Few games in recent years have gained the broad and unrestricted sense of anticipation that Cyberpunk 2077 enjoys. CD Projekt Red, the same team that brought us The Witcher series, has earned a well-deserved reputation for sophisticated storytelling, building a strong world and mature themes, all in a solid framework for gameplay. Likewise, the Cyberpunk frame is richly crafted from a table RPG that has been growing for decades, and its themes of rebellion and repelling government and commercial authority seem particularly timely for many potential players. There’s also just the reality that, after years of seeing it teased, Cyberpunk 2077 just looks exciting. Set in a somber future dystopian city, the mix of role-playing narrative loops and first-person combat and exploration seems new and exciting.
So far, even with the bubbling enthusiasm surrounding the title, it has been difficult to understand a full picture or have a perspective on the gameplay outside of the studio’s official channels. This has now changed, as three of our editors were fortunate enough to finally play the pre-release game, trying out different avenues and opportunities in the course of four hours of play for each of us. In the end, it’s not enough to even scratch the surface of what Cyberpunk 2077 has to offer – but it certainly gives us our best idea of what players can expect.
In this article, we walk through the hours we spent exploring the world, step by step. If you’d rather just understand what was most striking in the game, check out our top five takeaways from playing Cyberpunk 2077. If you’re more in tune with our impressions, click this week’s Inside Gamer Show us to hear about our experiences in the game.
Build a Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk 2077 opens with a few important decisions that affect your entire gaming experience. Character creation is extremely customizable and wins the inevitable rating of the game before the game even starts, because you immediately select the sex and secondary sexual characteristics. According to the cyberpunk aesthetic of the people who modified and changed the bodies with which they were born in their preferred nature, the game is fairly fluid with the features you apply, and the male or female voice actor can be applied to n no matter what character, no matter what other changes you choose to make.
Beyond aesthetic customization, players also select starting attributes – each attribute opens up several benefit upgrade trees. The body affects health, endurance and overall power. Intelligence deals with memory and hacking capabilities. Reflexes determine things like speed, critical chance and escape. Technical ability connects to things like armor bonuses, control of technical interactions, and even the ability to harvest crafted loot when you encounter it. Finally, the Cool attribute governs willpower and several features related to stealth. When creating the character, you can change these attributes with a few bonus skill points – I gave my V a higher body and cooling, keeping an eye out for a stealthy mercenary who sometimes ends up in throws of scrum – but the choice is yours.
In the version I played, I received new attribute points and advantage points when I progressed and when I acquired enough street credits (acquired by obtaining a reputation for my actions ). Once acquired, these points can be distributed as you wish, improving a particular statistic, with a separate pool of points entering the improvements presented on the advantage trees governed by this statistic. For me, my first points focused on a successful infiltration. I took “Hidden Dragon” (in the stealth advantage tree, governed by my Cool attribute) which opened the aerial eliminations, and later I added the advantage “Embrace the Shadows”, which offered better regeneration of health while sneaking. For players curious to know how “RPG-ish” this game is with its progression loop, these advantage trees make me completely comfortable. There are dozens of perks and customization options available here, and many of them offer significant changes that change your character’s playing style.
The next important choice before the game starts is your life path. These three fundamental antecedents determine the course of the start of the game and also establish important options for dialogue, mission options and flavor for the rest of the game. Because these life paths are so different – including missions fully separate apertures – I won’t be surprised at the launch to hear stories from players who have tried all three before choosing the life path they prefer for full reading. For me, the nomad was a big winner. In this character, the main character, V, begins his life in the Badlands surrounding Night City, and is already an experienced smuggler. One last job sends him into a new city life. Another Inside Gamer Editor-in-Chief has taken on the life path Corpo. In this context, V begins a soft but stressful life in the dangerous corporate rat race, and having bad allies takes her down and back on the street. A third publisher has explored the life path of Street Kid, where V is already an experienced hand living on the shreds of Night City, seeking a hard-won survival.
Getting started in a larger world
In an interesting twist, each of the three lifelines offers a way to meet a character named Jackie Welles. Like V, your selection of lifebuoys also determines Jackie’s background. For example, you meet him on the smuggling job as a nomad, but if you are a Corpo, then he has been your friend and confidant for years. Whatever her origin, Jackie’s personality is relatively consistent across the three circles. It’s a badass with charm and loyalty that can get by in a fight, and no matter how you meet it, the story jumps a little later, when a solid partnership is formed, as you work together to survive on the streets of Night City.
The intros of your life path can vary in length, but we have all generally gone through these designed and personalized intros in about half an hour, at which point the story opens with a prologue mission which is the same no matter what your background. This mission, which has been seen in previous Cyberpunk 2077 sessions, shows V working with Jackie and T-Bug – a remote netrunner on your team – to complete a job in which you have to infiltrate a hiding place and save a rich woman who was kidnapped.
Before the action really begins, this first part of the gameplay also contains a tutorial, made in the game via a virtual program that you plug into your head port. Here you get the basics of combat and infiltration. All of these features match the expectations you might have for a first person open world experience. It should be noted that melee weapons use a synchronization and observation approach, where you balance fast light attacks and heavy attacks to break opponent’s blocks, as well as quick taps on your own block button to open large damage counters. Another important feature that is available from the start is the ability to hack both enemy upgrades and environmental features.
Once the tutorial is finished, the next mission gives me the first feeling of stealth and open combat, as V moves into a building and shoots down the kidnappers. In this regard, the mechanics are well known to all those who have played a first-person game of this style. Most encounters allow for a range of approaches, ranging from sneaking behind enemies to suffocate them (using lethal or non-lethal attacks) or entering, flaming guns. In these first battles, the exchanges of fire reward the taking of cover and mobility. Enemies use smart tactics to flank and move around my position. Consistent with his RPG heritage, damage numbers appear on enemies to give you an idea of the relative power between selected weapons, and using individual weapon types improves my skills with this style of attack. Once my enemies were dead or unconscious, I was able to loot their bodies – a clear color code for the rarity of their loot let me know which items were worth hanging on.
After dropping the bad guys, I found my target in an icy tank, barely alive. Because of its rich status, it had the status of “platinum trauma team”, thus adding to a heavily armed EMT team that flies to lift you from the brink of death. After facing the blocking technology that prevented his trauma team from reaching him, they were able to pick it up and take it away. Mission success.
At this point, the game begins to open significantly. After I finish work, I return to my notebook in a large apartment complex and settle down to sleep. The next morning, I am free to start exploring Night City. Coming out of my apartment and into the streets of Night City, I immediately remember my first time in real life, to visit the Shibuya district in Tokyo, with its light signs and its many people crossing the streets, with small shops and restaurants grouped together at ground level. Here in the fictional metropolis of Night City, the effect is even more exaggerated, with dozens of animated billboards, hundreds of people and towering skyscrapers competing for attention. Jackie meets me at a street food stand, and we are talking about a job to come while he eats. For the rest of my time playing, I will share my attention between the non-linear mission on which he launches me (part of the main story of the game), and more freeform wandering by learning a little about Night City and my opportunities there.
Before getting lost in the urban jungle, I have the opportunity to go visit the ripperdoc and get new cyberwares. Ripperdocs are underground service providers, capable of installing new body enhancements on the fly when you arrive at their shady offices. They quickly anesthetize the affected area and mainly use automated tools to significantly reformat your body. Players can install SynLungs in the cardiovascular slot for better endurance regeneration. Or hang microrotors in the slit of your nervous system, improving the speed and precision of movements. These increases come in quality levels and also fall into one of three distinct categories – active, passive and triggered. Unlike some futuristic games, where the application of technology becomes an existential question of whether you are still human, Cyberpunk 2077 assumes a certain level of acceptance of technology. Advancing in the game without cyberware seems, at first glance, during my game, to be fundamentally impossible.
The “The Pickup” mission turns out to be a multi-layered, multi-part adventure. We meet a legendary fixer named Dex, who drives me into town in his luxury car while organizing work. He is setting up a major heist which will undoubtedly feature prominently in the last story of the game, and as part of this work, he wants us to hijack a fantasy military droid spider robot, recently stolen by a gang called Maelstrom from a large Megacorp military supply called Militech. From there, there are a multitude of options on how to do this.
With regard to the long-term plans for the burglary, I choose to start with a chance to speak with the client, Evelyn Parker, by visiting her at Lizzie’s Bar. The bar is neon-lit and looks like a sex club, but in the world of Cyberpunk 2077, this designation means something different from what it does today. Much of the sex work in this future takes place through the use of so-called braindance technology, a kind of fully immersive virtual experience that lets you live the memories and emotions of another. Clubs like Lizzie cater to a clientele interested in living their fantasies in these virtual formats, but the braindance format has much broader applications. Check the sidebar to see how.
Evelyn Parker plays the role of the beautiful, but mysterious woman, in a story of black detective, and her motivations for the robbery plans remain wrapped. However, to help us plan, she recorded her own audacity from an intimate visit to the executive of Arasaka from whom we are going to steal. By meeting Evelyn and diving into her own braindance memory, we get important information for later in the potential breakage. But before we can solve this bigger problem, we need to finish the initial work and get this spider robot.
As part of the larger mission, I may eventually meet a Militech executive named Meredith Stout, whose theft I glean is part of an internal power struggle. She wants me to pay the bot with a chip implanted with a virus (a fact that I only learn if my technical skills are up to par). If I choose to meet her, Stout’s agents follow me to meet her at a nearby factory. Meeting Royce, the boss of the Maelstrom gang, offers a multitude of avenues, which our different parties have highlighted. I can pay the bot with my own money, without using the virus-soaked credit card – a pacifist but expensive proposition. I can warn Royce of the configuration, but then Militech attacks. I can just detonate Royce, make his gang angry, but avoid a boss fight later on against Royce. Or, if I give Royce credit, an explosive battle ensues between the company and the gang forces, and I can either shoot at it or take a stealthy approach to escape. Overall, the mission skillfully presents the range of choice that players can expect to find in a Cyberpunk 2077 mission, and how each decision is likely to have long-term consequences, both with organizations around the world and individuals.
Freedom to explore
Beyond this involved mission, I spend most of my time wandering the streets, on foot and by car. I drive a vehicle called Quadra Turbo-R, an American-made muscle car – one of the many distinct vehicle brands I see scattered around the city. Driving can be done in either the first person or one of two angles in the third person. The crowded streets of Night City are difficult to navigate, and it takes some effort not to bump into the poles and make sharp turns. In addition, the cityscape is particularly vertical, so I get lost several times going in one direction, only to discover that I have to be at a totally different level from the city to reach my destination. In addition to driving, there seems to be a quick travel system that unlocks in the city, but I don’t use it as much as I try to get the terrain setup.
My explorations of the city are full of fun opportunities. At one point, I find a gun store and buy a katana in pursuit of my stealth melee power building. I meet a combat ring and open a new series of quests in which I can fight my way through an increasingly difficult series of fighters. In the street, I fall into several gang hiding places, and at my low level, I die several times because of overzealous thugs and I have to reload at a recent checkpoint. In a fun exchange, I meet a guy who needs me to rush him into a ripper, because some implants in his genitals have malfunctioned and he suffers from overwhelming pain. It’s one of the many moments reminiscent of the irreverent tone of game franchises like Grand Theft Auto – but simply told with a futuristic twist.
In another more involved sequence, I infiltrate a hiding place and shoot down a bunch of heavily armed enemies. I managed not to sound the alarm, so at the end, I was free to quietly explore their hiding place, before stealing their van and leaving. Unfortunately, as I walk away, I accidentally hit the van against a civilian on the sidewalk. Although my silent infiltration did not trigger any alarms, this misadventure in a vehicle resulted in a bonus from the police. In order to lose the police premium, I have to get it out of there and find a way to remain discreet for a while.
Cyberpunk 2077 recently pushed back its release date by a few months and will now launch on November 19. While the version of the game we have already played is very promising, there is no doubt that the team is using these extra months to tweak the current gameplay and fix the remaining bugs. With a single afternoon in a game that will undoubtedly offer tens, if not hundreds, of potential hours of play, it was difficult to get a complete picture of the progress, the progress of the game and the feeling of the game. shooting and fighting game as new perks and weapons. to open. Nevertheless, I came out of my demo time blown away by the scope of what CD Projekt Red tries with the game, and similarly impressed by the depth of its RPG systems. It is a rich and nuanced game well worth the long wait we had to play. If you are wondering if the game can be as big and complex as the first glances suggested, our playing time has clearly shown that the game is really a particularly ambitious and massive game – now, it is enough to see how the the final version is assembled.