Earlier this year, we thoroughly examined the lengthy E3 2018 gameplay demo for Cyberpunk 2077. We took a closer look at the origins and inspirations for the game’s universe, as well as classes and weapons, among many other things. With E3 2019 now well behind us and loads of new details, it’s time for another update.
This time, we’ll examine the short, yet impactful E3 2019 cinematic trailer, as well as an important game mechanic that it conveys. Afterwards, we’ll go through the much more action-packed Deep Dive video to learn more about character classes, local gangs of Night City and vehicles for traversing its treacherous streets.
We’ll conclude by emphasizing interesting points from a Q & A with the developers of the game, details of a possible multiplayer mode and finally, the game’s release date.
Actions & Consequences
During a short trailer at E3 2019, Cyberpunk 2077 showcased the consequences of performing certain actions. After barely escaping from a shootout, V’s partner, Jackie, dies in front of his eyes. V, this time portrayed as a male character, arrives alone to collect the bounty from his employer, Dexter DeShawn. However, DeShawn is not happy with their guns-blazing approach to the task and decides to dispose of V.
Utilizing the Mantis Blades in all of their glory to cut apart Dexter’s goons, V almost comes out on top. But if this scene is an indicator, then your decisions during any given mission will affect who lives and dies, as well as how employers react. In this instance, taking an aggressive approach and attracting police attention led to the demise of V’s partner and a conflict with the employer.
Beyond that, it also gave us the first glimpse at Johnny Silverhand – portrayed and voiced by everyone’s favorite Keanu Reeves. Most of us know him as Neo from The Matrix or “Ted” from Bill and Ted. For some of us, he’s John Wick, but regardless, his role in Cyberpunk 2077 is probably bigger than initially anticipated.
According to the information on the Wiki, Reeves’ dialogue is second only to the main character in terms of content and length, which means that his involvement won’t be limited to a supporting role. In fact, Johnny is a so-called digital construct living inside of a chip implanted into the main character’s head. A remark from him was showcased in the Deep Dive video: “Come on, you really think they give a rat’s dick how you look?”.
We’ll be hearing Mr Reeves a lot.
Prior to featuring more gameplay, the Deep Dive video introduced us to the Deep Net: an in-game version of our own Dark Web. Submerged in a bath of ice and visibly distressed, V was transferred into this Deep Net before leading us to the next scene.
From there, the video focused on a specific mission from the middle of the game. It introduced us to one of the game’s six districts — Pacifica — and two new gangs: The Voodoo Boys and their rivals — The Animals. Featured in the earlier segment, the former consists of exceptionally skilled Netrunners who preside over Pacifica and bear close ties with the local Haitian community.
Originally intended to be a tourist hotspot, things didn’t pan out well for Pacifica. It now looks like the Peach Trees from the 2012 reboot of Dredd, with numerous lifeless high rise buildings stretching above the district.
It’s home to crime and poverty and traversing this area on foot isn’t safe, so we got a brief look at two new vehicles as well. A bright-red Yaiba Kusanagi – a futuristic bike resembling the one owned by Shotaro Kaneda from Akira. And an as-of-yet unnamed armoured muscle car with certain features of a Dodge Charger from the 1970s.
Within Pacifica, our mission takes us to the formerly abandoned Grand Imperial Mall, now occupied by The Animals. This gang values physical strength and buff aesthetics over anything else and employs melee combat implants to further boost them. They spend their time lifting weights and sparring with training bots.
Working with one of the higher-standing members of The Voodoo Boys – Placide – V’s goal is to infiltrate the mall and locate a van outfitted with unusually advanced tech. In addition to that, she must deal with the local leader of The Animals – Sasquatch.
Before moving on, we get a closer look at the character creation system in Cyberpunk 2077, starting with the origin story. As a Street Kid, you’ve grown up on the streets, where the strong thrive and the weak die off. Nomads are scavengers of sorts, living on the road and valuing freedom above all else. And finally, Corporates are the elite of the society and will break any rules necessary in order to achieve their goals.
Selecting the origin story alters the very beginning of the game and unlocks different response options during conversations.
We were also taken through a revised character customization screen showcasing stats like Body, Intelligence, Reflexes, Technical and Cool. But more importantly, a rather complex skill-tree branching out in multiple directions.
Each skill in this tree is governed by one of the previously mentioned stats. For instance, Handguns, Rifles and Blades are governed by Reflexes, while Intelligence affects your hacking prowess. Moreover, using any skill gradually unlocks new perks for it, bestowing the skill with new properties. For Hacking, a perk might unlock additional malware daemons, though it’s currently unclear what exactly that implies.
Finally, to bring some brief action, the demo showcases a Strong Solo class. This class boasts clear advantages in terms of Body and Reflexes, giving them superior strength and combat abilities. As a Strong Solo build, V can rip out a light machine gun from a turret, which wouldn’t be possible without an advanced physical prowess.
Thanks to enhanced strength, forcing open doors isn’t a problem and doing so reveals complex wiring and hydraulic pistons within V’s arms. That same strength allows V to use enemies as a live shield, protecting her from incoming damage.
With the mission reaching its climax, V faces off against Sasquatch as she hammers through a neon billboard and attacks her. At one point, she hurls her hammer against V, incapacitating her. She then proceeds to hack V, blurring her vision and showcasing an interesting combat aspect in which enemies can hack your character.
However, destroying a weak spot on her back, V comes out victorious and is presented with a choice: kill Sasquatch or let her live. This is yet another example of an action leading to multiple possible consequences.
Briefly showcasing the previous segments as a Netrunner, V instead focuses on stealth and hacking. Thanks to the high Intelligence stat, she can access various devices within the environment; almost everything in Cyberpunk 2077 is connected via a local network.
Hacking access points involves filling V’s cyberdeck with combinations of numbers and letters to achieve different results. This includes gaining control over security cameras or accessing encrypted data. And now, instead of ripping it out, as a Netrunner V can override the turret to her advantage.
Using a razor-sharp nanowire, she can hack gym equipment from a distance, crushing the animal’s chest as he’s attempting to bench press.
Moving along, she meddles with the training bot to make it punch the animal in the face at full strength. And by uploading a virus into a vending machine to dispense a large number of drinks, V attracts the guards nearby to easily sneak past. With that, Cyberpunk 2077 showcased only two of the many possible approaches to any mission.
But returning to the initial theme of cyberspace, the demo brings us back to the Deep Net and introduces another organization: NetWatch. They strive to maintain order within the cyberspace and are at odds with The Voodoo Boys. With shiny badges signifying status, they’re the FBI of the Deep Net and shouldn’t be messed with.
Encountering one of these NetWatch agents, Bryce Mosley, leads V to another decision: whether to side with them or The Voodoo Boys. Showcasing another example of a consequence, V’s attempt to hack the agent doesn’t end well and the demo concludes.
Post Deep Dive Q & A
To further dissect the Deep Dive video, Hollie Bennett, the Head of Communication UK at CD Projekt Red, sat down with the developers to ask them some questions regarding Cyberpunk 2077. Joining her was Senior Level Designer, Miles Tost. As well as Lead Quest Designer, Pawel Sasko and Quest Design Coordinator, Philipp Weber.
During an almost hour-long conversation, they discussed the level design, the variety of gameplay approaches, as well as weapons, skills, and much more.
To begin, Miles mentioned the geographical and architectural differences between Novigrad and Skellige in The Witcher 3. These differences partially inspired the diversity of districts in Cyberpunk 2077, so that no two districts would look or feel the same. Their goal is to maintain a distinct culture, visuals and architecture in each district without making them feel disconnected from one another. As Miles puts it: “You should know where you are simply by looking around”.
Actual city planners were working on the city, its layout and even traffic to make it feel like a real bustling city. And even as a vast environment consisting of multiple districts, Night City won’t have any loading screens. When asked, Philipp mentions that it’s possible to traverse the whole city on foot — though it would take a very long time.
For convenience, fast travel will be available, but the city features far too many points of interest to discourage that.
It’s also possible to take advantage of a multitude of vehicles. Some vehicles are simply meant to bring the player from point A to point B without offering anything fancy. For those who can afford them, Cyberpunk 2077 also offers a selection of super luxury vehicles. And the many apartments of Night City contain garages for storing and naming them, possibly after Roach, the horse from The Witcher 3.
Additionally, as alluded to by Philipp, it might be possible to commandeer one of the flying cars during specific segments in the game.
Following that, they discussed the various approaches to gameplay. Miles stated that, as developers, they try to present players with a problem to solve and then provide a variety of tools and possibilities to solve it as they see fit.
To coincide with this, Pawel mentioned several interesting abilities and weapons. Such as Cold Blood which kicks in when V’s health drops below a certain threshold. This skill substantially boosts the character’s damage output, allowing them to survive for longer.
Not many details on weapons were on offer, but Pawel did mention a pair of cool handguns. One of them speeds up bullets the more you use it, dealing more damage as a result. Then, a whole class of handguns, made by Russians, features bullets that heat up and are useful for tearing cyborgs apart. And finishing up with style: a shotgun with eight barrels which fires all eight slugs at once! Hollie fell in love with it. Who wouldn’t?
Much like with skills, V becomes better at using certain weapons over time. This is reflected as an improved reload speed and reduced recoil or the crosshair becoming smaller, implying a higher accuracy. Players will be able to customize weapons further by changing paint jobs or adding various attachments, like silencers and scopes.
Every manufacturer and company, whether cars or guns, will have its own history within the lore of Cyberpunk 2077 to make the universe feel alive.
Showcased briefly during the Deep Dive video, the inventory screen has also been revised. It now houses neatly arranged slots for weapons and clothing, such as shirts, jackets and shoes. And while certain core pieces will require visiting a Ripperdoc, it’s possible to swap some cyberware straight from the inventory. As an example, Pawel brings up leg enhancements, some of which allow V to double jump.
Pawel mentions Mr Stud as one of his favorite cyberware and we’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what part of the body it improves.
As we already saw, Solos possess immense strength and can rip out a light machine gun out of a turret and use it as a conventional firearm. This superior strength also allows them to pick up dead bodies. After obtaining special perks, these actions won’t even encumber the character or affect their movement speed.
Due to their intelligence, Netrunners can hack enemies from a distance and take control of their implants. Against their own will, this might mean pulling a pin on the grenade to blow themselves up. Alternatively, V can force them to shoot themselves in the head and seeing an enemy struggle with their own hand is an intense scene indeed.
However, classes are not limited to a particular play style; a Solo can still be stealthy and a Netrunner still boasts offensive capabilities.
Aside from physical strength and intelligence, there’s also the curious Cool stat which affects how a character handles any particular situation. It determines how V acts during a combat encounter, how she holds her gun etc. Skills, such as Assassination, Nerve and Sniper Rifles are all governed by the Cool stat. Outside of combat, it affects V’s composure while interacting with other characters.
Interactions with others are also influenced by the previously featured origins, or as Pawel calls them – Lifepaths. For example, a Street Kid might find it easier to communicate with someone from the same Lifepath. It also unlocks side-branches during dialogue and even quests. It’s possible to change outlooks and affiliations, though doing so could lead to unforeseen consequences later on.
And lastly, despite many of these lethal methods, it’s entirely possible to complete Cyberpunk 2077 without killing a single person. Moreover, Miles emphasized that the game won’t punish or reward players for choosing a particular playstyle. Certain missions will have a preferred solution, but it will never be forced upon the player.
As an example, players can choose to kill or spare Sasquatch, or even sneak past her, avoiding the fight altogether. This does lead to her remaining alive and posing as a potential threat in the future. And once again, we’re back to actions and consequences.
But wait, Mike Pondsmith is still here to kill your Cyberpunk character. The Creator of Cyberpunk 2020 Pen & Paper RPG System and Co-Creator of Cyberpunk 2077 was there to shed more light on The Voodoo Boys and The Animals.
Even though they have retained some of their original characteristics, The Voodoo Boys have changed quite substantially since Cyberpunk 2020. As opposed to classifying them as a gang, Mike describes them as a cultural phenomenon of sorts. The Animals remind Mike of the guys from the days when he used to lift weights. Guys who, as he puts it, “Lived to get strong” and wished for people to fear them just by being around.
Multiplayer and Release Date
According to several tweets by CD Projekt Red, multiplayer is being developed.,though there is no information on how exactly it will be featured in the final game. Judging by the CD Projekt Red careers page, which still shows a decent number of vacancies related to multiplayer, this mode is still in early stages of development. It’s planned for a release well after the main game and the solo campaign is currently the main focus.
As for the game itself, Cyberpunk 2077 is currently set for a worldwide release on April 16 2020. It will launch for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Stadia.
Pre-orders for the game are now available via the official website. And CD Projekt Red knows how to make a Standard Edition that much more special by adding a set of cool stickers. However, featuring a 10-inch statue depicting V on the stylish Yaiba Kusanagi, it’s the Collector’s Edition that will garner the most attention.
Other noteworthy contents include a collectable steelbook case, a hardcover art book and even more stickers! Both editions will include digital goodies, such as the game’s soundtrack and a Cyberpunk 2020 Sourcebook.
With less than a year remaining until release, Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up to become a genre-defining RPG experience. Developers of the game will no doubt treat us to more gameplay before that, and when it happens, we’ll be sure to let you know.