Cyberpunk 2077’s demo at E3 was a vivid, drug-huffing first-person romp of guns and butts

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-1

Yup, the neon future of Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person RPG shooter. You can create your own character, drive cars through the streets, shoot gangster’s legs off in slow motion, hack their guns, and shag your fellow cyberpunks, among other deeds. All this is based on the 50-minute demo shown to press at E3 yesterday, a demo of asymmetrical haircuts, exposed buttocks, golden prosthetics and plentiful drugs. A demo of street life and futureslang. It was impressive stuff, and it left my brain feeling very fizzy. I’ll run through it below in as much detail as possible.

Firstly, an important caveat: this remains a demo. Any slice of game that looks as wild as this one did needs to be examined soberly. There will be endless hype about Cyberpunk from this point on, but let’s remain cautious. In the games industry, as in dystopian futures, you can’t always trust your own eyes.

The demo followed a girl called V. She was a girl because the showrunner of the “hands-off” demo (one of CD Projekt Red’s staff) decided she’d be a she in the character creation screen. Here you can choose your gender, skin colour, body shape, characteristics and attributes, displayed on a screen reminiscent of a criminal background file from some ancient police department computer. You also get to choose a background, which is a story that’ll follow you with “consequences” arising from whatever that past might be (CD Projekt Red aren’t spoiling any of those details right now though). Although classes exist – Techie, Netrunner or Solo – you don’t pick one straight away. It’s more flexible than this, they say.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-3

With the creation screen out of the way, V is dropped into the game proper. Almost as soon as we’re introduced to her, she is firing a machine pistol at people who do not like her. She deals with this like any good cyberpunk: by immediately huffing a big canister of drugs. These are like asthma inhalers, but full of more sordid chemicals. This one is something called “Reflex Booster”. It lets her slow down time when she shoots, and she can also flash from one position to another at high speed, like the Blink skill of the Dishonored series, but without having to precisely aim.

When V isn’t shooting bad men who want her dead (making numbers moult from their bodies, Destiny-style) she is shooting at the walls they’re hiding behind, which crumble to the ground. It’s not clear if that’s pervasive to the game or specific to this aging apartment block, but I didn’t see the same level of destructibility for the rest of the demo. Then again, there was a lot of other things to be looking at. Things like V’s pal Jackie stomping through the room and slamming the last bad guy against a wall. Things like the two naked bodies lying in a bathtub full of ice.

This is why V is shooting. She’s here to rescue a girl from an organ harvester, and retrieve something from the data chip in said damsel’s skull. She jacks into the woman via a cable and orders an ambulance, and a translucent credit card transaction appears on top of our vision. We see V picking the woman up in her arms and bringing her outside, where a flying medical van floats down. It’s Cyberpunk’s Trauma Team. Part SWAT, part paramedic, they appear to be frighteningly good doctors, and they take the woman into their care at the point of a submachine gun, flying off without acknowledging V’s sarky request for a lift. It’s a moment of humour and strangeness that feels like a good introduction to the Cyberpunk universe for anyone, like me, who isn’t familiar with the tabletop RPG source material.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-4

During this whole exchange of bullets and bodies, the HUD appears classically gamey. You’ve got your compass up top, Fallout 4 style, and a health bar to one side that (as we’ll later see) can be replenished by huffing some more drugs. There’s also moments in which things in the world become surrounded in a red square, as if in Robocop-vision, and that’s because an off-screen helper is hacking or highlighting things on your behalf, allowing you to flank enemies during fights with newly-opened doors, for instance.

After the rescue, we take a break, and the demo flips to a cinematic. You and Jackie are having bants in a lift. He’s a big lad, Jackie. He can lift a car with his hands. But that’s a detail for later. Now, we cut to V’s apartment after an unseen night on the tiles and a one-night stand with some bloke who picks up his trousers and slinks away before the action can begin again. It’s suggested a couple of times in the demo that V is a heavy partier. Later, for example, Jackie will wince at the idea of “another three nighter”. Given that Geralt’s most human moments in The Witcher 3 were when he was absolutely shatterblasted, I am fine with this. Although cinematic fleshing-out like this and pre-set responses do make me question the depth of the roleplaying. If V is our hero, she often seems to already have concrete personality traits, even if the choices and chat options are yours. She also has a bum, which the cinematic really, really likes to focus on.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-11

Anyway, Jackie has called and he’s got a job for us. “Bring your iron,” he says. This is another thing: the world is full of quirky future language. Money is “eddies” (or officially: “Eurodollars”), back street surgeons are “Ripperdocs”. Inhaling drugs is “whiffing”. At one point, I could have sworn a gangster also used the word “gungoons” to describe some unsavoury men. But I might just be tired. The point is, the dialogue in this demo was true to the genre. Silly, playful, and fond of outlandish compound words. This made the criminal enterprise that followed somewhat difficult to follow, but it was still no more convoluted than a Deus Ex quest, and it was certainly more colourful.

V headed out with her leather jacket on (it has +5 ‘street cred’, we’re told, and that gets ya better vendor prices). We’re back in control now, seeing things from first-person, and she steps out into the hustle and bustle. This was the grand introduction to Night City of North California, complete with Game Title floating above the crowd. The final game will have six sectors, each differing in tone and atmosphere. Westbrook is a wealthy area filled with corporate aristocrats, for example. Pacifica is a nigh-abandoned gangland eroded by poverty, and there are others in between. The industrial Santo Domingo, the neon-lit City Centre, the bazaars of Watson, and the suburban housing of Heywood. Travelling between these sectors will be seamless, says CD Projekt Red. And at some point you will be able to invest in property.

Seamless or not, this city does look stunning. It seems almost GTA-like in its ambition. The crowds are large, and the amount of detail is almost overwhelming. At a glance it brings to mind the Prague of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided but seems more open, colourful, bustling and noisy. Bars are full of drinkers slumped over the counters, markets are busy with food stands, street cleaners block the pavement. At one point, we see a holographic police “caution” tape, cutting off a crime scene from the public. I think: “Oh yes, I’ve seen this in movies.” But then we also see a holographic reconstruction of the crime itself, a brutal assault (or murder?) playing out behind the tape for the benefit of the investigating cops. And look, I know, it’s a demo, it’s an E3 demo and they are choreographed and fine-tuned and designed to be flawless often at the expense of being truly representative of the finished thing. But MAN ALIVE, THIS CITY.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-8

For a good chunk of the demo, absolutely no shooting or fighting occurs. Good. V meets a big lad called Dex in the back of a car, who wears red sunglasses and a has gold prosthetic arm. He gives her a mission, the details of which are absolutely lost to me amid the slang-o-chat. But the gist is that we need to meet some nasty gang lads and buy a military grade “spider bot” off them.

I briefly wonder if we can romance Dex, but he is probably not that sort of wheeler dealer. Nevertheless, I had a chat with a developer after the demo (more of that in a separate post) who confirmed that romancing is still very much a thing, that the romantic characters have set tastes of their own, and that some are straight, some gay, and some bisexual. With BioWare getting really into jetpacks, it’s good to have somebody carrying this torch.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-5

But our girl V has no time for this. She’s off to a “Ripperdoc”. This doctor of flesh and steel is good at plucking out our girl’s eye and leaving it on a tray so she can see her own body from three feet away. Yeesh. But he also installs an upgrade. When he’s done, V can now scan things to see what threat level they are, and what attack types they might be vulnerable to: fire, electricity, and so on (this elemental damage stuff was largely left unaddressed, but it isn’t hard to imagine how it’ll be used). It also gives her gun an ammo count, further explaining away bits of the HUD. He also gives you more drugs to huff. Hooray!

Then she goes and meets a big corp lady. I’m not sure why we meet her, but it’s another tense moment with lots of good-looking environments and zero shots fired. Her goons grab us and install a lie detector in our cyberbod, trying to suss out if we’re trustworthy. At this point, the player is given a few options to choose from, and some seemed to be based on skills you might have. We could have grabbed the goon’s weapon for instance, but instead the developer wanted to hash it out. They seem to be emphasising the importance of talking down a conflict, over getting into a shoot-out all the time (although, trust me, the shoot-outs aren’t a small feature).

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-7

Now that Miss Corporate is happy to get involved, she hands V a credit chip with 50,000 eurobucks. I’m not following anyone’s reasoning at this point, but I’m happy to go along for the ride. And that ride is happening in the driver’s seat of a fast car.

Driving can be done in two different views. In first person, it reminded me a bit of Far Cry’s car trundling. In third-person there was a strong whiff of cruising around Los Santos to it all, although I can’t tell you just how much freedom there is to this. The developers did bump into some bollards and fences as they went from one objective to the next, but they rudely neglected to run over any pedestrians. We are told there’ll be about twelve miles of roads to travel on, though, and you will be able to steal cars. During my post-demo interview, I asked if these cars will have an auto-drive feature like Roach’s ridiculous path-finding in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The answer I received was non-committal.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-9

But, look, here comes a van full of nasty men. They’re annoyed we killed their boys at the start of the demo. At this point, Jackie takes the wheel and V gets to indulge in some on-rails shooting along the freeway. Before this, while driving I noticed a bit of “fade in” but it was hard to care when there’s so much to look at – trash heaps, adverts, graffiti. Even the roads and open streets of this world felt very detailed.

Anyhow, we’ve blown up the van and arrived at the gang’s hideout. Remember, we’re here to buy a “spider bot” for a man with a gold arm. Keep up. This gang are called the Maelstrom. They’re a “psychogang” of course, obsessed with technology and the internet. Their hideout is decked out with turrets, so Jackie and V decide to go inside and chat, rather than fight their way in. The Maelstrom boyz are skinny, glow-eyed punks. One of them has a philosophical disagreement with Jackie about the benefits of being sedentary (“Sit the fuck down,” he insists) and Jackie disagrees, leading to some chest-puffing from both of them. It’s another moment of tension, but V dissolves it by asking Jackie to sit. Now chill, the Maelstrom lad is kind enough to offer V some drugs to huff. Which she does.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-10

Seat fan Bright Eyes is so happy with his spider bot it’s honestly endearing. He is reeling off all its specs and features, and is about to sell it to us. But then he’s interrupted by the boss, who doesn’t like any of this suspicious transaction. A Mexican standoff occurs, guns pointed everywhere. Just when it seems to calm down, and the money changes hands, a Maelstrom boy’s head gets fried. That chip full of eurobucks the corporation woman gave to us – it was spiked.

There’s a lockdown and the duo have to fight their way out. It’s saying a lot for this gargantuan, dense-with-drama demo that I want to glaze over the action the most, having already written 2000 words about sucking up mind-altering chemicals through an asthma pump. But this last big battle is what CD Projekt Red have been building up to. They’ve even given our girl a “tech shotgun” that can blow through obstacles, and some new superpowers, just to demonstrate what an awful person she can be when you really put your attribute points to it.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-6

V goes on a spree, showing off all her levelled-up skills. Did you know she has spikey, spidery robo-arms? Did you know she can double-jump? That she can hack into a terminal and a human man in quick succession and use the data to jam another man’s weapon? Did you know she can dash to the side, quick-sharp? And wall-run? Did you know she can get a Smart gun that has homing bullets? Did you know she can ricochet bullets off the bloody wall? It’s true. A little dotted line appears that let’s her see the exact trajectory of the bullet as it will bounce off the wall. Have you ever played a rubbish top-down snooker game on easy mode? It’s like that but with bullets. Fun trigonometry.

It’s all very “Deus Ex stealth run gone bad” at this point, mired in combat, right down to a final boss battle with a Maelstrom honcho in a big mech suit (this is the part where Jackie lifts a car with his bare hands, and uses it as cover). For V’s part, it looks more fluid than Deus Ex, more nippy. And less start-stop than Dishonored or Prey’s radial wheel juggling. There’s no way to tell if this is truly the case, however, until I can grip this game in my own robo-claws and suck down all those stimulants for myself. But this whole demo is certainly making me impatient to do so.

cyberpunk-2077-e3-demo-2

At the end of it all, we get our spider bot. He’s a good boy and he follows you everywhere, shooting things, just like his mum. Jackie and V emerge from their flaming mess and meet the corporation diva once again, who tells them, in so many words, that “the corp always wins”. Then she takes off to whatever wealthy neighbourhood it is she lives in. Jackie and V get back in their super car and drive away, happy to have completed a quest, earned a paycheck, and shown a room full of games journalists a good time.

And I did have a good time. However, that sense of caution must remain. Remember: I was just watching someone play a highly polished fragment of an unfinished world, purposefully sculpted for this crowd. The absurdity of this most E3 of demos was clear when we were told: “Imagine if the choices we’d made were different!” Because, of course, if CD Projekt Red were really keen to show us the range of possibilities and branching storylines, then every write-up of this demo would be different. But I’ve yet to hear of any journalists who saw the same demo witnessing a male V who never puffed a single methamphetamine in his life, who righteously grabbed a gun off the corp diva and went into the Maelstrom den, metal spider arms akimbo. As such, it remains to be seen how much branching there will be, and how that will work.

As a demonstration of intent, however, it was an absolute romp, a wonderful showcase of a dirty, flashy, inviting cityscape, full of detail. I almost wish it had been less exciting, because now the final 50 million gigabyte download we see on release will have to live up to this promise. And it probably can’t. But even if it comes close, Cyberpunk 2077 could be astounding.

Check out our E3 2018 tag for more announcements, trailers, news, and goodness knows what else.

128 Comments

  1. Phantom_Renegade says:

    I have never been more hyped for a game then this. But my interest evaporated almost completely when they said ‘first person’. I just cannot get immersed in a first person game, and I hate playing them. It’s the reason I never liked Deus Ex. In theory, that game should be one of my favourites. And it probably would have been, had it not been first person.

    • satan says:

      ‘I just cannot get immersed in a first person game’

      Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Explain.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        It’s very simple. What do you see when you look out of your eyes? Bits of your nose, peripheral stuff, looking around you see your shoulders, your body etc. What do you see when you play a fps? If you’re lucky, some floating arms and a gun.

        Not to mention… I’m already in first person. So I’m in first person, looking at a screen, seeing my desk etc etc, and then seeing first person on that screen. Not to mention the perspective is really weird. Or do you hold the gun up to your nose when aiming? Takes me completely out of it.

        • GameCat says:

          I prefer TPP too, especially in games with character creator. Having a sense of physical presence in 3D world is more immersive for me than beign a floating FPP camera.

        • Kefren says:

          Seeing the back of my head and feeling like I am looking at toys running round the screen is what makes it hard for me to play a third person game (along with not being able to look at things close up). I don’t mind the perspective in Into The Breach or games like that, but I can’t get immersed in other scenarios unless I feel like I’m there: Thief, System Shock, Doom, Penumbra etc. But it’s fine – third person and first person fans won’t ever agree on this. It’s why the best games allow you to switch views between the perspectives, then everyone is happy. Also then there’s more KERCHING! for the devs.

        • elevown says:

          LOL – you cant get immersed in a mode that perfectly mimics real life?? You live every day in first person man – what Is unrealistic is seeing yourself from behind like you are controlling yourself from a spirit following you.. You make NO sense. There is No possible perspective that is MORE immersive and true to real life than first person!

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            Did you actually read my response dude? First Person games are not the same first person as people actually have. That’s part of what’s immersion breaking.

          • Premium User Badge

            Ninja Dodo says:

            >No possible perspective that is MORE immersive and true to real life than first person!

            While I don’t personally have a problem with first person, that is *higly* debatable.

            Any game that focuses on intricate agile movement (like many action adventures) with an awareness of where each part of your body is is generally going to work much better as third person because first person just does NOT have a good way to simulate that. There have been some games that have successfully done stuff like parkour in 1st (Mirror’s Edge) and those are great but it still feels like you don’t quite know where your arms and legs are half the time. Whereas in third person seeing a character performing in full detail allows you to project yourself into the action in a *different* but no less immersive way.

            Also a big problem with first person is that basically EVERY FPS game (only exception I can think of is Mirror’s Edge) it looks like your avatar wants to strangle someone (whenever they’re not holding a gun). NOBODY IRL holds their hands up to their face like that. It’s really jarring and not immersive at all. See also how your arms always move with the camera as if they are directly glued to it.

          • Osgear says:

            In the same way there’s an uncanny valley for visuals when you get close but not not close enough to the real thing, so to can people experience a mechanical uncanny valley. With a third person game it makes no pretense at mimicking reality and so your brain isn’t jarringly confronted with the feeling that it’s just off. Sometimes this makes it easier to be immersed in something that’s technically less realistic

          • Someoldguy says:

            The problem is that 1st person games are not true to life, you have tunnel vision unless you swing the mouse around side to side like an idiot. 3rd person may be wrong in giving you vision centred behind your body, but it does give you a much wider field of vision that (at least to me) feels more natural than only having tunnel vision. Neither are perfect and I tolerate 1st person in games like Fallout but I generally prefer 3rd person.

        • fish99 says:

          You know there’s nothing stopping the devs from modelling your whole body in first person, plenty of games have done this. You can’t claim it’s more natural to be looking at your character from behind, seeing your whole body, your back, the back of your head, and also not being able to see what’s right in front of you because your body is blocking it.

          Having said all that though there’s enough people that prefer 3rd person that it would have made sense to offer both perspectives.

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            I’m not saying it’s more ‘natural’ or whatever. Just that third person acknowledges that it’s a game and just lets you get on with things. For me, first person is constantly jarring because it’s pretending to let you see out of your characters eyes when you really aren’t.

          • fish99 says:

            That’s not much of an argument. In first person the camera is placed in your characters head where the eyes are. Short of wearing a VR headset you can’t get more realistic. As I said the devs can model your whole body if they choose to.

            What you’re actually saying when you say 3rd person acknowledges that it’s a game, is that you don’t want to be immersed.

            Anyway, let’s just agree they should have included both perspectives.

        • Michael Fogg says:

          @Phantom
          man, you must have a big schnozzle ;)

          • Phantom_Renegade says:

            Look right in front of you, you’re saying you don’t see your nose, see through? Close one eye, it’ll be clearer.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Sure if you deliberately attempt to focus on your nose you can see it, but if you’re being a normal human then your eyes will not focus on it and your brain will filter it out anyway.

            The only way I can imagine you being aware of you nose, is if you take the idiom “looking down your nose at people” way too literally.

          • Caiman says:

            When I’m walking around looking into the distance I am never aware of my nose, because my brain filters it out. If I stop and think about it, I become aware of it, but 99.999999% of the time I’m not thinking about my nose!

            But if you can accept the abstraction of third person being “a game”, why not the abstraction that you’re viewing the world through the equivalent of a video camera in first person because it’s also a game? Bear in mind when you’re looking at the screen, you’re looking past your own nose, so you can still be aware of it if you wish, you’re just looking through a smaller window into the world (depending on how large your monitor is).

        • Thomas Foolery says:

          I strongly agree with this. To me, first-person games don’t feel like looking through the character’s eyes, they feel like someone replaced a human’s head with a camcorder. I find it distracting, not immersive.

        • Babymech says:

          “It’s very simple. What do you see when you look out of your eyes?” Health bar. Sanity meter. Directions to my next objective.

        • vahnn says:

          “What do you see when you look out of your eyes?”

          Not myself from a third person perspective.

          I would have reluctantly accepted CP2077 as a third person game. But news that it’s first person has secured it as my most-anticipated game of all time.

        • ZephaniahGrey says:

          While FPS isn’t a deal breaker for me, I definitely prefer third person perspective. Personally, it feels more natural. First person cameras do not “perfectly mimic real life.” When in an FPS, how often do we find ourselves taking damage and flailing the camera around futilely trying to figure out where it’s coming from? It’s like being stuck in some full-body suit cut off from the world. Third person perspective better simulates the real life experience, I think. While we may only see out of our eyes, we are aware of far more of our surrounding, and of our own bodies. (go ahead and close your eyes, then think about where your foot is. You know without seeing it.) This is better conveyed when you can see all of your character on screen, and how they’re interacting with the world. It’s still not perfect, but it feels closer to the real life experience than peering through someone else’s eyes.

        • hfm says:

          Most of the time you don’t actually focus on those things (your nose, shoulder etc..) unless you are trying to. You are so used to seeing them (much like wearing glasses every day) that you don’t even notice them anymore 99% of the time when you are going about your daily business focusing on other things. It’s also A GAME. it’s not going to be 100% lifelike, you have to give in and let it take you a little.

      • kincajou says:

        Aside from the view above… for me it’s a physiological thing…. I have motion sickness so realising/remembering that this game is first person has killed me a little bit.

        I think CDPR can and should do what they want, be it first person or third person and i’m excited in seing how they handle the transition and game overall.

        I’m just sad that i’ll be 90% certain to be able to play this only 20 min at a time before having to be miserably sick somewhere. So i’m looking forward to people i know buying it and maybe even tryiing a demo but for the moment… i’ll have to let this pass.

        As for the more/less immersion debate, my 2c is that different methods are more/less immersive for different people, as long as one mode isn’t forced on anyone then that’s cool (by this i mean that ALL games are produced exclusively in one mode, as i see it here, there are alternatives… not this ONE game but other games will fill a similar niche). And with witcher 3 being third person, maybe it’s fair that people who prefer first person also get to have fun in a CDPR world through their preferred viewing style.

        This game looks so cool and promising!

        • tolomea says:

          That’s interesting, I always found third person way worse for my motion sickness.

          I think it’s something about the way the camera orbits around the character as you turn. I manage it by playing in this run, stop and turn, run, stop and turn way.

          First person I generally find reasonably fine as long as I crank the FOV up high. Because of this I’ve steam refunded a bunch of games for not having an FOV slider (or easy config hack).

          One other tidbit you might find useful and this is very much YMMV, I find that small quantities of alcohol significantly reduce my likelihood of getting motion sick.

          • kincajou says:

            heh, to be fair i have also had it in one third person game (hello stacking! you monstrous memory for my inner ear!) i may try the alcohol thing (FOV sometimes helps, but depends on games) though if it goes wrong, i shall send my partner in your direction!

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      For what it’s worth, I agree with you. I can’t get immersed in a game where I can’t see my character, especially if the game is role play heavy. I like to see my character’s features, actions, the nuances to their posture/movement and a host of other things. I do like FPP too, but I never get quite as into them.

      So you’re not alone, ignore all the sociopaths that can’t understand that people have different opinions.

      • fish99 says:

        Of course it’s also possible to have the gameplay in first person but switch to 3rd person during dialogue. Fallout 4 does this when your character delivers a line and it works fine.

        The article doesn’t specifically rule this out.

    • Morte66 says:

      Sorry for your loss, but I decided a while back not to buy any third person games unless I “really had to” because I don’t like them and want first person.

      I think the final straw was my character jerking around crazily in a game about Witches, or Witching, or something like that…

      And actually, so far as roleplaying/immersion goes, I want to be the character not watch the character. So first person all the way, here.

      Some you win, some you lose.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Well, there’s a reason most (if not all) “immersive sims” are first person, not third person.

    • Ham Solo says:

      wut? How often do you see yourself do things from a camera behind your back then?

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Honestly weren’t all the complaints about Witcher it being third person and not immersive enough?
      I guess one can’t please all the delicate tastes.

    • bacon seeker says:

      It’s much harder for me to get immersed in third person games, although I admit third person makes any kind of close combat mechanics a lot more manageable… to each their own I guess!

    • dsch says:

      TIL people have really strong feelings about first person views.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      “It’s the reason I never liked Deus Ex.”

      Whereas for me, the first reaction is ‘finally, a real successor to Deus Ex!’ And not the recent Deus Ex-lites, the real, original Deus Ex.

      What I really want to know now is how open the game world is. Can I just wander off and do whatever I want for hours and hours, like in the Witcher 3? Because if I can, this could be the perfect game.

      The reference to 12 miles of road makes me nervous. That sounds tiny. Surely the Witcher 3 had hundreds of miles of paths and roads?

      • ravenshrike says:

        Yes, but it was mostly uninhabited and on a single plane, with at most 3-4 stories in a few areas. This is 12 miles of road, plus tons of up and down and “mega buildings” which the insides of may or may not conform to euclidean geometry.

  2. Stevostin says:

    I am super hyped as well. Had to skip paragraphs to avoid spoiler, as should be. Didn’t like the Witcher but this one has everything I missed: custom character & first person view. And I am dying to play some good old cyberpunk.

    One note thought: the Prague of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was a landmark for poor town design. It entirely felt like a map and not at all a city. I mean even Half Life 2 city felt more like a place than this. Not everything is cheesy in DE:MD but that bit is.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      This demo was probably custom made, so it doesn’t spoil the actual campaign of the finished game.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Ooh, an interesting and rare dissenting voice about DE:MD’s Prague! I get what you mean, it was very…pedestrianised. Reminded me of the later Looking Glass games made in the Unreal 2 engine (I think), every street was more of a corridor.

      That said, what DE:MD really did well was filling that space in a realistic way. The range of people, places, etc you could meet and go to. Every building felt unique, and it was amazing how many you could enter. Compare that to something, like, The Division which on a street level was an incredible recreation of New York, but as soon as you started to poke the facade you saw a lot of repeating interiors, and little interaction.

      • fish99 says:

        I’m guessing you mean games in a series that originated with Looking Glass (for instance Thief Deadly Shadows), rather than games made by Looking Glass, since they never made any Unreal engine games. Thief 2 was the updated Dark Engine and they only made a flight sim after than before going bust.

    • Premium User Badge

      alison says:

      Good lord, yes. Prague was the worst location in Deus Ex since Paris. It felt all Disneyland to me and not vast and cyberpunky at all. It was especially obvious because Dreamfall Chapters came out at the same time and also did Prague but made it feel cyberpunk as all phuq.

      Granted, I visited present-day Prague for the first time after playing Mankind Divided and they did manage to faithfully capture everything boring and generic about the old town. There were some far more interesting parts of town further out that I wish Eidos Montreal had bothered to recreate – skyscrapers and parks and industrial zones and whatnot… Unfortunately I guess if you do Europe in a computer game you need to do ye olde worlde tourist trap Europe and not actual Europe where people live Europe.

      Anywho, all of this is to say I hope Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t go that route. From the screenshots here it looks like there is some epic density in the distance. I really hope you can get down in the streets and alleys and look up and really get that sense of buildings towering all around you. Plus points for hills and other natural terrain poking out in between, though that’s probably too much to hope for.

      I bought a new computer for Human Revolution. This is the first game since that I have been equally excited about. They better not put boss fights in it.

      • K_Sezegedin says:

        Probably would’ve been better to reference Novigrad in W3 tbh, as yes Prague in Mankind Divided was absolutely nothing special and didn’t conjure the illusion of being in a city.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Amazing Open World by Game Maker’s Toolkit

  3. Kefren says:

    I have never been more hyped for a game then this. My interest began when they said ‘first person’. I just cannot get immersed in third person games in general, and it made it a struggle to complete Witcher 3.

    (Snark aside, I wish more games would do what Vampire TMB or some Bethesda games did – just let you play in first-person or third-person, and switch between them. Then everyone is happy. And if the devs absolutely insist melee combat has to be third person, then only force it for those bits – I think that’s what Vampire TMB did).

    I am very excited about this game. It ticks all my boxes, including DRM-free on GOG. If Observer was a tine and limited world, then this game could be that expanded to a huge and varied world; Observer + Deus Ex + Blade Runner + Saints Row + Witcher. I know it can’t be that good, but even hitting a few of the highs could make it the first game I am very excited about in ages.

    • Thulsa Hex says:

      The third-person option in Elder Scrolls games always felt like more of an afterthought to me, and not a truly viable choice. They were clearly designed with first-person in mind. I enjoy both kinds of RPG, but I can’t think of many games that truly pull off switching between perspectives. Honestly, only Jedi Knight II comes to mind for its third-person sabering.

      • latedave says:

        I actually played through the whole of Skryim in third person. Found it too janky in first person but loved first person in Deus Ex

  4. Thulsa Hex says:

    “Vertical slice” cautionary tales aside (BioShock Infinite, anyone), this sounds so damn good. These scenarios sound a lot like Android: Netrunner cards come to life.

    I was initially surprised that it’s a first-person game, but it makes sense–especially if ocular implants are used well. I hope they nail the combat. At the very least, it sounds like an exciting alternative to the recent Deus Ex games. I like those a lot, but I hope CDPR’s ambitions do for the genre what the Witcher 3 did for fantasy RPGs: set a true new standard in world and story structure. Either way, I am even more eager to see some gameplay footage now.

  5. Dorga says:

    Wasn’t this announced from the start as First-Person?

  6. klops says:

    Good colours.

  7. ColdSpiral says:

    Welp, this won’t pass classification here in Australia. The Revolution had better get underway before it comes out.

    • Stropp says:

      When I read about huffing meth, that was the first thing I thought too. It wasn’t that long ago that Fallout 3 was refused classification because the stimpak was called morphine. Bethesda changed it to Stimpak and it was able to be classified.

      Of course that was when we didn’t have a R rating for games. That’s not been the case for a few years now. If it can be rated R, that will allow it for sale.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      I know, right? I read this entire thing thinking “stop saying ‘drugs’, dammit!”

      Our stupid classification board will definitely rub this one out, particularly as it seems to include drugs as a positive thing for the character.

  8. Lacero says:

    Brendan I have an important question.

    If I’m wearing mirror shades and I talk to someone wearing mirror shades can I see their mirror shades in the reflection of my mirror shades I see in their mirror shades?

    If this game had mod support like Bethesda games it would be perfect. The hype can’t live up to reality, but cyberpunk is always style over substance.

  9. latedave says:

    I really hope it’s good, the driving cant be worse than the Batmobile sections at least.

  10. arienette says:

    I find huffing more drugs to be the solution to most of life’s problems

  11. Lars Westergren says:

    > She also has a bum, which the cinematic really, really likes to focus on.

    If the camera is in another position for a male V, I’m going to be very cross.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      The male player character is called ‘P’.

    • Harlaw says:

      Yeah, ditto. CDPR has a mixed track record at best when it comes to their depiction of female characters though, so who knows.

      • tsff22 says:

        I’d agree that Witcher 1’s portrayal of women was very, VERY “ehhhh…”, but I genuinely felt that 3 did an AMAZING job of giving the game’s women agency without overly sexualizing them.

    • titanomaquis says:

      I think asses are attractive to most people, no matter their preference, so I would bet on it.

    • ColonelFailure says:

      I was going to frame the same point with a positive spin: as long as the chap-edition of V also has a bum fixation this is a win! Bums are happy, friendly pieces of anatomy.

    • DEspresso says:

      oh BuM I read this as BuRN in the article and thought it was a background story thing. When will the Latin Alphabet get patched?

    • Samudaya says:

      Depends how emphasized the male butts are. Doesn’t matter what the angle is if there is nothing to see.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        Press ‘F’ to mourn Snake’s butt in the latest Smash Bro.

        • Seafoam says:

          MGS was the forerunner with male butts in games. If anything it goes against his character.
          I believe more games should have male and female behinds in equal measure.
          It’s a win win situation! Dev’s that only include one of the other are cowards.

  12. Michael Fogg says:

    I really like how Brendan keeps a level head and a critical eye in this report, keep it up!

  13. katheb says:

    Hello,
    Just a question, how detailed is the character creation? (At least what they showed.)

    Can you make a super buff lady or a weedy guy or even a fat person? or is it just change height face hair etc

    • DrPolito says:

      From what I’ve read so far, every description of the character creator was more like: broad choices. (As Brendan describes it.)
      I imagine, it will be like Mass Effect, but on the one hand with less facial details, but more “cyberpunk”-y stuff: tattoos etc.
      Maybe it would be too much work, to stretch the different clothing, so that it fits different body types, or to watch out, there is no clipping, if a character’s body is too big etc.

      • Lawlcopt0r says:

        IMO body types are pretty likely to fall under broad choices, in older RPGs this was often possible and the stuff that was left out were mostly facial details etc.

  14. kikito says:

    If the camera doesn’t obsess about my main character’s butt when he’s a guy, I’m going to be pissed. I demand equal treatment, CD Projekt.

  15. woodsey says:

    “Firstly, an important caveat: this remains a demo. Any slice of game that looks as wild as this one did needs to be examined soberly.”

    Save yourselves, friends. It’s too late for me.

  16. DrPolito says:

    Concerning the FPS-view: In one interview the level designer tells something about a new immersive design of dialogue choices, which is one of the reasons they went for full on first-person-view.
    link to youtu.be
    And the PC Gamer article mentions this, too, (“Dialogue doesn’t feel like a stilted cutscene.”)
    link to pcgamer.com
    I enjoyed Brendan’s article, because it was the most descriptive one, I’ve read about this demo. And, obviously, it is very detailed and more details would be even more work. But, Brendan, if you find the time, can you write more about your impression of the dialogue design? I would be really interested, what your take on this is.

    • Doomstar says:

      I wonder if the first vs third person view is more to do with the (presumably) higher instance of guns and ranged combat. I love third person for my sword-swinging games (Souls and the like) but I wonder how well that view goes for games that have a heap of shooting in them. First person certainly works well in games that are primarily (in the action sequences) shooters while I always find that if it’s melee-based in first-person I have very limited situational awareness to my sides.

      This is what my half-baked thoughts while reading these comments but I still haven’t thought of many third-person shooters.

  17. Harlaw says:

    Overall I’m really excited about it. I’m feeling some trepidation about the first person perspective (Dishonored is one of the rare games which made it click for me) but the rest of it is looking good so far.

    • DrPolito says:

      ^this!
      The first and only non-combat-only game, where first-person-combat felt immersive and not clunky. If they get the controls right, so that you can feel like a badass, when doing bedass things (not: press X to do a nice melee finisher), I will be very happy.

  18. aircool says:

    The setting reminds me more of the Greg Mandel series by Peter F Hamilton, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

    I also much prefer first person as I can shoot without my weapon accidentally getting blocked by terrain.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Oh, tell me about it, that’s my biggest bugbear with third person. Lining up that perfect shot, only for the bullet to get stopped by that wall I am peering around that is in no way in front of my gun, because the camera is slightly off centre.

      Even funnier when throwing a grenade!

  19. kud13 says:

    Sounds neat.

    My guess re: first-person is because CDPRED’s city design is likely to involve loads of narrow alleys, as well as nooks and granny’s where a 3rd person camera would not work well.

    For all its rolling hills and layered architecture, the cities in TW3 had relatively wide streets and alleys. That’s great for a fantasy RPG, but cyberpunk basically requires an in-your-face, oppressive and claustrophobia -inducing city. And i’m sure bolting an over-the-shoulder or cinematic 3rd person camera into such an environment without clipping would be difficult.

    There’s also the fact that most 3rd person shooters inevitably rely on gears-of-war-style cover system, and that doesn’t stack well with slow time/dash/wall-run/mantling combat mechanics CDPRED appears to be going for.

    We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. But if CDPRED were to come out and say “look, our vision requires a dense city of narrow alleys and this level design just won’t work with 3rd person”, I’d totally understand that.

    • Lacero says:

      Yeah, perspective depends on level design. You can’t crawl in vents in third person.

      Though, Sands of Time was third person and handled wall running and time shenanigans so potentially that bit can work. Not sure it would combine well with shooting in third person tho.

      • kud13 says:

        I played Sands of Time for the first time 2 months ago.

        Yes, it did have wall-running and 3rd person combat, etc.

        But its level and design was a mix of corridors with sharp traps/obstacles and huge chambers where the Prince would generally either have to hug the walls or move across wide spaces- basically , in every room/open environment there was plenty of space for the camera to pan out to present an accessible view point.

        One of the few cramped places was a setpiece fight against enemy waves on a small-ish circular elevator platform towards the end of the game. That section almost made me ragequit, because controls suddenly became way less precise (that, and Farah would either die or shoot me dead “by accident” ).

        Which just reinforces my belief that programming 3rd person camera to behave in confined spaces is hard.

    • Jerkzilla says:

      “Nooks and grannys” heh.

      But yeah, your argument seems spot on.
      The scale of buildings in the Witcher 3 was the one thing about its style that stood out in a bad way, though it was an acceptable compromise overall.

  20. Shazbut says:

    Ahh the first person RPG, that finest and most ambitious of genres. Has there ever been one that wasn’t at least interesting?

  21. George Earlslight says:

    No recording for this demo?

  22. Pirlouit says:

    well this first person view is a bummer but I can understand why they chose this… it’s much more decent for shooting gameplay and fast action in most situation. Plus you have to be much more attentive of what’s going on around you since you can’t see everything around your character.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they can / are willing to add a playbable TPV.

  23. brucethemoose says:

    Here’s an oddy specific question that I’m hoping someone in the press will ask the devs.

    Who are the voice actors/actresses for V?

    Also, do all races/variations of a gender have the same voice actor/actress?

    • DrPolito says:

      I’d like to know the VAs, too.
      I don’t think there will be different VAs for different variations. Even not considering the cost, it would be highly problematic to make a special – let’s say “black” voice – because people could read racist clichés into that.
      I think it would be cool if they chose an actress/actor, who has a mixed cultural beackground, because it is highly plausible, that a person in 2077-America would have one, too.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Yeah, I figured that would be the case.

        Still, this is kind of a new problem in gaming, and an interesting one at that. There aren’t a ton of RPGs with this much voice acting AND this much character customization… Fallout 4 got alot of criticism for it, but I’m not sure how they’re expected to fix it.

      • dsch says:

        The Expanse does a great job of creating a future ethnicity with a distinct social and linguistic identity.

  24. Blake Casimir says:

    I have waited _so_ long for a futuristic first person RPG. A proper open world role playing experience with character customisation, deep systems and world exploration, and combat. Much as I love Prey and Deus Ex, they are more limited in their scope – incredible though they are – and don’t go as far as this.

    Based upon everything I’m reading about the gameplay so far this is a day one purchase for me.

    FFS it feels like we should have more futuristic first person RPGs but released recently – apart from Prey and Deus Ex – what else is there?? :(

  25. g948ng says:

    This actually lowered my hype-level considerably. First person? It means staring at my hands all day. And there will be platforming involved at some point, I bet. Ugh.
    The comparison to Deus Ex´s Prague also sounds ominous. I remember it as a profoundly sterile and confining area to play in with no raison d´être. It mimicked an open world but there was nothing to do or explore in said open world.
    I am also not keen on Brendan´s hint that it might carry over the Witcher´s annoyingly omnipresent dating simulator.

  26. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I’m interested whether they go in the same direction as the Bethesda games with the customizable player character thing.
    I don’t really care about the lead being female or male but it helps the narrative along if you have a definitive person with established traits rather than the generic Dragonborn.
    Indeed I played Skyrim as fanatically as TW3 but I wonder if they can pull it off to make the story just as enganging because the point of the Witcher games was to play a specific role in the cast not a blank canvas.

  27. Vandelay says:

    Definitely sounds good, but in some ways I was hoping for something a bit more ambitious in terms how this plays, rather than just it being a big and expensive. The description really doesn’t sound much different from any other million open world game that shouts about all the choices you can make. It using a franchise that is such a big name in the tabletop world, I hoped that CD Projekt would be using their pots of money from The Witcher 3 to make something that really did bring in the freedom that is possible in non-CRPGs. Instead, it sounds like we may not even get that much choice in who our character is.

    Still, this sounds like it potentially could be very good, so I’m not feeling the need to complain too much.

  28. bacon seeker says:

    Deus Ex x Witcher 3 sounds excellent to me. It’s never safe to assume that an extremely ambitious game will end up being fun, but CDPR has been kicking arse lately. I hope they maintain the focus on engaging and poignant stories… if they nail that, I can forgive deficiencies in the combat and level design departments.

  29. DeadCanDance says:

    Why the hell would they show this only for the press? Can anybody tell me?

    • KenTWOu says:

      Because it’s a very long 50 minute demo of a game at very early stage of development, every minute of which could potentially contain a highly unpolished barely working feature, which gaming community couldn’t handle, because it’s full of people who don’t understand how game development really works.

      I’m not saying that game journalists know that very well, but at least they know that such an early demo tends to overpromise things both in terms of gameplay and visual fidelity, because the game is not feature complete, not optimised at this point, far from it. Hence Brendan’s very cautionary tone.

  30. Peppergomez says:

    Thank god it’s first person. That will make it exponentially more immersive.

  31. TrentHellacious says:

    Yes. It will also make it impossible to play for the thousands of people who, like me, suffer crippling motion sickness when trying to play a first person game. I’ve been looking forward to this release since the first “Bullets” video however many years ago, and am really quite disappointed at this news.

    Oh well, at least they got me into Archive.

    -.-

    • ravenshrike says:

      Wait 2 months and a mod will be out for 3rd person. It won’t work properly till two years later, but it will be out. Or take a quarter dose of Dramamine before playing.

  32. ZippyLemon says:

    wonderful write-up, nice one Brendan :)

  33. Lupa says:

    I’m gonna be honest, I’m so excited for this game, I have been for years. I love cyberpunk games and just the universe in general. I’m a huge Shadowrun fan. But I’m am TERRIFIED, that this game is going to get a R rating. Being an Australian, & the scares of games being banned here is real right now. It sucks SO much. If it is, there better be a fucking up-raw from the community to help get it into Australia.
    I would move to play this game.

  34. Stefarooh says:

    I lost interest in it when it was announced that it would be in first person with first person pew-pew mechanics. While I am sure the storytelling will be good, if not great, not really sold on that type of gameplay for an RPG.

  35. heretic says:

    Great write up, thanks Brendy!

  36. khamul says:

    Really positive about two things:

    First, character gen includes building the history of your character. This was a huge, and hugely important thing about Cyberpunk 2020. Roleplaying is not about killing stuff and maxing stats – the best roleplaying is when you find yourself making the choices your character would make, not the ones you would make, because of who they are. If Projekt Red can deliver that – and it’s a really big ‘if’, because it is so hard to do – then the game will be magical, whatever other problems it has.

    The other thing that stands out: gunplay as the exception, not the norm. Gunplay in Cypberpunk 2020 is really dangerous: it has one of the most brutal combat systems of any game I’ve played. That creates tension and drama – you start looking for other ways to solve problems, and you make sure that if things do go loud, you’re ready for it, and you control the situation when they do… or you get used to rolling new characters.

    Tricky to do that in a game where you can just reload a save – and I doubt they’ll do this as a Roguelike (though a Night City roguelike might be, I realise, my perfect game). But shooting is such an easy and obvious interaction to build a game around – that it’s only part of the story here makes me much more excited.

    • iniudan says:

      They could go the roguelike route, after all, deadman transmitter are available, just adjust their cost and coma/death rule with difficulty setting, with lowest possibly been always coma and unlimited transmitter use.

  37. Juniper says:

    I am also here for the man butts ok thanks

  38. Mouse_of_Dunwall says:

    Did the demo show if there’s a lean key?

  39. DailyFrankPeter says:

    Seems great but… also like a LOT of tropes are being actively crammed into one game.
    – progression systems (check),
    – a city like in GTA (great),
    – hacking-vision to see alternative combat routes (yawn, can’t remember a game where I would actually end up using it other than for novelty factor a few times) – how novel is hacking for orientation if minimaps are a given in every game at this point
    – elemental damage like in Borderlands (yawn, what if someone doesn’t like to juggle weapons all the time)
    – ‘street cred’ gives you -N% to prices (like that’s exactly what being from the neighbourhood gives you in real life, instead of sense of security, duh, but for that you’d have to feel actually in danger in games)
    – hey, I wonder it there is crafting from basic parts obtained from breaking stuff down…

    Point is, to make a game unique these days, you probably have to remove mechanics (or add limiting ones), and not pile stuff in.

    • DailyFrankPeter says:

      In fact, with an IP like Cyberpunk it IS a progression system. You don’t have to do introduces magic points. E.g. if you imagine a fill-the-gaps sentence like:
      “with some newly-earned dough, YT went to the upgrade-runner to get some new …” or “Raven had amassed enough … in his body to shrug off attacks like this” I bet what you fill in WONT be ‘XP’ or ‘perks’.

  40. Hoot says:

    Deus Ex has been the only game in town for FPS cyberpunk-y (and I guess Deus Ex is more tech-dystopia than cyberpunk anyway) action for far too long. I welcome the announcement that this is an FPS :)

    As delighted as I would have been with a cyberpunk The Witcher 3 clone, for me personally this is even better!

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>