gamecom 2019 didn't bring us so many surprises, but still, some presentations blew us off our feet, others that just shook us up a little, some maybe even disappointed us. One of the presentations was Cyberpunk 2077, and it was behind closed doors.
Although it was the same demo that journalists could see at the E3 expo, it was the first time the media from Europe got the chance to see that gameplay. This article is nothing new for anyone that has already read the impressions from the E3 expo, but we will try to insert a personal note in relation to everything we have seen, and give some of our opinions on what we can expect in April next year.
One mission that was portrayed in the gameplay was located in the Pacific region controlled by Voodoo Boys, fighters, and refugees from Haiti. Interestingly, all Haitians in the game speak street French, and the way the translation simultaneously pops over their heads like in comic books was just fantastic. Your job is to meet with one of the Voodoo Boys' leaders, Placide, in order to reach his boss, Brigette, who might be able to help V with what he/she really needs to do in this city and what his/her purpose is. However, as it usually is, to reach your goal, you need to do a favor, i.e., complete a mission for Placide.
The trick is that you don't find Placide, he finds you. It's up to you to go to a cyberpunk church of the 21st century, which is actually a club. After a completely unknown character approached you and has somehow recognized you, you are introduced to the dialogue choices. These choices will have a huge effect on the story, as well as the city that lives and breathes around you. At any point, friends can become your enemies, it can become more difficult for you to reach the final destination, or you may lose the possibility to complete a set of missions.
There are choices in almost every dialogue and they accelerate the dynamics as well as the uncertainty of what might happen next. The answers must be picked according to the person you are talking to, they will never be simple or easy. You cannot simply guess how they will respond without knowing anything about their background. That is why you need to get into the game, understand why certain gangs are in that place, their origins, and embrace their habits and communication method in order to succeed in the mission.
What is still fascinating, even after the second demo, is the incredible detail inside this wonderful world of Night City. The game does not show that dense area from the first gameplay, but it is simply fantastic to see and hear dialogues from other Haitians in the Pacifica, listening to dialogues from their daily lives, watching what everyone is doing to make themselves happy at the moment. We had an authentic feeling as if we belonged to that district, with these people, as if we felt their pain and suffering. Discrimination persists even though it is 2077, and the Pacifica is the right place to see how it has "progressed" through all these years. In the end, Pacifica is a drastically different area from last year's E3 and gamescom expo, unique and original in every sense.
Unlike last year's presentation, we were now presented with the Character Creation screen, where we saw what can we make of our protagonist, how can we "shape" him and what sexuality can our character have. There was only a choice between a male and a female in the demo, but in days after gamescom, they announced that there would be no defined gender for your character in the game. This might be confusing to the younger population, but we have to be liberal and keep up with the world's trends.
What's more interesting was the fact that we could also choose the "origin" of the main character, the so-called V, whether it's a street kid looking for justice or coming from a corporate environment, solving various missions in the Night City. Also, we've noticed that there are a total of five attributes that you can improve, and will affect your gameplay. We were shown two extremes, Netrunner and a Strong Solo character.
You can guess by the names what's this all about, Netrunner is a stealth type of character who will solely rely on bypassing and sneaking behind opponents to solve any problem in the game. It's also nice to mention that you'll be able to go through the whole game without killing anyone. The other one, the Strong Solo character, is a type of character that relies solely on strength, stamina, and face-to-face combat. This type of character, when developed, has no problem with clashing with five or more opponents and come out victorious, but it is a problem if something needs to be hacked, if a little more intelligence is needed to solve a problem.
The point of the presentation was just that, to show two extremes of what a player can and doesn't have to do in a game. It was quite refreshing for us to see some type of "unscripted" gameplay (hopefully unscripted) because we could actually see how some skills work in practical gameplay. All in all, this was much more than we saw in last year's gameplay video. Also, a member of the development team had the chance to replay the same sequences in two different ways. He was practically doing the same two tasks with Netrunner and the Strong Solo character, just to demonstrate how different the game is in terms of gameplay mechanics in these two cases.
As the gameplay progressed and perspectives changed between Netrunner and the Strong Solo character, something became clear to us, something we feared from the beginning. The run and gun mechanics of a Strong Solo character simply doesn't work well in this game. It's just too difficult to perform, as you would in Doom or the Call of Duty series, with so many parameters that are important during a single mission. This is still an RPG that relies on statistics, attributes, skills, and certain powers of the character.
That segment of the gameplay was surely a total carnage, the opponents we had the opportunity to see were falling headless or without arms and legs, but that gunplay mechanics seemed unsatisfactory. One possible scenario is that the person who was playing, simply wasn't as skilled with the controller, and it might have been difficult for him to focus on aiming in a room full of journalists that were just waiting for a bug or a problem with an early version of the game. Netrunner gameplay, on the other hand, was completely fluid, somehow natural to this type of game.
We've known already that Cyberpunk 2077 will in some ways resemble the Deus Ex series, and we've also known what kind of approach was best for this game. Not only is it fluid, but the game also offers incredible satisfaction when you silently decapitate or hack enemy chips at a specific part of the map. Everything seemed kind of natural with Netrunner. Surely, there were more things to be wary about during the mission, more micromanaging was needed, more hacking and avoiding enemies, but with Netrunner, there was this weird euphoria while racing against time and motion patterns, hacking and sabotaging enemy's augmented body parts.
The gameplay ended with a cliffhanger, creating a desire in us to freeze ourselves and wake up in April next year on the day this game comes out. Even though we cannot shake off the feeling that the overall graphic presentation was, somehow, below expectations, especially compared to last year's demo. Surely you remember that scene when you smash someone's head against the block of ice, well now, that ice looked completely different, let's just say, simpler. Not only that, but the graphics quality is kind of one or two steps lower from what we were shown last year. On the other hand, it's understandable since this will have to be powered by both PS4 and Xbox One S consoles.
The demo we saw was run on a PC so powerful its fans could be heard by people sitting at the back of the room. One thing is for sure, this is going to be a fantastic game in every sense, maybe not because of the graphics, but definitely because of so many ways you can play this game. Cyberpunk 2077 has high replay value and offers so many features for the creation of your character.