New story and gameplay details emerge for Cyberpunk 2077

First announced way back in 2012, today’s Microsoft press briefing offered us our first longform glimpse at this long-awaited sci-fi RPG from the makers of The Witcher, Cyberpunk 2077.

Setting: What We Know So Far

As implied by the name, Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in near-future 2077, occupying a fictitious metropolis called Night City. The Cyberpunk pen-and-paper RPG, on which the game is based, has an entire Night City sourcebook we can assume strongly informs the game’s setting, as a sort of hybridized Los Angeles/San Francisco. However, while the tabletop game is set in the 2020s, CD Projekt Red’s RPG is set 50 years later, and will presumably show us the aftermath of some events between those two time periods, such as the destruction (and apparent reconstruction) of part of Night City’s downtown area.

Players assume the role of “V,” a freelance mercenary. Given the trailer description’s pointed use of “they” pronouns for V, we can assume that V isn’t so much a defined character as a customizable avatar that can be male or female. Or who knows, maybe CD Projekt Red will surprise us with a non-binary protagonist in its cyberpunk game. That would be kind of appropriate, wouldn’t it? UPDATE 6/12/18: Yep, male/female protagonists confirmed.

Critics have pointed out that “cyberpunk,” as a genre, started out as a subversion of more utopian visions of technological progress. So you could argue that cyberpunk’s transformation into pure neon-soaked “cool” aesthetic where its class politics are mere window-dressing is a perversion of the genre’s intentions. On the other hand, William Gibson, who coined the term “cyberpunk” with his landmark novel Neuromancer, has argued against interpreting the settings in his worlds as necessarily dystopian. “I think I aspire to naturalism,” he told Vulture in a 2017 interview. “Much of the planet’s human population, today, lives in conditions that many inhabitants of North America would regard as dystopian… Dystopia is not very evenly distributed.”

Multiplayer, DLC, Microtransactions

We’ve heard as far back as 2013 and as recently as 2016 that Cyberpunk 2077 would feature “seamless multiplayer,” but CD Projekt Red has declined to discuss specifics. “Worry not,” the studio’s official Twitter account posted in November of last year; “When thinking [Cyberpunk 2077], think nothing less than [The Witcher 3] — huge single player, open world, story-driven RPG. No hidden catch, you get what you pay for — no bullshit, just honest gaming like with Wild Hunt. We leave greed to others.”

Furthermore, at today’s Microsoft press conference, the faux-“hacking” introduction to Cyberpunk 2077’s new trailer contained a massive Easter egg of partly-obscured text, which the good folks at Polygon have helpfully uncovered:

“3. Free DLC/Expansions/DRM

Expect nothing less than you got with The Witcher 3. As for DRM, CP2077, will be 100% DRM-free on PC.

4. Microtransactions?

In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?”

Release Date????

Alas. Cyberpunk 2077 is still without a release date, though the above Easter egg also mentions “We’re definitely much closer to a release date than we were back then.” Our best guess would be sometime in 2019 at the earliest.