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Cyberpunk 2077 is Very Much a Shooter

CD Projekt Red is finally showing off its vision of the future.

Analysis by Mike Williams, .

*Thoom* *Thoom*

That's the sound of CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 looming over everything as one of the biggest games of this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Can CD Projekt Red recreate the stunning success of The Witcher 3 with a brand new sci-fi adventure? Having seen the game today, it's definitely on the right track.

It's important to stress what Cyberpunk 2077 is not. If you expected The Witcher 3 in a dystopian future city, you're out of luck. The main character is V, a mercenary trying to leap into the big time. Though the trailer showed a male character, the game has a full character creator, letting you craft the hacker of your dreams (or nightmares?). The third-person viewpoint of The Witcher has been replaced with a first-person camera. You'll explore the world through "your" eyes, only seeing your created character in menus and some cinematics.

Looks like lunchtime is over.

The opening of the demo felt a bit small, taking place in an apartment where V and burly street samurai partner Jackie were attempting to rescue someone. Of course, the folks standing in your way don't take too kindly to your actions and everything gets heated. It's here that Cyberpunk 2077 reveals that it's partially a cover shooter.

Yes, there's a whole layer of choices and consequences that underpin Cyberpunk 2077. There's an excellent dialog system that feels natural and offers interesting moments: in one scene, a security guard for a corporate stooge is jacked into your biomod, forcing you to tell the truth. You can try to lie, stay silent, and even take the chance on wrestling the gun away from the guard. There's a whole host of equipment available to your character, including gear, weapons, and new biomod enhancements.

But when push comes to shove and things get heavy, you point a gun at an enemy and shoot them—most likely from behind cover. Each hit does a certain amount of damage, with headshots doing more. You can slide to reach a safe spot, or make yourself a smaller target for enemies. You'll shoot pistols, shotguns, and even smart guns, which have bullets that track your chosen target. Your furious hail of bullets shreds bodies, random items, and even walls. If you've played 2012's Syndicate, Cyberpunk 2077's combat will look rather familiar to you.

This isn't a problem though, because that FPS combat is still in the service of Cyberpunk 2077's story and how you make your character react to events. In the demo, V meets with Dex, an arms dealer who feels like a mix of T-Pain and Suge Knight with a golden arm. Dex wants V to retrieve a little drone robot that was stolen from Militech.

A dark alleyway, as seen from Cyberpunk 2077's latest trailer.

You could just go get the drone, or you could call the corporate executive who it was stolen from to get some alternate paths forward. The executive wants to find out who stole the drone in the first place, and offers you a credit card to place in the thief's terminal. Another branch appears: keep the card for the credits, or use it as intended.

This winding path in the demo eventually leads V and Jackie to the stomping grounds of the Maelstrom, a gang of people who are pushing the boundaries of body modification. Orange glowing spider eyes, sunken faces, and other alternate looks; it's about evolving, not sticking to classic ideas of what "human" looks like. They die to bullets just like everyone else though.

But you don't have to use bullets either. CD Projekt Red also highlighted the arm-mounted Mantis Blades, which were shown in the first trailer. Not only can the blades be used to slice and dice your enemies, but you can also plant them in walls to stick in place like an insect. Hacking is another way to handle enemies. You can stealth up to foes and then jack directly into their mods. From there, you can look into their local networks, finding map information or hacking their squadmates to make their guns misfire.

In between all the combat, there's a huge world to explore. Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in Night City, a sprawling metropolis in Northern California. The city is split into a total of six districts. The Witcher was flat for the most part, but Night City is all about layering and density.

Out in the city itself you can see huge megabuilding communities in every direction, massive crowds milling about on their own business, and holographic advertisements vying for your attention. Upscale corporate employees go shopping, vendors try to sell their wares, the homeless wait at the mouths of alleyways, and clubs stay open for business at all hours. It's amazingly impressive just to see the city moving without your input.

A glimpse of Night City... during daytime.

And then CD Projekt Red introduced the car. I was expecting that Cyberpunk 2077 was like The Witcher 3, with a bunch of sizable maps strung together with a map and loading screens. That's not the case. Cyberpunk 2077 is a full continuous, open world. You can get in a vehicle and just drive around the city to explore. (In first- or third-person.) Seeing this in action legitimately surprised me with what the developer has built here.

Cyberpunk 2077 feels like everything that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided wanted to be. I enjoyed that release, but the city here is much bigger with more interesting regions to explore. The choices and options available to the player look more varied, offering some intriguing outcomes. This look of the future feels like it'll go interesting places. And V is your character, as opposed to the somewhat stoic Adam Jensen. Cyberpunk 2077 at times reminds me of the later Deus Ex games and Syndicate, but it looks like it might succeed where those faltered.

Cyberpunk 2077 is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, but it doesn't have a confirmed release window yet. For everything else we know about the game, you can head right over to our Cyberpunk 2077 hub.

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Comments 13

  • Avatar for BulkSlash #1 BulkSlash 12 days ago
    I’m glad you made the Deus Ex comparison as that’s what I’ve been thinking since reading about the gameplay details. I just hope the ending isn’t three or four options that all disappoint like Makind Divided.

    I just love the aesthetic to the game and everything I’m hearing about the gameplay is encouraging too. This really does have all the hallmarks of an absolute classic in the making. The hard part is going to be waiting for it to be finished!
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #2 NiceGuyNeon 12 days ago
    I'm so stoked. I read about it being a shooter and immediately thought "oh so Deus Ex but good?" I'm ready for this game. I want to see what CDPR has up their sleeves.

    I've played the Shadowrun games and Deus Ex, but we haven't had that massive, truly amazing cyberpunk moment in gaming yet and I hope CDPR takes us the distance. They stole BioWare's thunder in the fantasy space with Witcher 2 which outshined Dragon Age 2, and then they did it again with Witcher 3 outshining Dragon Age: Inquisition, and in the process changing our expectations for open world RPGs.

    They've earned my trust since 2007 and until they break that trust I'm all in on their vision, same with From Software, Nintendo, and Platinum when they aren't making those work for hire Avatar and TMNT games.
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  • Avatar for Vodka-Tonic #3 Vodka-Tonic 12 days ago
    Sorry RDR2, but I'll be lusting after Cyberpunk 2077 even as I enjoy playing you later this fall.

    Easily my game of E3.
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  • Avatar for pdubb #4 pdubb 11 days ago
    @NiceGuyNeon I hear you but going "Deus Ex but good" is kinda not fair. Dues Ex Human Revolution was an entertaining game that suffered from a disappointing ending.

    There a lot of good games that fit that description.

    With that said man Cyberpunk 2077 is gonna own. I can't wait to rock a blue mohawk and stunna shades.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #5 Kuni-Nino 11 days ago
    Mankind Divided isn’t about its scope tho. It’s the density that makes it unique. That and its tone.

    Anyways, Cyberpunk sounds awesome. Thanks for the update Mike. I’m glad to hear CDProjeckt Red isnt just reskinning the Witcher like how Bethesda did Fallout.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #6 NiceGuyNeon 11 days ago
    @pdubb Human Revolution was OK and I stand by that.Edited 2 weeks ago by NiceGuyNeon
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #7 VotesForCows 11 days ago
    This is seriously going to set my PS4 on fire. Looks great though!
    This being the internet, people are going BALLISTIC about it being in first person. Boycott, betrayal, etc.
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #8 Nuclear-Vomit 11 days ago
    @NiceGuyNeon Go back and play Human Revolution, but this time knock out (not kill) every NPC. You will find that yourself walking down the street behind two, innocent passerbys minding their own business. You will then have he urge to grab an ankle from both of them and for some reason, lift them in the air, causing them to fall flat on their face. You might even dance a little while your doing it.

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  • Avatar for ColorfulNeko #9 ColorfulNeko 11 days ago
    This looks so damn good though. I'll definitely be there to play it day 1. It'll hopefully fill that Watch Dogs/Sleeping Dogs/Deus Ex Machina itch I've had for a long while.. and may get me off my Deus Ex Machina hentai binge I've been on for so long lmao
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  • Avatar for AceOfCakez #10 AceOfCakez 11 days ago
    A shooter.... =/
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #11 The-Challenger 11 days ago
    I hope they include at least one mech/drone(?) you can pilot. It is the future after all.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #12 NiceGuyNeon 11 days ago
    @Nuclear-Vomit lmao that actually sounds like a plan!
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  • Avatar for docexe #13 docexe 11 days ago
    @VotesForCows To be fair, headlines like the one in this article don't help. My first visceral reaction upon reading it was "A Shooter?! I wanted a RPG you %+=&%:ers!"

    Then I actually read the article and thought: "Oh! So something like Deus Ex then, good."
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