequences would appear later in the game, so none were evident in the demo.
Once the mission was accepted, V went to the deserted mall as instructed. Here is where the gameplay really opened.
Initially, V approached the situation as stealthily as possible. The hacking options in Cyberpunk 2077 are endless as most things are connected to the network. An example came when V had to cross a room full of enemies. One enemy was bench-pressing, and V was able to hack the machine and have the weights kill them.
The stealth section brought about Deus Ex vibes, but more polished. Maneuvering through the section quietly felt authentic. Enemies reacted when they suspected suspicious activity. The hacking mini-game seemed to have gone through some games from the one shown at E3 2018, though tweaks are still expected to be made.
After progressing towards the objective, a nanowire was put to use. The nanowire is not only used for stealth kills, but can be used as a whip-like melee weapon. The whip-like action does not limit the player to just physical damage. It can also be used to reach hackable people or objects from a distance. To hack enemies in the game, players will need to focus on the hacking skills of the skill tree. The versatility of the nanowire alone makes for such intriguing play styles.
Once V reached the objective, the demo paused and rewound so that a different play style could be showcased.
Back to the beginning of the mission, a guns-blazing version of V was used. This particular V focused more on attacking the enemies head-on, and the combat did not disappoint. The different take downs and attack skills looked as if those who wish to pursue this play style will have plenty of options of eliminating enemies.
The combat appeared clean. At no point did turning to enemies around the room appear clunky. The action played out at a manageable pace, with enough moments of downtime for the player to quickly assess the situation and carry out a plan of attack. Thankfully, transitioning from one weapon to another did not take the player out of the action. Based on this section, playing at a faster, more heads-on approach appeared fun and exciting.
After showing off the combat, the developers switched back to the stealth-focused V to wrap up. A final story decision required V to link with a security vehicle to find the runner. V claims that connecting to the vehicle would allow the police force, Netwatch, access to V. Before anything was done, the demo cut to black with the developers teasing that the audience would need to wait until the game is released to find out what happens next.
With Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red looks to capitalize on the name it made for itself from The Witcher 3. The details showcased in the demo looks to be a solid foundation. Customization is a key element for the game, and what was displayed during the presentation is enough to justify any excitement that fans already have. The vast array of play styles should also be enough to keep people returning to the game to experience all that CD Projekt Red has to offer even before its post-launch content is released.
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