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Preview: Cyberpunk 2077

Written by techgoth

CD Projekt Red has a lot of expectation riding on Cyberpunk 2077. Not only is the studio’s latest title, The Witcher 3, widely regarded as one of the best videogames ever made, its new project is also based on a tabletop roleplaying game that’s been capturing imaginations with tales of leather jackets and neon lights since 1988.

The Polish studio has shown it’s more than capable of handling complex, multi-layered storytelling across a vast open world – so the signs are good that the shift from fantasy to science fiction will be a fruitful one. Beyond an initial trailer, however, there’s relatively little known for certain about Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077: In brief

  • The new game from ‘The Witcher studio’, CD Projekt RED
  • Set in a futuristic metropolis, based on the tabletop game by Mike Pondsmith
  • Possible release sometime in 2019

Cyberpunk 2077: Release date and platforms

Cyberpunk 2077 was revealed way back in 2012, three years before The Witcher 3 was released. This was followed in 2013 by a trailer that said the game would be released “when it’s ready”, which isn’t a great deal to go on.

Some further hints came in early 2016, in the shape of a company investor call. This noted a timeframe to release Cyberpunk 2077 before June 2019, as well as plans to release two blockbuster RPGs before 2021. It was later clarified that the first of these would be Cyberpunk 2077.

In 2016, a grant of 30 million zloty (around $10.5 million) from the Polish government was given to CD Projekt RED, to research seamless multiplayer and virtual city creation. That comes with a stipulation that the team delivers something over the next few years. Throw in a 2017 financial results conference, which made mention of progress on Cyberpunk 2077 being “quite advanced”, and we’d say late 2018 or early 2019 is a good bet.

As for which platforms Cyberpunk 2077 will arrive on, the time frame makes it likely that the game will follow a similar release pattern to The Witcher 3 – with a release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The main difference will be the inclusion of 4K editions for Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.

Cyberpunk 2077: Six things we know

Cyberpunk 2077 will have a multiplayer element

Back in 2013 CD Projekt RED’s managing director Adam Badowski mentioned in a chat to Eurogamer that Cyberpunk 2077 would have “multiplayer features”, but tapered this by stressing the game would be a predominantly single-player experience.

News at the end of 2016, about the studio’s grant from the Polish government, also emphasised that the game would push the envelope for “seamless multiplayer”.

Will Cyberpunk 2077 have a multiplayer shooter mode? Will it be an MMO? Most likely not. Given CD Projekt RED’s track record, we doubt the developers will want to stray too far from the scripted narratives that have made the studio’s name. Instead, expect a form of pervasive multiplayer that will aim to make Night City feel more alive, perhaps in the strand of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, where the paths of other players are seen as “ghosts”, and where other players can help or hinder progress through the game’s path.

Another upcoming AAA sci-fi game, Beyond Good and Evil 2, is aiming to straddle the balance between written storytelling and pervasive co-operation and competition – although we expect CD Projekt RED to go less in the multiplayer direction than Ubisoft.

Cyberpunk 2077 will be CD Projekt RED’s biggest game yet

CD Projekt RED visual effects artist Jose Teixeira said in 2015 that Cyberpunk 2077 would be “far bigger” than anything else the studio has done. Part of the stipulation of the Polish government grant was that the developers create “cities of great scale based on the principles of artificial intelligence and automation”, so it makes sense for the studio to approach this on a big scale.

The studio has also doubled in size, with more developers allegedly working on Cyberpunk 2077 than those that worked on The Witcher 3 at its most intensive. Not a lithe indie adventure, then.

The game will be set in Night City

Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the Cyberpunk tabletop universe, created by Mike Pondsmith, who’s also a consultant on the project. Pondsmith’s RPG, mainly known by its second edition name of Cyberpunk 2020, is based in a sprawling fictional metropolis on the US West Coast, called Night City.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the details of Pondsmith’s world, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Cyberpunk tropes it went some way to solidify. From the novels of William Gibson to films such as Blade Runner, the Cyberpunk style tends to feature (in no particular order) rampant megacorporations, hackers, cybernetic implants, social unrest, artificial intelligence, leather jackets, sex robots, mohawks, hardboiled detectives, and neon lights (don’t forget the mirrorshades – Ed). Expect Night City to have all of these things at some point or another.

The Witcher 3 composer is working on the game

Marcin Przybyłowicz did stellar work on the atmospheric, if occasionally overpowering, Witcher 3 soundtrack. He’s continuing to work for the studio on Cyberpunk 2077, so it’ll be interesting to see how the composer works within a genre that already has a very established soundscape.

Get ready to ‘Braindance’

Set over 50 years after Pondsmiths’ Cyberpunk 2020, CD Projekt RED has scope to explore technologies and cultures that were nascent in the original tabletop game. One of these will be “Braindances” – virtual reality-like devices that let viewers experience events from the perspectives of other people. “People live someone else’s life while sleeping in the gutter,” lead gameplay designer Marcin Janiszewski told The Verge. “It’s like a new drug.”

Given its reverberations with current debates around the limits of immersive technology, we’d expect these “braindances” to be a major part of Cyberpunk 2077‘s makeup.

See also, the excellent late 90s film Strange Days – another cyberpunk classic –  for how this technology works

The game may be full of different languages

One intriguing aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 may be how its creators handle language. While it was only floated as a consideration in 2013, CD Projekt RED’s narrative and setting director, Sebastian Stepien, mentioned the possibility of having NPCs speaking in different languages – with the player needing a translator implant to interpret what people are saying.

Speaking to dubscore.pl, Stepien said: “The idea is to record everything in its original language. If there are, for example, Mexicans in the game, they will speak with slang. All performed by Mexican actors.

“Then a player could try a translating implant, and according to its level, he will get better or worse translation.”

It’s a very intriguing idea – one that could lead to a lot of interesting narrative opportunities from a writing perspective – but hasn’t yet been confirmed as a definite feature in the game.  


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