‘Style over substance’ is the tagline for the Cyberpunk role-playing game series, which was released by R. Talsorian Games in 1988, and I loved the game; I must have spent hundreds of hours playing it. Reading in 2013 that a Cyberpunk 2077 computer game was being made was intriguing, and upon seeing that CD Projekt Red (CDPR) was involved I was ecstatic. Given the success of the incredible Witcher 3, I am even more excited about the possibilities.
The genre of Cyberpunk is diverse, but it is common for stories to be set in the near future, about lowlifes with high tech rebelling against mega-corporations. Combining such aspects as hardboiled detective, film noir, and nihilism in a troubled corrupt society, with technology that both helps and hinders. Many gamers will be familiar with titles like Deus Ex, Shadowrun, Syndicate, Crackdown, etc.
During the summer of 1990 four friends and I spent nearly all day every day playing Cyberpunk 2020, whilst listening to the same few albums on repeat. It was a glorious time, and over the years we have had many great sessions. This should give you an idea of how much this game will mean to me.
The Cyberpunk 2077 teaser trailer is very impressive, and it seems to have gotten a lot of people excited, who like me await a release date. There is an article about the making of the game trailer that I think is really worth checking out. Unfortunately there has been very little news from CDPR, it’s hard to board the hype train when the train station is not on the map. Well now there is talk of a release date in 2016, I hope this is true.
The game is set in an updated version of Night City. The tabletop sourcebook had incredible diversity and depth, if any level of that is brought in to the CDPR game, then we should be in for some sandbox brilliance. The scale of the Deus Ex should be easily outdone by Cyberpunk 2077, given that is has such a wealth of material to draw upon. Famous locations mentioned so far are the Afterlife, Forlorn Hope and gang controlled combat zone. I would guess that the Corporate Centre will be a major area since the old corporations like Arasaka are in the game.
There is mention of non-linear storytelling and this does make me apprehensive. So many games that attempt this lose their strong narrative, but it can be done. The Witcher 3 demonstrated that CDPR can provide a rich story with choices that matter, as well as better relationships than the typical drivel in computer games.
Intriguingly the designers have said there will be personality choices in the character creation, which was a big part of the tabletop RPG. Add to this that they have also said they are going to focus on the story more on the character and their problems. Given that the setting is a mature, dark, dangerous, and full of punks place, there should be enough going on to keep the player too busy to save much more than their own skin/chrome.
As multiplayer has been mentioned I guess combat zones will a place for teams to via for control. Corporate extractions/assassinations were common missions to run in the RPG, and this sounds like an ideal team match to go up against a security team. All sorts of other classic missions are ripe for turning in to PvP, both team based and free-for-all. I can picture a survival mode fighting off waves of Boostergangs.
As there are many shopping catalogue sourcebooks in the RPGs, covering everything from cybernetics, gadgets, guns, vehicles, armour to a wide range of outfits, I look forward to staring at lists of high-res items. One of the criticisms of the tabletop was how long players would spend browsing and then writing out lists of items, this is one annoyance a computer version will solve. I expect Cyberpunk 2077 to have more depth than that offered by Deus Ex in regards to options. I hope a brilliant inventory interface, that is quick to navigate, is a big design priority, I expect we will be using it a lot.
In the tabletop RPG a character’s humanity was an important part of the game. The more flesh that was replaced by machinery, the more likely a character would turn in to a cyber-psycho; supplements also examined the stress of operating on the edge of this type of society. I expect CDPR will make this struggle a big part of NPC interactions. From characters feeling at ill-at-ease when dealing with a dehumanised borg, to the Cyber-Psycho squad being sent to hunt down armoured lunatics.
Vector thrust vehicles (AVs) are a big part of the setting, and it was great to see one in the trailer. Besides the Police and Corporations having access to these, it was common for players to wisely invest in Trauma Team insurance. It was handy having a flying tank full of combat medics on call to rescue you as your character bled out, at a hefty cost of course. I hope to the flying medics in the CRPG.
It was great to read that Marcin Przybylowicz, the composer for Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is working on Cyberpunk 2077. I am sure he will produce something on par with the soundtrack from Deus Ex or Vangelis (Blade Runner). Sound is such an important part of any game, but with the Cyberpunk setting having a character profession of Rockerboy, music should play an integral part.
The Cyberpunk RPG series designer Mike Pondsmith is collaborating with CDPR, which since style is such an important part of the setting, it was a relief to hear. I am sure they have been working on things that will be new even to a veteran of the setting like myself. I expect this game to have both style and substance.
In particular I am really looking forward to see how character humanity and psychology is handled. What features are you most looking forward to?