Cyberpunk 2077: Everything we've learned at E3
Highly anticipated: On Sunday, CD Projekt Red showed up at Microsoft’s pre-E3 conference to tease Cyberpunk 2077 once again. In addition to finally giving us a release date for the game, the studio revealed that Keanu Reeves will appear in-game as an important NPC. However, that was only the start — far more information has surfaced about the game now, and we’ve done our best to summarize it below.
First, some brief background for those who have never heard of this game before:
Cyberpunk 2077 is a true first-person, open-world RPG set in a sprawling, California-based futuristic metropolis known as Night City. Players will create their own character at the start (complete with gender, attribute, and appearance customization) and progress through the game’s many main missions and side quests in whatever way they choose; not unlike an Immersive Sim like Deus Ex or Dishonored. You can play as a sneaky hacking-centric Netrunner, a gadget-loving Techie, a battle-ready Solo, or a mixture of all three.
Moving on to actual E3 details, let’s start with one from Nvidia. The company confirmed in a blog post today that Cyberpunk 2077 will feature full real-time ray tracing support via RTX technology.
This isn’t a surprise given CDPR’s long relationship with Nvidia, but it’s still nice to hear that more titles will support the GPU maker’s expensive hardware. If you’ve been following TechSpot for a while, you may recall that one of our main complaints regarding Nvidia’s latest GPUs is the lack of games that feature robust (and performance-friendly) RTX support.
Moving on to gameplay information, we’ve been given quite a bit to chew on thanks to a breakdown written by IGN after they saw a private, behind-closed-doors demo. Unlike last year’s public and private Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay videos, which emphasized full-fledged combat and location variety, CD Projekt Red decided to treat journalists and influencers to a more focused experience this time around.
The new demo is set in a single portion of Night City known as “Pacifica.” Though the district was once an ambitious tourist destination, it’s now fallen into disrepair — the police have abandoned it, and gangs run the show. As a result, Pacifica is easily the most dangerous district of Night City, so regular citizens don’t tend to visit unless they have no other choice.
Perhaps as a result of the danger Pacifica poses to the unprepared, CDPR opted to go for a less-explosive gameplay approach in the new demo. Thanks to that choice, we know that the game will feature a full stealth system: you can use “Netrunning” (hacking) skills to remotely distract, incapacitate, and otherwise disrupt enemies, or you can get in close for brutal (lethal or non-lethal) stealth takedowns with a variety of melee weapons (some implants, some not) and even your own two fists.
On a similar note, CDPR revealed that you can complete the entire game without killing a single soul. Though this means non-lethal playthroughs are possible, they will be quite difficult, according to CDPR’s Miles Tost.
Night City is a dangerous place, after all, and enemies won’t necessarily live by the same code you do. Regardless, expect the game to react to the way you play and understand that a non-lethal approach will not always lead to a “good” outcome.
Stealth aside, CDPR elaborated further on the RPG systems of Cyberpunk 2077, including the “Lifepath” mechanics that have been carried over from the game’s pen-and-paper source material, Cyberpunk 2020. The Lifepath system lets you create your character’s backstory, choosing things like their childhood hero, where they came from (were they a street kid or a former Corporate employee?), and various other important details.
These choices don’t just exist for the fun of it: they have a real impact on dialogue and missions as a whole. If you decide to cooperate with a gang at some point, for example, it may be easier for you to earn their trust if you can empathize with them based on your own troubled past.
In terms of other RPG systems, we now have a much better idea of how Cyberpunk 2077’s progression systems will work. There’s the “Street Cred” leveling system, which unlocks shops, missions, and other features as it goes up, and throughout the game you’ll earn “perk points” that you can spend on a number of skill categories. These categories include blades, rifles, handguns, assassination, engineering, hacking, and more.
Though we don’t know precisely what all of the available perks are, we do know that the interface resembles a “motherboard,” with various perks being laid out along cables “going out from the center.” Perks will let improve your effectiveness with various weapon types, unlock new abilities, or merely allow you to equip new weapons.
Of course, given that Cyberpunk 2077 is set in the future, implants and “Cyberware” will be a major focus of the game. As we saw in last year’s public demo, players will be able to visit legal or illegal “Ripperdocs” throughout Night City to get cybernetic eyes, arms, legs, and even deadly weapons installed into their body. Be careful, though — each piece of Cyberware has a “humanity cost” associated with it (we don’t know what that affects just yet, however).
The RPG systems of 2077 bleed over into its dialogue mechanics, as well. Your perk choices, Lifepath, attributes, and overall specialization will unlock new dialogue options throughout the game.
A skilled Techie, for example, might be able to “talk shop” with an engineer and a Netrunner will be able to better keep up with a fast-talking hacker.
Furthermore, thanks to Cyberpunk’s “Interactive Scene System,” you can move around freely during discussions, looking at and commenting on various objects in the environment to prompt new responses from NPCs. Apparently, NPCs will even react to the clothes on your back in some cases — a nice touch, particularly if the final game features even half as many clothing options as CDPR claims it will.
A major focus of this year’s private Cyberpunk demo was hacking. As stated before, CDPR went for a quieter approach this time, so journalists got to learn quite a bit more about how the game’s Netrunning system works.
You can jack into computer systems to find additional information about your mission or NPCs (think Deus Ex), upload viruses into enemies to cause them to commit suicide, and hijack cameras for a bit of Watch Dogs-like remote hacking.
Naturally, with the immense size of Night City firmly in mind, Cyberpunk 2077 will feature various vehicles to make traversing the landscape a bit faster. Last year, we saw the player drive a “Quadra” supercar, but this time, journalists got to see a “Yaibi Kuzanaki” motorcycle in action.
Unfortunately, IGN says the driving looked “fairly arcadey” and “sort of stiff”; two major complaints many people had regarding 2018’s public gameplay demo. On the bright side, there is an in-game radio that players can adjust based on their music preferences, and you’ll be able to swap between first and third person while driving (but only while driving).
We’ve covered a lot of ground so far, but E3 is far from over. Expect us to come back and update this article with new information about Cyberpunk 2077 as it gets revealed.
If you’re already sold on the game based on what you’ve heard so far, feel free to drop by CD Projekt Red’s official website to pre-order the Standard or Collector’s Edition for your platform of choice.