Welcome to Night City - Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal Reaction

Is it just me, or does cyberpunk seem to be popping up in entertainment media a lot lately? Blade Runner 2049, the live-action Ghost in the Shell, Netflix’s Altered Carbon to name a few titles....and now CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. First announced way back in 2012, the upcoming RPG inspired by the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop system finally got a full, public gameplay demo this week at Gamescom (watch the full video here). The game is still very much under development, so while it’s likely that many elements will change, the nearly fifty minute video still gives us an intriguing first look into the world of Cyberpunk 2077 and Night City.

The demo begins with a quick look at character customization. The Backstory section, which allows you to assign your character a hero, a defining event in their life, and a reason for being in Night City (the location of the game), immediately captured my attention. According to the video narration, these decisions aren’t simply for role-playing - they’ll have story implications down the line. Giving the protagonist a touchstone and a history goes a long way in making them feel like a real part of the world, and I can’t wait to see how these choices integrate into the narrative.

 Sombra got a glow up.

Sombra got a glow up.

After this, the protagonist, codenamed V for presumably all players (in this case, a female), is then dropped into a mission, showcasing combat and quest mechanics. While you’ll get to see your customized V in cutscenes (justifying all the hours I’m going to sink into the character creator), the game is played in first person for maximum immersion. There’s nothing we haven’t seen before in the gunplay and sneaking mechanics, but the combat looks fun and fluid, particularly when the higher-level upgrades are shown later in the video. Fully destructible environments add another layer of immersion and strategy to the mix.

In this particular quest, V is joined by two helpers: a hacker providing remote assistance, and a hulking partner named Jackie who directly backs her up in combat. It’s unclear if these assistants are temporary, or if there are others who may join your cause along the way, but I did notice that there doesn’t appear to be a true party in the classic RPG sense; there was only one health bar (V’s) on the HUD, and she was the only one equippable in the menu. There also doesn’t seem to be any way to give your companions commands, but unlike followers in some other role-playing-games (cough, Bethesda), the A.I. seemed to be functioning competently, and Jackie and V have a lot of nice banter on the mission.

On the subject of banter, dialogue feels well-written and realistic, with no clunky exposition or info dumps to take you out of the story and remind you that you’re playing a video game. I can’t say any of the characters in the demo felt particularly fresh as far as sci-fi archetypes are concerned, but they didn’t feel boring or completely two-dimensional either. Likewise, the world-building has all the familiar trappings of cyberpunk stories we’ve already seen and read - greedy, omnipotent corporations warring with cybernetically enhanced gangs for control of a squalid, overcrowded city is a predictable backdrop, but I’m fine with that as long as CD Projekt Red takes these familiar elements and plays with them in a way that is different and interesting.

As for the story, it’s clear that this is an open world game, with new quests and characters waiting around every neon-drenched corner. What’s unclear is the plot of the main story, or if there even is a main story at all. It’s always a challenge to balance the urgency of the main quest with the player freedom that comes with open world games, but personally, I do hope there is some sort of overarching plot driving V’s actions and explorations throughout the game.

 Visit with a 'ripperdoc' to upgrade V's skills and abilities through various cybernetic enhancements.

Visit with a 'ripperdoc' to upgrade V's skills and abilities through various cybernetic enhancements.

Whether it’s part of the main story or not, the fact that all quests have multiple methods of completing your objective and consequences to your decisions should add a ton of replay value to the game. If the finished product ends up being comparable to what CD Projekt Red teased here, I anticipate sinking an embarrassing number of hours into Cyberpunk 2077. And if this demo has you itching for a cyberpunk fix while you wait for a release date, I recommend playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution or watching the director’s cut of the original Blade Runner.

What did you think of the Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay demo trailer? What do you want to see in the finished version of the game? Leave us a comment below or a voicemail at (347) 509-5620