Content Type: Gaming News
Date: November 26, 2020
As December 10th draws ever closer, Cyberpunk 2077 fans remain desperate for any insight into how the game will actually feel to play. Many remain nervous that the game won’t live up to their lofty expectations, and the continued media hype from CD Projekt Red has only served to keep those expectations high.
Luckily, November has seen a slew of new Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay footage, and a number of media outlets were given the opportunity to play 16-hour previews of the current build (pre-Day-1 patch). We’ve tried to consolidate what we’ve learned from the various gameplay footage videos, previews, and first impressions in order to give you, our dear readers, a fairly good sense of what you can expect come launch day.
Cyberpunk 2077 Is a World Filled With Choices
We first got to see actual Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay way back in 2018, but naturally it was hard to draw any sort of meaningful conclusions from what was essentially still a test build. The more recent footage, however, includes three different videos showcasing near-release builds. Two videos demonstrate gameplay, on the PlayStation 5 and PS 4 Pro and the X Box One X and X Box Series X respectively, while a third video is a long-form gameplay trailer from the most recent Night City Wire.
These three videos will not directly show you what it feels like to play the game, mostly because of the extremely selective cuts, but they provide a quick overview of how the Nomad Lifepath questline and a couple of the smaller quests play out, along with a few character interactions. If nothing else, you will notice just how tremendously the look of the game has changed since its 2018 demo.
One aspect of the game that does stand out in all of new footage is the dialogue trees. V is able to approach most conversations from a variety of angles, and many unique dialogue options exist depending on the player’s chosen Lifepath. Given that Cyberpunk 2077 draws its source material from a Tabletop RPG, it isn’t surprising that one of the core mechanics of the game involves a key element of roleplaying: interacting with NPCs and making decisions that impact both the current quest, as well as the world around the player character.
CDPR has claimed that the choices you make, even in side-quests, can dramatically alter the course of the game’s story. While it remains to be seen how different the main quest truly becomes based on player’s choices, it does appear that V will be able to choose whether to hack, shoot, or talk their way through most of the game’s obstacles.
Based on the previews given to various gaming media outlets, we also know that this breadth of choice extends to what to do with your time in Night City. As is standard with any open-world RPG, you’re given a huge list of possible side-quests and other activities you can choose to tackle before you ever bother progressing the main quest. You will soon discover that the game’s experience involves a lot of slow-burn activities — a pace very familiar to fans of the RPG genre.
The laundry list of activities comes with a caveat, however: the consensus among the previews was that both the map and the quest menu were cluttered and hard to parse. The in-game map quickly becomes overcrowded with landmarks, and the quest log doesn’t include what rewards completing the quest will provide. There also isn’t a recommended level for quests, only a one-word danger descriptor like “Moderate” or “Very High”. Considering how many choices the game provides while not providing a clean, easy way to choose from your options seems like a big oversight.
The much anticipated environment of Night City also looks to be as-advertised. From the colorful paper lanterns of Kabuki to the neon and smoke-filled underbelly of the city, Cyberpunk 2077 has an incredible variety of locations, all with their own aesthetic (and even their own soundtrack). Many of the first impressions gushed over how much fun it was just to drive around Night City, taking in the sights.
The impressive variety of locations extends to the smaller details, as well. We were hard-pressed to find repeating textures in the recent footage, an impressive feat in an environment with the scale of Night City. Every shop bursts with detail, with unique signage above their storefront and hand-placed trash in their alleys. Journalists who got a chance to explore Night City tended to agree that the city’s verticality and depth added to the feeling of being inside a living, breathing city.
Story First, Shooting Second
As an RPG, the story and dialogue are naturally the main selling points of the game, but you wouldn’t know that from the game’s trailers. Players coming in expecting the next big action game may end up disappointed with the game’s pace and combat. The former we have discussed in the section above (it’s slow), while combat is just one of many tools available to players looking to overcome the game’s obstacles.
Most of the players of the 16-hour previews agreed that the first-person combat was probably the weakest part of the experience — but given how positive all of the impressions were, this seems akin to saying that the whipped cream is the worst part of the ice-cream sundae. Fans of the Witcher games or other RPGs need not fret: this is an RPG first and foremost, and the shooting is there because it makes sense in the context of the game, not because it’s the primary gameplay loop.
Besides, some writers seemed to really enjoy the combat, so depending on your expectations and your preference, you might find yourself loving the combat in Cyberpunk 2077. We noticed that, though not Halo Elite levels of smart, the enemies in the gameplay footage seemed to run for cover, peek out, and throw grenades, suggesting that a fair amount of attention has been given to enemy AI.
Given the semi-intelligent enemies, and the wide variety of weapons, cyberware, and perks available, most players should be able to find an approach to combat that they find fun (even if that approach is to use stealth and dialogue to avoid combat altogether).
If you’ve been following the development of Cyberpunk 2077 from the start, you should have a good reason to be eagerly anticipating December 10th. Night City appears to be just as impressive as CDPR told us it would be, and the promise that you could play any kind of character you want also looks to hold true.
Issues with the current build appear to be relatively minor, and many of those problems should be resolved with the Day-1 patch. For those of you who were waiting to decide whether or not Cyberpunk 2077 was worth playing, it looks like taking the time off work might — finally — be a safe bet.
Are you impressed by what you’ve seen of the recent gameplay? Are you hyped yet, or are you waiting for launch day to decide? Let us know in the comments!