What do we know about CD Projekt's new game Cyberpunk 2077?
It's a PC and next-generation consoles game, and it's being built by a newly established second team at the Polish developer for release in 2014/2015. CD Projekt hasn't yet worked on Sony hardware, so Cyberpunk's existence on PlayStation 4 shouldn't be taken for granted - it might not happen.
For clarity: this isn't the same team that built The Witcher 2, but it is the same studio. It means development of future Witcher instalments, like the all-but-announced Witcher 3, should be unaffected by Cyberpunk 2077's development. While separate, the two teams can of course collaborate and benefit from shared technology and experience.
Cyberpunk 2077 is based on the pen-and-paper role-playing game Cyberpunk 2020, created by Mike Pondsmith, who CD Projekt is "working very closely with".
"Believe it not, almost none of my friends in the digital or the tabletop game industry has ever asked me why the heck we committed our Cyberpunk baby to the tender mercies of a bunch of guys in some far off place like Poland," wrote Pondsmith in a post on the Cyberpunk 2077 website.
"Some of them have wondered why I'm willing to endure nine hours on a plane and days of crushing jet lag to work personally with the Cyberpunk dev team, but in the main, CDPR is pretty well respected in the circles I run in and my colleagues all think we were damned lucky to hook up with them. (And when the jet lag clears, I usually agree.)
"So what do you need to make a great Cyberpunk video game?" mulled Pondsmith. "Like getting a man on the Moon, you have to have the Right Stuff; in this case, the Right Feel, the Right Tech, the Right Resources and (most important) the Right Team."
And that's all he'll say, for now.
A separate post on the Cyberpunk 2077 website outlined some of the obstacles faced when adapting a pen and paper game into a video game. Chief among the problems is creative freedom: almost anything goes when playing pen and paper, whereas a video game needs to have defined rules.
"Every element has to be accounted for and carefully designed," the post outlined. "Of course, modern AAA RPG games like The Witcher 2 or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 can give the player lots of freedom. But the underlying mechanics are adhering to very strict rules and if an action or option wasn't implemented in the code, then the player will not be able to do it.
"The same principle applies to character customisation: the player can do only as much as game allows him to. So if game designers decide that it is not possible to play as an ugly midget, you will not be able to play one. Sorry Tyrion Lannister fans."
The post teased some "really cool ideas" about how to present a skill like Wardrobe & Style (wearing the right clothes and looking good in them), but stopped short of any specific detail.
"For hardcore Cyberpunk 2020 fans out there, twiddling with rules in such a way may seem like blasphemy," the post continued. "But rest assured that we are working very closely with Mike Pondsmith to ensure that the unique feel of the original, paper game is preserved intact.
"Of course we may need to change some things, add new elements or even drop the ones that simply do not work in a video game ('Geology' skill, anyone?)."
All CD Projekt has revealed so far about Cyberpunk 2077 is that it will take place in the year 2077, be a sandbox-style game and transpire in a place called Night City. Sandbox is one of those words bandied about a lot, but it's important here because CDPR admits it hasn't really done it before. I wonder if Skyrim influenced this at all.
CD Projekt has also talked about creating "a smoother learning curve" for Cyberpunk (and probably The Witcher 3), so that you're not faced with an off-putting cliff of new things to learn - rather a gentle meander up the hill - when you first start playing. The Witcher 2 on PC was guilty of this.
In last night's Cyberpunk 2077 name announcement, CD Projekt reasoned that the year 2020 was too close and wanted a bit more time to play with. 2077 was far away enough to achieve that while also being tangible and believable - close enough that many of us will live to see it. Being in 2077 also allows Mike Pondsmith and CDPR 57 years of history to tinker with.
The combat will be faithful to the Cyberpunk 2020 game, apparently, and Pondsmith teased that "we're going to be able to do a bunch of new things that we've been playing around with". Presumably the action will be real-time as in The Witcher 2 and not turn-based, but nothing has yet been clarified either way.
Here are the bullet points from last night's conference:
- "Ambitious RPG for mature adults, set in the corrupt and tech-advanced world of the year 2077."
- "Gripping multi-thread story taking place in the sandbox environment of the vivid and detailed Night City."
- "Advanced RPG mechanics based on pen and paper RPG system, upgraded to the 2077 setting."
- "Gigantic arsenal of weapons, upgrades, implants and cool high-tech gadgets. New equipment adopted to reflect over 50 years of mankind progress."
So get ready to hit Streets of the Dark Future, a world so dangerous, so dark, that only the toughest, smartest and most cybered-up will survive. But you can deal with it. Because you're ready. Because you're Cyberpunk."
So what kind of science fiction is Cyberpunk 2020? Here's a description from the Cyberpunk website:
"For over two decades, the Megacorporations have ruled the world from their starscraper towers, enforcing that control with armies of cyborg assassins. While the boostergangs roamed a shattered urban wilderness, the endless party went on 24-7 in the hottest clubs, sleaziest bars and meanest streets this side of the Postholocaust.
"But that was before the Crash; before the dark days of 203X. Now the battlefield belongs to the new Lords of the Street: the DNA-shape shifting Reefers vs the full-body cyborgs of Corpore Metal, Desnai's robo-enhanced mechajocks against the monster makers of Riptide, the nano-boosted road warriors of Rolling State against the cybertech megaweapons of the urban Edgerunners."
"So get ready to hit Streets of the Dark Future, a world so dangerous, so dark, that only the toughest, smartest and most cybered-up will survive. But you can deal with it. Because you're ready. Because you're Cyberpunk."
Cyberpunk 2020 is actually the second version of the game and was released in 1990 - there's a third version of the game that was released in 2005. The focus is on high-tech weapons and cybernetic modifications.
Night City is in America, west coast, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Night City belongs to a country where mega-corporations prop up the government and so do what they like. Presumably 50 years down the road the mega-corporation influence will be even more pronounced.
There are nine classes - known as Roles - to pick from in the game. They are Cop, Corporate (businessman), Fixer (dealer-type), Media, Netrunner (hacker), Nomad (gypsy warrior), Rockerboy (rebel rockers!), Solo (assassin) and Techie (renegade doctors and mechanics).
The game's skill-based rather than level-based.
That's all the information CDPR seems prepared to reveal at the moment.