CyberPunk 2077 is an open-world, sci-fi RPG set to release on November 19th of 2020. But, take that release date with a grain of salt, since the highly-anticipated game has already been pushed back a couple times. CD Projekt RED, the developers of CyberPunk 2077, have made it clear they have no problem taking as much time as they need to bring the game up to their standards. A no-compromise stance on quality is exactly how their previous game, The Witcher III, won awards for Game Of The Year, RPG Of The Year, and Most Anticipated Game in 2015.
CyberPunk 2077 promises to be an even more dynamic game than their previous hit, making it a strong candidate for another round of awards in 2020.
So what do we know so far about the brutal dystopian playground that is CyberPunk 2077?
The game is based on the original CyberPunk, a table-top RPG that was created by Michael Pondsmith, and published by Talsorian Games. Its first edition was released in 1988, and was set in the “distant” year of 2013.
Inspired by the grungy, crime-ridden futures depicted in stories like Bladerunner, and Walter John Williams’ classic sci-fi novel Hardwired, Pondsmith saw an opportunity. At the time, the popularity of the table-top RPG Dungeons & Dragons was in its prime, but there was no sci-fi-based alternative for those with their imaginations looking forward.
Overall, the game was well received, and with each new edition, CyberPunk gained traction, going on to be a success for the niche genre. Several editions and decades later, CD Projekt decided to adapt the edgy universe into a sprawling virtual world. They worked closely with Michael Pondsmith early on in the project, flying him out to their headquarters in Poland to speak to their entire team and share his vision and insights to the world.
There's a deep backstory for the dystopian future of Cyberpunk, but assuming you don’t have a few hours to spare, we’ll just give you the highlights.
The timeline for CyberPunk’s Earth is the same as ours, right up until about 1990. That’s when things get a little dark. As the world descends into chaos, governments collapse, a blight cripples the Earth's food supply, and nuclear bombs completely level multiple countries, leaving pockets of radioactive wastelands across the globe.
During this global meltdown, technology really takes off. Particularly, the invention of Cyberwear, which allows people to augment themselves with machinery for combat, hacking, spying, and other normal human things.
In the absence of structural leadership, several groups rise to power in the remains of civilization. Mega corporations, Cyberwear-powered gangs, and Mad Max-style nomads (who also deliver your mail) are all groups with independent factions that players will have to contend with in the game.
CyberPunk 2077 takes place in the fictional California metropolis known as Night City. It’s by the coast, somewhere near what’s left of San Jose, surrounded by the aforementioned wastelands.
The true narrative story of the game is still unknown, but we do know you’ll be working your way up to the top of Night City from one of 3 different character background options. Origin stories for players to choose from include Corpo, Nomad, or Street Kid, and will affect how NPC’s in the game perceive your character.
Speaking of NPCs, CD Projekt RED has confirmed that there will be over one thousand unique characters in Night City, each with their own hand-tailored daily routine. These non-player characters are dispersed throughout six different districts, each with its own challenges and socioeconomic climate. Incurring the wrath of a gang, or the favor of a mega corporation in one district could change the way characters see you in the rest of the city.
This amount of responsiveness in the environment is a level of detail that eclipses The Witcher III, and creates enough narrative control that players can enjoy several playthroughs, and still have vastly different experiences.
A common question gamers have asked of the studio is “exactly how much control do you have?” And that’s a fair question. Plenty of single-player story games tout their ability to let you make decisions and choose your path, only to offer the bare minimum in actual narrative agency.
Notorious for play-testing their games to a polished finish, that’s exactly what CD Projekt RED wanted to give players. In a German podcast interview with a couple of the lead developers, they stated that there will be 3x as many ways to solve quests as there was in The Witcher III. To quote the developers directly, they asked themselves “what is the stupidest thing a player might try without wasting the quest?"
Then they’d adjust/add to the game accordingly.
It’s almost like they can anticipate my play style.
Anyway, in a game this dynamic, it sounds like you’ll need some of those unorthodox solutions to tip-toe through the violent underbelly of Night City without starting some beef.
When the bullets and cybernetic attacks do start flying, CyberPunk has you covered. In a demo of the game released last year, part of it showed off their real-time combat engine, and it looked solid. Nothing mind-blowing, but solid for a game still in-the-works. That apparently wasn’t good enough for CD Projekt, because they have since announced that they’ve completely rebuilt the combat system for more visceral gameplay.
Oh, and it would be irresponsible not to mention that Keanu Reeves is in the game, playing the role of Johnny Silverhand, a very helpful hallucination from a chip in your cyber-modified brain.
It’s unfortunately common to see video games gain too much hype, only to underwhelm players in their initial release. The end result of this vicious cycle is usually mixed reviews despite whatever actual potential or flaws a game has.
If we believe any game can deliver on the hype, it’s CyberPunk 2077, but there’s no guarantees. Anticipation for it hasn’t hit critical mass quite yet, but if CD Projekt pushes it back again, those expectations will only rise. It’s a team well-equipped to handle the challenge, and the resume to back it up.
Our money’s on CyberPunk 2077 being a wild ride, and a huge hit.
-The INK Games Team
*INK Games does not own these products, and is not affiliated or partnered with the manufacturers.