One Hour Of Cyberpunk 2077 Makes Me Want Hundreds More

I've just finished watching an hour of Cyberpunk 2077's first-person open-world futureshock, and I'm exhausted.

I say it was exhausting because, by the end, the constant bright lights, cluttered neon, endless scanning overlays and augmented limbs made it feel like I'd been rushing through a bustling city: I could happily have spent multiple hours soaking it all in, and still felt overwhelmed.

Cyberpunk 2077's open world is intensely beautiful, and if the full game is consistently as rich as this demo, this could be another benchmark for content-dense open-world design.

Though the demo was hands-off, I was able to direct the nice man playing the game on my behalf to make whatever choices I liked. This build opened up with character creation, which post-E3 has been updated to include gender selection between two nude base models with their modesty protected by tasteful visual glitches.

Customisation begins with questions about personality, things like who your childhood hero was, and these go to form your character's 'ideals' and personality. This is followed by visual customisation which includes a snazzy blue hair option I highly approve of, as well as the option to tweak some starting stats. There is no class selection at this point, as class skills are handled on a case-by-case basis during the game itself.

On jumping into the world, the game initially looked like any other first-person shooter set in a dystopian future. The player was tasked with tracking down a woman whose tracking chip had been disabled, with the suspicion being that scavengers had taken her to harvest for parts and organs. Pleasant!

This led to a fairly by-the-numbers shooting section with a regular old gun and some dark corridors. At this point the only cyberpunk-y element was the realtime language translation happening in the HUD, though the world's flavour began to seep through once the initial battles are over. You find the woman, but she's already been harvested and partially dismantled, and is surrounded by other examples of the scavengers' work.

All is not lost, however. You've still found the target and, once the scavenger-installed virus that's disabling her tracking chip is removed, her automatic health insurance kicks in — a backup voice comes from her 'corpse', offering a helicopter pickup in under three minutes thanks to her premium payment plan. A happy ending! With a little twist of the knife, too: in spite of her being a crime victim with top-class insurance, the voice emphasises that she’s only covered for 90% of her medical costs. Such story beats may have more chance of shocking the European audience than the American one.

After this, the demo opened up considerably. We moved from the protagonist Vie’s apartment down to street level, got into a car, then drove across town at speed (the whole game is in firstperson, but while in a car you can also use a thirdperson camera). There wasn't a single hiccup or loading freeze as this hugely detailed and neon-saturated world flew by.

I wanted to look at an advert for energy drinks but, after examining it rather too closely, Vie’s HUD was updated with directions to the nearest vending machine. I gawped at doctors willing to replace eyeballs, or offering palm implants that would interface more effectively with weapons, or even brain chips to add holographic elements to how you perceive the world. The characters bustling by me never seemed to repeat, all visually diverse and distinct and bustling onwards to wherever they were going.

The next mission we handled involved a stolen military drone. The most interesting thing here, as opposed to the opening shootout, was the number of ways available to approach different parts of this quest, and how the player can change plans partway through.

There were several choices to make during this mission's stages. We began by talking a stressed-out military contractor into giving us a load of money, which we promised would be used to either buy the drone or hack the sellers and take them out. We avoided a fight with the sellers by offering them the money but being honest about it being tracked.

The sellers then 'cleaned' the money and, once this was done, handed over the drone. At which point we betrayed them and blew them away. We ended this mission with a load of clean money we got to keep, and a drone which was returned to the (very appreciative) military.

A good day's work, but there were all sorts of other ways this could have played out. Not least if you're more interested in the criminal element of this world, and would rather be screwing the military over...

An especially impressive aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 is the variety of weapon types, and this demo showcased some inventive ideas about futuristic combat tech. There's a katana which can be held up to create an electromagnetic field which 'catches' bullets, allowing you to rush and close the distance for melee combat, alongside a gun that fires visually irresistible bullets that bounce off walls with laser tracking overlays.

At one point we installed a body tracking mod and paired this up with a shotgun that specialised in penetrating cover. Now we could see and shoot through walls, and popped some pills to slow down time just to make things really unfair. If you're gonna murder, do it in style.

The sheer scale of this world, the density of content, and variety of options in this hour-long demo was stunning. At the end I pretty much had to scrape my jaw off the floor.

I did come out with a few lingering concerns. There wasn't much about real-life body modification, or analogies for real world issues, which is where many cyberpunk stories live and die.

This week the official Twitter for Cyberpunk 2077 tweeted a transphobic joke and a half-hearted apology, after which I was curious to see if that attitude permeated the game itself. Trans people often engage in soft body modification, from hormones to surgery, and how a cyberpunk game incorporates real-world groups says everything about its world. Consider the difference between characters born with disabilities in Cyberpunk 2077, for example, and characters who choose augmentation for vanity or power.

This demo focused on the action rather than the texture of CD Projekt's future vision, and in that context it looked spectacular. But whether this is a good cyberpunk story, and whether it says anything about our times, remains to be seen.


This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour from the British isles.


Comments

    Why is this article talking about trans people?
    I’d like to know if Kotaku keeps hiring all these socially sensitive women to be unwitting trolls or if they’re in on the plan to bait gamers by swamping their favourite hobby with inflammatory, alarmist whining about minority social issues.

    I understand fully that that beating up these issues is the best source of clicks and comments (and that I’m commenting here), but it’s worth pointing out how cynical it is to hide behind “social good” when your business model is built on trolling people by polluting every f*cking article with excessive social commentary.

    There’s a bunch of writers at Kotaku who’s articles I won’t even click on because I know they’ll be full of nonsense. Maybe just stop them from writing about games that I’m actually looking forward too (as a form of escapism from the madness of 2018).

      C'mon man. Move with the times. They just want marginalised groups to feel less marginalised. I know it's a bit heavy handed right now but it won't be forever.

      The future is coming. I'm all for making it a good one for everyone.

        They’re trolling.

        They know that the biggest source of social media traffic is divisive social-justice hysteria so they shoehorn it into their coverage and then hide behind a guise of “social good”.
        Nobody’s being “more included”, it’s just pissing heaps of people off.

        “how a cyberpunk game incorporates real-world groups says everything about its world”

        Seriously! It’s not about “inclusion of a real world group” it’s about a media organisation monetising hyper-sensitivity as a way of drawing a reaction out of the majority and poisoning the discussion about something that’s supposed to be a fun escape.

        Look, I know I’m both adding to the problem and screaming into the wind here because it applies across all media… it’s just frustrating. They’re outrage baiting in the same way Fox News has been doing since the 80’s. It’s depressing when people hi-jack minority issues to create division in the majority under the cover of making the world a better place.

        (I’m aware that this rant sounds crazy).

          You really think it's media organisation monetising hyper-sensitivity as a way of drawing a reaction out of the majority and poisoning the discussion as opposed to an article by a person who feels passionate about these issues?

          Like, you REALLY think that?

          I mean I'm a white hetero male. I'm not that interested and it doesn't really affect me. But I can sympathise. I used to work security at a gay club. It made me really glad that I wasn't trans, or gay. Their lives are so much harder than ours. For one, we're not likely to be bashed for stating our orientation. In many places that is still a very real reality for people.

          And I don't think that's right. So if I have to read a few more articles than I'd like to about the rights of others, then I am all for it. Because we're creating the kind of society that we're going to see in 15 years, right now and I would love a society that's more inclusive to the marginalised and there's almost no better hobby for that, than gaming. It has a lot of crazy characters involved in it. You can either embrace it, or be pissed off that everyone writing about computer games isn't just like you. You'd probably get on great with my Dad's friends. They're all in their 70s but seriously, they'd agree with every point you made.

            Nice post! Well put. These issues deserve attention and they DO need to be represented fairly in video games. This article is not even remotely “about” that topic - it’s just an observation that the author made.

            I don't have any problem at all with gay people.

            My issue is filling every story on here with gender/ racial/ social issues just to bait clicks by being divisive. I'm absolutely certain it's intentional.

              My issue is filling every story on here with gender/ racial/ social issues just to bait clicks

              So Every. Single. Story?! You do know with about easy that was to disprove don’t you? Within one click it was disproven and after a few minutes, I didn’t read any of those things in numerous articles.

              If you have to reaort to hyperbole in order to prove a point, it can’t have been that much of a point in the first place.

                Clearly not every single story. If that's the technicality you want to base your argument on I could say the same thing about it.

                Here's a story from yesterday:
                https://www.kotaku.com.au/2018/08/isoulsi-games-are-great-except-for-the-sexist-messages-from-some-players/

                Read that drivel, then look at the number of comments compared to the actual game articles from the same day.

                Yes, Im absolutely certain that the owners of this website encourage the writers to search for ways to shoehorn inflammatory, divisive social political issues into everything because pissing everyone off gets more hits than games articles.

                That's why we're talking about Trans people in a story about how someone watched a game get played for an hour.

                I'm not a crazy right wing biggot I promise. You'll note I haven't attacked anyone or said anything insulting, it's just annoying when games websites are run like this.
                IGN does it too if you ask me.

                  Well you have attacked a few authors and the editors of the site, and by extension all who work with it.

                  Simply because you are incapable of reading something you disagree with and so it has to be part of a grand conspiracy.

                  There is a flaw at the heart of your idea... if this article is such a huge click bait endeavour why does it have such an ordinary title, that doesn’t bait people on the topic you are so offended by. IF you were right they would have put that in the title into baiting people.

                  However in reality, in order to get to the part you don’t like you have to read the entire thing and it is only at the end, does it appear.they would go out of business if that is their idea of click bait

                  For the purposes of click bait, that’s a bit of a fail.

                Note: This is response to your comment with the following arguments "Well you have attacked [the site]", "You are incapable of reading something you disagree with and so it has to be part of a grand conspiracy", "If this article is such a huge click bait endeavor why does it have such an ordinary title?"

                I'll preface this by saying I don't mind Kotaku, and I think probably one of the better Australian gaming resources, now that Good Game has ended.

                But, you failed to read between the lines with what @foggy said, and you don't understand his argument. He said "read that drivel, then look at the number of comments compared to (that of) the actual game articles from the same day.

                He is saying that this site and others (to use his words, "IGN does it too if you ask me", in an attempt to "shoehorn inflammatory, divisive social political issues into everything" so that more people are angered, and share the article with others, interact with the page more to comment, and therefore generate more ad revenue and such.

                Before you accuse him of just being a bigot that doesn't want *any* representation of these topics, he also specifies that it is when this topic is SHOEHORNED into the article that he is annoyed. He states the attempt to drum up interest with this material is"why we're talking about trans people in a story about how someone watched a game get played for an hour."

                  But the topic wasn’t shoehorned in. It was merely bringin up something that was in the news earlier in the week and it represented one
                  Paragraph out of many, it was almost an aside.

                  IF an article in which one paragraph in 20 was triggered a reader like him. It is not the fault of the author, but the readers own tastes. And IF that person then links to his friends who are triggered by such things, once again it is his fault. Posts only go viral because the reader is triggered, not because the author was wanting to trigger people.

                  Take some personal responsibly. Anyone can write anything they like, even it’s goal is to trigger people. But it is only success when idiots let themselves get triggered.

                  Especially an article like this. No click bait title. No massive sweeping statements, just a tiny reference to something. That in itself was only reference because of current affairs. Not to mention, as people have already corrected him there is a long history of gender ID and cyberpunk. Sadly anti political correct people will continually see any discussion of such things as baiting, while the rest of us know and acknowledge such history

              Here's why it's easy to mistake you for someone who has some sort of problem with gay (or in this case, trans) people. I'm not saying you DO have a problem - but here's why it's easy to think that, based on your comments.

              This is a 1,000 word article. The first mention of anything to do with trans issues is in the second to last paragraph, and in total 99 words (I cut and pasted into Word and word-counted to be sure) is dedicated to it. Less than 10% of an article, and you characterise it in your own words as "filling every story" with these issues.

              Further, a core theme of the game is body modification and augmentation; like in Deus Ex, this IS going to be a theme of the game. Further still, this is in light of the developers recently being in the press for some fairly questionable posts on this same issue.

              So the part of this article you have an issue with is (a) short, (b) within keeping with themes of the game, and (c) relevant due to recent events. ...and yet rather than comment on the game (or the other 901 words in the article) you choose to take issue with the notion that 10% of an article is 'hijacking with social issues'.

              So what happens is, I read your comment and conclude "here is a guy who just has an issue with people talking about this stuff". The notion that minority issues are 'taking over' is just unsupportable if we're going to let our opinions be at all constrained by facts. And trying to use an article where less that 10% of the content is dedicated to an (on-point and in-theme) observation about trans depiction is really not a pursuasive case in favour.

      Just be happy you got an actual article and not another sponsored post about The Startup Show which seems to be taking every second place on the homepage for the last few weeks.

        Subscribe to the RSS feed, then you never ever have to look at the front page, and only come to the actual site when there's an article which interests you ;-)

      Also watch what you say or they'll scrap any sort of feedback like on Gizmodo. Discourse between readers is only acceptable if you agree with the article apparently.

        Nothing says “we care about social justice” like a dose of censorship.

        If anything I’m asking for a more civilised forum. I’d much rather be discussing games as one community rather than fighting over politics because we’ve been baited by the author.

          because we’ve been baited by the author.

          Why is it the authors fault you are baited? why isnt your beliefs and your tolerances, to blame for allowing yourself to take the bait?

          When i read this, there was no part where i feel baited. I may not agree with everything i read. I am capable of being an adult and reading things i dont agree with, without criticizing an author for baiting me just because something they wrote is a red flag, ACCORDING TO ME.

          Take some personal responsibility for your own beliefs and dont blame others if their words 'trigger' you. Learn to read something through their owns and their views, you dont need to agree with it, to appreciate and respect them for saying something.

          furthermore, what you are discussing is based on a passing reference. Barely a paragraph in am article that has twenty and it only comes up because it was passed on something that was news earlier in the week.

          thats it, none of this grand conspiracy you seem to be laying down, a passing reference to something, no more, no less.

      Really, one paragraph about a relevant and recent controversy in a huge article is too much?

      It's an opinion piece (and a very positive one) that only brings up a concern due to the questionable PR choices the game had only a few days ago, of course it's fresh on the mind and they've brought it up.

      I don't understand how bringing up a possible issue to marginalised people is trolling.

      EDIT: i didn't actually check the author until now, the author herself is Trans, so it makes sense why she'd mention it.

      Last edited 24/08/18 12:18 pm

      I agree with all your saying, but in this case the author is trans herself, so probably why they feel the need to inject the commentary in there.

      A brief mention at the end is your only take away? Why are you so sensitive and offended?

      Dude, writers can write about whatever they want. If you find so many Kotaku articles overly politicised, maybe go read another website. The majority of games-media avoid politics, ao you're not exactly starved for choice. Really though, everything is politicised. Even developers that aim to be apolitical are taking a political stance in making that choice. And given the furore around the transphobic joke made on CdProjectRed's twitter, i'd say it's pretty relevant to make comment on how a game like Cyberpunk, from a genre that is inherently linked to identity, deals with this 'real world issue.'

      Because it's relevant given this week's events? That's how journalism works.

        It was a hysterical beat-up that Kotaku milked for clicks earlier in the week, and it’s a hysterical beat-up here.

        No reasonable person- even a trans one- watches someone play the first hour of a sprawling, mainstream, fantasy RPG and comes out of it concerned that their real-life minority issues aren’t being addressed to their satisfaction. That’s a stupid expectation that would only be worth complaining about if the writer was a hyper-sensitive, single-issue zealot or a click-focused troll.

        See this from today: https://www.kotaku.com.au/2018/08/isoulsi-games-are-great-except-for-the-sexist-messages-from-some-players/
        That’s trolling. That’s nonsense for the sake of attention.

          Dunno, mate. I think there are people who take these issues very seriously and think they're improving the world by talking about them. Sure, sometimes they come across as desperate to make the connections they need to make the articles appear on Kotaku but I don't think that means they're deliberately baiting anyone.

          They're just frustrated that there's this massive divide in terms of worldviews between them and a significant portion of the gaming community, who I feel are often frustrated in return for the exact same reason. So they just find any excuse to vent, even when those excuses are weak.

          That’s trolling. That’s nonsense for the sake of attention.

          One person's trolling is another wisdom. What makes you right?!

          It may be nonsense for YOU. that doesnt mean every shares the same feeling. Why is your opinion and how games make you feel 'right' and these people's wrong?!

          I may not always agree with certain posts, but they have every right to explore ideas as you have every right to get hysterical over them.

          Furthermore, think of what you are saying, you expect kotaku not to write click bait stuff, to grab headlines. That is why they exist. They are the 'devil you know' in some senses. If you dont like what you are reading dont come here, just dont demonise writers because you dont agree with them. That makes you no better than Fox News. I dont need to agree or like what they do, but i most certainly dont tune in to watch them and get upset that they are doing a 'Fox News'. Balance and keep an open mind, comes from consuming a whole bunch of conflicting things, from which I form an opinion. At no point do I want sources change who they are at their core.

          I don't agree. It's a really, really sensitive issue. It's easy for non-trans people to sit back and say something isn't offensive, or a concern isn't valid, but we're (I assume, based on your argument) not trans.

      I actually consider your comment to be "trolling".

      Trans people are relevant. To the world. To this game. To the author. Your comment is bizarre and I can't see it as anything other than trolling.

      I used to come here for videogame news... it seems like this is in most articles now :( the fact that trans people were not sufficiently represented,in the authors opionin, is a non-issue for the vast majority of people. I understand that to a trans person, their identity is the biggest thing in their lives, but I reckon most people just don’t care all that much. I feel like this kind of article has the opposite effect to the authors intention, it causes more harm than good.

    It's amazing how triggered people are about 1 paragraph (out of 20) in which the author made some very valid points about something in the news this week and the astute connection about how it might impact the end product of a game. Gaming is a medium to tell stories from across the spectrum of human experience, not just a narrow perspective that accords to your personal view. If you want news that is free from social issues (including trans issues), go watch Fox News or read the family friendly gaming websites (there are plenty). The rest of us live in the real world, where people are LBGTI, and/or trans, or have disabilities - and they and their issues deserve to be as represented and discussed as anyone else's.

    A detailed, character-filled world? Wicked. Hopefully it's narratively well-crafted, too. Immersive sim-like games can be incredible

      Yeah I'm really looking forward to seeing what it's like. I kinda wish it wasn't an FPS though but I'm sure they know what they're doing.

      It's just that the witcher was so good!

    This is the first time I've read anything about this game. To me, it sounded great but I was skeptical (too good to be true?)

    But then I saw the developers were CD Projekt and all my hesitations and scepticism vanished.

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