CD Projekt has finally pulled back the curtain on Cyberpunk 2077, revealing the game to press behind closed doors at E3 this week.
I saw a 50 minute live uncut gameplay demo and was blown away by the level of detail in Night City, the open world in which the game takes place. During the demo, a number of eye-catching features of the game were revealed. Here’s everything I discovered during our Cyberpunk 2077 behind closed doors demo:
Cyberpunk is a first-person role-playing game. You play the game from a first-person perspective, shooting weapons in the traditional FPS style, with dialogue choices appearing on screen.
You play V, an urban mercenary who takes on dangerous jobs for money. You are a cyberpunk, CD Projekt said.
Unlike in The Witcher 3, CD Projekt’s previous game in which you play as Geralt, in Cyberpunk 2077 you create your character, or your version of V. You can choose to play as a male or female, and choose your “life path”, which, alongside your gender, affects your experience within the world. You can customise everything from your haircut to your tattoos. You can also put points into various attributes, such as strength, constitution, intelligence and reflexes.
There’s no character class to pick, however. Cyberpunk 2077 has a fluid class system which lets you customise your own class throughout the gameplay experience. You can become a Solo, Techie or a Netrunner – or a mix of all of them.
Our demo takes place near the beginning of the game. V alongside a friend called Jackie Welles and a netrunner called T-Bug is trying to find a missing person. It turns out Scavengers, one of the various factions in the game, are kidnapping people to harvest implants.
The first-person shooting includes a slow motion “bullet time” effect and a slide move. You can combine the two for dramatic effect.
Damage numbers pop out of enemies as you shoot them (the enemies have life bars).
You can take a reflex booster such as the Kereznikov to enhance your reactions. Drug taking is a part of the game, done via asthma pump-like devices.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a mature game intended for a mature audience, CD Projekt said, and as as a result features full frontal nudity.
Eventually, V finds her missing person: the naked body of a woman in an ice bath. She picks her up in a bid to help her.
Trauma Team is a group described as “high-end medical insurance for rich people”. We see a few of its members arrive via flying car to pick up the missing person’s body.
Cyberpunk isn’t afraid to swear – there were a couple of c-bombs in our demo and plenty of f-words.
You have an apartment and can have one-night stands with people. (We see V wake up from one of these just as her fleeting partner walks out of her apartment.)
You have a variety of quests to choose from (these are listed on-screen).
In her apartment, V takes her pistol and her jacket. The jacket plays an important role in the game. Not only does it look cool, but it also gives you stats, including “street cred”. Street cred is an experience you gain from doing open world bits and bobs, and helps you unlock content throughout the city.
V’s apartment is located in a mega building, a huge building complex that forms a micro-society of its own. Cyberpunk 2077 is an alternate timeline which has seen the development of the euro-dollar as standard currency, which people call eddies.
The city has been designed to be interactive. You can interact with an advert and it will tell you where to buy the product. In our demo, V was pointed to a can of soda, which she bought from a vending machine.
In the year 2077 print media is still going strong – we see newspapers.
Wilson is a local gunsmith. You can use his services to buy and upgrade weapons.
CD Projekt said there are no loading screens in Cyberpunk 2077’s open world. The city is divided up into six unique districts. Our demo took place in Watson.
Night City is packed with people (one section showed scores of computer-controlled people crossing a street). Quests and points of interest are everywhere, and the people who fill the city offer plenty of ambient dialogue. In one street I noticed a crime scene, with holographic recreations of the crime visible behind police lines. Neon is everywhere. And yes, there’s a noodle bar.
V is offered a job she views as her ticket to the mercenary bigtime. She’s asked to retrieve some gear from a local gang. You then have a choice: you can choose to steal the gear from the gang, or call a Militech agent called Meredith Stout who the Scavengers stole the gear from in the first place to arrange a meeting to perhaps play the various factions off of each other.
The city includes “ripper doctors”, specialist vendors who let you implant and upgrade your cyberware for money. V visits a ripper doc she knows called Doctor Victor. (Some ripper docs operate legally, others on the black market and offer illegal implants.) You sit in a chair and browse his wares, and decide to buy an optical scanner and a sub-dermal weapon grip. You pull your eyeball out, place your arm down in a vice and take an anaesthetic before waiting for the ripper doc to carve you up.
The optical scanner lets you take a closer look at things by zooming in. You can also analyse objects to find out their threat level and gang affiliation, among other things. The weapon grip, which is grafted into the palm of V’s hand, lets you see your ammo count, alternate fire modes and adds damage to gun shots.
Lots of people like boxing in the world of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s on a lot of screens.
You can drive vehicles in the city. In our demo, V drives a sports car. There’s also vehicle combat in the sense that you can lean out of your vehicle and shoot your weapon. (V and Jackie are ambushed at one point by Scavengers and you find yourself in a car chase.) You can drive vehicles in first and third person.
The dialogue system lets you approach encounters in a variety of ways. (V doesn’t recite the line of dialogue you pick, by the way. Cyberpunk uses a system similar to Mass Effect, with V delivering her take on the line you pick.) The meeting with Meredith Stout does not begin well – she has one of her goons hack you and submit you to a lie detector test. You can choose to pull out your gun or fight back. In our demo, V keeps talking, eventually convincing Stout to take up her offer of funding her purchase of the stolen gear from the gang. Desperate to uncover her mole, Stout gives V a cred chip with 50k on it. By meeting with Stout, you open up a non-violent approach to the meeting with the gang. But, as CD Projekt pointed out, you can decide to steal it, anyway.
This stolen gear turns out to be a bot. It’s held by Maelstrom, a group obsessed with body modification and on their way to becoming machines themselves. They’re using the Militech gear they stole to fortify their hideout.
Once you buy the bot, all hell breaks loose. The cred chip had some kind of virus on it, and it kills some of the Maelstrom members. You then fight to escape the lair.
Cyberpunk 2077 has an inspection system that lets you learn about objects and lore and other useful info. You use it to link with the bot. The bot, by the way, looks like it’s your companion throughout the game.
The tech shotgun contains bullets that penetrate cover and even other enemies. In its alternate fire mode, you can charge it up to fire against enemies.
There are various skills in the game that can be used to your advantage. One is engineering. With a high enough engineering skill, you can disassemble panels to open up new paths.
Cyberpunk 2077 has a cool ricochet targeting system that lets you bounce bullets off of walls. You can see the path the bullets will take, Peggle style, when aiming against walls.
You can see enemies who hide behind cover once you’ve scanned them. One useful combo is using the scanner to spot enemies, then blasting through the cover with the tech shotgun.
You can blow people’s legs off and shoot glass out.
The smart rifle has bullets that track and follow your target.
You can customise weapons with mods.
You can hack enemies and add malicious software to their squadmates. After you’ve done this, you can deploy a virus to jam the connection between one of these squadmates and their weapon, preventing them from shooting.
The twin blades we saw in Cyberpunk 2077’s announcement trailer are present and correct. You can use them to slice and dice enemies.
V is a pretty agile character. She can mantle and wallrun. You can use the twin blades mid-wallrun to create a ledge from which you can jump down on enemies, a bit like a cyber ninja.
V escapes the gang lair, defeating the Maelstrom boss at the end of the quest. The job done, your street cred is increased. CD Projekt said this was just one way the quest could have gone. You could have even teamed up with the Maelstrom boss for another twist.
The demo ends with V and Jackie driving away from the scene of the crime. V is buoyant – she’s finally hit the big-time and she has big plans for her future in Night City.
After our Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay demo, I interviewed CD Projekt quest designer Patrick Mills to find out more about the studio’s new game.
Relative to the world of The Witcher 3, how does Night City compare size wise?
Patrick Mills: In terms of specific size, it’s really difficult to tell because Witcher 3 was flat, and our game is very vertical. You’ve got a footprint in Witcher 3 and that’s it. But our game just goes up and up and up and up. So we can put a lot of stuff in there. It’s going to be really dense.
We’ve got six districts. You just saw a little bit of Watson, which is a fallen corporate giant. Each district will feel distinct. There will be a lot to see and a lot to do. It’s very big. It’s very big.
But you’re not putting a size on it?
Patrick Mills: We can’t put a number on it yet. We’re still building it. It’s difficult to say exactly how big it’s going to be and we don’t want to put any numbers on it. But…