E3 is officially over and we've seen and played plenty of games during the week we've been on location in Los Angeles and its Convention Center. One of these games, and perhaps the biggest game of the show once again, was the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, developed by CD Projekt Red. Shown at the Xbox press conference, Cyberpunk 2077 continues to impress the gaming community, and apart from witnessing Keanu Reeves at the conference, we had the pleasure of checking the game out for another 50 minutes during the "behind closed doors" showing in the Cyberpunk 2077 meeting room.
The event in question was similar to that of last year, with us walking into a Cyberpunk-themed lounge/bar before entering the private showing in a dark viewing room where a quality analyst held a controller, ready to play for us all. In the lounge, however, we got the chance to talk to Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the original pen and paper RPG Cyberpunk 2020. During our talk, we found out that Pondsmith was (and still is) working on Cyberpunk Red, a new pen and paper RPG that's going to bridge the gap between Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk 2077. We also found out that he'll be continuing to work on the series in the future, so if you're struggling to sate your Cyberpunk hunger, you can at least get a taste before the official launch of 2077 in April by trying the source material.
Moving away from the pen and paper RPGs, let's talk about CD Projekt Red's much-anticipated video game. Following last year's presentation, we got to see the many cosmetic customisation options you'll get to play around with when creating your character, make some tough decisions, sit in awe at just how fluid the mantis blade combat was, and witness the insertion of a new ocular implant from Victor. There are various customisation trees, the first one displaying your character's core personality with the three different "life path" options: nomad, street kid, and corporate. These life paths will alter not only your backstory, but the game itself, and we'll get back to this momentarily.
The third major customisation sub-menu is attributes, which lets you build your character's core stats, which are: body, intelligence, reflexes, technical, and cool. These stats will decide what strengths your character will have in and out of combat, and the scope of this is quite vast. Combined with your attributes, your class will truly change the way you play the game and there are plenty of options within the skill tree, like perks, handguns, rifles, blades, hacking, shotguns, two-handed, athletics, melee, engineering, sniper rifles, and assassination - some of which we saw during our hands-off demo session.
Going back to your attributes, we got to see some interesting mechanics, with some clearly coming over from the pen and paper dice roll, such as making use of your attributes in dialogue. In the demo, we were led through a scenario where our V was to track down the leader of the Voodoo Boys, a gang apparently obsessed with cyber-space, to learn more about the chip lodged in the protagonist's head. The setting for the second E3 showing was Pacifica, a district that was originally thought to have become a massive tourist attraction until the buildings were abandoned and left to decay. Here we got to familiarise ourselves with a poor, gang-centred population, and it shows some interesting mechanics linked to street cred and background.
An interesting detail that we noticed during the presentation was the translation mechanic. The broad population of Pacifica seemed to be speaking Creole, and since we don't speak the language, one would naturally think we wouldn't be able to follow a conversation. However, V's chip has special software within, translating non-native languages in real time. We were taken to a church or place of worship in a poor, forgotten part of the city where we got to witness cult-like behaviour for a moment before eventually meeting our contact.
Then we got to see the life path mechanic at play. It was clear from the dialogue options that had we chosen street kid as our path, we could have gotten more information from our anonymous contact in the end. Without it, however, the dialogue option was greyed out and unusable. Apart from life paths, attributes can alter your conversations too. Interestingly enough as well, the number of set points needed is shown on the screen, so you'll know if you messed up and only assigned three points in an attribute that needed four to trigger a specific conversation arc.
After getting enough information from the contact, our V headed to meet with Placide, a big, menacing individual who seemed to be the right-hand man of gang leader Brigitte. On the way we're told about the street cred aspect of the game, which alters what people around V will think of them, unlocking more content to pursue in some cases. It was clear from the start that Placide didn't really trust V and to prove his (our V was switched from male to female and back again throughout the demo) worth and loyalty, Placide sent him out on a mission to hack into a van within the Grand Imperial Mall that had been claimed by an opposing gang called The Animals. Before sending us out, however, Placide ordered V to "jack in", meaning linking V's internal network to Placide's. Here, Keanu Reeves' character - "digital ghost" Johnny Silverhand - appeared, also distrustful, assuring V that it's what he had to do to proceed in order to meet up with Brigitte. Placide asks what ripperdoc (cybernetic implant doctor if you will) V has been going to, adding "is it Victor?" to the question, and if you read our preview from last year, you know that it was indeed Victor. One can only speculate whether or not Placide is intrigued by his work or strictly talking about the chip, but the chip's origin is a mystery.
As Johnny speaks to us through the chip in our head, Placide gives us a mission briefing and we're introduced to yet another dialogue mechanic. As shady stuff seems to be going on in the back room behind Placide, we get the room dialogue option allowing us to start a conversation. These environmental dialogue choices aren't always good to bring up, however, the CD Projekt Red host explained. You might learn more about what's going on without a hitch, or you might anger the dialogue subject, closing you out from further dialogue or losing their trust.