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Feature Article

Cyberpunk 2077: Multiplayer, Release Date, Gameplay, And What We Know So Far

Here's all the details about CD Projekt Red's sci-fi RPG.

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Ever since its gameplay debut at E3 2018, all eyes have been on Cyberpunk 2077. And that's to be expected, given it's the new RPG from CD Projekt Red, the developer behind The Witcher series. Based on the cult-favorite Cyberpunk 2020 pen-and-paper RPG, the studio's next project builds upon their pedigree of dense RPGs while venturing out into a drastically different world.

The excitement for the game reached a fever pitch once it was revealed that film actor and internet idol Keanu Reeves would appear in the game as a pivotal character. In the time since the game was formally unveiled, we've learned a lot regarding what Cyberpunk 2077 is all about, including its April 16, 2020 release date. From its first reveal till now, we've compiled all the information we have on Cyberpunk 2077 so far: how it came to be, why it's a first-person game, and much more.

What Is Cyberpunk 2077?

Announced in 2012, Cyberpunk 2077 is a sci-fi action-RPG within the framework of a first-person shooter. It's also CD Projekt Red's first AAA game following the release of The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt in 2015. Moving away from the fiction of Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher series, this marks CD Projekt Red's first game based on the framework of the Cyberpunk pen-and-paper RPG. Created by Mike Pondsmith, the original Cyberpunk 2020 is set in the dystopian future of Northern California, where corporations, late-stage capitalism, and technology invade all forms of everyday life. While not a direct adaptation of the pen-and-paper game, Cyberpunk 2077 extrapolates many of its concepts, archetypes, and storylines. In a hidden message from their E3 2018 trailer, CDPR stated that they began work shortly after finishing The Wild Hunt's Blood and Wine DLC.

"It's been over 2077 days since we announced our plan to develop Cyberpunk 2077. We released a CGI trailer, gave some interviews and… went dark. Normal procedure for these kinds of things--you announce a game and then shut up, roll up your sleeves and get to work. We wanted to give you the Witcher 3 and both expansions first, which is why this period of staying silent was longer than we planned. Sorry for that."

The story of Cyberpunk 2077 is about everyday life in the corrupt and expansive metropolis of Night City in the Free State of California. Over time, you earn Street Cred, gain credits, and acquire new weapons and cybernetic enhancements--such as remote hacking, improved optics, and the Mantis Blades, bladed weapons that unsheath from your forearms. But as you make your presence known, you'll catch the attention of others looking to take advantage of your unique skillset for their own ends.

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What Is Night City?

The primary setting of Cyberpunk 2077 is a bustling, and always busy metropolis where tech has left an irreparable impact on the lives of its citizens. From the beginning, you'll have much of Night City to explore. Whether it's on foot, on the back of a motorcycle, in a car, or through the city's train system, you'll be able to travel throughout the city and its many regions. While there are some areas that won't totally accessible, some of which are locked off, there are many locations that you're free to explore. Having said that, the different regions of the city are set within specific level caps, and there is no level-scaling in the game whatsoever. While you're free to explore these areas and try to engage in encounters with the gangs that have control of the region--it might be best to steer clear of them until you are better prepared. One gang, known as the Maelstrom, has the appearance of neon-lit ghouls and uses powerful weapons and operates out of the Pacifica district.

If Night City is as beautiful as some of the initial areas we've gotten to see from early gameplay, then it seems like we'll be in for quite the adventure. Thankfully, the game will have a photo mode, so you'll be able to capture many of the game's most stunning sights.

Here are the six districts of Night City, in CD Projekt's Red's words:

  • City Center: Night City's biggest pride, this is the heart of corporations, the cluster of neon, and the quintessence of luxury.
  • Watson: A unique mix of Asian cultures, it is a fallen corporate giant now populated by immigrants, hiding various bazaars and markets in a tangle of narrow alleyways.
  • Westbrook: Featuring tourist-oriented Japantown, it is a place for the wealthy who like to work hard and play hard.
  • Heywood: Living in one of the neighborhoods of the predominantly Latino area means you successfully managed to climb the social ladder -- it's a massive suburban housing district, with an underlying gang problem.
  • Pacifica: On the other end of the spectrum, this is the most dangerous part of town, abandoned and overrun by gang activity. Separated from the rest of the city, it's a place of immense poverty.
  • Santo Domingo: All of Night City is powered from here, with its countless power plants and industrial factories, stuck in an endless cycle of modernization.

Who's The Lead Character?

Cyberpunk 2077's story centers around V, a hustler whose ensuing journey in Night City is of your own making. V is whoever you want them to be, and your choices will decide their place and standing in Night City. Along with gender options, preferred pronouns, ethnic background, and personal style, you can also choose their backstory, including what brought them to the city or if they're a local. While V will start the game has a low-level vagabond, they'll eventually rub shoulders with notorious gang leaders and Corpo agents, revealing a broader conspiracy that puts them at risk. But as they unravel more of the secrets of the city, they'll form bonds with unexpected allies--some of whom have resurfaced after decades in the wind.

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Who Is Johnny Silverhand, And Why Does He Look Like Keanu Reeves?

As a closing teaser at the end of the E3 2019 trailer, Johnny Silverhand--who had a striking resemblance to Keanu Reeves-spoke to the main character and stated: "We have a city to burn." Following this reveal, the immensely popular actor made a surprise appearance on stage at the Microsoft Press Conference to confirm his involvement in the game, revealing that he would play the role of Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077. In Cyberpunk lore, Johnny Silverhand was a legendary rock musician, 'Rockerboy,' who inspired a rebellion against the corporations in the early 21st century. Silverhand resurfaces in the year 2077 as an AI projection that only V can see, showing similar shades to movies and shows Fight Club or Mr. Robot. Throughout the game, he'll offer insight on the various events and situations that the lead character will come across.

According to the developers at CD Projekt Red, getting Reeves on board was a "match made in heaven." Speaking with senior-level designer Miles Tost at E3 2019, he elaborated further on why CD Projekt Red wanted Keanu Reeves for the game.

"The role we had in mind for him was pretty much a perfect fit," Tost said. "He has such a rich film background when it comes to cyberpunk fiction, like The Matrix, Johnny Mnemonic, and John Wick--which has a lot of neon and glam going on with the dark noir. Based on the roles he's been playing, they fit with what we wanted, it all felt like a very much like a match made in heaven."

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Can You Go Into Cyberspace?

In the recent E3 2019 demo, we got our first look at Cyberpunk 2077's take on cyberspace. As a digital realm where citizens go to escape reality, cyberspace has been a staple of cyberpunk fiction, and it will be an explorable world space within the game. This realm is also crucial to the plot of the game, and for reasons yet to be revealed, V's brain implants hold the key to one of cyberspace's most sought after secrets. With Corpos and local gangs looking to extract that secret from the protagonist, you'll have to contend with various adversaries in both the real world and in the digital space.

What Kind Of RPG Is Cyberpunk 2077?

Set almost entirely in the first-person perspective, you can explore Night City and uncover what's within the back streets and corporate high-rises of the metropolis at your leisure. NPCs in the game have their routines within the town, and you can even come across some random encounters if you turn a corner at the right time. In the gameplay breakdown released in 2018, the developers went through some of the customization options for V. In a change from the pen-and-paper game; you're not locked to a dedicated class like the Techie, Fixer, Netrunners, Rockerboys, or Nomads. Cyberpunk 2077's character growth has a more nebulous design, going for an organic and in-the-moment approach to classes. While exploring the city and taking on missions, V can potentially have ally characters join them on runs. In one instance, we saw V's partner in crime, Jackie, an imposing but ever-reliable muscle, tag along for job to secure a kidnapped 'Corpo'--a person who lives that corporate life, and is largely untouchable by commonfolk.

During the E3 2019 demo, we noticed that there was a large amount of flexibility for building out V. If you're so inclined, you can even engage in non-lethal playthroughs of the game. To do that, the quiet approach is often the best way, and you can invest in abilities and upgrades that focus on hacking and stealth to sneak past foes manipulate aspects of the environment such as cameras. But if you want to go in guns blazing, then you can invest points in added armor and weapon handling. In addition to the cybernetic enhancements, you can amass an arsenal of seriously dangerous weapons, such as the homing sub-machine gun or an electrified construction hammer.

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The new weapons and abilities you acquire will have a significant impact on your individual playstyle. For instance, the Mantis Blades are not only powerful melee tools, but can also be used for freerunning and stealth attacks. If you prefer to let others do most of the fighting, then you can invest in a skill called Demon Software, which will allow V to hack into foes and have them engage others. The primary weapons you have are divided into three categories: power, tech, and smart. Power weapons are mostly standard weapons like generic pistols and shotguns, tech guns have amplifying buffs like bullet penetration, and Smart firearms focus on powerful unique properties like homing shots. However, as you take on more cybernetic enhancements, you'll lose some of your humanity.

Despite the evident change from The Witcher series, the developers haven't forgotten their roots. During our talk with associate design director Kyle Rowley on GameSpot's E3 2018 live show, he spoke about the design techniques they picked up from The Wild Hunt, and how it ended up having an impact on Cyberpunk's combat mechanics.

"We learned quite a lot from the combat in Witcher 3, and we're translating that to the lessons we learned in the gameplay about how to do melee and try to transfer that to Cyberpunk," Rowley said. "Obviously it's very different in the fact that we're now doing it from a first-person perspective rather than from a third-person, but the lessons that we learned in Witcher, we can definitely translate."

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Why Is It A First-Person Game?

One of the most surprising details we learned about Cyberpunk 2077 is that it's a first-person game. When fans learned of this, there was a noticeable outcry, with many expressing disappointment. From watching the gameplay demo, almost all of the actions stayed within the first-person view--including dialogue sequences, combat, and general exploration--only breaking away from the perspective during vehicle segments. We spoke with Cyberpunk RPG creator Mike Pondsmith during E3 about the decision to make it at an FPS. Here's what he had to say:

"This is where I put my designer hat on, and I get to put on both my table and my video game designer hat, both. This is why it's important. The one thing is the state of the character, the interfaces they use, the drugs they take, the way they deal with their implants--it's all very, very internal to the head of the character, and if you step out of that out [into a third-person view] it becomes a busy hub that you're tracking. On another technical level, the world is massively immersive and if you're stepped back from that into a third person avatar dummy, you are not really part a part of it."

CD Projekt Red has stood by the decision to keep the perspective, citing it as necessary for immersion and to keep the HUD uncluttered. It has also said it will work on solutions to help the small number of players who cannot play first-person. VR has been brought into the discussion by fans, but the developer has stated it has no plans to offer it.

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Will There Be Multiplayer?

At launch, Cyberpunk 2077 will be a strictly single-player RPG, but CD Projekt Red will eventually release the game's multiplayer component as a free download for all owners of the game. Initially, the developers were hesitant to say that the game would have multiplayer, but we finally got confirmation during Gamescom 2019. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any concrete details about what the multiplayer will entail as of this time.

In 2018, CD Projekt Red hired Canadian studio Digital Scapes to work alongside the Polish developer on the much-anticipated role-playing game. For the uninitiated, Digital Scapes worked with another Polish studio, Techland, on Dying Light's Be The Zombie PvP mode, but there is no word yet on how Digital Scapes is contributing to Cyberpunk 2077.

Is It Done Yet?

It's getting there. Now that we have a release date, the end is in sight for Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red stated that the game is already playable from beginning to end, but that doesn't mean it's done. We don't yet know how far off it remains, but one thing you can count on are some changes from the 48-minute gameplay demo that's now out there.

"What we're releasing today was recorded from a game deep in development," game director Adam Badowski explained. "Since many of the assets and mechanics in the current version of Cyberpunk 2077 are most likely to be modified, we initially decided to show this gameplay only to media. Elements like gunplay (both in terms of visuals and how RPG stats influence it), netrunning, car physics, or the game's UI--everything's pretty much still in the playtest phase and we felt uneasy about publicly committing to any particular design. Animation glitches, work-in-progress character facial expressions, early versions of locations--all this made us hesitant to release what you're about to see."

"However, we are also well aware that many of you want to see what the media saw," he continued. "Although this is probably not the same game you'll see on your screen when we launch, we still decided to share this 48-minute video with you. This is how Cyberpunk 2077 looks today. Let us know what you think!"

Gameplay And Major Takeaways

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Speaking of the Cyberpunk 48-minute gameplay video, you can watch it in its entirety above. After you're finished, you can check out our feature covering the biggest takeaways from the footage.

When Will It Release, And For What Platforms?

Cyberpunk 2077 will release on April 16, 2020, for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. Recently, senior-level designer Miles Tost stated that next-gen platforms like the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett aren't an area of focus at this time, though they did say they'll support the new platforms when the time comes. However, in an interview with VG247, CDPR stated that its proprietary tech running the game, REDengine 4, was designed to scale to new hardware. Unfortunately, there are no plans as of this time to release the game on the Switch.

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