Cyberpunk 2077 Demo Impressions, Interviews

A fresh trailer for CD Projekt's upcoming behemoth of a game, Cyberpunk 2077, was revealed at this year's E3 and quickly became one of the most discussed things to come out of the entire event. Striking while it's hot, the developers followed that up with a 45 minute long press demo and a series of interviews where they shared plenty of details about their upcoming open world RPG. So, if you're interested in learning a thing or two about Cyberpunk 2077, you might be interested in checking some of those out.

Let's start with a couple of video interviews. Here's one from the "E3 Coliseum" main stage event:

And here's GameSpot's interview:

Now, let's move onto the the demo impressions that describe Cyberpunk 2077 as an impressive-looking mature first person RPG with a flexible class system, melee and ranged combat, plenty of narrative choices, vehicles you can drive, property you can own, an assortment of cyberware, and even romances if you're into that kind of thing. Here's a bit of what PC Gamer has to say:

Dialogue doesn't feel like a stilted cutscene

In a lot of RPGs, dialogue sections basically put the game on pause while two characters talk stiffly back and forth. It's not the best way to deliver the story, and thankfully Cyberpunk 2077 has massive improvements in this area. While I'm not 100 percent certain, all dialogue appears to happen in real-time. You can continue moving and looking around, but when you focus the camera back on the character you're speaking to, dialogue options appear on screen. There were usually three or four options at any time, which does suggest this system won't be as robust as some other pureblood RPGs.

I'm okay with that, though, because this new system and the first-person perspective make for some incredibly tense exchanges. When V and her sidekick Jackie arrived at a Maelstrom gang hideout with the intention of buying a powerful piece of gear, the deal almost went sour. In the middle of the dialogue sequence, characters including V started drawing weapons and pointing them at one another. Meanwhile, dialogue prompts kept appearing that let you try to steer the situation: Do you try to keep calm or open fire? In this situation, we finally managed to deescalate by showing the thugs that we had the money and weren't looking to screw them over.

In an earlier scene, V was apprehended by a group of corporate agents. These extremely deadly characters were looking for information, and mistook V as someone they were looking for. While they pinned her to the ground, they jacked into her cyberware and installed a lie detector app and began an interrogation. If we lied, they would know it immediately and there would be consequences because of that. I love this new system because it feels fluid and natural. There's no longer the clear distinction of entering and exiting a conversation with someone. Everything flows together.

Then, there's IGN's take on the same thing, along with their bullet point list of demo details. A snippet:

But Cyberpunk also pulls away from other typical RPG molds. Instead of picking a class archetype, you get to customize and specialize as you see fit during the game, making your own class of sorts. You get to customize V’s backstory as well, and instead of more typical options you might expect, there are questions like picking your “Childhood Hero.”

But while your character is your own, this is clearly as much of an open-world RPG as The Witcher 3. We saw V, a woman in the demo I watched, walking around the dense and winding Night City to talk to allies, get quests from shady criminal sources, and upgrade her abilities and body parts.

At one point she went to her Ripperdoc to install an optical scanner and a hand upgrade called Subdermal Grip. The increased grip strength upped the damage of her guns, as well as brought up a previously-missing ammo counter. The eye (which you see installed in her head from its perspective and is one of the all-time creepiest and coolest pieces of equipment I’ve seen in a game) gives V the ability to zoom and scan enemies and vehicles.

That scanning is important, because there appear to be four different types of damage in Cyberpunk 2077: Physical, Thermal, EMP, and Chemical. Scanning shows you what damage the enemy uses, as well as what they are weak or strong against.

VG247 also has a thing or two to say about the demo:

Night City has worlds within worlds

The game takes place in Night City, a world with six distinct regions; City Center, Watson, Westbrook, Heywood, Pacifica and Santo Domingo. Some are slummy, where only the bottom feeders live, while others are strictly for the high life, or abandoned and crawling with crime. Within each of those are towering city blocks, which have their own contained eco-systems, markets, and citizens. It’s a bleak world, and there’s lots of it. You’re going to be playing Cyberpunk 2077 for a long time.

We met a lot of different characters in Night City, most of them clearly out for self. As one character puts it, “everybody gets fucked”. We met a gangster boss who gifted us a mission to prove our worth, a gun for hire, a corporate exec with nothing but disdain for the working classes. Don’t expect to make any friends in Cyberpunk 2077. And if you do, well, don’t trust ’em.

And then Eurogamer goes for a one-two punch an combines their impressions with their highly informative interview with CD Projekt's quest designer Patrick Mills. Here are a few select quotes:

It's called Night City, but we've only seen it in day time. Why show it in that light?

Patrick Mills: The dark city streets, the rain slicked streets, those are great. And those are in our game. We absolutely do have those. There is a day/night cycle. There's a weather system. All of that.

Thematically, one of the things about this sort of look, this sort of sun-bleached cyberpunk look is the crimes of this world, the worst things that happen, they happen in broad daylight. They happen and everybody knows they happen. You don't need the cover of darkness to get away with the things people get away with in this world.

Does it have any of the Bladerunner-established cyberpunk tropes, such as eating noodles at night in the rain?

Patrick Mills: That is there for sure. You will see those things, but it's not the only thing you see. We want to have a little bit more variety. We want to have depth and broaden that out. If you look at our trailer from 2012 and you look at the trailer now, both of those, they're in the same world. Those are both in the same world. Even though they are different art styles, we've gone from that art style and we've branched out from there. So we've got a lot more variety. We want it to feel like a real city, an international city and a city that's alive. If it's dark all the time, I don't know if I'd believe that.

Would you agree with the suggestion that the game has an 80s vibe to it?

Patrick Mills: There is an 80s influence, for sure. But we don't limit ourselves to just the 80s. You've also got influences from other eras, and of course from other types of sci-fi and cyberpunk. We've got lots of influences in there. We really want this city and the people in it to be vibrant and alive. What you're gonna see in the game is a mix of all sorts of art styles to create almost a wall of culture. It's like a wall of noise to just blast at you and make you feel like you're in this alive, vibrant place. It's also an international place, as I mentioned before. You have a lot of different influences from different cultures all around the world.

When the camera pulled back to show the car in third person, I thought of Grand Theft Auto. Is that a fair comparison for you?

Patrick Mills: It is a comparison that is, on the surface level, really looks like it. GTA 5 took place in California and our game takes place in California as well. You see it and there are similarities. But it's not the same kind of game. We are an RPG. We're a non-linear RPG with a character you control and you create. In terms of how we build quests, that's distinctly us, and you're going to get that. We would really want you to look more at Witcher 3 in terms of what you're going to get from this.

And if you enjoy concise clarity, over at WCCFTech you can find a neat Cyberpunk 2077 fact sheet. An excerpt:

Create a hero able to survive in America’s most dangerous megacity.
  • Create Your Own Cyberpunk Your name is V, and you can be anyone you want to be. Cyberpunk 2077 will feature full character customization, with gender, appearance, and personal background all affecting the shape of your game. As you progress. you’ll develop skills in urban warfare and network hacking, as well as modify your body with cyberware like infra-red eyes or neural reflex boosters.
  • Fluid Class System – Become a Netrunner. Techie or Solo.. or a mix of all three. Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t impose any player roles and allows all available classes.
  • See Night City Through Your Eyes – Cyberpunk 2077 brings first-person perspective back to the role-playing genre. Deep narrative immersion is a key design priority, and you’ll experience the story of the game’s protagonist entirely through their eyes.
  • Interactive Dialogue Control – You’re a participant, an agent, not an observer. Cyberpunk 2077 features an interactive dialogue system that gives players maximum control during conversations—comment on an uncooperative character’s tattoo to please them, or end a conversation early with a well-placed bullet. The choice is always yours.
  • Game Noir – With its mature approach to storytelling, Cyberpunk 2077 adopts elements of noir cinema and inserts them into the future of video games. Without a clear definition of what’s good or evil, in Cyberpunk 2077 you’ll make hard choices to define yourself in a city that wants to bring you to your knees.

And finally, apparently some people online weren't overly enthused about Cyberpunk 2077 going the first person route, so IGN asked the developers to comment on that. Here's the official response:

We got a chance to sit down with Peter Gelencser, the lead level designer on Cyberpunk 2077, and ask him his thoughts on the audience reaction. Gelencser explained, "First and foremost, I really enjoy all the attention the subject is getting, because it's important. This has been an educated decision. The first-person point of view is there so you can see things happening up close, and so you can really interact with things in a visceral manner. with the game world." He continued. "It worked out well with our exploration of the genre."

He then went on to explain more of the philosophy of how you present perspective in games, saying, "Third-person works well in games like the Witcher when you have a lot of motion and movement around you. But when all the things happen to you, from you, within you, first person point of view is the right decision to take, especially because of the augmentations."