We got the wonderful opportunity to see another live gameplay preview for CD Projekt RED’s hotly anticipated RPG opus, Cyberpunk 2077, at this year’s E3.
The new preview delved way more into the game’s mechanics overall, the character progression, various ways you can engage with enemies, quests, and more. Due to the sheer amount of information, we’ve prepared a play-by-play rundown on the demo, what we saw, and more.
Find our entire preview below:
First off, the character customization is quite robust, allowing you to customize your gender, skin color, eye color, ears, mouth, beard, augmentation for eyes – and so on. The RPG attributes let you customize things like your intelligence or your “body”, which is likened to your physical strength.
The demo starts off with the player character, V, waking up to Johnny Silverhand, who is played by Keanu Reeves. Johnny appears as a virtual ghost only visible to the player. He quickly convinces you to help find his girlfriend, Alt Cunningham, and the next clue linking to a woman known as Brigitte.
Brigitte is the leader of the Voodoo Boys, a secretive gang obsessed with the mysteries of Cyberspace. They’re located in a dangerous Haitian community, Pacifica, on the outskirts of Night City. A contact set up a meeting in a nearby chapel, so you head there to get some info.
You find the contact, who only tells you to find Placide, another contact, in a local butchershop. When you find the butchershop, the local workers, including Placide, are all speaking Creole, which your neural implant translates automatically in real time. You quickly get to learning your mission.
Placide reveals himself to be the second in command from Brigitte, and promises you’ll be able to meet her – if you infiltrate a local facility controlled by the Animals. This rival gang is made up of muscular bodybuilders that modify their bodies mostly with drugs, instead of cybernetic augments.
Before accepting the job, Placide tries to force-connect his Personal Link, which lets you connect your brain directly to hardware. After reluctantly agreeing, Placide scans the protagonist, asking him questions. You get a skill check in the conversation, which can be beaten with the correct stats.
You then learn the scary truth – Placide’s connection to V was to establish remote access to V’s senses, including his eyes and ears. Now, Placide guides and watches over V as he follows the job. You quickly get to your bike, and ride off into the sunset to find some thugs.
All of Night City is accessible seamlessly with no loading screens, whether you’re traveling on foot or in a vehicle. The transition from an indoor environment to the “outer” environment was seamless as well, and it all looked fantastic. It’s mind boggling to think how all of it works together.
CD Projekt noted in the final game you can just ride around seamlessly, listening to whichever radio station you want, picking up jobs as you find them. After a quick drive through Pacifica, you find the compound you have to infiltrate. Your target is a Netrunner that has a special chip.
Two lookouts posted by the Voodoo Boys refuse to help you, so you basically flip them off and make your own way in. The build used currently is likened to a Netrunner, i.e. more stealthy and focused on hacking. After some guards hightail it outside to pursue the lookouts, you sneak in.
The player snuck up behind a guard, only to choke him out – you’re given the option to use deadly force, killing the guard – or simply knock them out. Either way, you can hide the body, which the player does into the garbage chute. After this, the player snuck around, hacking doors and guards alike.
As the entire environment and the people within tend to have some kind of mechanical and smart-enabled parts, V can hack into practically everything. The demo proceeded with V hacking various exercising equipment, incapacitating and or killing several of the guards.
A mechanized bench press was hacked, dropping a lot more weight than usual onto the thug – probably crushing his windpipe. A boxing robot was hacked and had its strength maxed out – almost punching another thug’s head off. There was even a soda machine that was hacked to spit cans out.
After taking a few more guards out, the demo was taken back a bit earlier and opened up to their fluid skill tree, as the game has no real class system. CD Projekt switched over to a female V, with more physical and tank-y skills and abilities unlocked, so they could show off how differently it can play.
With the combat-focused V, the demo was more straightforward – ripping open locked doors, brutalizing thugs, and even ripping mounted turrets off to use like a minigun. Once you get to the van that presumably holds the location of the Netrunner, you’re confronted by a boss of sorts.
The huge, hulking woman is known as the Sasquatch, and she’s pretty thick. As she tries to pummel V with a massive hammer, the Netrunner hacks the local area to control the defensive barriers. The runner kept trying to trap the player between a wall and the Sasquatch, while hacking V too.
The game played very differently with a differently built V character, so much so that I think experimentation is going to be a lot of fun. You can play through the entire game without killing a single person, though.
The animals use a drug known as “The Juice,” which she has a tank on her back pumping it constantly into her veins. Shooting and destroying this naturally incapacitates her a bit, and makes her somewhat of a pushover. After this, you quickly confront the Netrunner and things get a little dicey.
Without spoiling things too much, the Netrunner claims several things that basically go against everything you’ve been told by Placide and the Voodoo Boys. Going into this job, things were already on shaky ground, and now you have to make a decision to turn on Placide, or kill the runner.
In our demo, the runner gets killed and the protagonist tries jacking into the runner. It’s clear you can really decide to go either way, and both options will have their own consequences. After connecting to the runner, something goes wrong and V comes pretty close to dying.
After surviving that debacle, you return to Placide and confront him over the job. After finally meeting Brigitte, you learn her goal is also to find Alt Cunningham, the legendary Netrunner that digitized her consciousness into Cyberspace. To lure her in, you decide to use Johnny as bait.
At this point we were given a surreal, otherworldly look at Cyberspace. In true CD Projekt RED fashion, simply the visual concept of Cyberspace looked completely ridiculous and amazing. After our brief teaser, the demo was ended, and I was naturally dying to see more of the game.
Honestly, the number of systems already working in place and looking so well polished in the current build of Cyberpunk 2077 are staggering. This game feels like what Eidos was trying to do with the Deus Ex reboot, only now with a seemingly unlimited budget. It’s completely overwhelming.
Even the combat, with all its subtleties like the Animal thugs moving at superhuman speed and doing anime-like teleporting movements and the various environmental kills, is great. All the hacking options in the game are possibly endless, who knows at this point. CD Projekt are wizards.
The very fact that you can build your own V protagonist entirely in the way you want, freeform and not restrained to rigid tech trees or classes, also leaves the window open for endless possibilities. The game is like a cyberpunk fan’s dream come true, and I can’t wait for its full release.