To Wit(cher): Cyberpunk’s Plot-Altering Customization

By Nathan Grayson on August 2nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

This may come as something of a surprise to you, but Cyberpunk looks to be decidedly less witchy than The Witcher. I’m not complaining, either. Geralt’s tale marches in line behind the player’s decisions, but it still definitely belongs to, well, Geralt. CD Projekt’s take on Cyberpunk, then, sounds like a refreshing (and extremely intriguing) change of pace. This time around, you’re shaping your own destiny. With hologram glasses.

CD Projekt community manager Marcin Momot divulged a few details about the still shrouded-in-shadows project in a Q&A blog post:

“We want to keep the role system from the pen and paper version of Cyberpunk. As opposed to the regular fantasy set-up with mages, warriors and archers, we’re going for something different. In Cyberpunk, each character role will offer a set of special skills that will impact your stats in many different ways. That’s where the challenge kicks in, we want to create a game where character customization will be strongly tied with the plot. Now going from that, we believe that we can make a game where, with many different role choices, you will get a very strong, engaging story, just like it was with The Witcher.”

“We definitely want to give players way more freedom with customization of the main protagonist then they had with Geralt in The Witcher series. We are planning on letting them change their statistics, equipment, implants and much more.”

Momot also reiterated influences CEO Marcin Iwinski listed when I chatted with him during E3 – for instance, William Gibson, Blade Runner, and Deus Ex. Further, Momot noted that Cyberpunk will do plenty of globetrotting through an “open, living world,” but with Night City as an anchor.

So, all-told, Cyberpunk continues to sound like a much, much more player-driven experience than Witcher. Of course, it’s all still (admittedly promising) talk until we get a real glimpse of CD Projekt’s cybernetically enhanced vision of the future. As for when that’ll happen, CDP’s still simply saying “soon.” Granted, in a studio where it could very well be considered productive use of worktime to devour cyberpunk literature and obsessively watch/read Game of Thrones, that might be a while.

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53 Comments »

  1. Kasab says:

    I believe both Arcanum and Bloodlines had scenarios changing depending on what silly things the player did when creating their character, but I may be mistaking swirly dialogue fonts and TVs talking to you for plot development.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Well, having to always go through the sewers because as a Nosferatu just showing your face in public means breaking the Masquerade definitely shook up your gameplay style. Regardless, sadly AFAIK no other game has done something similar since Bloodlines. Damn, I miss Troika so much…

      • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

        The Nosferatu thing does not hold up though. It is true that people freak out and give you a masquerade breach if you get in their faces, but if you keep your distance and obfsucate past those you can’t skirt around there is no reason to stay in the sewers.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          You kind of missed my point. It DID change your gameplay style, didn’t it?

        • Contrafibularity says:

          Which makes it impossible to engage in some dialogues. I’d say it holds up just fine, not because of disallows certain possibilities, but because it makes actual sense within the gameworld. Also, Malkavians.

          Sure, Troika may not have had the resources/luck to take the idea any further (probably for the best or we might not have had a game at all) but it’s still pretty innovative stuff. On an entirely different wavelength to today’s achievement-unlock centered mechanics which speak to the collector/hunter in the player.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Doesn’t that fit in exactly with the achievement crowd, though? Play the game one way – achievement! Player the game another way – achievement!

          • Xardas Kane says:

            No, it fits with the role-playing crowd. Who, you know, ROLE-PLAY.

          • Nick says:

            You’ve made a powerful enemy today, sign.

          • Ironclad says:

            [...]feet in weird places – murder, murder, murder.. In other news[...]

      • vanosofmanos says:

        I have seriously got to play Bloodlines again. Playing a Malkavian in that game was insanely fun.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Fallout: New Vegas had quests that opened up, or were only completable, by characters with certain stats or skills, but these were generally small changes. The main plot changed more on your choices. Alpha Protocol took the plot changing depending on your skills further though, and I think is a worthy successor in that department to Arcanum.

      • apocraphyn says:

        Yup, of particular note within Alpha Protocol are the two ‘classes’ (Recruit and Veteran) with entirely unique dialogue and reactions resulting from them. Or certain skills/talents only being unlocked depending on how you act throughout the game.

        And again, thanks for the spare copy, Lars :)

        • Ringwraith says:

          The amount of variation in Alpha Protocol is staggering, and I always want to do a murderous playthrough to see how much that changes things when most of the cast is dead, but I know I will fail to kill one person in particular so I keep dismissing it.

          • coldvvvave says:

            I don’t know about Veteran, but isn’t Recruit choice only available in first mission? I completed the game with Recruit perk and frankly, I was disappointed since I sacrificed precious skill points and all I got was a mention that my Thorton was well… recruit. It happened couple of times later in the game.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Recruit is mostly a self-imposed challenge, seeing as pretty much the only difference is you start with less points and also don’t get any of the class-specific dialogue options that pop up rarely. Of course the benefit of picking Recruit is that beating the game with it unlocks Veteran, which has more impact on choices (there’s quite a lot of Veteran dialogue options) as well as the buckets of skill points you get.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      It wasn’t very balanced though. Nosferatu get their “so ugly people pass out when they look at you”-thing and Malkavian gets A WHOLE NEW GAME, but all the other clans just have different stats. Well, Tremere has an opportunity to get a special haven that no other clan can get, but that has no impact on the story.

      Arcanum though, did it really have that much of that sort of thing? If your intelligence and/or beauty was low, people would spit on you, but they would cooperate instantly if you just threw them a compliment. Same thing with the racism thing. The biggest difference was if you had so low INT that you couldn’t speak properly, then you would be denied certain quests and people would rip you off by not giving you as much money as they promised and such.

      • fiddlesticks says:

        There are some additional subtle differences. Ventrue get preferred treatment by LaCroix and Brujah are better received by the Anarchs. Gangrels have slightly different dialogue with Beckett. It doesn’t have a big effect on gameplay, but it’s a nice touch. And of course each clan has a different set of powers.

        As for Arcanum, your race mostly modifies people’s initial reaction, but it also affects some quests and the armour and weapons you can use. High Intelligence occasionally gives you additional dialogue options, similar to Fallout. The same goes for your Magical/Technical Aptitude.

        Oh Troika, why’d you have to die?

    • Galefury says:

      SaGa Frontier (a Playstation JRPG, yes, I know, consoles, …) had quite a lot of diversification depending on character choice. You could choose one out of 7 or so main characters, each with their own story. This included unique starting dungeons and quests, and unique final dungeons and bosses. Sometimes also unique midgame quests. Which of the shared midgame quests were mandatory and which were optional also changed, and each main had some unique gimmick that subtly changed the gameplay. The accessible party members depended on the main character, with some even being unique to certain mains.

      SaGa Frontier was made with playing it once with each main in mind, and doing so unlocked an optional final dungeon and boss. It was basically 7 slightly different games packed into one big box. Of course this doesn’t really let you shape the story, it just lets you choose one of several stories. Pretty neat anyway.

  2. Duke of Chutney says:

    what we really want to know is; will there be cyber ninjas on motorcycles?

  3. Jakkar says:

    I pray for a minimised ‘XP levelling’ role in favour of a cash and cooldown based upgrade path of successive cybernetic implants. Give me my fingerclaws, Molly.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Chrome eyes, pls. :)

    • Arglebargle says:

      Leopard or shark teeth for me please. Or diplomat pysch conditioning.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      The pen and paper game had a point investment system (that got pretty expensive fast – the last upgrade cost the same as the first four put together), and cybernetics were separate, just a cash & humanity cost.

      Also, there were finger claw *and* wolverine-style forearm claw implants, which featured prominently.

      • belgand says:

        It might just be the transhumanist in me speaking, but I always felt that the whole “humanity” element was always sort of a terrible way of framing the mechanical need to impose a cost on implants. Perhaps something about simply not having enough flesh to hold it all together or proper sockets to add other widgets on or something.

  4. MonkeyMonster says:

    it was so much easier when you could ” buy” sub-dermal armour and not have to also pay for the surgery costs… :D

  5. internisus says:

    Just so long as I can upgrade the RAM on the computer in my brain and so forth. That stuff makes me so happy.

    Ideally, show me installing cards into physical slots on my skull. Now I’m all hyped up.

    • lijenstina says:

      Don’t forget the hardware/driver problems, dissipating heat, washing the hear without short circuiting the brain, software bugs, viruses, small doses of radiation from the equipment that add up through time , toxic rare metals in the circuits, possible highjacking and mind control, and as an obscure movie reference – killing someone by smashing their skull with a basketball. :)

  6. kael13 says:

    Salivating at the thought. Now that my love affair with Blizzard is officially at an end, I have all these delicious new titles to look forward to.

    I wonder if they will have gender options for the main character.

    • The Random One says:

      I do too. If you follow the link to the Q&A, someone asked something to that effect and got a curiously evasive answer. Paraphrasing:

      Q: Will we be able to pick our character’s gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and favorite cookie dough?
      A: I can assure you you will be able to choose between at least one of two skills.

  7. Ultramegazord says:

    This is what all RPGs should be like, I loved the old RPGs because of this: the freedom of choices and the consequences of my choices, all the modern RPGs are super linear and sell themselves as being the masters of freedom (Oblivion, Skyrim, etc) but the only freedom they offer is the freedom of movement.

    I loved Fallout New Vegas because of how free it was, my decisions really mattered and it was fun seeing the consequences of my actions so I can’t be more happy to see we’ll get another RPG like this.

  8. Shooop says:

    I was already interested. Now I’m absolutely psyched.

    This is how RPGs should be made – the player has a direct influence on where the story goes by doing more than just choosing one of two options in a dialogue.

  9. derella says:

    They were pretty evasive on the character customization question… I hope they let me play as a female.

    • Deviija says:

      Exactly. That is what I was going to post about as well. In all these articles and interviews and quote releases about how great the choice and consequence will be, and how diverse and better/deep the customization will be, I have yet to hear them give an answer on whether or not we will be able to choose a lady as protagonist. It would be nice if someone could directly ask them about this.

      I’d be happy if we could play as a woman. I rather not have it be another (hetero) male-centered Witcher, just with implants and mohawks.

  10. vanosofmanos says:

    I was a huge fan of the pen and paper game back in the day, spent an absolutely insane amount of time in Night City. I remember everyone in that group talking about how awesome an actual Cyberpunk video game could be, so to say I’m stoked for this is an understatement. If they stick as close to the P&P as they say they will, the sheer amount of customization options for skills, gear and cyberware should be outstanding.

  11. deadly.by.design says:

    I still think he looks like the guy from Burn Notice.

  12. rockman29 says:

    Gibsonnnnnn!!!! :)

  13. Atrak says:

    ah..Friday Night Firefight, still some of the best gun combat rules around imo.

  14. rektide says:

    Given the scope of character classes, I’d almost rather they opt for a path of focus: I’d way rather a well put together game world that only a Corp or a Rockerboy can play in than a world not really tailored to the chosen class.

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