Cy­ber­punk 2077

CD Pro­jekt Red’s RPG was the most ex­cit­ing game at E3

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - Phil Sav­age

“be­ing in first per­son, it’s more your story, it’s more your ad­ven­ture”

It’s 2077, and Amer­ica is in a bit of a state. It’s ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a cy­ber­punk world: mega­cor­po­ra­tions rule all as­pects of peo­ple’s lives, and or­gan­ised crime is rife on the streets. There’s ex­treme poverty and ex­treme deca­dence both. It’s like now, but more so, and with cy­borgs.

You play as V, an ‘ur­ban mer­ce­nary’ who… well, that’s up to you. Un­like TheWitcher and its white-haired lead, Cy­ber­punk2077 lets you de­fine your char­ac­ter – their look, their tat­toos, their gen­der, and even their back­story, which, de­pend­ing on what you choose, will un­lock dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties through­out the game. You can also as­sign stat points into a num­ber of at­tributes – I spot­ted RPG reg­u­lars such as strength, con­sti­tu­tion and in­tel­li­gence, but also re­flexes and ‘cool’.

This lat­ter at­tribute also ap­pears in Mike Pond­smith’s Cy­ber­punk pen-and­pa­per RPG, upon which Cy­ber­punk2077 is based. “It’s go­ing to un­lock cer­tain things that you might not have been able to do, cer­tain op­tions when deal­ing with sit­u­a­tions,” level de­signer Max Pears says of the cool at­tribute, in an in­ter­view with PC Gamer’s Steven Messner.

“Or, an­other ex­am­ple, the ven­dors that you have, the rip­per­docs, if you have that cool and street cred level, they might bring down cer­tain weapon prices or un­lock cer­tain weapons you might not have had there. So it is an in­te­gral part of it. It’s also a throw­back to the orig­i­nal table­top game as well. So we are think­ing of – for­give me for say­ing this – cool ways to use it. It’s go­ing to be an im­por­tant thing for sure.”

In the demo, CD Pro­jekt Red picks a fe­male V, and heads off on a con­tract to re­trieve a miss­ing girl. While later in the demo we’ll see V in cutscenes, the game is played in a first-per­son per­spec­tive. “The rea­son for this,” says Pears, “and it was a pur­pose­ful de­ci­sion, it wasn’t just us say­ing ‘hey, let’s do it’, for Cy­ber­punk, CD Pro­jekt Red … felt that when you are first-per­son, it im­merses you bet­ter.

“Say with Witcher, you’re re­ally im­mersed in that game, but you’re kind of with Ger­alt. Here, in Cy­ber­punk, be­cause you cre­ate your own char­ac­ter as well, be­ing first per­son, it’s more your story, it’s more your ad­ven­ture, of a cy­ber­punk. What are you go­ing to do in this world? That’s why we chose first-per­son per­spec­tive, in terms of mak­ing it more im­mer­sive. Us­ing it as a story tech­nique. That’s why we want to go for that. If you haven’t seen the demo, just be­lieve us that we’re not do­ing it to scare or any­thing. We’re do­ing it be­cause we be­lieve it can help make this game bet­ter.”

Got your num­ber

V and her part­ner, Jackie, break into the hide­out of some scav­engers, who have been snatch­ing peo­ple off the streets and har­vest­ing their im­plants to sell on the black mar­ket. Be­fore the fight be­gins, V takes a re­flex booster – an in­haler that gives tem­po­rary ac­cess to a slow-mo abil­ity. Com­bat, and the mix of abil­i­ties and gun­play, looks com­pa­ra­ble to Deus Ex: Hu­man Revo­lu­tion, al­beit less stilted, and with Border­lands- style dam­age num­bers pop­ping off en­e­mies on each hit. The ac­tion seems more fluid, al­though it’s hard to get a good sense of it based on watch­ing some­one else play.

“We don’t want to say ‘first-per­son shooter’,” ad­mits Pears, “we just want to use the words ‘first-per­son per­spec­tive’. It will feel dif­fer­ent to a tra­di­tional FPS be­cause it is an RPG, so there’s go­ing to be num­bers. And we’ve got a great team, so that is a chal­lenge for us. Not only do we have to con­sider the range in com­bat, but also think about how that’s go­ing to work in terms of stats and fig­ures.”

With the build­ing clear, V finds her tar­get un­con­scious and naked in a bath­tub. She jacks into her biomod – the

tar­get is alive, but she needs med­i­cal at­ten­tion. By dis­abling the virus block­ing the biomod’s sig­nal, a trauma team is dis­patched. V car­ries the woman to a bal­cony, where the trauma team swoops in. There’s a tense stand­off – the trauma team is armed – but V calmly hands over the woman, and the mis­sion is com­plete.

The demo cuts to the next day, with V get­ting a call from Jackie who asks if they can meet up. First, she gets dressed. Clothes will be­stow stat bonuses – in the demo she picks a jacket that boosts her ar­mour and street cred. V ex­its her apart­ment, and steps out onto a floor of a high-rise megabuild­ing.

This is the most im­pres­sive sec­tion of the demo. The build­ing is enor­mous; a se­ries of floors filled with apart­ments and shops – an ecosys­tem packed into this sin­gle lo­ca­tion. V takes an el­e­va­tor down to the bot­tom and ex­its to the street be­low. It’s here that you can sense the scale of the game. The megabuild­ing it­self was packed with life, but here it’s re­vealed to be just a small part of the en­tire city.

“One of the big­gest chal­lenges is that seam­less tran­si­tion from be­ing in a megabuild­ing – these build­ings, de­pend­ing on the dis­trict you’re in, are go­ing very ver­ti­cal,” says Pears. “So you’ve got your own kind of ecosys­tem, in the sense that there are dif­fer­ent things hap­pen­ing in those build­ings than on a street level. So hav­ing that tran­si­tion there has been one of the big­ger chal­lenges. From that, as well, it’s about mak­ing it feel dense. We want it to feel packed, de­pend­ing on the dis­trict. Mak­ing sure it feels alive. That’s been the big part. Not just alive as in it’s pop­u­lated with num­bers, but it feels like stuff’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing around you.”

Jackie tells V that a lo­cal fixer, Dex­ter De­shawn, has a job for her, and the two head over to see what he wants. De­shawn ex­plains he wants to test her abil­i­ties, and asks her to ac­quire a com­bat bot from Mael­strom – a gang ob­sessed with de­hu­man­i­sa­tion and cy­berspace. There are many ways to go about this mis­sion, but in the demo, V ar­ranges a meet­ing with the agent of a cor­po­ra­tion re­cently tar­geted by Mael­strom. First, though, she heads to the lo­cal rip­per­doc to up­grade her im­plants. She buys a cy­ber­eye – let­ting her scan and an­a­lyse ob­jects.

V-hic­u­lar

Back on the street, V jumps in Jackie’s car and drives them both to the meetup. “It’s def­i­nitely not fast-travel,” Pears says of driv­ing. “You’re go­ing to have con­trol over that, and as you saw there’s car com­bat. That’s go­ing to be on you as the player, be­ing in those mo­ments as well. Ev­ery­thing you saw in the demo, our player was play­ing that. So he was driv­ing.” Ve­hi­cle han­dling seems like it still needs plenty of tun­ing – it was the most un­nat­u­ral look­ing part of the demo – but Pears sug­gests CDPR un­der­stands the im­por­tance of get­ting it right. “It’s not just through cars, there’s bikes as well. It’s an im­por­tant thing to make that feel good.”

V ex­its just out of sight of the meet­ing point, and uses her new im­plant to scan the cor­po­rate agent and her body­guards. They’re well equipped and clearly dan­ger­ous, so V takes the non­vi­o­lent ap­proach – not re­spond­ing to the agents’ taunts and threats. She strikes a deal – the agent will give V the money to buy the bot in ex­change for in­for­ma­tion.

This deal has con­se­quences later on, when V is in­side the Mael­strom gang’s HQ, ne­go­ti­at­ing for the com­bat bot. The agent had se­cretly in­stalled a virus on the credit chip – fry­ing Mael­strom’s sys­tems and killing a gang mem­ber jacked into their ter­mi­nal. V is trapped, and sur­rounded by pissed off psy­chopaths.

Dur­ing this fi­nal break­out se­quence, I get a sense of the flex­i­bil­ity Cy­ber­punk 2077 will of­fer. V re­pro­grams the com­bat bot so she can use it in bat­tle, then uses her engi­neer­ing skill to take apart a main­te­nance panel, giv­ing her a route out. CDPR uses a de­bug com­mand to un­lock some high-level abil­i­ties and weapons. There’s a tar­get­ing sys­tem that lets her ric­o­chet bul­lets off of walls, and a gun that au­to­tar­gets en­e­mies. There are even re­tractable arm chis­els you can use to at­tach to a wall – let­ting you take down an en­emy from above. It’s ver­sa­tile stuff, en­sur­ing play­ers should have plenty of op­tions as they tai­lor their char­ac­ter.

This was a small, con­trolled slice of what CD Pro­jekt Red has planned, but I couldn’t help but come away ex­cited at the pos­si­bil­i­ties. The size and scale of the city, and the va­ri­ety of op­tions to tai­lor com­bat style and ap­proach – it’s a tan­ta­lis­ing mix of RPG and im­mer­sive sim, and I can’t wait to see more.

THE BUILD­ING IS ENOR­MOUS, A SE­RIES OF FLOORS FILLED WITH APART­MENTS AND SHOPS

Armed medics is prob­a­bly com­men­tary on… some­thing.

Liv­ing in a dystopia? Get some arm chis­els.

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