It’s all about choice.
There are very few games at Gamescom that are generating the hype to match Cyberpunk 2077. Everyone knows it’s coming, and that it is a very large deal. T-shirts are everywhere. The Cosplayers are growing in number. The merchandise is flying off the shelf. CD Projekt Red know that we are waiting. We’ve been waiting patiently and they know that their game cannot fall anywhere short of what we and they have made it out to be. Expectations of the gaming industry’s biggest release is growing to the point of no return.
If we go by the gameplay footage that was shown off this week, then CDPR has every right to be confident. The result of this is a mixture of terror and pure, ecstatic excitement.
The footage came from somewhere in the middle of the story. Ingenious move, as the mystery of the narrative has remained intact and we only have snippets to go by. Our lead character has something that could change Night City and the rest of humanity forever. He has to hack and smack his way through a great many cyber-enhanced citizens to find out what he has been entrusted (or infected) with. Keanu Reeves, aka Johnny Silverhand, isn’t just there to make snide snaps. He’s a digital ghoul who knows things, or is it things that you know? The narrative is engaging thanks to two primary elements. One, the plot is interesting and has the potential to expand exponentially once we get to experience that vast, open world. And two, choice.
Choice is the thing that the presentation was all about. Combat, character, conversation. Starting out, you have the ability to meticulously modify yourself in both your appearance and skillset. Character motivations are established by your choice of class: Nomad, Street Kid, and Corporate. This is very evident in the dialogue options and it impacts how NPCs will treat you in the long run. But then even with an established backstory, and the mannerisms that come with each of them, you still get to choose at what you’re good at.
Are you a hacker? Are you a bulldozer? Perhaps you are a sweet talker. The skillsets are highly customisable and the narrative can work around your preferences. Literally. A singular problem can be solved via multiple solutions. Multiple solutions that then equal multiple consequences, and ones that each reverberate long after you’ve moved on from them.
One steps out into the sunlight and a metropolis that feels lived in, hardships and all. It is in the design of Night City that 2077 steps away from The Witcher, despite many of the same characteristics from that game being present. The verticality in this game lets you see the world in its entirety, yet it still requires a journey to reach the edges. The attention to detail in everything from the structures to the simpletons is simply breathtaking. Little details like how your point-of-view effects the volume of the music coming from your motorcycle. The game also appears to take full advantage of this conceptual existence. There is not just crime, but religion. And consumerism. Well, the remains of consumerism. It’s up to you to learn more about the past, and what the future of this future holds.
You do so by killing people. You can kill lots of people using lots of ways. You can choose to spare them, but no one in attendance was here for that. We’re here to watch primal thugs ripped apart by laser wire and drowned by a flood of their own blood. And that’s only when you want to get your hands dirty. If you’re not athletic, you’re a master hacker who can turn appendages against those they attached to and turrets into your war machines. There are a variety of ways that a violent encounter can pan out. Time slows down when you attack using your cybernetic means, a factor that adds another side to the combat. Be careful though. Sparring in cyberspace comes with the risk of having your brain bombarded with viruses and other nasties.
All of this builds up to answering a question I have of any game, especially when it comes to this sub-genre: When I’m finished, will I come back for more? The answer is still hazy but as I said at the beginning, CDPR have a lot of reasons to be confident. And I certainly want more. There’s no other state of mind to have after seeing all of this.
For all the choices you have in Cyberpunk 2077, we will have no choice but to keep waiting, and then witness what all of this culminates. I can tell you now, it may be something extraordinary.
Last Updated: August 22, 2019