This will be a text about a game that has the makings of an outstanding production. At the same time, it's not something that occurred to me as I was actually playing it. This game can shine and glitter, at the same time dropping more question marks than the filler-y seas of Ard Skellig. Here's Cyberpunk 2077 – in many ways outstanding, and yet...
You already know we play as V. We can choose from different classes, which will determine the shape of the prologue, similarly to the first Dragon Age. We select the class in an extensive character wizard, which enables us to assign ability points to different attributes. We can customize the looks of the protagonist using nearly 30 sliders, defining such vital details as the size of nipples and the color of pubic hair. But you won't really see it, unless you go to the character menu. Cyberpunk 2077 is notoriously a first-person shooter, and the camera doesn't move away at all, apart from rare occasions, such as having your eyepiece replaced at ripper doc clinic.
As I said, classes make a difference from the onset. CDPR has prepared different introductions for each of them, and they're all very distinct. Since my choice was Nomad, I started the game in a garage in Badlands, on the outskirts of Night City. In this variant, the introduction was quite long. We also meet Jackie along the way, who accompanies us for most of the mission. Meeting him is also different in each case, and it's only after that moment that we can start learning the story proper.
More RPG than the king
From the very first moments, Cyberpunk 2077 tries pretty hard to show us it's much more extensive than The Witcher 3. Apart from regular XP, we also gain Street Cred – a sort of karma/reputation value that changes our status in the city. The character can be upgraded both by investing in core attributes and perks, grouped into nearly ten different trees. At first glance, it seems that the game is very flexible in terms of character building, since the directions of development are very different. You can completely ignore shooting skills and focus on hacking, which will significantly alter the way you play the game.
On top of that, we, of course, have the augmentations; cybernetic implants installed by more or less skilled and professional doctors around the city. There are obviously quite a few of them, which makes it possible to take a more individual direction of development. To top it off, we can also install mods in weapons and clothes (much like runes in the Witcher 3), and crafting (which I haven't seen yet). This should give you an idea of what the character tab is like.
The perspective changed from third to first-person, but the new game from CDPR is structurally almost identical to Wild Hunt, or any other RPG, for that matter. We have the main thread with feature missions, a hefty number of side quests, question marks to uncover (including loot hidden in crates on roofs, etc.), and all sorts of extra activities, such as aiding the police in fighting crime. There are other similarities to the studio's last AAA – fast travel, for instance, is only accessible via terminals (signposts), or via the subway. You can also speed time up on demand, and call the car with a single button, just like we did with Roach.
Let's talk about conversations
The dialogue system was also copied from Witcher 3, which is not a bad thing, since it clearly shows which dialog choices move the action forward, and which are optional, meant to expand our knowledge about the subject.
Of course, we don't have a single, defined protagonist in this game, which obviously means there are certain differences. A system of character classes brings unique conversation options, which is quite a fresh novelty. In the demo, I saw only two such instances for my class of Nomad, but it's cool the system is there – it should promote replayability of the game.
I also have to report that Cyberpunk 2077 is pretty heavy on time-limited dialog choices, which can sometimes lead to unpleasant surprises (we saw that two years ago, in the mission with Maelstrom gangsters). Funnily enough, I wasn't quick enough in the game and didn't manage to react properly to the rising crisis, effectively dying shortly after. It wasn't nice (I had to rewatch the entire cut-scene) and it made me appreciate The Walking Dead – where silence was just another dialog option – much more than ever before.
Over all, dialogs are probably so far, my favorite thing about Cyberpunk 2077 – CDPR quality is definitely there, and it becomes obvious just after a few minutes that they've invested so much time and resources into conversations and cut-scenes. This, of course, also includes some top-notch voice acting. There's one scene at the beginning, when our characters visit Dexter and discuss a certain job. Jackie is clearly feeling slightly uncomfortable and when he finally manages to muster up the courage and ask a question about the task, you can see his leg trembling in anger. Once his satisfied by the answer, the twitching stops. Of course, it's a small detail, but small details are recently in fashion, and it goes to show how detailed and intricate the conversations are in the game.
Speaking of dialogues, here's a few more words about what most of you probably already know. There are not regular cut-scenes in the game. There are no multiple angles, showing the characters from different perspectives, nor other elements of conversations we grew accustomed to in the games from the Polish studio. All conversations are carried out in first-person, and V is not "welded" to the character we talk to. You can look around, watch other people and so on – you can see the devs wanted to promote realism and immersion. It wasn't a huge problem for me at first, but there's one detail about it that I absolutely abhor: when it's your turn to say something, the camera zeroes-in on the interlocutor with breakneck speed. It looks so bad! What's the point of letting you freely look around, just to have the camera violently spin 180 degrees when it's your turn to say something?