Cyberpunk 2077: Why all the hype?

Cyberpunk 2077 has been in the public consciousness for quite some time now. Indeed, the title has gained an almost mythical status in the gaming community given that, until recently, so little was known about it, other than the fact that it’s an adaptation of the tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020 and that it’s of the cyberpunk genre (spoilers.)

However, at this year’s E3 the publisher CD Projekt dropped a new trailer which expanded on the grungy neo noir world in which Cyberpunk 2077 is set.

The narrator says his city is the worst in America. Poverty and violence are rife. There are holograms, flying police cars, street gangs and tattoos. To me, Cyberpunk 2077 looks like a cross between Grand Theft AutoDetroit: Become Human and Blade Runner. Which are all good things.

What people probably weren’t expecting, however, was the revelation that Cyberpunk 2077 is in fact a first person shooter. Well, technically. Could you really call Grand Theft Auto a shooter…? Perhaps a more accurate description is “first person role playing game.”

But why has this unreleased title garnered so much attention? Why has it been elevated to the status of legend?

I think it’s partly because it’s been such a long time coming. CD Projekt released the first teaser trailer way back in January 2013, since which time little has been said about what the game actually is, what it actually involves, and when we actually get to play it.

I don’t think it’s fair to blame gamers for the subsequent maelstrom of anticipation that has ensued. CD Projekt has been fanning the flames in its marketing, and its approach at the latest E3 – in which it presented the game to a select group of journalists behind closed doors – only serves to propagate the Cyberpunk legend. How much mystique would there be if the pre-alpha demo was uploaded to YouTube for a frame-by-frame dissection?

I guess it’s better than the over-sharing PR programme that came back to bite the unwitting team at Hello Games when No Man’s Sky was released, but there’s no denying that the expectations for this game are at fever pitch. Goodness knows what they will be like in the build-up to launch – the date of which CD Projekt is, again, remaining very tight-lipped about.

And is the excitement justified? I’d say so. Here are some of the features that were secretly revealed in that dark room in the E3 basement…

  • You can create your own character. Known as V, you choose the protagonist’s gender, haircut and tattoos, and you can also customise the character’s attributes as you go, tailoring the levels of strength, constitution, intelligence and reflexes depending on your play style. You probably won’t be engaging in any gospel evangelism, however – V is an urban mercenary who takes on dangerous jobs for money.
  • It all takes place in one big open world city, with no loading screens and a day / night cycle and variable weather. It’s also an interactive environment, allowing for such actions as buying a can of soda from a vending machine. And running people over.
  • Vehicles! You can drive them, in first and third person apparently. Cars and motorcycles have been confirmed so far, and it’s also possible to use these vehicles in combat situations, such as leaning out of cars to shoot.
  • There are plenty of RPG elements with dialogue choices and branching paths. According to Eurogamer’s write-up, there is one situation in which V is offered a job which she views as her ticket to the mercenary bigtime. As Eurogamer explains: “She’s asked to retrieve some gear from a local gang. You then have a choice: you can choose to steal the gear from the gang, or call a Militech agent called Meredith Stout who the Scavengers stole the gear from in the first place to arrange a meeting to perhaps play the various factions off of each other.” The developer has also confirmed that it’s not a linear story and it’s more of an ‘immersion’ in a pool of side-missions and exploration. But – it’s a game that does have a definite end.

CD Projekt has also confirmed that there will be no multiplayer at launch and that Cyberpunk 2077 is most definitely a single player experience. For now.

Whilst we’re waiting for the full game to be released, I created a Cyberpunk 2077-themed episode of my comedy series Livestream, which you can watch below. In the sketch, Al Survive gets hold of a leaked copy of the Cyberpunk demo and is determined to broadcast his footage to the world – provided he can escape the vicious Twitch Police! Enjoy…

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