Cy­ber­punk 2077

CD Pro­jekt Red re­veals to us what the fu­ture of dig­i­tal en­ter­tain­ment looks like with its epic new RPG ex­pe­ri­ence

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

We are locked in a room with Pa­trick Mills, ar­gu­ing about the bath­room fa­cil­i­ties in­stalled around Night City. In 30 min­utes an alarm will sound, in­ter­rupt­ing us; the win­dows of the room will po­larise, flood­ing it with ar­ti­fi­cial light; the door will swing open and we will be ush­ered out into the world, left to con­tem­plate all that we had seen and heard on one of the in­dus­try’s most an­tic­i­pated up­com­ing re­leases. And here we are, ar­gu­ing lava­tory se­man­tics with one of CD Pro­jekt Red’s quest de­sign­ers.

But let’s back up for a minute. It’s im­por­tant for you to un­der­stand how we got here be­fore we can take you any fur­ther. We had just spent the bet­ter part of an hour ut­terly en­tranced, watch­ing with baited breath as the fu­ture of in­ter­ac­tive en­ter­tain­ment flashed be­fore our eyes; a fresh look at Cy­ber­punk 2077, one that is yet to be re­vealed to the pub­lic.

Given the am­bi­tion be­hind the damned thing, per­haps it’s no sur­prise that ev­ery de­vel­oper, pub­lisher and jour­nal­ist in the room walked away with wildly dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions and in­ter­pre­ta­tions to what they had seen. Some are in a state of shock, con­vinced that they had just bore wit­ness to an early glimpse at the next gen­er­a­tion of gam­ing. Oth­ers are in awe, mes­merised by the scope of the vi­sion and mas­tery of the ex­e­cu­tion. Many are stead­fast in their con­cern over the de­pic­tion of mi­nor­ity voices and pre­sen­ta­tion of ‘ma­ture’ con­tent. A hand­ful are, frankly, un­con­vinced that the demon­stra­tion was lit­tle more than an in-en­gine ex­er­cise in smoke and mir­rors. That’s an opin­ion that is tem­pered only by the ac­tions of the de­vel­oper con­trol­ling the ac­tion – he was sand­wiched in among the au­di­ence, oc­ca­sion­ally mak­ing un­in­tended move­ments with the char­ac­ter as the small crowd hus­tled ei­ther side of him to make notes through­out.

Truth be told, we felt all of this. It was swirling around in our head, per­co­lat­ing as we sat down across from Pa­trick Mills, a veteran quest de­signer of CD Pro­jekt Red. As we tried to make sense of it all one thing be­came per­fectly clear, that for bet­ter or worse, the stu­dio is work­ing to cre­ate some­thing that far out­stretches our un­der­stand­ing of what a first-per­son RPG, in the tra­di­tional sense, can be – even if the stu­dio is hes­i­tant to ad­mit it.

“Cy­ber­punk 2077 is not an im­mer­sive sim, but there is a lot of in­flu­ence in there from those types of games…” Mills will tell us with a smile as we be­gin to probe the scope of the stu­dio’s am­bi­tion. As far as de­nials go, we’re not buy­ing it, and you shouldn’t ei­ther; Cy­ber­punk 2077 has the po­ten­tial to be gen­uinely evo­lu­tion­ary. You may be won­der­ing why we be­lieve that it is im­por­tant whether or not the game is clas­si­fied as an im­mer­sive sim or not. Thank­fully, we’re here to help you nav­i­gate through this mine­field of de­lin­eations.

When Mills men­tions “those games” he’s re­fer­ring to the likes of Bioshock, Dis­hon­ored, Deus Ex, Prey and Sys­tem Shock. The afore­men­tioned are but a hand­ful of series’ in ex­is­tence that have the ca­pac­ity to tran­scend genre en­tirely, ex­ist­ing in­stead within the il­lu­sive brack­et­ing of the ‘im­mer­sive sim’.

The im­mer­sive sim is not a genre, per se. It’s a mal­leable col­lec­tion of un­writ­ten de­sign di­rec­tives that a few games, largely driven by the alumni of Look­ing Glass Stu­dios, fol­low to help prop­a­gate a cer­tain sense of ex­pres­sion and im­mer­sion within their worlds. De­sign that is heav­ily fo­cused on cre­at­ing game­play that will pro­vide a player with a vast ar­ray of dif­fer­ent op­por­tu­ni­ties to com­plete ob­jec­tives and over­come chal­lenges.

This is achieved through a vast ar­ray of in­ter­ac­tive tools and in the ma­nip­u­la­tion of a com­plex web of sys­tems, all of which are de­signed to in­ter­play with one an­other in a way that feels log­i­cal to the world that they un­furl within. That world and all of the lev­els con­tained within it are de­signed to be si­mul­ta­ne­ously func­tional and at­mo­spheric, pur­pose-built to sup­port choice-driven game­play in spa­ces that feel be­liev­able, real. All of this grounded and bound within a nar­ra­tive that tack­les dif­fi­cult and ma­ture themes by way of means that would be con­sid­ered un­con­ven­tional to the stan­dards of the wider in­dus­try. Does that sound a lit­tle like a cer­tain up­com­ing open-world first-per­son RPG to you?

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