Cyberpunk 2077 is unlike any other game that has come out this generation or prior. Its ambition is of both a densely detailed open-world game and a title that’s filled with a variety of meaningful choices and customization. This large-scale experience is being executed thanks to thousands of hours of development, culminating to a release on April 16th, 2020. Don’t be surprised though if there isn’t a delay or two between now and that date. Miles Tost, the level designer for Cyberpunk 2077, presented the game to us at a behind-closed-doors demo. This demo took place during the middle of the game and lasted for roughly an hour. An hour that showcased the impressive scope of Cyberpunk 2077‘s sheer amount of content. With the highlight of this presentation being the massive Night City in which the game takes place.
Welcome to Night City
Night City is the heart of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s a massive and sprawling city that includes various districts. In our particular demo, we had the chance to see a large portion of Pacifica. The district can be found in the southern part of Night City. It’s also a section of the city that’s predominately inhabited by a Haitian population. There were many impressive buildings and locales showcased in the demo from this area. During this, exposition would be given from characters towards the environment. These moments provided more information about the Haitian population, the history of Pacifica, and the greater setting as a whole.
The history of Pacifica’s people involves a community that’s been devastated by corporations and greed. Those that own the corporations decided to construct a massive Caribbean-style resort in Pacifica, in order to monopolize with tourism. However, when the economy collapsed in Night City, the corporations abandoned their building projects and left the Haitian population in shambles among half-way built luxury hotels. The Grand Imperial Mall is a central temple symbolizing the uprooting of the Haitian’s economy and society. A mall which Pacifica’s inhabitants have transformed into a thriving center of crime.
The Voodoo Boys: drug-dealers, terrorists, pillars of the community
Speaking to the crime in each district. Every section of Cyberpunk 2077 seems to have differing crime dynamics. The Voodoo Boys are a gang of netrunners obsessed with the Cyberspace. The Cyberspace is an ethereal network that minds can be transported into. This obsession is rooted in a quest for immortality that is said to be found within the digital data fortress. Yet apart from this conquest, the Voodoo Boys are also terrorist drug-dealers that happen to call Pacifica their home. The people of the district however, rarely go against nor detest the Voodoo Boys. As the gang has done a great deal for the Haitian and greater Creole community.
Exploring the city while trying to find a point-person for a quest, the environments in Pacifica ranged greatly from overcrowded makeshift chapels to bustling groups of street vendors. Among the vendors, there are items, clothing, and Daemon software programs to buy and equip onto your character. In the lower-income Haitian population, even the food options greatly differ from other districts. Real meat is hard to find, as it’s an expensive luxury compared to the standard synthetic meat. Collecting more street cred you will have more options to purchase and gain access to various new items. In this way, the environment reacts greatly to what the player’s stats and greater decisions have been.
It’s more than just looking cool, it’s being cool
Even if you decide to have cybernetic legs, there will still be the need to travel the Night City megalopolis in a way that’s more efficient. When riding V’s motorbike, which looks straight from Akira, you have complete control over exploring the various streets of the town. Choosing to either control the bike in first-person or third-person, there are many details to appreciate both in the animations and bike itself.
With the Pacifica district in Cyberpunk 2077, there’s the potential that the greater title, will have the same quality world-building we’ve enjoyed from the Witcher series. It’s an exposition on the human consequences from the capitalist structure of corporations CD Projekt Red is villanizing in the story. One that darkly reflects our world’s own exploitation of Caribbean islands into resorts, and scummier forms of commercialization. It proves that there is most definitely thought going into every ambitious design decision of Cyberpunk 2077.
It’s also more than just being cool
In the hour of studying Cyberpunk 2077‘s every facet of environmental storytelling, there are so many small details and events. I saw a homeless man shout at an overhead police ship blasting away a floor of a residential building. The frustrations of the Haitian population turning to crime in their abandoned wasteland of greed. A caricature of the society we currently live in. While sure, it surely won’t have the same ruminating nuance as Blade Runner nor the analytical and philosophical musings of Deus Ex and Observer. Its efforts are rather diverted into embracing the “punk” in its name, emphasizing ugliness among neon-cool badassery. This is all done by staying true to the roots of the tabletop game it’s based on. Defining an identity that’s self-aware to the ridiculousness of Cyberpunk and our own culture outside the game.
We will have a lot more information and thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 throughout the week. Be sure to check out our other pieces from E3 in the meantime. Here is one on how Dying Light 2 is ambitiously using branching narrative paths.