Cyberpunk 2077 is a game with a lot of eyes on it, with a lot to do, and a lot to say about it. After 8 years of development and tons of controversy, CD Projekt Red's biggest game yet released to over 1 million concurrent players. And our editor, Nate, is one of those players.
He decided to chronicle his narrative journey through Night City, detailing his play experience and impressions every day that he plays. Join us and see whether CD Projekt Red stuck the landing or flopped face first into the grimiest Night City alleys.
12/10/20 Total Time Played: 3 hours
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The name's V. I'm currently sitting at the bar, contemplating my next steps, ignoring the searing pain of my... incredibly broken nose. Pepe's behind the bar. There's a warmth to his slicked back hair, leather vest, giant gold ring, and whispery tone as he offers up a shot to ease the pain of what needs to happen next. I ignore him and stop hesitating. One crack later and my nose is set again. Oof. Pepe comes in close, a look of concern in his eye. That concern turns out to be his debt problem and he of course needs my help.
I meet Kirk upstairs who has a gig for me that'll let the debt slide. He's scummy -- track jacket, fancy digital glasses, and all. He smokes a cigarette and in between puffs tells me if I steal a car for him, Pepe's free. When I sit down to work out the details, a big guy with a gun downing a burger in giant bites takes a seat next to me. Keep things in check. Note taken. I'm tasked with stealing a car from some corpo shithead. It's sitting nice and neat in some parking garage and things sound simple enough.
The game starts a little more abruptly than I was imagining, with little build up or setting the scene. But it really sells the density of the world when I gain control of my character. This small bar has conversations happening everywhere, screens full of detail. Tons to look at. I take my time and register everything I can, wandering slowly through the bar before heading to my mark. The thing I heard a lot of in the pre-release hype was how nice conversations can be, as opposed to the lock and talk style of Fallout and the like. And damn is it nice. Pepe leaning in to talk, his focus drifting as we speak. Kirk and his goon doing their own things as the conversation unfolds. If there's anything I hope is taken away from CD Projekt Red's controversial release, it's the upgrade over what open world conversations usually end up like.
I take the gig, eager to help Pepe. Make my way to the garage, get an assist from the guy working it, and feels like I'm home free. Next thing I know, I've got a gun to the head being "politely" asked to leave the vehicle. Big beefhead with a samurai pony seems to be a thug like me, and I only have that confirmed when the cops arrive and buddy's just as upset as I am. We're held to the ground, with a corpo demanding us to just be thrown away like trash. Cop turns out to be someone who grew up in our neighborhood, so we're let off with a beating and a not so nice drop off. I get to know the beefhead, Jackie, and before you know it we're thick as thieves.
After this sequence was the weirdest narrative block I've seen in a game, where you skip ahead six whole months of V living in Night City, working with Jackie, making a name for herself and the like. Those six months all take place in like a minute long montage cutscene with an incredibly cheesy radio DJ VO introducing us to life in Night City. Even playing small chunks of these missions with Jackie would have been appreciated but... whatever. We're back to the action shortly.
Some time later, Jackie and I are on a mission. Clearing some scavs to save some body. Before that, I'm given a shard with some training on it. Nice to brush up, and with a familiar face to help me along on the way. T-Bug has hacked herself into the training program. Punchies, shooties, stealthies. It's all here.
Tutorial section is light, short and sweet without overstaying its welcome. Feels a little... TOO tutorial which is kind of the point in-universe but still feels so blatant. Nothing in the game feels too new so far. Brawling gameplay fares a little better than folks have made it sound. The keyboard controls are a little cumbersome. ex: Requiring you to hold down TAB to use a scanner, zoom around with your mouse to find stuff and then F to engage hacks. Feels unnecessary. But everything feels solid enough and it's all dressed up nice and pretty so it's easy to overlook for now.
We make our way inside and try to keep things quiet for a while, but I dunno... I see red when I see scumbags abusin' folks and suddenly bullets are flying. Once the noise has settled, I see my itchy trigger finger had pretty good judgment because our target is bleeding out in a tub of ice. She's not lookin' good and I'm not feelin' good about it myself. When I pull her out of the tub, her vitals start slipping. I've got to jack into her to see what's what and T-Bug and Jackie aren't making things easy on me. I find out her medical chip is bugged and once it's fixed, the fabulous gun-toting trauma team is on the way and hopefully that means she's seeing better days.
Combat and stealth here is hard to judge because I'm still in the baby deer phase. Still finding my legs. Breaking stealth here was kind of accidental but I enjoyed being able to get a short glimpse at both stealth and all-out combat right away. Grabbed a shotgun and assault rifle to go with my pistol. The shotgun seemed shitty and underwhelming at first before realizing it had a charge shot. Oh... that felt good. The story sequence after this is engaging, having me interact with the body to see where she's at and I feel the tension with the more dynamic conversation system keeping me on my toes. The Trauma Team is interesting, basically serving as cop-medics, and much like our favorite Half Life 2 guards, they did not like me drifting forward toward the body, shoving me down and tazing me for a majority of the cutscene.
It was a rough night and it could have been rougher had Jackie not sweet-talked a cop to get us through lockdown and driven us past a painful-looking MAXTAC scene on the highway. But soon enough I was home, ready to take stock of my new wares, catch some TV and pass out.
V's apartment is promising to start. I really hope I can customize the space in some way or at least see it evolve as I go on, because there's potential here as a nice engaging hub space. Again, there's tons of environmental density on display as I read through various web pages at V's PC (which were kind of disappointing as tiny scrollable pages with 90% text -- GTA has had better web surfing since GTA IV), watch a few minutes of entirely unique TV, and take in some of the sights and sounds of the apartment complex which was more alive than I was expecting with neighbors milling about running around and dealing with issues. Most likely very scripted here but I enjoyed it.
I wake up the next day not feelin' too good. I think that body I jacked into might have done something to me. Nothin' a trip to the ripperdoc can't fix. Jackie calls and I'm on my way to meet him when I run into the ol' boxing coach who's got a new fighterbot up and running. He invites me to fight the bag of bolts and I say sure. Why not get my nose broken again? We go a round and before I know it the bot's bent over itself deactivated. Huh. Guess I'm not too shabby. Coach has an offer for me. Fight around town and work my way up and I might just make some cash. Money makes the world go 'round, so I'm up for it.
Jackie and I meet over noodles, where he tells me the infamous Dexter DeShawn has us pegged for a job. Hot damn, we're moving up in the world. Dude's a legend and not really for the right reasons, but we'll take what we can get. After a trip to the good doctor's, I'm equipped with a new eye implant and a grip to better sync up with my weapons. The doc's doing well for himself. Happy. It's nice to see. What isn't so nice? A surprise visit from Dex himself. We chat in the car a bit and get the lay of the land for this gig. He's got a few light tasks for us before the big show. Nice piece of tech he wants his hands on, but the people who've got their hands on it now? Pretty important. Gonna be tough, but Dex gave me a few leads.
This is the first more or less "open" opportunity I have in the game to wander around. The lore here is that our little neighborhood is in lockdown, so they do limit you, but there's some stuff to see here. So far no glitches beyond a few folks floating above chairs in restaurants. And a body dropping in front of me out of nowhere. Nothing I wouldn't expect in any other giant open world game really. Again, the more dynamic conversations are doing wonders for me here and the story still feels drip fed to me at this point. Seeing some more behind the scenes on V's skill tree and the cybernetics is simultaneously overwhelming and exciting. Seems I really can craft the character as I see fit.
First things first. Meet with the client. She's asked to meet at a Mox bar, where corpos get their rocks off to some erotic Braindances. Friendly staff points me in the right direction and soon enough I'm graced with a bit of backstory from Evelyn Parker. Turns out my mark is one of the big wigs at Arasaka. That sends a chill down my spine, but luckily I'm going in with a bit of extra prep. Ev's got a BD for me to peruse for a bit of a headstart on the action. BD expert for the club, Judy, walks me through it all and... it's a trip. VR on speed. After I get my footing, I figure out what's what in Arasaka's crib and I think the job is pretty smooth sailing from here.
My session ends here. Braindancing really did a number on my PC for some reason. Essentially, you are reliving a moment in someone's life, attuned to all of their senses. You can simply watch the BD in first person or in a more exciting twist, explore your surroundings and catch things the person running the BD might have missed. For example, in the test BD, you are experiencing a robbery. Everything goes as expected until the guy tries to leave and is suddenly shot. After watching it once, you're able to float around the main target in a limited radius to catch audio the person may have not fully interpreted, hack into tech for more details, and generally parse more information than the person did in the moment.
This helps us here because we're able to catch a glimpse at the security display behind the counter and find out the friend you were with killed you for the adrenaline rush that folks buying this braindance might enjoy later. It's a neat system of environmental puzzle solving that I can only hope allows for more interesting and engaging puzzle work in the future. The test session and Arasaka session are a little too guided, as I was basically told exactly what to do and when. Makes sense for your introduction to BDs but if this is what I can expect in ALL of these, it's nothing more than a flashy interactive cutscene. But it could be a promising system moving forward.
It was incredibly disappointing to hear that the BD device was practically based on a machine that actual doctors use to provoke seizures. And as such, Liana Ruppert over at Game Informer actually experienced a seizure while playing the game, because there was no warning or ability to turn these things off. Since the news broke, CD Projekt Red put in a more substantial epilepsy warning to start the game and has actually made the BD animation safer. Accessibility matters and making noise about these things actually works, folks.
All in all, it was a decently fun first night. Not really in the weeds just yet, definitely still in the prologue here and not even more than a few quests into things. But it's here. It's running on my PC (despite some dangerous CPU temps that I need to take a look at) and my glitch experience is very limited so far. I'll take it.
See you back in Night City in my next entry.
Next Entry --> WARNING: Series on indefinite hold due to CD Projekt Red's masterpiece making my PC run at nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit.