It’s probably the most anticipated game of the year, we could play it for four hours, and it lived up to our expectations and much more.

Despite the announcement of its two-month postponement, Cyberpunk 2077 is still the most anticipated video game of the year. A majestic and living universe, a very dense RPG atmosphere and the inimitable know-how of CD Projekt in terms of storytelling and creation of open world are all arguments in its favor. After being entitled to long gameplay videos with the latest dated Thursday, June 25, we were finally able to put our hands on Cyberpunk 2077. For security reasons, the session was done from home, in remote play from CD Projekt’s premises in Poland. Obviously, this exceptional measure was a response to the pandemic, but also a way to greatly minimize the risk of leakage and datamining.

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THE FIRST MINUTES

If it is important to specify all these measures, it is obviously since we have not been able to test Cyberpunk 2077 in the best possible conditions. It was very well organized and the remote playing was fluid and worked without problems, but all of this had an impact on the graphical aspect of the game, making it difficult to judge its real quality. Just from a distance, we could see a colorful, lively and rich universe, but it seems unfair to us to criticize the graphic aspect of the game in these complicated conditions. It didn’t stop the immersion, but some textures and light effects were too degraded for us to really realize the full potential of the game.

Now that this question has been ruled out, let’s get to the heart of the matter, since we were able to test Cyberpunk 2077 for 4 hours starting at the very start of the game. As seen in the previous presentations of the game, you will first have to choose his backstory and I decided to play corpo (rather than nomadic or street children). We will quickly go over the very complete customization tools for our character before arriving at the first RPG chunk of the game: choosing its statistics. A super important distribution since it will define a little the profile of our character (big nag, hacker, sp infiltration) and even if all this can be changed later on over the levels, it already gives the trend.

EACH HIS WAY

The serious things can finally start and the introduction of the game will be totally different depending on its backstory. A nomad will have to smuggle at the border while a street kid tries to steal a car and a corpo tries to stifle a scandal at Arasaka, the big company that controls Night City. The only common point of all these stories is the character of Jackie, our companion in all circumstances, but the differences do not stop at the introduction. CD Projekt has admirably managed the dialogue system with unique sentences compared to its backstory. We don’t necessarily realize the impact that these exclusive dialogues can have on a situation.

Fortunately, Michal Dobrowolski lead encounter design (the person in charge of meeting / fighting with the enemy) guided us throughout the session and explained to us each time how each situation could have been resolved otherwise. And it’s crazy to see how we can approach things differently if I chose Corpo phrases. Beyond the dialogues, there is also a wealth of choice thanks to the level design. For a secondary mission, I had to find a cop who is investigating her colleagues so that she can arrest. To access the hotel room where it is hidden, I can climb the building from the outside, rent a room next to hers or just come in through the door to negotiate. Whether through dialogue or action, Cyberpunk 2077 promises to be a total RPG.

A WEALTH OF GAMEPLAY VERTIGINEUSE

In four hours of play, we mostly focused on the main story and a few side quests without really taking the time to see all that Night City has to offer in terms of activities. However, we were able to try almost everything that Cyberpunk 2077 can offer as gameplay and it is very rich. We have of course the gun fights and the feeling of the weapons is quite good. The infiltration, which will be facilitated by hacking, this flagship mechanism that CD Projekt had already presented to us. But between a calibrated presentation and having the controller in hand, it is very different and we must admit that getting started is not easy at first. Each hack costs a specific number of “Cyberdeck memory” and CD Projekt is still working on how we can recover it.

But it is especially that between the devices, screens or even the robotic implants of our enemies, the objects to hack are hyper numerous and on top of that, we will sometimes see several different hacking possibilities. We have no doubt that after ten hours, we will have mastered this mechanism which is not necessarily easy to fully grasp in such a short time. The big new gameplay of this session is the braindance which was detailed in the last presentation. Roughly, we can compare it to the Batman Arkham detective mode with a recording that we can analyze at leisure to find clues. The fact that we have thermal and sound vision in addition to normal vision once again makes the mechanics more subtle and more complicated to tackle in such a short time.

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A PAPER ROLE GAME

Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be a game that needs to be tamed a bit before you can take full advantage of its potential, but all of this will also go through its RPG dimension, which is almost like a paper RPG. We already talked about the different stats when creating the character. With each level increase, we will be able to increase one of its stats but it does not stop there. In addition to that, we will have “street cred” and at each level up, we will be able to unlock a passive skill in the stat of our choice. For example, in the Force stat, we can unlock a liability that allows us to transport more objects. The higher our Force stats, the more skill choices we will have and here again the list of possibilities is huge, to make us our custom character, with around twenty different skills for each statistic.

On the inventory side, nothing really revolutionary on clothes, with a rarity system and better resistance as you go. For weapons, there will be some randomness on drops. If certain named enemies necessarily give the expected weapon, each enemy will have different mods and accessories on their weapon. It’s not random at the Borderlands level, but it’s nice and should force everyone to take care of their equipment. Especially since some weapons are very fun and we were able to test for example a sniper rifle which can make loaded shots that pass through the walls. The last feature that had already been presented by CD Projekt is of course the robotic additions on our body for money. Basically the game will make us install one eye to analyze any NPC and another to see our bullets in the magazine but it is a super smart way to boost our character and in some cases to manage our HUD as we wish. And just to show you the detail science of the studio, as a corpo in the intro to the game, we have an enhancement that shows us stock market prices in real time in the corner of our screen.

WELCOME TO NIGHT CITY

The last point we have left to address is of course the city. The streets are alive and despite the diminished graphic quality, it is difficult not to be fascinated by this anthill and to take the time to watch NPCs pass by. It only takes a few minutes on a street to realize the titanic work of CD Projekt and the car rides are super pleasant, the vehicle being very handy despite its lack of top speed and the different radios with the songs exclusively composed for the game put direct in the mood. The map is huge and it was of course impossible to see everything it had to offer. Side quests alternate between serious and totally delusional stories, like the one where you have to take a guy who blew his robotic anus to a clinic. In four hours, we already meet a lot of hyper charismatic characters, whether it is our partner Jackie or our boss DeShawn, and we have already had some very important scripting choices to make. And if we didn’t have time to meet Johnny Silverhand in four hours of play, we were assured that we were close.

OUR IMPRESSION

Cyberpunk 2077 already promises to be a great game, but you have to be aware that we’re talking about a pure juice RPG. His FPS view could suggest that we are dealing with an action game when it is actually a role-playing game with mechanics so rich and sometimes complex to understand that it will take at least ten hours to be able to exploit their full potential. CD Projekt is well aware of this, but the universe they have built is as deep as the studio can do so well that it is difficult to resist. Add to that a very well done narration but which leaves enormous liberties to the player, which will also go through the level design, and will give the impression to everyone to experience something unique. I started my session with a lot of excitement and curiosity and I came out speechless and almost shocked. Despite the suboptimal conditions from a graphical point of view, it absolutely did not prevent seeing the titanic work of CD Projekt to give life to this universe in its smallest details and to make it the ultimate RPG. The studio still has a lot of work ahead of it, including bug hunting that was plentiful during my session, but Cyberpunk may well become a new model to follow, as has been The Witcher 3.

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