Highly anticipated: After months of silence and a second delay, CD Projekt Red has finally shown off more of its highly-anticipated sci-fi RPG Cyberpunk 2077, via the first episode of "Night City Wire." This pre-recorded broadcast included a new gameplay trailer, a short gameplay demo (showcasing the unique "braindance" feature), and a brief developer Q&A.
The trailer is flashy and fast-paced, and it gives us our first real glimpse of Night City at, well, night. We see towering skyscrapers, wet streets drenched in neon, fast cars, and even a few shots of the Mad Max-style desert surrounding Night City, simply known as the "Badlands."
To say Cyberpunk 2077 looks good would be a massive understatement – it looks gorgeous, and not just in screenshots and heavily-edited trailers. In newly-released, mostly uninterrupted gameplay footage (see that below), Cyberpunk's visual fidelity still holds up, a point that has been further backed up by the many hands-on impression articles that have hit the web this afternoon.
Indeed, the lighting is especially impressive, looking almost photorealistic in certain areas. We have no doubt that CD Projekt Red's environmental lighting experts are the primary reason for this, but Cyberpunk 2077's built-in support for real-time ray tracing (courtesy of Nvidia's GeForce RTX technology) certainly doesn't hurt.
This tech, which looks particularly stunning in the screenshot below, could pave the way for realistic lighting, reflections, and shadows in Cyberpunk 2077. Of course, it's tough to say how many of those features will be utilized in the final game. Fortunately, you won't necessarily need a high-end PC to take advantage of them: Cyberpunk 2077 will arrive with support for Nvidia DLSS 2.0, which should lead to massive performance gains with little to no loss in visual quality (if it's well implemented as we would hope).
In terms of gameplay, as we've known for a while, Cyberpunk 2077 features a complex character creation system where you can select your body type (and either a male or female voice to go with it), customize fine details of your face, tweak your genitals, and select a "Lifepath" (a background) for your character.
There are three of these Lifepaths in total, including Street Kid, Corpo, and Nomad. Each Lifepath has its own unique prologue mission: the Nomad, for example, starts in a workshop in the Badlands, where he and a mechanic are attempting to fix up a hot rod. By contrast, the Corpo rides into Night City in a high-end Aerodyne (a flying car), smugly ordering club bouncers to keep an eye on his vehicle.
Braindances were another focus for CD Projekt Red during Night City Wire. For those who aren't familiar with the game's pen-and-paper roots, braindances are essentially full-dive VR recordings of somebody else's memories.
Citizens of Night City can purchase these recordings and relive that person's experiences: they feel what they feel, see what they see, and hear what they hear. That's the lore, anyway – in a gameplay context, braindances will be used at key story junctions, acting as a sort of detective mode.
You can relive someone's experiences, and pull back the camera to scan and investigate various parts of the braindance tape. You can rewind, fast forward, and pause at will to pick up on minor details, which may help you solve a mission, or simply give you more information about the person whose brain you're diving into.
As great as all that sounds, though, not all hands-on impressions of Cyberpunk 2077 have been completely positive.
Though the gameplay videos and trailers don't get this across very well, many critics have complained about Cyberpunk 2077's driving mechanics, with some claiming that it's too "rubbery" and sensitive.
Others say the shooting feels a little rough, while a few were unimpressed by the main character's male (English) voice actor. With that said, Cyberpunk 2077 is still five months away, which is plenty of time for the team to polish up some of this allegedly lacking content.
Overall, the game sounds like a wonderful blend of Deus Ex, Blade Runner, Grand Theft Auto, and The Witcher 3. It has a vast open-world for players to explore, multiple choices in dialogue (with rippling effects), and a Deus Ex-like approach to level design, where you can sneak, hack, shoot, stab, and punch your way through most missions at will.
If the footage and screenshots above have grabbed your interest, you can pre-order Cyberpunk 2077 on your platform of choice right now for $59.99.
Never played a CD Projekt Red game before? Consider grabbing the Ultimate Red Collection from GOG: it includes DRM-free copies of every Witcher game, and Thronebreaker (Gwent's standalone single-player campaign) and a pre-order copy of Cyberpunk 2077.
Cyberpunk 2077 launches on November 19, 2020.