This year’s E3 was chock-full of beautiful gameplay trailers, bizarre press conferences, and huge announcements. We got to see this studios and publishers show what the future of gaming will offer, and it looks solid. Every year, we get a handful of games that stand out above the rest, and 2018 is not different. We got a brutal glimpse of The Last of Us Part II, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a tease of a new Halo game, and much more. But after watching the conferences and seeing all the trailers, one game has me the most intrigued. And that game is Cyberpunk 2077.
Being developed by CD Projekt Red, the masterminds behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be a lot of things. To put it simply, Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world RPG set in a future dystopia and is based on the pen and paper RPG Cyberpunk 2020. But this only scratches the surface. What is the main plot? Why does it look so familiar? And what does CD Projekt Red need to do to make it stand out in an ocean of open world games?
What Is Cyberpunk 2077?
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world role-playing game focusing on a single player experience. In an interview with PC Gamer, CD Projekt Red Quest Designer Patrick Mills emphasizes single player importance saying:
“That’s really what we’re concentrating on now, the single-player RPG experience. That’s what we want to nail down before we start looking at any of these other things.” (full interview here).
It is nice to see the team really focus on some core aspects of the game instead of trying to jam a bunch of features in. In fact, single player RPGs are the developer’s strong point and they don’t seem to be deviating from that strength. In a tweet last year responding to speculation over the “games as a service” model possibly in the works CD Projekt Red said:
“Worry not. When thinking CP2077, think nothing less than TW3 — huge single player, open world, story-driven RPG. No hidden catch, you get what you pay for — no bullshit, just honest gaming like with Wild Hunt. We leave greed to others.”
The team CD Projekt Red have also set up an official website for the game, showing off the trailer, some concept art, and more. On one of the pages, that presents itself as a file download of some sort, they provide information about the world:
“Night City, California. Year 2077.
The world is broken. MegaCorps manage every aspect of life from the top floors of their sky-scraping fortresses. Down below, the streets are run by drug-pushing gangs, tech hustlers, and illegal braindance slingers. The in-between is where decadence, sex and pop culture mix with violent crime, extreme poverty and the unattainable promise of the American Dream.
You are V, a cyberpunk. In a world of cyber-enhanced street warriors, tech-savvy netrunners and corporate life-hackers, today is your first step to becoming an urban legend.”
This gives some context but does not shed too much light on the plot of the game. It sounds as though you may be tasked with taking down these MegaCorps in order to free the citizens from the pits of society. But it also sounds as though it could be just an open world to actively engage with and create instances that drive a story forward. Or maybe it will be a blend of both in which the overarching idea is to remove these corporations from power while engaging in a living, breathing world.
The game certainly looks the part. From what we have seen in the official trailer and leaked from some E3 footage, Cyberpunk 2077 nails the aesthetic. With the bright, neon colors, flying cars, and robotic accents, it looks as though the world will be a good one to look at. Although there is something about the look and feel of the game that seems familiar.
Although I did not attend E3, I did have some friends that had the privilege of seeing the game first hand. They saw the game behind closed doors and said that Cyberpunk 2077 reminds them of games they have seen and played before. Games like Grand Theft Auto, Deus Ex, and Skyrim were all mentioned. At first that sounded super cool, given that GTA and Skyrim’s open world and exploration is fantastic and the look of Deus Ex is what sets it apart.
Based on the trailer, the inspiration that stood out the most was GTA. If you watch the trailer, you notice a lot of different activities and environments I hope we as players can participate in. Getting into scraps outside of bars, playing pool, fighting in a futuristic boxing match, robbing banks, robotic basketball, stealing people’s eyes: it’s all there folks. I immediately thought back to GTA when I saw this, as it definitely seems to lean a lot more into the role-playing aspects than GTA. There is way more player choice. Just replace robotic basketball with tennis (and okay maybe not the eye stealing thing, but I haven’t played it in awhile so maybe it does).
This all sounds wonderful on paper. The fact that this game may include all the right elements from these other games and still be something new is incredible. But what if the game tries to be more than it is? What if what they want to deliver turns into something they just couldn’t quite pull off? Well, I think they can do it.
Reaching for the Stars
Cyberpunk 2077 is an ambitious game and here’s why:
1) It sounds like it will be a very complex game and
2) that the one game it reminds me of the most has now become the most profitable entertainment product of all time.
Let’s start with the latter. Since its release, Grand Theft Auto V has raked is around 6 billion dollars. That surpasses any book, film, or video games ever. Now, I am in no way trying to compare Cyberpunk 2077 to GTA V. I am, however, saying that this game heavily reminds me and others of GTA V. If CD Projekt Red can pull something like that off, then more power to them. They killed it with the Witcher 3, and they can certainly do it with Cyberpunk 2077.
I will say the market has been flooded with these open world games recently, and, in order for Cyberpunk 2077 to stand out, it will have to approach the genre with some fresh takes. One thing they are doing differently that we know of right out of the gate is that the game will be in first person. This has been received by players on both sides on the fence. But, after watching Gamespot’s crew talk about the game, one of Gamespot’s own, Mike Mahardy, makes a comment that I think sums it up:
“I think CD Projekt has earned the clout to do what they want in terms of perspective. After seeing this, I wouldn’t have it any other way”.
Now, let’s hit that first point of the complexity the game might entail. We know the development team can weave a story together and string along quests that all have meaning in the end. However, it sounds like they are raising the level of complexity with Cyberpunk 2077. In an interview with Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, Quest Designer Patrick Mills discusses how quests in Cyberpunk 2077 will be different:
“Of course, now we’re dealing with a character that might have more options. Geralt, he had very good senses, he had a good sword arm, and a good knowledge of monsters and that took him through. In this case, you can play, you know, mixing and matching with these three different archetypes. These three different skill-sets that we have, the Solo, the Techie, and the Netrunner. And so that’s an extra layer of complexity. Our quests are extremely complex right now. It’s… yeah, it’s daunting! But we hope we can do it.” (Check out the full interview here).
The team seems to be keen on an innovating off of what brought them success from the Witcher 3, and rightfully so. And so far it seems to be all working in the right direction. My good friend and video producer over at Gamespot, Jake Dekker, had this to say about Cyberpunk 2077:
“People are rightfully skeptical, but I think once they see gameplay they will totally get it”.
If CD Projekt Red can pull this off and deliver a game with this amount of complexity, openness, and originality, we may have a masterpiece on our hands.