Alice B: So we have now all seen the Cyberpunk 2077 demo footage. But also the world has! Which is interesting because Brendy mentioned on our Gamescom podcast that, because it was all behind closed doors, it’d be hard for us to compare it to the full game when it actually came out.
Brendan: But then they went and released the footage to the public after all. CD Projekt Red have made a liar of me. But they've also probably made problems for themselves.
Alice B: Yeah, but there’s no way it could be that like… polished. There’s surely no way we’ll have the same moments that are in that footage? Like the bath thing, which Matthew was quite skeptical of.
Brendan: The bit where V pushes the man’s head under the water and shoots him in the head? And all the blood mixes with the water? Yeah, that feels like a very precisely scripted animation. Were there any other moments like that where any of us thought: “No no no no, don’t feed me this cybershite”?
Matthew: Some of the environmental destruction in that opening fight is a bit iffy, too. Walls crumbling in spectacular fashion, but only in this one dilapidated apartment. I want to be able to drill through walls with a minigun in the warehouse fight at the end.
Alice B: I think the bit where V walks out into the city and there are loads of civilians in like plastic crop tops and whatever, I was like ‘No way the city is this alive all the time.’ Maybe in a couple of bits for max wow factor. Plus loads of them looked at V. In most cities you don’t make eye contact in case you get stabbed.
Brendan: I was more convinced by that part after I saw it a second time. It felt more like a “real game” to me on a second viewing but only because I was looking for identical NPCs. And I saw loads more duplicates than I expected. “Dirt Girl” shows up quite a few times.
Matthew: But then you walk down an alley and start seeing police investigating a holographic crime reconstruction - is that a cute one-off event, or will they be there for the duration of the game, scratching their heads day in, day out?
Alice B: “We are terrible at our jobs, Cyber Officer Davey.” Actually, it would be really cool if that’s, like, a case you can solve... But yeah, it does just seem like so many of those little events are scripted. So either, like Matthew said in the podcast, loads of enemies have to be standing by tanks of water, or everyone has the same scripted experiences for the whole game.
Matthew: I’d love to be a cybercop. Is it bad that I’m more interested in playing The Man than sticking it to him? It’s not very cyberpunk. More cybernarc. But I hope that that stuff in the demo is teasing at other activities. I’ll be very cross if I don’t get to robo-fight with the android boxer.
Alice B: I would actually be super impressed if there were multiple endings like in Nier: Automata, and you could complete the game by, like, going straight. Climbing the corporate ladder.
Brendan: You are such a bunch of corpo suits. Hack the planet, that’s what I say. Anyway, it makes sense that we feel there’s just too much in this world, based on the demo. Stuff that won’t be in the game when it comes out in nine hundred years. From the developer’s point of view, they needed to fill the demo with colour. Absolutely stuff it, like a big cyberpepper. It’s a “get people excited” thing. Ultimately, they want to sell the game before it’s even out. But at least when they finally showed the demo to the rest of the world, they did so with a bunch of caveats and qualifiers. They basically shouted at everyone: “OK SO THIS IS JUST A BIG LAUGH HAHAHA TELL US WHAT U THINK.”
Alice B: Yeah, I sound like I’m really down on it. I did like it! I hope they put up a version with a male V, too. We got the option but everyone in our demo wanted to see the female version. But I’d love to see if the male V gets the same slow panning shots across his bum and stuff. I assume yes?
Brendan: Bums are so important to gamers. If there’s no man-bum, there’ll be fury. But I’m also guessing yes. I don’t have a huge amount of faith in this studio when it comes to that stuff. I mean, they were giving dodgy cyberbabe statues to members of the press during the demo (we declined). That said, it would probably be more work for them to chop out those shots. I’m gonna bet the knickers won’t be as nice though. Big boxers. With love hearts.
Matthew: Boosting your street cred and getting you discounts at shops. But only if you flash them in public.
Alice B: Ahahaha. “I’m sorry V, I really can’t sell this any cheaper.” “Oh yeah? Well how about… now?”
Brendan: Are we all happy enough with the world they’re showing off? In talking to other journos, it seemed like there was a split between folks who are bored by it: “Oh look, it’s Deus Ex but with some splashes of pink.” And those who are screaming: “Jack me in right now!” I’m happy enough with the look of the place - big billboards, mohawks, and skinny hackers wasting away in front of a dozen computer screens. That is absolute Brendybait. I especially liked that everywhere V went, people were watching the same boxing match on little TVs. But I dunno about the dialogue and characters. It all seems a bit, uh, “videogame”. What about youse?
Matthew: I do trust CD Projekt Red with characters - I like The Witcher cast more than my real friends - but I don’t know if the demo gives anyone space to breathe. Really, it’s just 40 minutes of combat barks and mission exposition, which is hard to judge a game by. Though Jackie’s peppering of speech with Spanish slang is a tad heavy-handed.
Brendan: I strongly agree, ese.
Matthew: I won’t mind if there’s an British character that keeps pointing out how “bonkers” the future is.
Alice B: I think it looks great, but it also so far looks pretty standard cyberpunk. “Loved Blade Runner 2049? You should try Cyberpunk 2077!” It’s all neon and people with machine eyes and stuff, and ooh, isn’t the commodification of bodies dystopian and terrible? But the way to show that is apparently always ‘here is a dead naked woman’ and I am very bored by that at this point. That whole first bit had a lot of looking quite close at an unconscious lady’s nipple, rendered in loving detail, and I just wanted someone to put a blanket on her. They’d just dragged her out of an ice bath! Even the ambulance commando men just put her on a stretcher. They didn’t even have one of those tinfoil medical blankets. And they look well futuristic.
Matthew: The demo seems to be going for ‘unembarrassed adult game’, but it’s telling that it’s unembarrassed by lady bodies, exclusively.
Brendan: Basically, what our readers should take away from this is that, at some point, we must be able to inspect Jackie’s wang. I’m not even joking.
Alice B: Exactly. The true meaning of cyberpunk. Maybe he has a cyber wang!
Matthew: If you’ve got resources to render blood drifting into a fishtank, you’ve got the resources to render Jackie’s wang.
Alice B: “I just got debugged, jaina.”
Brendan: Enough of this cyberfilth. What else do we care to mention? What do we want to know more about? What other opinions can we belch?
Matthew: I’m interested to see how much of the city is city you can visit, especially in the car. Watching the demo a few more times I get a real Batman: Arkham Knight vibe from the driving. Tearing down these quite penned in freeways, where car-to-car fights can take place without breaking the game, is very similar to heaving that Bat-tank around. Are these roads just glorified loading screen between amazingly rendered warehouses?
Brendan: Oh my god, there is a bit in the demo, right, where the car is heading down a highway exit ramp and there’s a dude walking up it. The car swerves ever so slightly towards him, and then very quickly corrects its course. I'm convinced whoever was playing got taken over here by that vicious GTA player hiding inside all of us, and wanted to run that dude over. But then quickly thought: “Oh no! We haven’t done the ragdoll physics for pedestrians yet!” And changed direction in a split second to avoid ghosting through what is essentially a walking prop. Bet you a hundred eddies, that’s what happened.
Matthew: I also like that you drive past a man in a bin and your futuristic data-scanning eyeball tells you that it’s a ‘homeless man’. Thanks for having my back, magic eyeball.
Alice B: Oooh yeah, I wonder how much detail they’ll put into the magic eyeball. Like the heart in Dishonored 2. They’d put in loads of stuff for it. This maid wants to go back to school and get her degree in creative writing, better think twice about stabbing her!
Matthew: Right now it’s a bit Watch Dogs. Randomly telling you that a generic man in a suit is an accountant, which isn’t fun or useful. I guess it’s weird to see a world that is incredibly specific in places - blood spreading into fish tank (for the twentieth time) - can be weirdly broad in others.
Alice B: I think saying it’s like Deus Ex but better, I can definitely see that. I do like the idea that there are different routes you can take to solve problems, like in the warehouse fight at the end you could hack the door open if you were good at hacking. But with any game there’s always a limit to how drastically different those routes can actually be.
Matthew: They talked a lot in the presentation about a fluid class system - you don’t just have to be a netrunner, techie or solo (which are the three they’re focusing on), but a pick 'n' mix of your favourite parts. That makes me wonder if it’s even possible to be exclusively one of those things - there were scenarios in the demo, such as the boss fight against the exosuit chap, where it’s hard to see how a big hacking brain might save the day.
Brendan: I thought it was odd they made such a big deal out of the “there are no set classes!” thing. They spoke about this as if it was novel. But what makes these three parallel skill trees any different than those of any other shooter or RPG? I’m interested to see what other neat things a hacker might do, like you say. But “no classes” was such an odd thing to take pride in.
Alice B: Well it doesn’t really matter anyway, because it’s not going to come out for another bajillion years. And then we’ll all have our own magic eyeballs and cyber wangs. It could be radically different when it actually releases, is the thing.
Matthew: I’m a tiny bit surprised they put out this demo, knowing how how much of a beating they got over The Witcher 3 ‘downgrade’.
Brendan: That’s probably why they keep yelling “DOES NOT REPRESENT FINAL GAME”. But I kinda agree. If something doesn’t really represent the final game, you will get folks shouting about puddles. There’s no dodging that, no matter how many drugs you huff from a future-inhaler.
Matthew: If I don’t shoot that exact man’s brains into that exact fishtank, I’m giving this game a 3/10 (in my head, where I’m allowed to give scores out of ten).
Alice B: I give the Cyberpunk 2077 demo 6 Terrifying Full Building Hologram Adverts out of Arms That Turn Into Swords.
Brendan: Can’t tell anymore if this makes you a corrupt shill or a stuck-up critic.
Alice B: Corrupt shill. It’s in character for Cyberpunk.
Brendan: I give it V out of X. Needs more wang.