When Cyberpunk 2077 arrives next year, it will be a single-player game - on that, developer CD Projekt Red has been clear. But what happens after that? The studio has said it has a team messing around with a multiplayer portion, after all.
With CD Projekt bringing back this year's E3 single-player demo at Gamescom (enjoyable to watch a second time, but not new), my thoughts turned to what else the studio was up to - especially after the recent comments by CD Projekt Red exec Adam Kiciński confirming 40 people were working on multiplayer, not to mention some kind of early focus already on the next big Cyberpunk game, due after that.
Speaking today at Gamescom, CD Projekt Red senior concept artist Marthe Jonkers told me Cyberpunk 2077's multiplayer still wasn't nailed on. The small team building it is still in R&D - and there was no pressure to force something which did not feel right.
"We are doing R&D into multiplayer but we're focusing on single-player experience, and that's what you'll get in 2020," Jonkers told me. "It doesn't mean we're saying no multiplayer, but it doesn't mean we're saying yes either. It's still an R&D phase."
This phrase of being in "R&D" is one we've heard before - back at E3 2018, for example - although some kind of multiplayer component for Cyberpunk 2077 has been talked of in vague terms for far longer. CD Projekt Red boss Adam Badowski told Eurogamer all the way back in 2013 the studio was planning "multiplayer features" in the game. What we've never heard, however, is what this multiplayer portion might look like.
"If you add multiplayer functions it has to be right," Jonkers continued. "Immersion is super important for us and we have to make sure everything fits together. The single-player experience, it all fits together. We're not just going to slap some [multiplayer] feature in and that'll be it.
"It's possible if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. We would never make anything that's not at least The Witcher standard for Cyberpunk. I don't know what the future holds but we will make sure everything we make will be high quality."
CD Projekt has expanded significantly over the past few years, nearly doubling in size to around 400 people - which is why the studio has the people power to experiment. It's also necessary, Jonkers said, for the more complex systems in Cyberpunk which come from having a far more open-ended character and story.
"The Witcher team was around 200, I don't know the exact number. But we're now around 400, so we can do a lot more - and that's what we're doing with Cyberpunk," Jonkers concluded. "The Witcher was an open-world game, but now we have an open-world game with a whole different freedom of gameplay.
"The Witcher had Geralt and you stuck with this character, his fighting style, his relationships, his background. With this game we're adding in this freedom with your character, what kind of relationships you want to engage in, a story which branches out in different directions, and multiple endings. A lot more ambitious, but a lot bigger team."