Well I promised something special this week, and this is it. The Cyberpunk 2077 demo breakdown. I originally wasn’t going to do this because I figured everyone else would, particularly some of the YouTube channels that are WAY more popular than me. But I really, REALLY wanted to, and my Dad managed to convince me. So, let's treat this as a celebration of finally getting out of my nightmare living scenario. That’s right, I’m in a new place and I even have, *gasp*, my own room. Boot up your computers and get those cables jacked into your skull. You know the drill.
So, as we start, there’s a quick reminder that this is a work in progress and not everything is final, it’s still one of the best-looking games I’ve ever seen. We start with character creation, by choosing your gender. There are a lot of ways to customize appearance, but for the demo, they simply go with V’s default female look. I actually really like the look of both default versions of V, but it looks like there’s a ton of customization options. Next, we have the backstory and three major events, each with three options, that will have different repercussions further down the line. The options are as follows:
Childhood Hero: Samurai Rockerboy - Johnny Silverhand, Soldier of Fortune - Morgan Blackhand, Corporate God - Saburo Arasaka.
Key Life Event: Death of Sibling, Ran Away from Home, First Big Kill.
Why Night City? Unfinished Business, Ex-lover in Town, Something to Prove.
I don’t know if these are going to be the only options, or if those were the only ones available for the demo, but I can already start thinking of the possibilities, and I can easily imagine playing the game two or three times to see everything. I know for my first playthrough I’ll be going with Johnny Silverhand as my childhood hero, since until they announced they were only having 3 classes in the game (and even then, its fluid so you aren’t tied to one thing) I was planning on playing a Rockerboy. Because I love the idea of fighting authority with the power of Rock & Roll, and I also love the idea of playing a Bard character who makes all his charisma checks with guitar solos. Picture the following.
Bard: My party and I need to get into this building.
Guard: I can’t allow that.
Bard: But Sir, have you considered the following? *whips out guitar and proceeds to shred.
Guard: You present a compelling argument, carry on.
Lastly, you put points into your stats: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Reflexes, Tech, Cool. I think these are all self-explanatory. Next, we go to the actual game-play, which takes place near the beginning of the game. Quick note, the demo that I’ve seen plays V as a female, so for the purpose of this breakdown, that is how I will be referring to her.
V and her friend Jackie have been hired to find a missing woman, they exit an elevator that has “No Future” carved into the door. Possible Sex Pistols reference? Jackie is a big guy, who is physically strong and seems to be packing a lot of fire power. Definitely the kind of companion you want on quests. The pair move quickly but cautiously through the building, it looks like a slum, and it probably is. The dirty look of it reminds me of the Megablocks from Judge Dredd, specifically the ones in the 2012 film with Karl Urban. Jackie and V come across a dead cyborg, whose had several implants removed. Whoever is behind the kidnapping appears to be harvesting people’s implants, presumably to sell on the black market.
Moving forward they manage to get the drop on the lookout who isn’t paying attention, V butts her gun against his head before putting a bullet into the guy’s brain, after which she takes a reflex booster. It works like an inhaler, V puts it to her mouth, presses the button and inhales, allowing V to use Karasnikov, an ability that lets you slow down time. Think bullet time from The Matrix. Jackie and V quickly get into a firefight, taking cover and firing back at the scavenger gang. V slows time down for a few seconds to dodge bullets and get better aim. One of the gang members runs into the next room and seals the door. Before Jackie can pry it open (I told you he was strong) the enemy starts firing at you THROUGH THE WALL, forcing V to find cover. V fires back, but her bullets can’t seem to get through the concrete. She finds a window to her left and hops through, letting her flank the guy and get a few shots in. Before he can return fire Jackie breaks through the door and tackles him, quickly beating the guy to death with a couple strong punches. He takes the dead man’s giant gun.
The last place to look is the bathroom, and V finds two naked bodies lying a tub filled with ice water, one of them is the target. V pulls the woman out, and then pulls a cable-jack out of her left wrist and plugs it into the woman’s neck to check her vitals. She’s alive, but just barely. CD Projekt Red has been criticized by some people and various outlets for what has been deemed “excessive nudity” in this game (which is funny since people have only seen the demo and not the rest of it), to which I say, did none of you play The Witcher 3? I’m sure someone is yelling at their computer screen right now, “Witcher 3 is sexist!” Here’s the thing CD Projekt Red is a Polish studio, Poland is in Europe. Europe has a very different standard when it comes to nudity than the United States, it’s one of those weird cultural differences. Europe isn’t bothered by nudity, it’s bothered by violence and gore. The U.S. is prude in precisely the opposite direction. You can show the most violent content, and no one will bat an eye, but we freak out over nipples. Furthermore, Cyberpunk 2077 is… you know, a Cyberpunk work, shocking right? Cyberpunk is a subgenre of Science Fiction, and while your Lit Professors and film critics think Science Fiction is for kids and teens, that’s not really the case. The truth is that family friendly science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek are much more the exception rather than the rule, a lot of it is very adult. Often with a lot of sex and violence. Cyberpunk, being gritty and lowlife meets high tech, even more so. It’s almost notorious for it. That’s part of the setting, life and sex are both cheap, whether through totalitarian State rule or Hyper-Corporatism run amuck. So, the complaints about it are, quite frankly, stupid, and I’m guessing come from people who aren’t familiar with Cyberpunk, or Science Fiction in general. But I digress, back to the game.
It turns out the woman has Trauma Team Platinum (a type of healthcare/security) that’s being blocked by a chip. V removes the chip and immediately a trauma team gets dispatched. V carries the woman out onto the balcony where the Trauma Team arrives in a flying vehicle. Quickly exiting, they secure the woman and tell V to take five steps back, all of them have guns and are clearly not messing around. Jackie and V are informed over their com-lines that scavenger reinforcements are on the way. They exit the building before backup arrives.
Cut to morning three days later, clothes are strewn about the floor, and a naked man gets out of bed V’s bed, puts his clothes on and leaves. This is V’s apartment, which will operate as the player’s home base. According to the Devs, V will be able to have all types of encounters and relationships with people throughout the game, including romantic relationships and even one-night stands. The man that leaves could be a love interest, but given how he quickly exits the apartment without saying anything, I’m guessing it was a one-night stand. V buys a drink from a dispenser in her apartment and goes through her morning routine before receiving a video call from Jackie. He’s got some news he wants to share, but V has an appointment with her ripper-doc. V grabs her gear, a pistol and the Samurai jacket, before leaving. V steps outside and we see that she’s inside a mega-building, a giant building that’s almost a city unto itself. It reminds me a lot of the Mega-Blocks from Judge Dredd, which probably had an influence on the design. V heads outside and we see the bustling city, which looks and sounds like a real city. People are walking around, crossing the street, buying stuff, etc. A lot of RPGs have cities in them, but this FEELS like a city that’s lived in. Not just a place with some NPCs and a handful of side quests, it’s incredibly impressive.
V meets Jackie, who informs her that Dexter DeShawn, a major player in Night City’s underworld, wants to meet with her. A car is waiting nearby, and V enters the vehicle. A large man introduces himself and offers her a test in the form of a job, handing her a chip with all the details. A psycho gang robbed a corporate convoy, stealing a high-tech combat-bot, and DeShawn wants you to get it for him. To complicate matters, there’s a corpo-agent also looking for the bot. V accepts the job and agrees to meet DeShawn at The Afterlife once the job is done. It’s not specified what the afterlife is, but I think either a bar or a club would be a safe guess, my money is on a club, mostly because Afterlife is the name of a club in Mass Effect 2.
V calls the corpo-agent about making a possible deal, and the corpo-agent, who seems to be in a particularly bad mood, agrees to meet. V walks down a street full of people, vendors, giant billboards, advertisements, and at least one crazy person, before arriving at the ripper-doc. Jackie is already there and getting an upgrade. V hands him the chip with all the information about the job; he just inserts it into his skull. It’s really cool how well the computers have been put into people, it reminds me a lot of Ghost in the Shell. You actually see Jackie’s pupils light up, indicating he’s begun to read/watch what’s on the disk. It’s so subtle that I didn’t catch it on my first, or even second watch, but it shows just how much thought and detail CDPR have put into this world.
V heads downstairs to meet Dr. Victor, a middle-aged man who appears to have very few implants. They have a brief exchange, V tells Vic, as she calls him, about the job and that she needs upgraded specs. Vic guesses, correctly, that she hasn’t been paid yet. V insists that she’ll pay him back with interest, and Vic says, “this is the last time, I swear,” indicating he’s done this for V before. V hops into the chair that looks like it came from a dentist office, and Vic pulls out an eye, yes, pulls one out, of a cooling unit. V gets an optical scanner and a sub-dermal grip. Looking at the options, each item has both a monetary price, and something that says, “Humanity Cost,” along with a number. I’m guessing that has something to do with what the Devs have called “cyber-psychosis,” which happens when someone gets too much tech installed. If I had to take a guess, I think there’s probably some type of limit, and the closer you get to it, the riskier it is to get more tech. But, that’s just conjecture on my part. Vic gives V a shot of anesthetic before putting her under. The last thing she sees is the device Vic is going to use to remove and replace her eyeball coming closer. Even knowing that Vic is a friend, it still makes me uneasy.
When V wakes up, she tries out the scanner, it lets her zoom in on diagram for mantis blades hanging on the wall. According to the narrator, the scanner will also allow V to analyze objects, informing her of enemy weak points, gang affiliation and a “threat prediction.” Vic is listed as “very low.” The sub-dermal grip has been implanted, and I can’t really describe how it looks, but it is a very cool visual. The sub-dermal grip links to V’s scanner and shows weapon information, as well as increases weapon damage. Victor hands V an inhaler and tells her to take “two now, and two in an hour.” Presumably this is a medication to help V adjust to her new implants. As V leaves, the narrator informs us that some ripper-docs are willing to implant illegal military tech. I think it’s a safe bet that tech won’t come cheaply.
Jackie is waiting for V outside and they head to his new, tricked out car, some thug is checking it out. Jackie scares the guy off, but it leaves him feeling uneasy. V starts driving, and a yellow van pulls in front of them. The back of the van opens, and guns begin to fire. Apparently, these are members of the scavenger gang that Jackie and V took out a few days ago. Jackie takes hold of the wheel while still in the passenger seat as V leans out the window and fires back. What follows is a short, and absolutely insane, car chase/shootout. Eventually the van crashes, allowing Jackie and V to get away. This is apparently a random encounter, and these will happen throughout the game, and play out differently depending on choices made previously. To say this is above and beyond the typical random encounter in an RPG is an understatement.
Jackie and V stop at an underpass, this is where V is supposed to meet the corpo-agent she talked to earlier. Jackie and V scope out the agent, and the muscle she’s brought along. V’s scans reveal that these characters are much stronger than her (levels above actually), a fight or shootout probably will not go in her favor. V tells Jackie to hang back and carefully approaches the corpo-agent and her armed thugs. One of them hits V on the head with the butt of his pistol, while the other pulls a guy in a suit, presumably another corporate schmuck, out of the vehicle. The corpo-agent thinks he’s working with V, both deny it, and a lie detector proves them right. I’m wondering if there’s going to be some type of upgrade later in the game that would let you pass lie detectors, that would be cool. V makes an offer to the agent: give her the money for to buy the stolen bot, and the agent will get the gang. The corpo-agent reluctantly agrees and gives V a $50K cred-chip. V is warned of the consequences should she double-cross the agent.
V heads back to Jackie and drive to the gang hideout. Here the player can choose to try and make a deal, or to go in guns blazing. In the demo V opts to try and make a deal, which is the same route I’d choose in this game. They approach the door of an abandoned meat factory and talk to someone over the intercom, who lets them in. The gang is called Maelstrom, and they’re obsessed with cybernetic modification to a much further degree than the average person. I get the impression that their goal is to replace as much of themselves with machinery as possible, much like the Tech-Priests from Warhammer 40K. They’re implanted with military grade tech and weaponry, making them extremely dangerous. As Jackie and V head into the facility, they take note of all the turrets and mines that have been set up. Taking an elevator to the inner sanctum, they’re greeted by a gang member with seven eyes. V asks about the spider-bot, she and V are taken to a couch to wait. There’s a bit of back and forth, with Jackie reluctantly sitting down so as not to cause a fight, but he’s clearly on edge. As a peace offering, the gang member gives V an inhaler, then takes a whiff when he’s done. It seems like inhalers have become the main dispenser for drugs in this world.
The bot is brought in and shown off, the gang member excitedly goes over its specs. Just as V agrees to buy it, the gang’s leader (large man named Royce) aggressively strides in, his gun already pointed at V. He looks like he’s had the upper half of his face removed and replaced with tech. V pulls out the cred-chip and mentions Dexter Deshawn. For whatever reason, this causes Royce to laugh and turn his back to V for a second, but it’s enough. She and Jackie stand up and draw their guns, quickly finding themselves in a Mexican stand-off with Maelstrom. V hands over the chip, guns still drawn, Royce accepts it and plugs it into a computer. And this is where things go south.
The corpo-agent stuck a virus on the cred-chip and it immediately begins attacking the Maelstrom network. One gang member who is plugged in is visibly fried, and the shooting begins almost immediately. Luckily, V’s new tech gives her the upper hand, she and Jackie manage to clear the room despite being outnumbered. But Royce escapes, and now they’re stuck inside Maelstrom’s hideout by themselves, and have no choice but to shoot their way out. V takes the spider-bots control chip out of the head of a dead gang member and inserts it into herself, giving her control of the spider-bot. She also finds a “street modified tech-shotgun.” That is literally how it’s described, and it just SOUNDS nasty. This type of shotgun is capable of firing through walls and other forms of cover, it also has an alternate fire mode that charges a shot first. Eat your heart out Doomguy. The room is locked down, so V and Jackie try and find a way out. There’s a terminal that V could hack if her hacking skill was high enough, but it's not. However, her engineering skill is high enough that she can access the maintenance board and override the door controls. As Jackie and V move forward, the narrator informs us viewers that they demo will now show off some high-level abilities.
V scans the next room, showing her enemy locations, and she drops down. The shootout begins. V fires a shotgun blast into a target at point blank range in slow motion, we see the blood spurt like in a John Woo film. V switches back to the pistol, which now has a ricochet ability. She proceeds to kill the next target by ricocheting bullets off the wall, and it’s as awesome as it sounds. V takes out another few targets this way and switches to shotgun. Entering the next room, her targeting system reveals someone behind a wall. She charges the shot and shoots at the outline, killing the target. Running forward she turns around and slows time aiming at another target. She shoots him in the knee with a penetrating round and he drops to the floor. On a table V finds a “smart gun,” it has bullets that follow the target. Moving to the next room she unloads a couple of clips with the smart gun, she doesn’t even have to aim. It just takes out the targets, even moving AROUND cover. The shotgun comes back out and V once again shoots in slow motion before inhaling a drug. Next, she shoots a guy in the knees, and as he’s falling says, “Jesus Christ my legs.” V is moving so quickly that he continues the sentence even after she blows his head off. Scanning to make sure Jackie is close by, we see him leap onto the second floor, bypassing the stairs entirely.
In the next room, the narrator reminds us that this is still a work in progress. V sneaks up behind a gang member and does a non-lethal stealth takedown. She then jacks into his system, which gives her access to the entire Maelstrom network. V can use these to upload software (most likely viruses) into systems, but the narrator says for the purpose of this demo, they’ll only be using quick hacks. Next, and this is just too cool, a pair of blades spring out of V’s arms which she uses to climb along a wall. Perched above another target, she hacks his system to keep his gun from firing. She does a jump takedown of another gang member, her blade going through his neck. When the other member tries to fire at you, it doesn’t work. V then beheads him. These are the “mantis blades” that have been mentioned in some of my previous posts, and all over the internet. V can also double jump now.
Jackie and V continue to move, and V finds a “corporate tech-rifle.” Apparently corporate tech is high end gear, which V is going to need, because Royce is in the next room wearing an armored exo-skeleton. A scan of Royce reveals a weak point in the exo-skeleton, and V targets it. At the same time, Jackie FLIPS A CAR ON ITS SIDE and uses it to cover both of them. I think Jackie is going to be a fan favorite companion, because holy crap is he awesome here. Jackie covers V, allowing her to get close enough to use the shotgun. She gets behind Royce and unloads on the weak spot, allowing her to take him out. As Jackie and V leave, the narrator informs us that what we just witnessed was only one of several ways that quest could have played out, and that how it was done will have consequences down the line. Upon exit, the corporate agent rolls up in her armored vehicle. V is annoyed that the agent put a virus on the cred-chip, but the agent doesn’t seem to care. She informs Jackie and V “Only the corp gets what it wants. V calls Dexter Deshawn to inform him they have the bot, she and Jackie head to the Afterlife. End demo.
There’s not much that I can add to this, the game looks insane and I can’t wait to play it. However, as I was writing this two bits of CDPR news came out, and I feel I should at least mention them. A Turkish website “leaked” some information that Cyberpunk 2077 will be released in 2019. It was taken down shortly after. I’d take this with a grain of salt, even though we all want it to be true. But I wouldn’t count on anything until we get a date from a more valid source.
Second, CDPR was sued this week by Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski for $16 million dollars in royalties. Sapkowski sold the rights to CDPR for a lump sum of money years ago. They offered to give him a percentage, but he didn’t think the games would be successful. CDPR is currently estimated to be worth $2 Billion dollars, so… he was clearly wrong. Now normally, I’d side with the creator on issues of copyright, but this case is a bit different. Sapkowski has made several comments about how he doesn’t like video games and has been very dismissive of them. He even complained that the Witcher games were cutting into his books sales and taking money away from him. He’s apparently unaware how markets work. Anyhoo, his lawyers sent a vaguely threatening email to CDPR that basically said “give Sapkowski the money or this will go public.” CDPR responded by posting the whole thing on their website. I’ll be honest, in this case, I’m inclined to side with CDPR. Sapkowski was paid for the license, which he didn’t think would be worth anything, and now he’s upset because he was very wrong. Seeing as the games made his books known worldwide outside of Poland, and is now getting a Netflix series, you’d think he’d be happy. If I was in his place I’d be ecstatic. Of course, I’d also have taken the percentage because 1. I do have faith in video-games (obviously) and 2. I know how copyright law works, because I’ve worked on copyright disputes before.
Under U.S. Law, I don’t think Sapkowski would have much of a case. He bet on the wrong horse and is now mad. Well tough shit, you should have thought of that. However, apparently in Poland there’s some clause/article that allows for creators to get more money than they were originally paid if there is a “gross discrepancy” between what they were paid and what the property has become worth, and the Witcher is worth a lot. I’m not familiar with Polish copyright law, I only know the U.S. law. So, if this is true and there is an article like that, yeah, Sapkowski probably does have a case. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s acting like a dick. I like his work, but given his derision towards games, and his reputation for being cranky and hard to work with, I don’t exactly feel bad for the guy.
Also, copyright law is different in Eastern Europe. It’s all but non-existent in Russia. I’m serious, there have been TWO Lord of the Rings sequels published in Russia. And I don’t mean online fan-fiction. I mean actually published and presented as valid sequels. Tolkien and his estate of course, have nothing to do with them.
Anyway, I've got nothing else too add, except I'm even more excited for Cyberpunk 2077 now. My review for Venom will be up in a couple of days.