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Game preview 25 June 2020, 18:30

author: Kristian Smoszna

Cyberpunk 2077 Hands-on Preview. After Four Hours, I'm as Happy as Concerned

This will be one of the most difficult texts I will write in my life. Describing the highly anticipated game, which is on a collision course with exorbitant hype and expectations, is not easy – because this game currently has some flaws.

Slated for release: November 2020.

The tour begins

Between story missions, we can explore the city, both on foot and with vehicles. And here we arrive at the first big disappointment. The driving model is not the greatest one I've seen in games (to put it mildly), and it's nowhere near the achievements of Rockstar in GTA. I had rather unpleasant flashback from Sleeping Dogs, and in terms of driving and traffic, Cyberpunk 2077 is definitely closer to the game from United Front Games than from Rockstar. My colleague Mike though it similar to other dogs, the Watch Dogs, and it's surely an apt reference.

The visual design of cars is quite astonishing, badass even, but the driving model itself feels lousy. I was driving the Quadra most of the time, and it seemed glued to the street – there's no weight, no momentum, and it was almost impossible to slide through corners, which should be unthinkable in a cyberpunk world. I was under the impression that these constraints were dictated by the very design of Night City, since the streets of the metropolis aren't very wide. With a more realistic driving model, we would probably be running into obstacles all the time. I also wonder if there will be street races available. Horse racing in The Witcher 3 sucked big time, and I hope the designers won't repeat this mistake in CP2077.

How to disengage safety?

Another mechanic that's sure to cause a stir after the release, is certainly shooting. This is the second of the major, new challenges that CDPR had to face, and it hurts me to say that the gunplay seemed to me completely bland. Seemingly everything is executed in accordance with the genre standards, but at the same time, it doesn't show teeth at any point; the vague element that instantly makes some shooters compelling is apparently missing here. Even in The Last of Us 2, which, after all, isn't a shooter, we feel the power of the liquid blast, tearing our enemies apart with shotgun pellets. Here, everything seemed... flat. The fact that enemies are bullet sponges doesn't help one bit. It even got to the point of silly: I got a "headshot" prompt, but the enemy I had shot was still running around the arena, because the headshot didn't deplete his HP. In short, we got cyberpunk Borderlands. That's not a bad comparison, of course, but the game from Gearbox is much less realistic than Cyberpunk 2077 apparently wants to be.

From the very beginning, Cyberpunk 2077 generated an astonishing hype. I’d even venture to say the expectations are so high that it’s impossible to satisfy them. And when I first sat and played the game for 4 hours, my general impression was like “Is that… it?” 

Cyberpunk is set to be a really good game, but you can clearly see CD Projekt Red struggles with the elements that are new to them. I’ve been saying for two years that the driving model looks rather weak, and indeed, I felt like playing Watch Dogs. Hacking is too complicated, and I haven’t been able to fully comprehend it during the short playthrough, which is sad, cause I want to play as Netrunner. The city is only alive in the places where you’d expect it to be – once you get further away, people magically disappear.

On top of that, we have chaotic and illegible inventory, interface that’s a little too heavy on all sorts of information… Fortunately, I completely fell for the story that Cyberpunk 2077 wants to tell us. If there’s one thing I could not say a single bad word about, it was the story and the narrative, which, in first-person, I found even more compelling than that in The Witcher 3. I can’t wait for the journey with V, whom I’ll make a demigod in the character wizard, mark my words. And that I won’t be able to see him throughout the game too often? Well, we change our hairdos, even though we can’t really see ourselves either.

Night City is at once very pretty and very mediocre. At the same time, moving around isn’t boring. The town is full of thugs, freaks, people with bizarre stories, like that one dude who broke his testicles with a faulty Mr. Stud implant and needed to visit a clinic. I killed a bunch of lunatics from Maelstrom and I petted a cat. Am I thriller with Cyberpunk 2077? Nope. But after sleeping on it, I think the greatest enemy of this game will be the hype.

P.S. Excuse my French, but the soundtrack is just fucking amazing. I love the crazy blend of songs this game serves, and you can tell there’s some overwhelming talent involved in the creation. TOP NOTCH!

Michael Manka

The new game from CDPR will certainly benefits from stealth mechanics, and other solutions that allowed us to complete missions without killing anyone in Deus Ex games. Games from that series were never great shooters either, but at the heart, they were not shooters, but rather stealth games. In Cyberpunk 2077 we will, of course, be able to sneak, but there will be moments when we'll need to reach for lethal weapons, regardless. Anyway, the ghost mode may be a salvation for players who will find the gunplay unappealing – I admit I haven't paid much attention to it in my short gameplay. I simply was too curious to feel what shooting is like, because that's something CDPR have never done before. Secondly, a stealthy approach is always more time-consuming, which isn't actually desirable during a time-limited gameplay demo. Not with a game like this.

Rather predictably, hacking seemed pretty important in the stealthy approach, and the game gives us a handful of possibilities to manipulate cameras, turrets, electronics, and enemies themselves. Initially, we're only able to distract enemies, but after investing in more skills, our capabilities noticeably increase. A good predictor of what Cyberpunk 2077 will enable us to do is the obligatory VR tutorial, which we have to complete shortly after the launch. There, we can draw one enemy to another one, and then blow them both up with the remote detonation of a grenade carried by one of them. Also, we did it all via a hacked camera, making us completely untraceable for enemies. It all looked pretty fantastic, and I'll probably play as Netrunner in my first playthrough.

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