Silver swords are out, and cybernetic blades are in. Cyberpunk 2077 is the next big RPG from Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt RED, a sprawling sci-fi story about hackers, seedy criminals, and warring corporations.
Originally, Cyberpunk was supposed to have released by now, but CD Projekt delayed it back in January. That was somewhat expected: From what we've seen, Cyberpunk 2077 is a massive game, and the open world is dense with NPCs and side quests. CD Projekt also delayed The Witcher 3 before it released.
We don't have much longer to wait, though: Cyberpunk 2077 will be out in September. In the meantime, we've dug through nearly a decade of announcements, interviews and demos to bring you all the important details about character creation, combat, romance, the story, and Keanu Reeves (he's in it, if you hadn't seen). Here's what we know about Cyberpunk 2077 so far:
Cyberpunk 2077 release date
Cyberpunk was going to release on April 16, but CD Projekt RED announced in January that it needed "more time to finish playtesting, fixing and polishing". The delay happened prior to the coronavirus pandemic that has forced developers to work from home, and CD Projekt says it is still on target for September.
"Our plans haven’t changed—we’re steaming towards the September release of Cyberpunk," the developer wrote in a recent update.
The bullet points
- What is Cyberpunk 2077? An open-world sci-fi RPG from the creators of The Witcher 3. It'll be even bigger than that game, with driving and explorable buildings in a fictional California sprawl called Night City.
- Can you create a character? Yep. It's similar to the Mass Effect series in that respect. You'll be playing as a specific character named V, but you can customize how they look and choose from one of two voice actors, Cherami Leigh or John Flanagan. You'll have stats, too, and dialogue options that affect outcomes.
- What's the combat like? It looks like there are lots of conflict resolution options—eg, talking, hacking, sneaking—but Cyberpunk 2077 is at least in part a first-person shooter. It looks similar to immersive sims like Deus Ex.
- Can you do a non-lethal run? Yes. This wasn't always true, but after feedback in 2018, CD Projekt RED gave "pretty much every gun" a non-lethal setting, lead quest designer Paweł Sasko told us.
- Who is Keanu Reeves' character? Reeves is playing Johnny Silverhand, a well-known character from the original 1988 Cyberpunk tabletop game. He'll be hanging out in V's head as a "digital ghost," so you should see lots of him throughout the game.
The latest gameplay videos
CD Projekt livestreamed a 15-minute Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay demo in 2019, which includes parts of what was shown at Gamescom that year—you can watch that on YouTube here.
After the video premiered, a few of the developers had a chat about world design, sidequests, and character creation on the livestream. Find that VOD here.
There's also a longer, 48 minute demo that was first shown at E3 2018 and later released online.
When will we see another Cyberpunk 2077 trailer?
Probably in June. E3 isn't happening this year, but CD Projekt will be running an event called Night City Wire on June 11.
What exactly are they showing? Will Keanu be there? We don't know, but we're betting this will be another extended look at gameplay. That's how CD Projekt has been doing things so far at E3, although in the past it has shown demos behind closed doors and then streamed them later. This time, there's no E3 and no one's allowed to be behind closed doors with each other, so CDP will probably just skip straight to the livestream, especially with the release date just a few months away from June.
GET READY!📺 pic.twitter.com/eqQ3hMCOmAMay 5, 2020
Is Cyberpunk 2077 an FPS?
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.
In part, yes. We were a bit surprised when we saw the first Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay demo, which revealed that combat centers around first-person shooting. We expected guns—of course there are guns—but we were envisioning a third-person action game, maybe more like Dishonored.
That said, V's combat style looks pretty malleable. 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.
But here are some other cyberware upgrades and tools we're aware of:
- A Kiroshi Optical Implant that lets you zoom in on objects and also analyze the environment, seeing enemy levels and getting detailed information about them.
- A Subdermal Grip which increases gun damage.
- An implant that let V ricochet bullets around corners to kill enemies behind cover.
- Mantis-like sword arms.
- Remote control robots.
At one point in the first demo we saw, V sneaked up on an enemy and put them in a chokehold. From there, she could hack into that person's cyberware and access data about them, 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.
Shooting will be a good way to get rid of people, but it's not Doom—you have other options.
What do we know about Cyberpunk 2077 character creation?
During the 2018 demo, we got a quick peak of the character creation screen. 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, unless that's changed over the past couple years.
It may have, because something else we didn't see in 2018 was customizable genitals. According to the ESRB's rating for Cyberpunk 2077 (which unsurprisingly got an 'M'), players can "select a gender and customize their character; customization can include depictions of breasts, buttocks, and genitalia, as well as various sizes and combinations of genitals."
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."
You can also change your stats. There are basics like Strength and Intelligence, but also a 'Cool' stat that determines how well you handle stress, which affects weapon accuracy. 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.
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. Each Lifepath unlocks unique dialogue options that can alter how quests play out, so it's an important decision to make early on.
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.
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 unfortunately, you can't smooch Keanu. "Keanu plays a crucial role in the game, but as for the option to romance him, I don’t believe you can," level designer Max Pears told VGC at Tokyo Game Show 2019.
How does dialogue work?
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 in the demo we first saw.
It isn't the same old RPG dialogue system, and along with the first-person perspective, it looks like it makes for some 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 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 it's set within Night City, a fictional city between San Francisco and LA (as described here) 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.
Thanks to some awesome crowd technology, the Cyberpunk 2077's Night City feels alive and bustling. In our first demo of the game, 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 we'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 of 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.
In a different interview with VG24/7 at E3 2019, lead quest designer Pawel Sasko went into more detail about the districts outside the Badlands. "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."
Who and what's cameoing in Cyberpunk 2077?
It all began with Keanu Reeves appearing at E3 in 2019 and the cameos have barely slowed since. CDPR is cramming lots of real-life people and vehicles into Night City so here's a handy list of your pre-discovered easter eggs:
- Keanu Reeves will play the role of established Cyberpunk rocker Johnny Silverhand
- Grimes will be playing the pop star frontwoman of Lizzy Wizzy and the Metadwarves
- Mike Pondsmith, creator of the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game, is making an appearance
- Elon Musk's weird cyber truck might be in the game
- A "reaver" car homage to Mad Max: Fury Road will hit the streets
Will there be multiplayer?
Yes. CD Projekt officially confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077 will have multiplayer, but the mode won't be introduced until all the free DLC is out the door.
This is no surprise, as multiplayer has been teased as a possibility for years now. 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."
But seriously, will there be microtransactions?
CD Projekt says no. The E3 2018 trailer contains a little Easter egg on the topic. (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?")
Can you mod Cyberpunk 2077?
"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 of modding. "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."
In other words, don't expect any mod tools, at least at launch. However, the lack of official tools rarely stops modders from tinkering, so we'll just have to see.
CD Projekt Red on issues with crunch
CD Projekt RED has made note of all the 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.
Unfortunately, following an early 2020 announcement that Cyberpunk 2077 would be delayed a few months, it seems that the CD Projekt RED team will be crunching to complete the cyberpunk RPG after all.
In a question-and-answer conference call, CD Projekt's co-CEO Adam Kicińsk admitted that the development team will be required to put in longer hours as the game's launch approaches. In it, he says "[they] try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately [the team will be required to crunch]."
More Cyberpunk 2077 tidbits
- Soon, you could own a Keanu Reeves "Johnny Silverhand" action figure that will always believe you're breathtaking.
- In an investor Q&A call translated from Polish by VGC, CD Projekt president Adam Kiciński said Cyberpunk 2077 will have "no less DLC" than The Witcher 3
- There'll be tall, explorable buildings with "a lot of activities."
- There'll be a photo mode.
- There will be multiple endings.
- In 2018, CD Projekt acquired a new developer to support Cyberpunk development.
- Witcher 3 composer Marcin Przybyłowicz is working on the soundtrack.
- Way back in 2013, we learned that ‘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. If that's still the case, we aren't sure.
- Cyberpunk 2077 will support GeForce Now streaming.