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Cyberpunk 2077: Everything we learned from the new gameplay demo

After gameplay demos for Cyberpunk 2077 were presented to the media at both E3 2018 and Gamescom 2018 behind closed doors, fans finally can take a look at the game for themselves. Developer CD Projekt Red released its first public gameplay showcase Monday, following a cryptic Twitch stream of seemingly-random code (and building plenty of excitement).

The public had yet to see what Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay actually looks like. And though we were treated to behind-closed-doors eyes-on with some gameplay, we certainly didn’t get the exhaustive walk-through we hoped for, nor were we able to share any footage of what we had seen. But that’s all changed with the 48-minute gameplay walk-through now out for everyone to see, and it’s a doozy. For more details on that footage, scroll down. But for those fresh to the Cyberpunk 2077 universe, we have some introductory info. 

Why is there so much hype for Cyberpunk 2077?

For context, CD Projekt Red first released a stunning teaser trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 in January 2013. Since then, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were released; CD Projekt Red took the world by storm with The Witcher 3 and its expansions; and Nintendo went from console laughingstock to the top of the world. Meanwhile, all fans were left with was that sole teaser.

While fans were left in the dark for years, CD Projekt Red was adamant the game was still under development. Still, no screenshots, gameplay footage or demos have surfaced in the five years since the first trailer. But as we now know, rumors circulating about the game finally making an appearance — particularly after CD Projekt Red filed a new trademark for Cyberpunk 2077 prior to the conference — ended up being true.

But after years of anticipation, the second trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 arrived during E3 2018. As warmly received as that trailer was, and as exhaustive as post-trailer interviews with developers were, a glaring omission remained. There was still no public gameplay showcase.

But at long last, that gameplay trailer arrived, and you can watch it right here:

 

What’s up with the world of Cyberpunk 2077?

To understand Cyberpunk 2077, you first have to know Cyberpunk 2020. The latter was a beloved role-playing game from the late 1980s and early 1990s that incorporated many cyberpunk tropes. There’s cybernetic enhancement, nefarious corporations, devious punk-rock hackers, neo-noir aesthetics, freaky future drugs and trench coats. So many trench coats.

The US sits at the mercy of megacorporations after the world basically goes to hell. These megacorps become fiefdoms with their own areas of interest and secret plots to gain dominion over the others. Within that combative environment rests California’s Night City, where players play out their adventures as corporate raiders, rebel rock-and-roll stars, street doctors or plain old cyborg assassins.

Though cyberpunk itself has fallen in popularity, its influence can be seen in everything from the most recent Blade Runner to the (soon-to-be-defunct) Android: Netrunner card game. Cyberpunk 2077 will pick up the series 50-plus years later, with the trailer hinting at robotics far advanced beyond what was seen in the original pen-and-paper RPG. And beyond things looking appropriately cyberpunk-y, the state of the world and the many megacorps is pretty much unknown.

What kind of game is Cyberpunk 2077?

After The Witcher trilogy, and the huge graphical and game design improvements made with each entry, it’s safe to say CD Projekt Red has established itself as an RPG titan. So it’s no surprise Cyberpunk 2077 is promised to be an RPG rife with player choice, intricate interactions with non-player characters and the world that will have an impact on the story, and in-depth character customization. 

It’s not just your gender or hair color you can tweak, you’ll be given options to define your character’s backstory, including childhood events, which will impact the way you experience the game later on.

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What may come as a surprise to some fans is Cyberpunk 2077’s perspective. Unlike The Witcher 3, which was a third-person RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 will be a first-person RPG.

As you can see in the gameplay demo, elements of combat, loot and world traversal are reminiscent of first-person RPGs like Deus Ex and Fallout, complete with slow-mo shooting, branching dialog options, scanning to identify enemy weaknesses and characteristics and even a hacking system that allows players to explore entire networks after jacking into individuals connected to said network.

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Transportation can be handled on-foot, where players have the potential for double-jumping and other mobility enhancements, or within vehicles that range between motorcycles to cars, which can be driven in first- or third- person. 

That traversal through the open world can lead to random encounters with gangs or megacorporations that present sudden combat scenarios, as we saw in the demo when a trip to an objective was interrupted by a car chase and shootout.

Combat features gunplay and melee options, with an array of expected (pistols, shotguns) weaponry intermixed with futuristic rifles and robotic blades built into your cybernetic body, should you choose to install them. That kind of customization is tied not only to initial character creation, where initial stats can be allocated to determine what your character is best suited for, but to augments and boosts than be equipped or obtained within the world. Should you choose, those augmentations can focus on non-combat features, giving you to potential to talk or persuade your way out of a tricky situation or past a combat scenario.

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‘Even though it’s going to be a very different game than The Witcher 3 with no predefined character, a futuristic world… the product character: it’s going to be just the same as The Witcher 3 — namely a single-player game purchased for a one-off fee,’ CD Projekt Red CEO said at a financial conference earlier this year.

So much for that talk about multiplayer.

What did we see of Cyberpunk 2077 at Gamescom 2018?

During the 50-minute briefing in a cinema room at Gamescom, we were shown a part of the game that involves protagonist ‘V’ (in this case, a female character) interacting with some key characters in the game. V’s first task we saw was to find a kidnapped girl, being held by some bad guys, hellbent on making life difficult for V. What ensued was a gun battle with a variety of futuristic weapons, with V using buffs (administered using what looked like an asthma inhaler) that slowed down time to help V get her shots in. 

Once the girl was found, V found a rogue chip in a slot in the girl’s head which was apparently jamming the tracking signal. Chip removed, the girl was located by another team and helicoptered to safety. It was an intense bit of action and it looked gorgeous. The guns were augmented — one could shoot through walls while another is able to bounce bullets off walls, letting you kill around corners — and there’s an awesome katana that also creates a bullet shield.

Following the rad shootout we saw how V gets her biomechanical upgrades. V journeyed to what looked like a grimy back street surgery, where she sat in a ‘doctor’s’ chair and we saw some of the upgrade options available. In particular, there was a new eye upgrade that allowed for zooming and scanning. Installing it was not a pretty process. A large claw crept towards our face (bear in mind the game is in first person) and got closer and closer to our eye. Then, out it popped. Our vision suddenly transferred to a new eye sitting on a nearby table which was then inserted back into our waiting head. It was a touch nauseating, although that could have been the promotional beers we had beforehand.

As the demo progressed, we saw V meet with an angry female character who gave V money to buy a piece of military equipment from a gang (the backstory to this whole setup eluded us at the time). As it turned out, the money was held on a computer chip that we were told in advance was infected with a virus of some kind. The Cyberpunk team giving the demo used this to highlight a key element of gameplay — the decisions you’ll make on different missions.

Cyberpunk 2077 dialog

When you eventually meet the gang to buy a required robot, you’re given multiple options, including giving the money and saying nothing about the virus, explaining the potential virus, or just shooting everyone in sight. The game is apparently full of these decisions, which will result in different experiences and different storylines as the game progresses. Apart from making the game feel more immersive, this will also help give it great replay value, as you can go back and make different choices on a fresh play-through.

The graphics were, of course, stunning, and indeed it’s been debated by some whether the graphics shown in screenshots so far are beyond what current generation platforms can achieve. 

While stipulating that the demo is drawn from a work-in-progress build, the hardware that its running on is not specified. It’s possible that Cyberpunk 2077 could follow in Grand Theft Auto 5’s footsteps and have both current and next-gen versions shorty after launch.

What platforms will Cyberpunk 2077 be on?

Given that Cyberpunk 2077’s second trailer premiered during Microsoft’s E3 2018 press event, yes, it’ll be coming to Xbox and PC. Preorders are currently available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC versions of the game.

When is Cyberpunk 2077 coming out?

At this rate, all we can say is it’ll probably be out by 2077. In the secret text from the second trailer, CD Projekt Red had this to say:

‘When we told you we would only release the game when it’s ready, we meant it. We’re definitely much, much closer to a release date than we were back then :), but it’s still not the time to confirm anything, so patience is still required.’

And in case you were concerned, Cyberpunk 2077 will be lacking microtransactions, incremental DLC (downloadable content) and so on. From that trailer text:

‘Expect nothing less than you got with The Witcher 3. As for DRM, CP2077 will be 100 percent DRM-free on PC.’

Where can I check out more rumors and speculation?

What, you don’t want to stay here forever? The r/CyberpunkGame subreddit has been a fantastic gateway into the Cyberpunk fandom, and they’ve been having a ton of fun with all of CD Projekt Red’s teasers and trailers.

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As you can expect, the community has been comparing Cyberpunk 2077 to earlier CD Projekt Red games like The Witcher 3.

And there’s been an interesting back-and-forth between fans about whether the second trailer’s daytime setting is too far removed from the dark and rainy ambiance that typically accompanies the cyberpunk genre (that first trailer included!)

But, as mentioned earlier, the subreddit’s key contribution to the E3 firestorm so far has been its decoding of the trailer’s additional messages directly from CD Projekt Red. And if the community’s track record is any indicator, there will be plenty more decoding, unraveling and exposing to come.

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