Cyberpunk 2077: Everything we know about CD Projekt's next RPG

Cyberpunk 2077 was announced way back in 2012, and the past seven years of news paint CD Projekt's sci-fi RPG as a behemoth of a game, even bigger than The Witcher 3. CD Projekt RED promised that E3 2019 would will be the company's "most important" E3 ever, which we can now agree is true as action star Keanu Reeves came out on stage to give the game's release date at the Microsoft press conference. 

When is Cyberpunk 2077 coming out? What will its story be like? Will it really look that good? Here's everything we know about Cyberpunk 2077 so far.

Cyber-hands On

(Image credit: CD Projekt RED)

We got to play a new Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay demo at E3 this year, walking through everything on display, from character creation to boss fights.

When is Cyberpunk 2077's release date?

April 16, 2020 is the date delivered to us by Keanu Reeves in the flesh at E3 2019.

While our hopes for a 2019 release have been dashed, we now finally know we have less than a year to wait before playing CD Projekt RED's new game.

Preorders for Cyberpunk 2077 have already started. We've also got all the details on what's included in the Cyberpunk 2077 Collector's Edition.

What's the latest news on Cyberpunk 2077?

  • You can preorder this 200 page lore book The World of Cyberpunk 2077
  • Cyberpunk is "inherently political", says Mike Pondsmith, creator of Cyberpunk 2020
  • Cyberpunk 2077 will not have a morality system
  • Keanu Reeves is appearing as Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077 and his fictional band has a new real life song
  • Cyberpunk 2077 will not be exclusive to the Epic Games Store (And apparently 1/3 of its preorder sales have been through CD Project Red's own GOG storefront)

Watch Cyberpunk 2077's E3 2018 gameplay demo

Here's the only public look at Cyberpunk so far: 48 minutes of Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay, with some VO explaining what's going on. Further down in this article, you'll find greater detail on what we learned from watching Cyberpunk 2077 in action at both E3 2018 and E3 2019, along with more information from interviews with CD Projekt Red.

Is Cyberpunk 2077 an FPS?

Dare we say that Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person shooter RPG? We dare. Though cutscenes and driving sometimes switch to third-person, Cyberpunk 2077 involves a lot of first-person shooting. With guns. Lots of guns. It's chaotic and fast-paced, but was less aggressive than, say, Doom. During a firefight in the opening moments of the demo, V, the main character, ducked and peeked around cover to spray a gang of organ scavengers with bullets from her automatic pistol. Like Destiny 2, numbers indicating damage dealt exploded with each landed shot—but enemies didn't feel like bullet sponges. We also love how agile V can be. 

Party members

We know that you have at least one teammate: His name is Jackie and he's a real badass. During one boss fight, he picked up a car and used it as mobile cover. In another fight, he charged straight through a wall to tackle an especially tough enemy. He appears to be a main character.

Though there's quite a bit of variety in what abilities V has, in the 2018 demo she was an agile cyberninja. She could run and slide to cover and also trigger a slow motion bullet-time mode. She also had a quick dash that let her burst in a specific direction. When bullet-time and this dash were combined, she could quickly flank enemies and deliver fatal killshots.

We also saw a ton of cool weapons, and yes, there are weapons other than guns, though again, there are a lot of guns. A street-modified Tech Shotgun could penetrate cover and enemies, which was a deadly combo when paired with V's upgraded optic implant that could show her enemies through objects. A Smart Rifle takes all the skill out of shooting by firing bullets that track enemies. You merely aim in their general direction and it'll lock onto multiple targets and fire bullets that automatically track their intended targets.

So while of course this is still a CD Projekt open-world RPG, with all the expected trappings like exploration, dialogue, skills, and so on, it's also a shooter, in first person.

Cyberpunk 2077 character creation

Cyberpunk 2077

During the 2018 demo we got a quick peak of the character creation screen, which starts with choosing your sex. From there, you can customize hair, tattoos, and clothing. It doesn't look like you can change your character's bone structure, though—no deep menu of facial feature sliders here.

At E3 2019, quest director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz explained to Gamasutra that Cyberpunk's character creation won't be limited by gender. "We have put a lot of thought into this. One of the things we want to do in the final game (which we couldn't show in the demo yet, because as you mentioned it's a work in progress) is to give the players as many options of customization in the beginning of the game as we can."

CDPR is also working on customizable voices for V. Tomaszkiewicz did specificy that these are all things the team "wants to do," not already has done, so there's no surefire promises that this will carry into the final game.

You can also change your stats. There are basics like Strength and Intelligence, but also a 'Cool' stat that perhaps maps to charisma or one's ability to handle stress. The full list from what we saw in the demo: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Reflexes, Tech, Cool. Notably, there are some important stats from the tabletop Cyberpunk not represented here, like Empathy. More on why that's significant below.

We're sure Cool will have some other cute functions aside from charisma, as we speculate here. You can also change your backstory, referred to as a Lifepath, choosing from Nomad, Corpo or Street Kid, which each have their own origin story and starting location in the world. You know, the standard RPG stuff these days. 

However you customize your character, you're still one specific person: V. Not 'Vee.' Just V. You're a mercenary, and that's most of what we know so far.

You can finish Cyberpunk 2077 without killing anyone

Cyberpunk 2077 will let you play the game without ever killing anyone, a great feature for folk who want to roleplay a less bloodthirsty V. But the game wasn't always planned this way. After feedback from E3 2018, CDPR took time to add non-lethal options to almost all of its weapons and cyberware upgrades.

We say "almost," because there are some reasonable exceptions. There's no non-lethal setting for the bazooka, for example. "Pretty much every gun, pretty much every cyberware, you're able to use in a nonlethal way. You're able to knock them down, choke them, make them sleep and so on. There are ways not to kill them and spare them, like the way you could do with Sasquatch, the boss," lead quest designer Paweł Sasko told PC Gamer.

Who is Keanu Reeve's Cyberpunk 2077 character, Johnny Silverhand?

Cyberpunk 2077

Johnny Silverhand

The world basically exploded in excitement when Keanu Reeves showed up in the Cyberpunk 2077 E3 2019 trailer. It's cool enough that he's making an appearance, but it's even cooler that he's playing Johnny Silverhand, a well-known character from the original 1988 Cyberpunk tabletop game.

Though, CDPR's interpretation of Silverhand takes the character in an interesting direction: Silverhand is already dead, and lives in V's head as a "digital ghost." We were half-expecting a Hollywood celebrity role to be a small side character, but Keanu's Silverhand appears to be a main character in Cyberpunk's story.

In the tabletop game, Silverhand is a Rockerboy, a subclass in the lore that basically acts like a traditional Dungeons & Dragons bard. His original design is much more rooted in the tabletop game's '80s-inspired Cyberpunk aesthetic. 2077's Silverhand is has a rougher John Wick-like vibe, but still sports his iconic cybernetic arm all the same.

Will there be romance?

As much "romance" as you can find in a cyberpunk future, yes. Like in The Witcher 3, you'll be able to pursue romance as V. Because Cyberpunk includes character creation, these romance options will be more diverse than they were in The Witcher series.

"There are a lot more options. You know, you're defining your own character here, which means defining their sexuality any way you want," quest designer Patrick Mills said in an interview with Game Informer. "With Geralt, you had a character whose sexuality was very well defined by the novels and the short stories and the previous games. But in this one, it's up to you to decide. We've got NPCs that are gay, we've got NPCs that are bi, we've got NPCs that are straight, because we want them to feel real and that they have preferences as well."

In June, CDPR said that romantic plot lines will be "similar" in scope and detail to Geralt's relationships, despite there being more of them. CD Projekt Red clarified to us further: "Romancing is something heavily present in Cyberpunk, and players will be able to form meaningful connections with other characters as well as go for one night stands."

That's all fine and good, but after E3 2019, we have a new pressing question: Can. You. Smooch. Keanu. Considering he's a digital ghost, prospects aren't great, but we're holding out hope.

Is Cyberpunk 2077 mature-rated like The Witcher 3?

Cyberpunk 2077

Yeah. Cyberpunk 2077 isn't for kids, and definitely seems to be leaning into its inevitable mature rating. In the first few minutes of the demo, V rescued a woman kidnapped by organ scavengers. She was found naked in a bathtub, and the game didn't flinch away from full nudity. There was also a ton of swearing, as expected, but also what sounded like masturbation jokes. Cyberpunk 2077 looks keen to capitalize on the style of many premium cable shows—lots of swearing and nudity, that is.

How does dialogue work?

In a lot of RPGs, dialogue sections basically put the game on pause while two characters talk stiffly back and forth. It's not the best way to deliver the story, and thankfully Cyberpunk 2077 has massive improvements in this area. While we're not 100 percent certain, all dialogue appears to happen in real-time. You can continue moving and looking around, but when you focus the camera back on the character you're speaking to, dialogue options appear on screen. There were usually three or four options at any time, which does suggest this system won't be as robust as in some other RPGs.

There's no longer the clear distinction of entering and exiting a conversation with someone. Everything flows together.

We're OK with that, though, because this new system and the first-person perspective make for some incredibly tense exchanges. When V and her sidekick Jackie arrived at a Maelstrom gang hideout with the intention of buying a powerful piece of gear, the deal almost went sour. In the middle of the dialogue sequence, characters including V started drawing weapons and pointing them at one another. Meanwhile, dialogue prompts kept appearing that let you try to steer the situation: Do you try to keep calm or open fire? In this situation, we finally managed to deescalate by showing the thugs that we had the money and weren't looking to screw them over.

In an earlier scene, V was apprehended by a group of corporate agents. These extremely deadly characters were looking for information, and mistook V as someone they were looking for. While they pinned her to the ground, they jacked into her cyberware and installed a lie detector app and began an interrogation. If we lied, they would know it immediately and there would be consequences because of that. This new system feels fluid and natural. There's no longer the clear distinction of entering and exiting a conversation with someone. Everything flows together.

What kind of abilities can you unlock?

Cyberware refers to augments that have all sorts of uses. During the demo, we visited a Ripperdoc who could upgrade and replace our cyberware. We opted for a Kiroshi Optical Implant that let us zoom in on objects and also analyze the environment, seeing enemy levels and getting detailed information about them. We also picked up a Subdermal Grip for our gun hand, which increases the damage we do when firing guns.

The implants are wildly cool, but it’s strange that they don’t seem to have downsides in a game world which—at least in its tabletop incarnation—stressed the dangerous sides of cyberware with mental illnesses like cyberpsychosis. It’s a facet of the universe that we know the developers are aware of—the 2013 reveal trailer featured a woman getting arrested by C-SWAT for going off the deep end. On the tabletop, a character’s Empathy and Humanity stats dictated how much cyberware it was safe for them to use, but Empathy seems absent from Cyberpunk 2077. 

Some Ripperdocs will also let us suit up with illegal military-grade tech.

Later on we got access to some wild toys. One piece of cyberware let V ricochet bullets around corners to kill enemies behind cover. This was accompanied by a UI element that showed you the intended path of the bullet, so you could line up shots perfectly. We also got to see V's mantis-like sword arms, which she could use to eviscerate enemies. Other upgrades let V wallrun, use bullet time, double jump, and dash forward in short bursts. There's even robots you can control remotely, like a spiderbot that can climb walls and ceilings. We didn't get to see it in action, but once we acquired the thing it followed us through levels automatically defending itself during combat.

At one point, V snuck up on an enemy and put them in a chokehold. From there, she could hack into that person's cyberware and access data about that person, some of which is just for lore. If enemies are connected together by a network, though, a bunch of new options open up. In this instance, V hacked one enemy's gun to make it stop working without him realizing. She killed the person she had put in a chokehold and then attacked the two remaining bad guys. As she finished off one, the other tried shooting only to realize his gun was jammed. His confusion created an opening for V to get in close and finish him off.

We were told that some Ripperdocs will also let us suit up with illegal military-grade tech. We can only imagine how cool that stuff will be.

What does Night City look and feel like, and how do you get around?

Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the year 2077—which you probably didn’t need us to tell you—and as mentioned it's set within Night City, a fictional city between San Francisco and LA (as described here, although if it's really in Del Coronado Bay it would be well south of LA) that already exists in the Cyberpunk pen and paper RPG created by Mike Pondsmith. Punks and corporate stooges of all varieties wander these foggy, once Mob-ruled streets, and by 2023, corporations are openly warring for them. Cyberpunk 2077 will show us what happened to the city in the aftermath of that war. 

Night City

The cover of the Night City sourcebook. Click here to enlarge. If you're interested in the pen and paper RPG, you can pick up the roleplaying book for $30.  

Here are some of the other cool things from the Cyberpunk tabletop game we'd love to see.

Thanks to some awesome crowd technology, the Cyberpunk 2077's Night City feels alive and bustling. It was incredible watching V walk through streets and seeing hundreds of characters walking, playing, talking, and fighting. It's not clear how dynamic this world is, however. We passed by a crime scene in one neighborhood, and I'd like to know whether that crime scene will ever get cleaned up or if it's a static landmark in this area.

The city is, by all accounts, massive. It features six districts with no loading screens between them. To help you get around, there are vehicles you can drive in either first or third person. It was hard to get a sense for how realized this part of the game is—we're not sure if there will be all the depth of simulation you see in something like Grand Theft Auto V's driving and traffic. But it did look impressive and smooth.

Speaking to VG24/7, CDPR said the autonomous function allows you to summon your car at will, instead of trying to remember where you parked. Let's hope it's better at finding its way than Geralt's horse, Roach. You'll also have access to a garage to store the cars you own, but it's unclear if you'll be able to own them all or if a cap will be set.

We've all been operating under the assumption t hat Cyberpunk 2077 would take place entirely inside the sprawling Night City, but players will also explore the city's outskirts, called the Badlands.

In an interview with VG24/7 at E3 2019, lead quest designer Pawel Sasko said the Badlands is one of the game's main districts. "Players can leave Night City and just explore that area—an area that is mostly sort of destroyed basically after all the droughts and everything that happened in the 50 years from 2020 to '77. And you can explore that, there are specific quests prepared for that, also open world content, so that’s definitely covered. It’s not only the city that you’re visiting."

Cyberpunk 2077 won't have a morality system, that's up to you

Cyberpunk 2077

(Image credit: CD Projeckt RED)

Speaking to GamingBolt, quest director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz said that Cyberpunk 2077 does not have morality mechanics. V will be treated differently in the world depending on their reputation, but a hard morality system won't be part of that.

"To complete it non-lethally you have to be very good at stealth," Tomaszkiewicz said. "Invest in points that allow you to stealth better, use weapons that will allow you to incapacitate the enemy instead of killing them, to make the moral choices that will allow you to avoid killing people throughout the game." This sounds similar to how The Witcher 3 left moral choices in the player's hands without making it a hard statistic.

Will there be multiplayer?

It seems likely. CD Projekt Red has partnered with a multiplayer-focused studio to provide technology for Cyberpunk 2077. That technology isn't necessarily for a multiplayer mode, but that seems like the most obvious avenue.

At E3 2018, we learned that Cyberpunk 2077 won't launch with multiplayer, but might get some form of it after release. We first heard about multiplayer features back in 2013, but CD Projekt RED clearly knew the word could agitate its fans. "It will be a story-based RPG experience with amazing single-player playthroughs," reassured managing director Adam Badowski in a 2013 talk with Eurogamer, "but we're going to add multiplayer features."

In 2017, CD Projekt CEO Adam Kiciński said that multiplayer features would ensure Cyberpunk's "long-term success," which caused some concerns given the recent kerfuffle over microtransactions.

CD Projekt responded to the concerns with a tweet meant to reassure fans that they'll still be getting a Witcher 3-style singleplayer story. "Worry not," it said. "When thinking CP2077, think nothing less than TW3—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."

But seriously, will there be microtransactions?

CD Projekt says no. The E3 2018 trailer contains a little Easter egg which confirms that there will be no microtransactions in Cyberpunk 2077. (Enlarge the image and read the red text, in which CD Projekt responds to the question: "In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?")

What about expansions?

Story expansions are an expectation for large open-world games now, especially for CD Projekt RED after the extremely well-received Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions released for The Witcher 3.

UI coordinator Alvin Liu told Prima Games "I know when I was playing The Witcher 3 and I finished everything, I still wanted to know what everyone was up to. I think we're going to have opportunities like that as well for Cyberpunk 2077." Liu said that CDPR is discussing expansions as a possibility for Cyberpunk.

Can you mod the game?

Not at launch, anyway. "We have no plans to share at the moment," CD Projekt global community lead Marcin Momot said in a Cyberpunk forum thread dedicated to the topic. "Obviously, we would love to support the modding community in the future, but for the time being we want to focus on releasing the game first. Hopefully, this clears things up a bit." 

CD Projekt Red on issues with crunch

Cyberpunk 2077

(Image credit: CD Projekt RED)

CD Projekt RED has made note of all the recent crunch culture stories uncovered at other large studios and is attempting to get in front of talks about its own crunch policies. Speaking in an interview with Kotaku, CD Projekt RED co-founder Marcin Iwiński said the studio wants to take a more "humane" approach to late-stage development by leaning more heavily into a "non-obligatory crunch policy." They aren't attempting to eliminate crunch practices altogether, but claim they want employees and the public to hold them accountable so that Cyberpunk 2077's final stretch (and months leading up to big milestones like E3) will be less soul-crushing than they were on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.  

In its financial report for the first quarter of 2019, CD Projekt RED reiterates that over 400 people are involved in the development of Cyberpunk 2077. Whether we're to understand that 400 in-house staff are dedicated to the game is uncertain. The Witcher 3, for instance, had a staff of 250 members but 1500 people involved total. The implication seems to be that Cyberpunk 2077 has a larger dedicated team, making for an even bigger game than the studio's last major release.

More Cyberpunk 2077

  • There'll be tall, explorable buildings with "a lot of activities."
  • There'll be a photo mode.
  • There will be multiple endings.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 quest designer says it's "inherently political" (it's cyberpunk, so yeah).
  • In 2018, CD Projekt acquired a new developer to support Cyberpunk development.
  • Witcher 3 composer Marcin Przybyłowicz is working on the soundtrack.
  • Back in 2013, the idea was floated that they may record all dialogue in each character’s language—Spanish, for instance—and have the player use a translator implant to decipher it. That sounds pretty cool, but we don't know if the idea stuck.
  • ‘Braindances,’ a form of futuristic, drug-like VR, will play a big role. "People live someone else’s life while sleeping in the gutter," lead gameplay designer Marcin Janiszewski told The Verge.