Cyberpunk 2077 was our favourite demo of E3 2018. There is a good likelihood it will be my favourite demo of E3 2019 as nicely—although I am giving Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 and Dying Gentle 2 the good thing about the doubt at the very least. They’ll have to come back robust although, as CD Projekt has as soon as once more introduced a demo that made me ask “Wow, how did they try this?”
Even having seen Watch Canines Legion this week, which additionally appears to push current-gen consoles past what I assumed was succesful, I am nonetheless amazed Cyberpunk 2077 is by some means as a result of launch earlier than the next-gen changeover. Final 12 months I stated that appeared unimaginable, and but we’re staring down the barrel of an April 2020 launch date. Extra idiot me.
In fact, we have not performed it but so possibly the constraints are extra apparent exterior a fastidiously choreographed E3 demo. As soon as once more we crammed right into a darkish room within the Los Angeles Conference Heart to look at an hour-long slice of Cyberpunk 2077, with a CD Projekt worker behind the controls.
I’m not useless
First up: Your character’s useless, however not. Named V, you’ve got been implanted with a chip that (supposedly) holds the key to immortality and everybody needs you dead-dead, not simply sort-of useless, to allow them to steal the key for themselves. It is acceptable Keanu Reeves performs a personality in Cyberpunk 2077, as a result of it certain does sound quite a bit like Johnny Mnemonic.
Even his identify seems like Johnny Mnemonic. You are additionally haunted by a “digital ghost,” a.okay.a. Keanu Reeves’s character, named Johnny Silverhand. Which, holy hell, what a reputation.
The demo began with character creation. There are a ton of choices—floor wiring, hair, eyeshadow, et cetera—plus the standard stat allocation. “You actually suppose they provide a rat’s dick the way you look?” says Silverhand whenever you’re completed.
We then explored the district of Pacifica, and particularly a “church” of some type. As soon as once more, I used to be struck by the identical thought as final 12 months’s demo: “Wow, there are a ton of individuals right here.” We pushed our means by means of a crowd of dozens, if not a whole bunch, of individuals crammed inside this brutalist constructing. It is unimaginable, and I am nonetheless amazed that is apparently a current-gen console sport. I will be curious what compromises CD Projekt must make for that to occur.
I used to be struck by the identical feeling after we walked down the Pacifica boardwalk, smog wafting up from the buildings, with a staggering draw distance that confirmed off skyscrapers, Ferris wheels, and extra stretching into the gap. There’s additionally a day/night time cycle, which provides much more complexity, using down the road at sundown as the assorted workplace buildings start to light up.
Anyway, again to the story. We went looking for mercenary work, ending up in “Rolland’s Butcher Store,” the place we met a contact who then led us to but one other location. “You guys aren’t precisely nice at rolling out the welcome mat for outsiders,” stated V, and yeah, apparently.
Our contact tells us about the Grand Imperial Mall, which was abandoned—until recently. Another faction, the Animals, moved in and our contact wants to know what they’re up to. One problem: Our contact, Placide, wants us to jack into his personal hardware. If you know uh, literally anything about cyberpunk it’s that jacking into an unknown deck is a quick way to die.
But we have to, so we do it. Bad news, as Placide embeds himself in our hardware to “keep an eye on us.” We’ll have to get rid of him later, most likely—unless he’s feeling generous.
We get the job though. Placide starts feeding us video clips, giving us background on our task. Meanwhile, there’s a scuffle in the background and CD Projekt calls out its “dynamic dialogue,” which allows V to comment on these background events at times, a neat touch that could make for some very different paths through Cyberpunk 2077.
V heads off to the Grand Imperial Mall, snagging a motorcycle and cranking the music. This is the aforementioned sunset ride, the city looking even more impressive at golden hour. This is also the best indication we got of Cyberpunk 2077‘s scale, as we rode past slums hidden under the highway, through the Mall’s massive parking lot, and eventually to the front doors. It wasn’t a huge distance, but the real-world scale of Cyberpunk makes it feel like a proper journey. Walking feels prohibitive.
That doubles for the mall itself, which is massive. I’m reminded of Dying Light, which also had that real-world environment feel, albeit without the sort of crowds CD Projekt’s featured in its demos so far. The scale just feels so much larger and more authentic than the video game buildings I’m used to seeing.
The rest of the demo passed in a blur of stealth and combat. We jacked into a camera system at one point, which is done by way of a minigame. It’s ugly at the moment, a grid of numbers awkwardly arranged, but the goal is you’ll be able to not only access the cameras but unlock other networked functions as well if you do well enough.
Perhaps you wouldn’t want to access the cameras though. After doing so, V notices an enemy netrunner is also watching over the network, and now they know we’re here. They might not know where we are, but they know we’ve accessed the network somewhere.
Making our way through the mall, stealth isn’t limited to the usual “Creep up behind someone and snap their necks” stealth kills. There are some really fun hacking-related knockouts—a robot who punches an enemy too hard, a soda machine that ejects cans at high speed, a bench press machine that collapses on its user, and so on.
We also switched over to another, more melee-focused V to see an alternate route. This time we simply forced some doors open, avoiding the cameras and the enemy netrunner entirely.
You’ve got options. We took a quick look at the perk tree, which is vast and complicated—twelve sections, I think, each with six or seven perks. Most are standard, like hacking, assassination, sniper rifles, engineering, and so on. I think I saw “Cold Blood” though? No idea what that means. It’s also beautiful, with a pseudo-motherboard look to it. Entirely impractical for a mouse and keyboard I think, but beautiful.
Per usual, our major choice came mid-mission when we found out the enemy netrunner was an agent for NetWatch, a corporate police force. We told Placide we didn’t want to pick a fight with “the Watch,” but Placide assured us it would be him picking the fight, not us. Doubtful, but too late. We sprinted through most of the rest of the mission with our laser-garrote, which doubles as a whip in combat.
Then we fought Sasquatch, the “boss,” who has a canister of strength-enhancing gas on her back. By damaging it before the fight we gave ourselves an advantage, forcing Sasquatch to drop the massive hammer she was holding. She managed to knock us over though and allowed the enemy netrunner to start hacking us, forcing us to quickly finish the fight or lose control of our body.
And the demo ended in an abandoned movie theater, a Western playing on the screen as we confronted the NetWatch agent. He was able to cut us off from Placide’s network, allowing us to make a choice without his eyes on us—to betray Placide and get paid, or continue the mission and free Placide’s comrade Brigitte. We plugged into the NetWatch agent, letting Placide breach NetWatch’s network (that’s a mouthful) and…then he fried our brain.
Miracle of miracles, we survived and confronted Placide—punched him in the face, rather. We also met Brigitte though, who promised to help us with the secret biochip lodged in our body. A quick ice bath later, and we got our first look at cyberspace, presumably a large part of the full Cyberpunk 2077 campaign.
And on that note, the demo ended.
It looks amazing, same as last year. (We’ve embedded the E3 2018 demo above, since CD Projekt hasn’t made the latest footage available. I’m trying to be skeptical, both of CD Projekt’s commitment to cyberpunk’s themes (and not just aesthetic), and to some of the technical feats we’ve seen both last year and this year. But it just looks damn cool, and April 2020 can’t come soon enough—if only so we can verify what CD Projekt is saying.
Regardless, it made for one hell of a demo—one among many, with Outer Worlds already in the bag and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 and Dying Light 2 still on our schedule to come. If even half of those are as good as they appear, we’re in for an incredible year. Stay tuned.