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CD Project Reds Cyberpunk 2077 is far more ambitious than you can realize

CD Project Reds next big title, Cyberpunk 2077, may still be an RPG where elections are crucial, but it is still a huge deviation from the developer's previous effort in the The Witcher series. Instead of lush forests, picturesque fields and tough mountains, they create devs a world set in the concrete jungle of northern California in the distant future. Unlike a lot of fiction that focuses on a darker future, Cyberpunk 2077 seeks to move away from the ugly and to a more exiting but equally cynical vision for a future in which capitalism and technology have been driving crazy.

Inspired and influenced by the original Cyberpunk 2020 Pen and Paper RPG, 2077 extrapolates many of the themes and iconographies while taking advantage of the developer's skills to create dense and visually rich environments. We watched an almost hourly gameplay demo behind closed doors on E3 201

8, presenting many of the game's systems and premises, and were impressed with the scale of CD Project Red's ambitious project. But now the gameplay has just been revealed under the CD Project Reds live stream so everyone can see exactly what all the fuss was about during the E3 2018.

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In an alternative universe 2077, you take the role of V, a vagabond and hustler who lives in the busy Night City, located between SF and LA. You take sketchy gigs to fund cybernetic improvements and pay debts from the most unfortunate characters of society and dive further into the seedy underbelly of technopolis and the surrounding areas – all driven by fractions and megacorporations fighting for power. Unlike CD Projekt Red's previous game, your main character, V, is the way you want them to be. At the beginning of the game, you can create a custom character – choose gender, features and pick back stories – along with custom statistics.

The open world of Night City is a massive urban environment that encompasses several regions with different fragile fractions. With no load times (according to devs), you can freely explore the city both on foot and in your vehicle, even with high speed shooting on highways, dense streets and alleys – leading to some of the more unpleasant parts of the city.

During the demonstration, V went to a gangster with their close-up Jackie – an impressive but jovial ally – to find a missing cyborg. Things went fast south when the player engaged in a shootout with a bunch of scavengers who run a black market harvest. The action looked punchy and influential, with V sliding in and out of the cover – with bites of the environment, including walls, tearing away from all shots – to jump on the bandits. By attacking their RPG roots, the attacker will damage the numbers appearing in real time when you attack enemies that take into account the statistics of your current load. After taking out the gang, V and Jackie bring their goal outside to await pickup from the Traumer team, a crew of heavily armed EMTs awarded the superstar Night City.

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Experience all of these aspects of Cyberpunk lore took a little accustomed to, as key terms and places were referred quite often. However, the core concepts behind them are known to get a handle off. The heavy sci-fi aesthetics, where advanced technology gives people some extraordinary capabilities, gives it a very familiar mood similar to CD Project's previous fantasy game. Seeing the action in action showed the game's superb visual style and aesthetics, which feels like a strong contrast to other dark and gloomy cyberpunk fiction like Blade Runner, Altered Carbon, or Johnny Mnemonic. In Cyberpunk 2077 there is much more variety on the screen, which plays with many of the undergenerators famous troops.

Cyberpunk is deeply rooted in its PC RPG roots, and The Witcher devs wanted to lean on the more adaptive and varied styles of stories from their previous games, with many of your decisions that change the course of the character's journey on strange ways. 2077 has an involved dialogue system where you can make choices that can determine your path against a variety of different outcomes. In the dialogue system, you can showcase various aspects of V's personality that you are looking to impress, curious or fair lies for other characters to get what you want. However, some characters can turn the tables and use some similar tricks towards you.

Under a Signal Interaction – which can be avoided completely if you choose – V is taken captive by a Milicorp agent who has one of her bodyguards hack into the protagonist. This invasive hack made certain dialogue choices more difficult, with bodyguards able to tell when the protagonist told the truth or not. Having cut an agreement with the business agent with some non-confrontational alternatives, V led in an involvement with the Maelstrom gang, a group so heavily upgraded that they had the appearance of neon-lit ghouls.

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The theme of transhumanism is one of the core pillars of the game, and you are constantly looking at the technology's influence on society, which also plays a role in Vs development. Cyberpunk 2077 has many famous RPG systems and mechanics, such as leveling, skill control and races – including some nasty high-tech weapons like assault rifles with homing bullets – but it has a mostly loose approach to character growth. You do not choose classes – such as Cyberpunk 2020's Fixer, Techie and Nomad archetypes – but instead equip your character with the new technological improvements they need at any given time. You can give your character a set of outfits that offer Street Cred Bonuses – Reputation Points that open places in the city – along with visiting the local RipperDoc to take advantage of new parts.

Removal of Doctor Victor's place in a alley near Vs. apartment, we saw some of the improvements you can get. After selecting a new cybernetic eye, which provided a zoom function and a measurement analyzer that lets you see the level and statistics of other characters, the upgraded sequence was so cruel, as RipperDoc pulls out V's old eye with the vision still engaged – hides an overall view of the main character on the operating set. This upgrade can be useful as you sometimes want to walk into high level characters that can easily pummel your character. During the exploration of the Maelstrom hiding, V used a series of bizarre but powerful enhancements and tools – as a hacking skill that allowed them to hijack an enemy's internal memory to steal valuable information along with a set of combat drugs that enabled a cool time effect. In a moment, V chopped into the enemy's weapon to disable it remotely and followed up with a set of advanced acrobatics to land an attack on the unsuspecting enemies using a set of blades like those shown during the game's original teaser trailer .

While this episode led to the most action-packed moments of the demo – such as a boss game that showed performances of cybernetic skills and some of the game's most powerful weapons, like the double-shot shotgun shot through walls – apparently, many different approaches are taking. Developers stressed throughout the demonstration that many of the events and sequences shown were optional, and while shooting in Maelstrom's hideaway or doing business with the mega corporations can happen, they will play a lot different from their choices.

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The E3 2018 demo for Cyberpunk 2077 was overwhelming with all details, but it gave us the impression that it was a big world with all kinds of systems to explore and mess with. The setting and some game suggestions are probably a big departure for CD Project Red, but it also has a lot of cool and visually stunning details that show an amazingly rich world to jump first into. The game has come a long time and we are happy to see more of it soon, and hopefully not too much later.

For more information about the CD Project Reds Cyberpunk 2077, together with our full interview with the creator of the original Cyberpunk RPG Mike Pondsmith, and all other games we saw during the E3 2018, please visit the GameSpots E3 Hub page.

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