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Feature Article

E3 2019: Cyberpunk 2077 -- Everything We Know And Want To See At E3

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Everyone is waiting to hear more about Cyberpunk 2077. It's safe to say that CD Projekt Red's follow up to the beloved The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been one of the most anticipated titles of the past ten years, due in part to its elusiveness. Based on the Cyberpunk 2020 pen-and-paper game, Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012 and followed by a CGI teaser trailer almost a year later, but there was essentially no new info on the game for five whole years. That is, until a new CGI trailer at the Xbox press conference and a live, media-only gameplay demo debuted at E3 2018.

And boy, what a demo. We learned about the story, combat, RPG systems, character customization, seamless open world, factions, branching choices, and so much more, including the surprise that it would be a first-person game. Footage of it was released publicly a few months later at Gamescom 2018, showing off a near hour-long tour of the game, which was definitely well-received.

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It's now almost E3 2019, and it's been almost another year since we got any solid new information about Cyberpunk 2077. We know CD Projekt are going to be at the show, and we know they're going to show off some new gameplay. But to help get you up to speed, here's a rundown of almost everything we know so far, and what we would love to see.

What We Know So Far

Well, a lot. Even though CD Projekt Red emphasized that the 2018 demo for Cyberpunk 2077 was most definitely still a work in progress, it still gave us a great idea about what we can generally expect about the game in relation to its narrative setup, its broad gameplay systems, and the overarching goals the studio is trying to achieve with the game's design.

We know it's going to be a non-linear open-world game played from a first-person perspective. But even though there's a big focus on gunplay--aiming down sight, real-time movement, taking cover, and shooting through thin walls have all been emphasized--the studio has said that it is first and foremost an RPG. However, the specifics of how the character attributes of the protagonist, V, factor into your combat abilities is yet to be seen in great detail. We know enemies will have discrete power levels and guns will have their own rarity and attributes. The 2018 demo showed off a handful of weapons and their upgrades, including cybernetic mantis (arm) blades that could be used for melee attacks and traversal abilities, a shotgun that could charge shots and penetrate cover, an upgraded machine pistol that could ricochet bullets around corners, and a "smart" rifle whose bullets tracked enemies in a certain area. It also showed off cybernetic augmentations that let you slow down time, identify weak points, double jump, and other superhuman techniques; an action-packed boss battle featured liberal use of these abilities.

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We also know that like any proper RPG, the clothes you wear act as armor, not only increasing resistances, but also social standing--a jacket in the demo gave you additional 'Street Cred', a secondary point system that increased your access to vendors and additional missions. There's extensive character customization, too, and in addition to common cosmetic variables and initial statistics, you're able to select from a few predetermined backstory options that situate your character's place in the world. These will, supposedly, have some kind of effect when it comes to interacting with other characters and the world.

The dense, dystopian metropolis of Night City is the setting for the game, and is populated with competing corporations and street gangs--the Maelstrom Gang, Militech, and the Scavengers are some of the names we know. The world also takes a lot of direct inspiration from the pen-and-paper game on which it's based--musician Johnny Silverhand and the band Samurai were a few examples present in the demo. You'll be able to walk, drive vehicles like cars and bikes seamlessly and without any loading screens between interior and exterior locations. Sophisticated crowds and AI will populate the streets and businesses, with some NPCs having their own regular routines throughout the days and nights.

Outside of routines, random encounters will occur in the open-world, and these will, in some respect, be informed by the decisions you make throughout the game. Decide to provoke a faction as part of a story mission, for example, and they'll seek to provoke you back when you least expect it. Branching paths and ambiguous moral decisions were a significant aspect of The Witcher 3, and Cyberpunk 2077 is the same. Outside of the social aspects, you'll be able to take different lethal and non-lethal approaches to complete missions.

Of course, being a cyberpunk-themed game, hacking is a big part of those choices. You'll be able to hack into enemies and locations in order to glean information and manipulate things, but because of the game's emphasis on personal, cybernetic body modifications, you can also be hacked yourself. In the 2018 demo, we saw the protagonist getting hacked by a character who wanted to obtain information. The player decided to lie in a dialogue choice, which the hacker detected, and it set off a chain of events that could have gone much differently.

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Outside of the demo, we recently learned that studio Digital Scapes is partnering with CD Projekt Red on the game, a partnership that takes advantage of their abilities in "AAA multiplayer console and PC game development, development tool creation, asset production, and cloud computing." Back in 2013, we learned that Cyberpunk 2077 would have unspecified "multiplayer features", so it's easy to speculate that Digital Scapes is assisting with that in some way. Last year, we also learned that the game will have a photo mode.

What's Confirmed For E3?

We know that the game won't be playable at E3 2019, but there will be new gameplay. Presumably, the new demo won't just be for media to see, since CD Projekt Red's head of studio tweeted that the game will be present at the show's public zone, too.

CEO of CD Projekt, Adam Kiciński also said in a blog post that this year's show is "shaping up to be the most important fair in CD Projekt's history" and they "want to be even more prominent in Los Angeles than we were last year."

What We Hope to See At E3

One of Cyberpunk 2077's level designers, Miles Tost, was recently quoted as saying that the reason why the studio doesn't show much of the game is that, "video game development is such an iterative process… What we have now might not be there tomorrow." That statement, coupled with the idea that the studio is going to have a more prominent showing this year, suggests that we'll hear about and see many new things at E3 2019.

While we can only speculate about what will actually be shown, any new information in regards to the game's mechanics would definitely be of interest. Cyberpunk 2077 appears to be an incredibly deep and open-ended game, and learning more about how the game's RPG systems affect how you're able to interact with the world would help paint a clearer picture of its scope. A closer look at how the game handles its breadth of cybernetic abilities and hacking would help us compare how it's making use of its cyberpunk setting against other intricate pen-and-paper-inspired cyberpunk-themed RPGs, like the Shadowrun series. And a closer look at open-world traversal, especially driving and flying, would be another welcome glimpse at the size and density of the game's playable area.

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We're also hoping for more secrets--CD Projekt Red has always hidden secret messages in its trailers, and we're looking forward to seeing what they have to say this time around.

Finally, we absolutely would love to learn about a release date. We currently have no idea when Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be available to play, and having an end point in sight would definitely be exciting information to learn. My money's on sometime in 2020, as a nod the Cyberpunk 2020 pen-and-paper game. Prove me right, CD Projekt!

Are you excited for Cyberpunk 2077? Let us know what you want to see from the game in the comments below, and stay tuned for lots more E3 coverage.

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Edmond Tran

Editor / Senior Video Producer for GameSpot in Australia. Token Asian.
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