CYBERPUNK 2077

An in-depth look at CD Pro­jekt RED’s am­bi­tious new RPG

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Andy vis­its CD Pro­jekt RED to ex­tract new de­tails about the stu­dio’s ex­cit­ing RPG.

You’ve likely seen the Cyberpunk 2077 demo by now. After keep­ing it be­hind closed doors at E3, the Pol­ish de­vel­oper sud­denly re­leased the en­tire thing on YouTube. It was a power move by a stu­dio aware of how an­tic­i­pated this fol­low-up to The Witcher 3 is, and the video is now sit­ting at over ten mil­lion views: fig­ures usu­ally re­served for Rock­s­tar games.

When I sit down in a cav­ernous board­room in the stu­dio’s War­saw head­quar­ters to see the game, I’m aware it’s the same demo. But the dif­fer­ence is, this one is just for me. The de­vel­oper manning the con­troller tells me he’s re­lieved there’s no time limit, no queues of hun­dreds of peo­ple wait­ing ea­gerly out­side, and he takes the op­por­tu­nity to give me a slower, more de­tailed demon­stra­tion, stop­ping to take a closer look at things. It’s a game world that aches to be stud­ied and scru­ti­nised, with a clut­tered, lived-in feel that few vir­tual worlds man­age to ac­com­plish this well.

One of the most strik­ing things about the game’s set­ting, Night City, is how vi­brant it is com­pared to the dark, rain-soaked dystopias usu­ally associated with the genre. Cy­ber­punk2077 is set in a fu­ture Cal­i­for­nia, and writer Stanis­law Swieci­cki tells me that the stu­dio is go­ing to great lengths to cap­ture the Golden State’s dis­tinc­tive at­mos­phere.

“We want to give Night City a Cal­i­for­nian feel,” he says. “It’s not just another ab­stract dystopia. I vis­ited LA for the first time this year and it was very in­spir­ing, es­pe­cially walk­ing along Venice Beach. We want to bring some of that vibe to the game. The sun, the palm trees, but a darker side, too. It’s an in­cred­i­bly di­verse place, with all these dif­fer­ent peo­ple, fash­ions and cul­tures shar­ing the same space, but it can also be dan­ger­ous.”

As we walk through Wat­son, a bustling shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict bom­barded by neon bill­boards, the pass­ing hordes of ci­ti­zens give me a sense of this di­ver­sity, and I don’t see one re­peated char­ac­ter model. Crowds are gen­er­ated semi-pro­ce­du­rally to avoid rep­e­ti­tion, mix­ing body parts, faces, clothes and hair­styles, and CDPR prom­ises the fin­ished game will fea­ture an even greater va­ri­ety of heights, weights, and body shapes.

“Wat­son is a mul­ti­cul­tural dis­trict with a strong Asian in­flu­ence and a ris­ing crime prob­lem,” says Swieci­cki. “But there are other dis­tricts too, each with their own unique feel. West­brook is where the mid­dle classes live; Hey­wood was once home to the tech giants, but aban­doned and left to rot; and Paci­fica is a sub­ur­ban dis­trict ruled by gangs, and the most dan­ger­ous place in the city. Wher­ever you are in the city, there’s a layer of dark­ness.”

The com­plex­ity and fidelity of the city is as­ton­ish­ing, both on a grand scale and in the finer de­tails. The en­tire game is first-per­son, viewed through hero V’s eyes, let­ting you get closer to the world than Ger­alt ever did. A street mar­ket is a par­tic­u­lar feast for the eyes, with dozens of ven­dors hawk­ing their wares and flip­ping heaps of siz­zling noo­dles in woks. Above them digi­tised petals fall from a holo­graphic cherry blos­som tree and trains skim silently along mono­rail tracks. I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced such a dense videogame city be­fore, which ex­tends to the au­dio de­sign. The sound of peo­ple talk­ing, sirens blar­ing, mu­sic play­ing and those ever-present ad­ver­tis­ing bill­boards chat­ter­ing over the top of one another in a dozen lan­guages only adds to the tur­moil.

“The devil is in the de­tails,” says Ma­ciej Pi­etras, lead cin­e­matic an­i­ma­tor. “The third-per­son cam­era in TheWitcher floated slightly above NPCs, which we took into ac­count when an­i­mat­ing them. But now you can re­ally look at what they’re do­ing up close, and we’ve im­proved the an­i­ma­tion to re­flect this. When we

I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced such a dense videogame city be­fore

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