We were lucky enough to see a live gameplay demo of the game led by CD Project Red; unfortunately, we didn’t get hands-on with the game.
After showing us a brief glimpse of the game’s character customization options, which affect how different NPCs interact with the player depending on the player’s background, of which there are many options, we were shown two different sides of the game.
The first involved stealth, while the second was decidedly more bombastic and action-oriented.
Next Stop, Night City
The first player character we were shown was a stealthy male with few enhancements. What sets him apart, however, is that he has a biochip which may contain the secret of immortality. Of course, this makes him a hot target.
Through this section, Keanu Reeves’ character, Johnny Silverhand, which was revealed during Mircosoft’s E3 press conference, serves as a guide. He pops up every so often to give the player advice or react to what’s happening, seemingly at his own leisure.
Our mission is to seek out the Voodoo boys, a hacker gang obsessed with permanently uploading consciousness into cyberspace. Since their leader has gone missing, we go to a nearby shop to inquire about the gang and its leader’s whereabouts.
We are told to go to the Pacifica district, an area originally meant for the rich and famous until a huge crisis caused investors to back out and abandon it.
With no police presence and plenty of empty buildings, most people avoid the area, making it the perfect spot for illegal black markets and underground shops. Here, the developers told us that with the right build, players can manipulate shopkeepers and be presented with the option to open their own private, secret reserve (hub, anyone?).
The developers didn’t elaborate on this much, but it’s likely useful for players who want to keep some money and valuable items safe.
Getting Into the Groove
Because Cyberpunk 2077 involves dealing with many different characters in many different scenarios, the developers told us it’s important to look the part when going out on missions; it’s best to wear the appropriate outfits depending on your intentions.
It’s duly important to wear the correct cybernetic implants when they become available. Since they are as common as tattoos and have different effects such as enhanced strength, speed, and more, the CD Projekt team said that finding the right implants for the job is important.
When we reach Placide, a high-ranking member of the Voodoo Boys, these enhancements and abilities show their power.
Here, the player character and Placide link up via a personal link cord, connecting their brains and allowing Placide to see through the player’s eyes. This allows Placide to provide strategic support, guiding the player through the next area: the Grand Imperial Mall.
Stealth and Strategy
Going through to the abandoned Grand Imperial Mall, the objective is two-fold: investigate why the Animal gang is working for a Netwatcher hiding there, and to free fellow Voodoo Boys member, Brigitte.
Quickly, we were told that the Animal gang is a group of bodybuilders obsessed with a muscle enhancing drug called Juice, which increases their strength and agility. Since the devs were playing as a stealthy hacker, the best option to take down these drug-infused muscle heads was to do so quietly, but not without hacking into the security cameras first to get a better look at the situation.
When taking out enemies, there are both lethal and non-lethal options, so players don’t have to kill anyone if they don’t want to. How letting enemies live will affect the larger narrative is currently unknown With a high enough hacking skill, stealthier characters can take out several enemies without being noticed. CD Projekt showed off just two of many ways this type of strategy can play out.
In the first instance, the player character hacks a training robot to knock an enemy out, while in the following instance, a bench press is hacked to immobilize the enemy below.
After showing us the sneakier approach, the developers switched to a female character who has a number of cybernetic enhancements, granting her increased strength. Consequently, she can use heavier weapons not available to normal humans. What’s more, instead of hacking doors open, this character can take a more direct approach, such as ripping them open with her bare hands.
Once the leader is spotted, the developers allowed more enemies to come into the room so they could show off more of the game’s gunplay. The action was fast, frenetic, and violent; the player even ripped the cybernetic leg from an enemy with the cyberwire weapon, which also serves as a hacking tool.
One on one with the gang leader, the action ratcheted up. Pouncing on the player, the gang leader hacks them through their cybernetic implants. This begins a countdown timer; when the hacking is complete, the player’s brain will be melted.
Being a Juice-obsessed leader of the Animal gang, this characters weak spot is the large Juice container on her back. After bobbing and weaving through her powerful attacks, made more difficult by her boosted agility, the juice container is destroyed, making her much easier to take down.
The developers decided not to kill this character or take her weapon despite having the chance, showing the options available to players for action or diplomacy.
Finally coming to the objective, the Netwatcher cuts the player’s connection to the feed, preventing communication with the outside world. They invite the player to chat in their private movie theater, where they have a chat I won’t spoil.
While Cyberpunk 2077 is admirable because of the various builds players can create as well as all of the different options it offers while going through its campaign, showing just a bit more detail about how personalities, fashion, cybernetic implants, and skills affect what happens to the player would have been beneficial.
Despite this, Cyberpunk 2077 is definitely a game to keep an eye on, and interested players should look forward to receiving more information about it leading up to release. Recently, it was revealed that the game would receive a New Game+ mode. The game will also feature branching prologues and take up 80+GBs on your hard drive.
Cyberpunk 2077 will launch for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on April 16, 2020.