It's 2077. America is fucked.
It squirms under corrupt corporate control. Streets are owned by organised crime. In Cyberpunk 2077 you play as V, a mercenary trying to carve out his/her path in a world where the dice are loaded against you.
We sat down at E3 to witness 50 minutes of stunning gameplay. Jaws dropped at the ultraviolence. Eyeballs sprang out on stalks. Ears burned at the spicy language. And afterwards we jabbered our mouths off in excitement at what we'd just witness. Holy. Guacamole. The wait has been justified. The hype tame in comparison to reality. Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be a game changer. Here's everything we learned.
V is a character that you can completely customise. It starts with gender, includes body type and tattoos, and ends with clothing. Clothes aren't just cosmetic. This is a future where defence and abilities are crucial, so what looks like a regular denim jacket has a stack of stat-morphing properties. Clothing also adds to the Cool stat, which is all about street cred and influences the way you interact with NPCs and story characters within Night City, as well as unlocking other content.
You want stats? You choose your Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Reflex, Tech and Cool to begin with, and these can obviously be changed as you play. There's no class for you to choose at the beginning. Class is defined by the options you choose throughout the game, based on the implants your character uses to change their body.
You're also able to choose your "life path" on start up, including characters that influenced you when you were younger, and CD Projekt claims this will have a direct impact on gameplay and how other characters perceive you.
Yes, it's played in first-person
Unlike previous CD Projekt games, Cyberpunk 2077 is played in first person. Is it a first-person shooter? Considering the sheer amount of shooting you do, then yes it is. But it's also very clearly an RPG with abilities and passive skills. And when you shoot someone lots of little numbers burst off their body as they take damage to different limbs. So that's guns and stat damage. That's a FPS RPG, right?
Cyberpunk also features driving and CD Projekt specifically mentioned "vehicles" so maybe there's the option to take bikes or flying craft out for a spin. When this happens, you can carry on playing in first-person mode or switch to third-person if you want a wider view of the world around you.
It's not afraid to drop the C-bomb
The 50 minutes of gameplay we saw of Cyberpunk 2077 contained more violence, flesh and verbal abuse than any game I've seen in a long time. We saw V plunge a dude's head into a cooler box and blow his brains out from behind, blast off another man's limbs, pump some kind of skill enhancing future drug into her system, pick up naked dead bodies, stare at a mutilated corpse and use the kind of language that would make a navvy blush. One choice piece of dialogue? "Cleaner than a cunt in a covenant."
Yes, you can bang NPCs
The main character who accompanied V in our demo was a big fella named Jackie. He was a hothead and good in a firefight, but perhaps not that useful if you want to take a diplomatic or stealthy route through the game. Like The Witcher, you'll have help throughout the game from NPCs and they're not just there to push a quest your way
You can also form relationships with these NPCs, and yes, you can get naked with 'em. Whether that's a one night stand or a more emotional long-term thing is going to be up to you.
Where we're going we don't need cutscenes
Cyberpunk 2077 does have cutscenes, *but*, they're the most seemless I've seen in a first-person game. The transition between cutscene and interactivity is so smooth it's really difficult to gauge where one starts and the other begins. This is some of the best and most successful implementation of "immersion" - that magical phrase that developers trot out - that I've ever seen.
It looks incredible
Cyberpunk 2077 is going to push this generation of consoles to breaking point. If Cyberpunk isn't a cross-gen game appearing on the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett then I'll eat my cybernetic implants. Not just in the character models and style of the world, but we're talking destructable scenery that explodes in the face of gunfire, drifting smoke, bullet tracers that curve through the air and gently rippling water.
Body modifications add abilities and passive skills
Visiting a Ripper Doc will allow you to customise V with new abilities and skills. We saw V have her eyeball plucked out and replaced with an implant that enabled her to zoom in on enemies and scan items and materials for weak spots. She also got herself a new palm that gave her better grip, pumping out a little extra damage with every shot fired. This all costs money of course, and if you're loaded you can go for blackmarket options of illegal military upgrades.
There was also a lot of bullet-time but that just seemed like a natural ability that V started the game with. Shit, maybe bullet-time is normal in 2077 because V used it to absolutely demolish a boss fight and the exo skeleton he was hiding behind.
Night City has worlds within worlds
The game takes place in Night City, a world with six distinct regions; City Center, Watson, Westbrook, Heywood, Pacifica and Santo Domingo. Some are slummy, where only the bottom feeders live, while others are strictly for the high life, or abandoned and crawling with crime. Within each of those are towering city blocks, which have their own contained eco-systems, markets, and citizens. It's a bleak world, and there's lots of it. You're going to be playing Cyberpunk 2077 for a long time.
We met a lot of different characters in Night City, most of them clearly out for self. As one character puts it, "everybody gets fucked". We met a gangster boss who gifted us a mission to prove our worth, a gun for hire, a corporate exec with nothing but disdain for the working classes. Don't expect to make any friends in Cyberpunk 2077. And if you do, well, don't trust 'em.