E3 2018: CD Projekt Red Lays out its Ambitious Vision for Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt Red spent the past decade working on The Witcher franchise. In 2015, the developer released its final entry in The Witcher series and fans have patiently been awaiting news on their next project, Cyberpunk 2077. At E3 2018, CD Projekt RED finally revealed its ambitious plans for its follow-up to the excellent The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. We got to sit down for a 50-minute demo this past week to see how Cyberpunk 2077 is shaping up.

True to the franchise’s roots, Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG that gives players full control of their character. There are no classes, archetypes or defined roles to choose from. Players do get to customize the look of V and assign her skill points based on the playstyle they like best. Going further, players can also set their character’s backstory, which shapes how the people of Night City view V.

In stark contrast to The Witcher games, Cyberpunk 2077 presents its combat as a first-person shooter. The demo opened with V and her friend Jackie assaulting a Scavenger apartment in search of a missing woman. Combat appears to take inspiration from the likes of Destiny/Borderlands and the latest crop of Deus Ex games. Like Destiny and Borderlands, the game is all about taking cover, firing inventive weapons and watching enemy health bars drain. Much like Deus Ex, however, players can choose how to proceed in combat. Do you go in guns-blazing or quietly? Even during epic firefights, there are a myriad of ways to tackle battle. V can hack enemies, utilize an inhaler to receive temporary boosts or use the environment to sneak behind enemy lines. Though some people may find the first-person view disappointing, you realize this isn’t just a straightforward first-person shooter once you see it in action.

Following a successful extraction, CD Projekt Red took V out into the open world of Night City. The city’s look and feel draws from traditional Cyberpunk aesthetics, including neon lights, punk-style clothing and technological wonders. What made Night City feel special was the scale and detail put into the world and its civilians. No matter where you went, there was always something going on. To prove that what we were seeing was live gameplay, the presenter asked the audience for gameplay suggestions and performed them. While it remains to be seen if the final product will look and behave as well as the demo, it was hard not to be impressed with the sheer amount of detail that’s gone into bringing this massive city alive.

Navigating the city and its six regions is a breeze. While V is capable of walking everywhere, she’ll also have access to an array of drivable vehicles, which can be driven in first or third-person. All cars come with an auto-drive mode, making it easy for players to kick back and relax during the drive or quickly engage in gunfights on the road.

To close out the presentation, the developer took us on one final mission to highlight all the different choices and gameplay options available to the player. A group of technologically obsessed scavengers had stolen a shipment of weapons, including a spiderbot V needed. There were numerous ways to solve this problem. She could have gone in guns-blazing, snuck in and stole it, or outright bought it from them. Instead, V met up with a corporate executive from the company the goods were taken from and convinced her to provide the funds to buy it. Like any good narrative-driven RPG, there are plenty of dialogue options and the talk with the executive could have ended in many ways.

Once inside, it turned out it was all a double-cross. The fund provided by the executive uploaded a virus that took much of the gang’s technology, setting up a frantic gunfight. Utilizing the new spiderbot, V was able to create new pathways that eventually led her to the big boss. The scenario also provided a look at some of the more exciting weaponry in Cyberpunk 2077, such as a gun whose bullets ricochet off walls. Beating the boss, the player confronts the same executive who put them through hell. Impressed, she says V should work with them more, but how the player replies is up to them.

Though short for an RPG, the demo did provide a look into the ambitious project that is Cyberpunk 2077. The game is still far off and this was just a vertical slice of the game, but what’s been shown so far is impressive. CD Projekt Red seems determined to create a successor that not only matches but exceeds the quality set forth by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While a few may be disappointed to learn that the game is first-person, they shouldn’t fear about the RPG mechanics. The combination of first-person shooting with RPG mechanics appears to make for an exciting coupling.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out sometime in the future on PS4, Xbox One and PC.