Content Type: Gaming News
Date: July 5, 2020
Recently we had an entire post dedicated to comparing Cyberpunk 2077 to a Tabletop RPG experience, and a lot of new footage and information came out since to confirm that line of thought.
Let’s do a brief summary on that discussion. Despite all of the applaudable efforts by the video game developers to deliver the open-world exploration and open-gameplay storytelling, our actions in the RPG games are still limited by how much developers were able to predict and accommodate our choices to any given situation.
Previously we have discussed that despite the impressive elements Cyberpunk 2077 will be bringing in as a game, it likewise can’t become a video game replica of TTRPG simply due to the limitations imposed by the process of game development as it exists today. Pre-scripted RPG universe simply can’t adapt the world, characters, and the story to the player character’s freeform reactions in the way a human GM would be able to.
Still, some features offered by Cyberpunk 2077 are refreshingly unique from what we are used to, demonstrating just how much detail can be produced in multiple years of dedicated work carried out by passionate people, and it might cause significant changes within the RPG genre. This time we want to focus specifically on the game’s dialogue.
Interactivity and Consequence as a Part of Storytelling
Dialogue in Cyberpunk 2077 carries the role of exploration encounters, it takes on the function of cutscenes and other types of lore exposition, and it even tells you more about the backstory and personality of your own character.
Even more of an achievement is the fact that you will be making a lot of your decisions during dialogue. The consequences of what you say, do, or don’t do will be significant enough to completely shift the direction of the final outcome of a quest and its details. It can unlock new events within the quest. Your decisions might come up later to bite you back or to reward you. You might discover an entirely separate progression line to pursue.
In other words, CDPR is packing a lot of options into the game’s dialogue, and they are making every part of it either informative, immersive, or consequential to your efforts.
But that’s not new information, and we even took it into a different direction in our other post, so why are we bringing this up again?
Dialogue “Cutscenes” With Freedom of Movement
Let’s combine what we have just discussed with what we know about dialogue functionality in Cyberpunk 2077.
During dialogue encounters, no matter how important the event happening at hand, your character can move their head freely, having full control over where their attention is at any given moment. With the exception of a handful of moments where your character is immobilized during the conversation (for example, pinned to the ground by a police officer), you have a lot or full range of motion.
In the majority of cases that also means that your character can end the conversation at any time by simply standing up and walking away. In other cases the freedom of head movement means that they can address another speaker in the conversation or choose not to.
Some dialogue encounters become action scenes in themselves, a kind of an interactive cutscene. Events might be timed, so you can choose to remain silent for certain parts of the conversation or even fail to take advantage of certain opportunities. Movement of your body could become a targeted action as well, like jerking your hand away, firing your gun, or tossing the basketball back at a harassing thug with enough force to knock them off their feet.
A reminder that most of these would also incur unique consequences, aside from making the world feel interactive.
All of this, in combination with the functionality and importance of dialogue, becomes an exciting new way to approach human interaction in RPG games, inspired by the freedom and significance of TTRPG social encounters (arguably, the ability to affect the world and its people is one of the most satisfying features of TTRPG games).
CD Projekt Red has a lot to show to those players who have learned to be disappointed by witnessing storytelling in new game releases devolved into lore-dumping dialogue and confining cutscenes.
In Cyberpunk 2077 you can discover a ton of little detail you have missed in your previous playthrough merely because you looked in the other direction (perhaps it happened because you looked in the right direction.) You can walk out of certain conversations, choose to remain silent in others, and experience making important or impulsive decisions on the fly.
In this description it might sound stressful. But some of those who got a chance to try out the demo in June will tell you that it is enthralling.