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During this year's E3, CD Projekt was presenting a fresh 50 minute long demo for their upcoming open-world RPG Cyberpunk 2077 that's now set to launch on April 16, 2020. As a result, we can now check out plenty of demo impressions and by doing so, learn a thing or two about this highly-anticipated project. However, before we do that, we should also check out this PlayStation Access video interview with Pawel Sasko, the game's enthusiastic lead quest designer:
And then, there's also an interview with Keanu Reeves where he talks about the game and his part in it, courtesy of IGN:
One of the best parts of that was a live character-swap the demo did twice. The demo started from the perspective of a hacking, netrunner-focused version of V - hacking doors to open them or vending machines to distract enemies - but at one point CD Projekt Red jumped back to an earlier section and replayed it as a much more aggressive, strength-focused character.
While one was making stealth kills with a laser garrot called a monowire, the other ripped a turret off its base and used it as a minigun in a bloody rampage. When it came to stealth, the hacker route had them sneak up on an enemy training against a boxing bot and hacking it to up the difficulty to knock them out cold, while the strength route just ripped a closed door open and avoided them entirely. If every mission has the option to go in loud or quiet (which is suggested by the fact that CDPR confirmed we’d be able to do full non-lethal playthroughs) that’s a huge amount of flexibility for a large-scale open-world RPG.
Speaking of impressions, there's also PC Gamer:
The demo takes a turn as the developers switch to a female V heavily specced into strength and decked out with super strong cyborg arms. We're going to infiltrate the mall again, but not so quietly this time.
It's also about when we get a look at the perk tree, separate from the skill point system. As you play and level up, you'll be able to put that experience towards perks in that open up new abilities or buff exisiting stats/skills in 12 branches: handguns, rifles, blades, hacking, shotguns, two-handed combat, assassination, cold blood, sniper rifles, engineering, melee, and athletics. Some are self explanatory, but I'm curious what others like cold blood entail.
She takes us into... Cyberspace! Cyberpunk! In a backroom through a now-destroyed, long-forgotten international rail system (think the Overground but with investment), we get into a bath of suspicious ice. Keanu - sorry, Johnny Silverhand - is all "yeah whatever" about it and we are less so. We wake up in actual Cyberspace and Matrix-y figures made of ones and zeroes and other cyber things indicate the people in the room. Approaching cyber-Brigitte we're warped through time and (cyber) space to what she calls the Black Wall. It's red actually, but it's still as ominous as it sounds. No one's ever ventured through to the other side and come back. Alt Cunningham reckons they'll be the first to. There's a suggestion maybe it's got something to do with brain ghost Johnny. There's a massive, dubstep-wubbing bulge to the red Black Wall, and with that our first proper look at the true themes of the cyberpunk genre - transience (someone actually said it at one point!), humanity, identity, self. I've had a mental vomit break from all the limb chunking - talking to others who saw the presentation I think I might have had a particularly stab-ho demonstrator - and am way, way back on board. It feels more real, but by the end of demo it still, for the most part, feels just as astonishing.
In our demo, V is equipped with technology that allows for instant language translation. But instead of just flashing the text on screen in plain English right away, the display has a cool effect where the text is first displayed in an unreadable format, and then the characters quickly change in a wave from left to right. It isn’t so slow as to impede your reading, but it is slow enough to reinforce you’re in a diverse world that you can’t understand without some help.
The idea of certain dialogue options only being available to players who have made certain choices is an old RPG standby. What makes it interesting in Cyberpunk 2077 is the variety of ways that you can add those kinds of options. It isn’t solely about reaching a certain threshold in a core ability score. Depending on which backstory you’ve selected for your character (like growing up as a street kid, or having a corporate background) you might see different options. If you’ve invested in certain skills (like hacking), that can also open new conversation paths. This means the actions you’ve taken are frequently recognized and brought to the surface.
Pacifica itself has also changed. In the original RPG it was a playground for the rich, a safe bastion where the wealthy could live a life of luxury. In the years since, a massive economic crisis causes all the megacorporations to pull out. The area becomes lawless and falls into disrepair. A desperately poor minority population moves in to fill the vacuum. Pacifica now looks like a refugee camp mixed with an active conflict zone, with small squabbles escalating into gunfights. In the distance an attack helicopter could be seen pounding the side of a high rise building. At one point, CD Projekt even showed the remains of a luxury hotel that had been converted into a marketplace for scavenged scrap.
Driving mechanics played a central part in this year’s Cyberpunk 2077 demo. It showed the player hopping on board a futuristic motorcycle and driving through the game’s open world from location to location. CD Projekt said it will be possible in the final version of the game to spend your time simply roaming the streets in a vehicle, listening to the radio and searching for quests in the larger world.
It looks amazing, same as last year. (We’ve embedded the E3 2018 demo above, since CD Projekt hasn’t made the latest footage available. I'm trying to be skeptical, both of CD Projekt's commitment to cyberpunk's themes (and not just aesthetic), and to some of the technical feats we've seen both last year and this year. But it just looks damn cool, and April 2020 can't come soon enough—if only so we can verify what CD Projekt is saying.
And Digital Trends:
I wasn’t a fan of The Witcher 3’s combat, but CD Projekt Red seems to have evolved with Cyberpunk 2077. Skill trees (every open world RPG needs skill trees, right?) let you upgrade attributes across a lengthy number of categories. You can mix and match skills as you’d like. Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t limit you based on class. If you want to be a sniper who also can tear enemies to shreds up close, you can do that.
The sheer endless ways to approach Cyberpunk 2077‘s conflicts has me excited to see how it all comes together to create a unique experience for each player.
I can’t talk about Cyberpunk 2077 without mentioning Keanu Reeves, who lends his likeness and voice to the rocker Johnny Silverhand. Johnny aids you on your adventure, offering advice. He glitches as he walks, and it didn’t seem as if other people could see or hear him. It’s like your own personal Keanu, there just to help you, and I’m ok with that.