E3 is officially underway and we got to tag along for CD Projekt Red's press briefing for the world premiere of the studio's next game: the long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077. And boy, do we have some news to share, some rumours to confirm, and some excitement to vent.
The briefing, which was set in a Blade Runner-esque science fiction bar with cosplayers dressed to fit the theme as badass cyberpunks walking around staring people down, started out with a short "thank you to the team" speech from the CD Projekt Red representative. That was before we got down to business - and the reveal blew our minds from the start, even though we only got to see some recorded gameplay.
If you were ever sick of seeing Geralt's face, bitter over the fact that you didn't design him to your liking, Cyberpunk 2077 will surely fill your customisation needs. Players will be given the option to completely customise their protagonists (you even get to choose their backstory) via an insane amount of options. Want to be female? V can be a chick. Want to have one shaven eyebrow? Shave that baby off, no-one needs two of those anyway. Want to wear your hair like a poodle who just got out of bed? You can make your V the perfect V for you, is what we're getting at.
It's not just the appearance of your main character that you can customise either, V can be upgraded to be even more of a murder machine than he or she starts out as through a fluid class system, tweaked even further by augments, implants (which you can get installed both illegally at the underground black market and less so at an implant vendor) and by changing his or her clothing for better augment-boosting garb. Weapons, of which there are hundreds apparently, can also be upgraded to perfection.
From surprising facts to confirmed rumours; Cyberpunk 2077 is played in first-person so even though you'll probably spend hours in the customisation menu (if you're anything like us, that is) you'll technically only get to see these fantastically beautiful features and hairstyles during cutscenes. But don't fret, there seems to be enough of them for you to get your beauty fix. While we're on the subject of beauty, it's clear that CD Projekt Red is set to create a game world that'll be well up to par with its earlier work. Night City, where the demo took place, looks absolutely fantastic with different class districts. We got to see some gritty slums, some neon-clad skyscrapers, all linked by open roads upon which you can drive your futuristic rides on. CD Projekt also let us know that they worked hard on making the world an interactive one. Players will be able to interact with people, street signs, holograms and more, and all of the aforementioned are clad in futuristic goodness.
In the demo we got to see V in action almost instantly; the dainty cyborg cyberpunk (a group of 'problem solvers' who take on missions no-one else in the sci-fi world wants or dares to take) woman was tasked with tracking down a missing girl. The girl in question was being held by a vicious gang, not to the despair of the press attending the briefing though, since we got some marvellous action out of it. Heavy gunplay with powerful weapons, some cover shooting, tactical gunfights with the help of V's companion Jackie (an equally badass killing machine with a passion for violence and ladies), and some battle-aiding drug use got the player to the end of the apartment complex in which the missing girl was being held in an ice bath and being used for parts (some stitched-up holes could be seen on the poor thing).
The player could then choose to either let Jackie pick her up to transfer her over to the trauma team (an elite, very expensive team of paramedics who acted more like mercenaries if we're honest) or grab the girl herself. We got to see the latter. When meeting the trauma team it was apparent that the merc medics were not fans of the cyberpunks because poor old V was treated like she had a bomb strapped to her chest that was set to go off in minutes.
After a job well done V woke up next to a lover with little to no clothes on (fans of the adult themes in The Witcher series will not be disappointed by the studio's new game, we can assure you) and after getting her clothes on, her teeth brushed and her guns out V sets out to see her underground implant guy before her next mission. At the implanter we got to meet someone called Doctor Victor (who seemed to have a soft spot for V, letting her grab two implants and pay them off later) and see some of the game's upgrade system.
Two implants were chosen: an implant that upgraded V's weapon handling and damage as well as giving her more firing modes, and another that made it possible to zoom the camera and scan NPCs for information. Two implants which made her next mission easier. After having an intimate meeting with Dex, an extravagant kingpin with a gold encrusted cybernetic arm, she set off to retrieve a package stolen from a powerful militia called Militech and give it to the previously mentioned kingpin. This quest, however, quickly got more interesting when the player met with the military group's leader Meredith Stout and decided to find a peaceful solution.
Eventually, V made a deal with the leader to acquire information regarding a group who had stolen the package. This led us to an "abandoned" slaughterhouse and, after buying a robot spider friend from some thieves (which later turned out to be carrying a virus, knocking some of the mercs out and disabling the door opening mechanisms), a fight ensued in which we were shown a more brutal way of taking down the enemy. The player in question proceeded to shoot limbs off of enemies with a shotgun, rendering them helpless and leaving them screaming on the floor. Then they showed off the mantis blades (which are the sword like blades shown in the reveal trailer), performed some wall-running ninja moves, and in the process sliced the heads off the poor mercenaries.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a bloody mess in all the right ways and we'll be looking forward to seeing more of CD Projekt Red's switch to both the first-person perspective as well as this fantastic, futuristic sci-fi setting. As for when that'll be, however, your guess is as good as ours.