I had never heard of Cyberpunk 2077 until I saw the trailer that they released at E3 this year. For me, it seemed like a game that was going to be similar to open sandbox games like Saints Row or Grand Theft Auto, but it looked phenomenal regardless and I was eager to know more.
Lo-and-behold, I stumbled across IGN’s Twitch.tv stream of the gameplay reveal while me and my friend Flex were talking on the Playstation 4 and trying to figure out what we wanted to do as far as gaming was concerned. Eventually we linked up on Watch2gether and finished seeing what the game had to offer, thankfully we started right at the very beginning of the gameplay reveal and got to witness the full spec of one of the missions that CD PROJEKT RED had to offer us.
For my gameplay impressions, since this is not an announcement trailer and instead will be showing what the game will play like, I will break it down into 4 different categories; customization, immersion, system, and combat. Normally I like to analyze everything I possibly can, however, I am going to keep it brief since apparently this is a “Work in Progress and everything is subject to change” (looks more like a beta than an alpha though).
The game’s customization looks pretty promising, but I am wondering how much of it is actually freeform customization and not actually part of the game’s system. At the very beginning you can pick things like your character’s age, body-type, skin color, etc. However, you can also pick things like their “childhood hero”, “reason for being in Night City”, etc. I am wondering how much of the background things that will possibly affect how your character interacts with those they meet will be pre-determined by those choices? In fact, how much of it can you put in yourself rather than pick from a dropdown menu of things they have readily prepared for you? Do not get me wrong, more options are always great, but it would be nice to have full customized input over things of that nature without picking them from a large cookie cutter sheet (too ambitious?).
As far as aesthetics, it seems even the clothing you choose to wear is going to have some type of stats and purpose on them; I am never usually a fan of this simply because you often have to forgo how you want to look to access stats that you need. Though, to be honest, this is a first person game and it is not like Grand Theft Auto in a sense that you will be able to see what you are wearing, especially since it appears as though they have no plans for co-op in this game and you cannot see yourself through a friend’s gameplay video later on either. This would mean a lot more if they eventually implemented a third-person view and made it where transmutation is also implemented to get the gear you want with the stats you need. Though, I have no idea how this would work with designs that have to be installed by the Ripper Doctor, as those also make changes to your character’s appearance…but I suppose that would be necessary if this was the real world.
The last is just choice. Seems that the things you choose will have an impact within the world and there are multiple ways to complete any mission. Seems they have taken a more proactive route to the way Fallout does thing, at least, that what it seems like. Being able to pick what you want to do, such as the multiple routes available when Dexter wanted that stolen military bot, feels magnificent. Having levels upon levels of control over how to complete a mission, even in the midst of already making decisions, feels good and allows you to really weigh your options and that strain of choice completely helps you feel the world is tailored to you, but it is also immersive.
I am looking at Immersion as how the game feels compared to our real world; believable characters interactions, a living and breathing city, responses, etc. Right now, I feel that the bustling cityscape grants a feeling comparable to an actual tight-knit place of commerce; people talking to vendors, crossing the street, and driving along the path while medics do their thing to some unfortunate victim. Character interactions are even spot on in how Jackie switches fluently from English to Spanish, also his lame way of talking, “Haha! Just like the fucking cavalry!” reminds me immensely of one of my best friends, Rasean Frazier. Though, they will have to be careful on using slang so often, while it is good, people can tend to think scripted interactions are bad just because they know it is not completely natural.
Something else they did very good on is carrying over some real-world aspects to make it relatable and not completely alien. Having “Euro” is good since we all know it as currency used in today’s world, vending machines, the mention of alcohol, and even talk radio being present after the first act of the game and “V” make sit back to her apartment. Discussing and being giddy about grabbing higher profile jobs and discussing famous people (even if they are corporations or underground kingpins) add to the feeling that the world is alive.
The biggest thing that is going to make this all come together is the first-person view. Having everything done from a third-person perspective feels good, but it does not make the game have anymore depth and you feel like you are playing an actual game. Everyone went bonkers in Grand Theft Auto V when they added a first-person mode because of the feeling of immersion it gave. You can properly judge the size of buildings, walking into stores feels fantastic, and basic things like walking by mirrors and catching a glimpse of yourself are small details taken for granted when you can see your character all the time. Sure, they might add a third-person mode sometime in the future simply because demand is so high for it, but I honestly believe it might be a wasted effort on the part of CD PROJEKT RED and really obstruct the vision and lessen the detail of the world they are going for.
The system seems rather streamlined, rather than having all of your information like a typical role-playing game, it seems it is implemented into a heads-up display that shows up in your everyday life; the clothes you pick out of your closet, the guns within your armory, and even your decisions feeling as though they are happening in real-time versus a momentary freeze while waiting. Hell, even the Ripper Doc took an upgrade and put it directly into V’s eye socket and we were shown how it would look from a first-person perspective while it told us what it will be doing (and adding a HUD).
To be honest, I need to see more about how stats play into the game and street cred, where you can allocate points at and where you can view your list of current upgrades and special abilities. Though, it feels good to actually have everything manageable from menus that do not quite feel like menus, but we will need to see if that continues to happen as the game gets more advanced and more things begin to unlock; might break the immersive experience a bit (such as when you are customizing a gun), but I suppose it is still a game at the end of the day and sometimes the tried-and-true way is simply the way it has to be done.
The combat within the game is the biggest qualm that I have; it feels stale, uninspired, and very “normal”. I understand, Cyberpunk 2077 is suppose to be our world in the future when we have gotten so far into technology that it integrates seamlessly with people and has evolved in a way it is as much a part of us as we had a hand in making it. However, I was hoping to see something a little more crazy with things that could possibly happen; machine gun arms, chests that can open up into particle cannons, the ability to augment yourself and have special abilities…but I suppose this detracts from the “normal-ish” feel they are going for?
To be honest, combat may be one of the things you will actually need to get your hands on to “feel” immersed. Watching the fighting did not jump out and grab me as much as the other aspects of the game that were introduced in the gameplay reveal, but that is probably because it is not meant to be flashy and worthy of speciation, rather it is lifelike and meant to be experienced. I do not know for sure, but I can just say the damage numbers flying off can be distracting and ugly, reminds me of Borderlands, and takes away from the complete immersion (unless it is part of a heads-up display in one of your optical upgrades).
On the other hand, I do have to give credit where it is due when we experienced a few of the things you can do with a more “High-End” character as they put it. Being able to get abilities or guns that ricochet bullets by adjusting their trajectories, “smart guns” that lock onto nearby enemies and will curve the bullets upon leaving the chamber to have the best chance of hitting their target (Titanfall?) and even having weapons themselves come from out of your forearms capable of skewing your enemies. Not going to lie, it does look pretty good…but it is still a bit boring to watch considering we have not gotten a chance to operate the game.