written by Fyren
During the recent Gamescom event, CD Projekt Red finally unveiled the gameplay demo for their upcoming RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. The pre-recorded and narrated gameplay demo shocked nearly everyone who saw it, myself included. “Now this, this is the future of gaming right here” I thought to myself as the neon lit scenes played out, accompanied by driving rock rhythms. I was so excited by the potential of the game they showcased, with its myriad of interconnected open world systems combined with intense story driven moments that all played out seamlessly, that I wanted to watch it again and again. So, that is exactly what I did.
It wasn’t until my 3rd time through that the illusion of the demo broke down a little bit. Fairly early on in the video there is a section where the character goes out into the city, surrounded by easily hundreds of NPCs, and the narrator tells us that each NPC has their own daily routine based on the in game day and night cycle. My first thought goes to something like Skyrim, where a given NPC might get up, perform a repetitive task of some kind and then go to sleep each day. Fairly simple stuff. The narrator leads us to believe that these NPCs will be far more complex than that though. Ok, I’ll buy that, seeing as how it has been several years since Skyrim’s release and we are bound to see improvements. Then the narrator tells us that this is accomplished alongside having no loading screens. Now, this is where the lies begin. Either the loading screens are cleverly hidden, or the NPCs will not be as complex as we are led to believe. Not to mention all of the detailed textures, particles, and lighting that this game is managing to render without a loading screen. Something doesn’t quite add up.
Rather than not having loading screens, which sounds like a bridge too far or perhaps even a dream reserved one particular man’s sky, I feel like the loading is done behind the scenes during the clever dialog and cutscene sequences. Shortly after the short romp around the city, the player character gets into the back seat of a car to talk with a fixer, a sort of quest giver in the game. During this scene, we see the city still passing by through the car window, but this is only a glimpse. The dialog options here are handled through a dialog wheel that is reminiscent of Bioware titles. While this whole scene plays out it would not surprise me to learn that the game is rendering and loading the next area of the city in the background.
After that scene and another short one in which we see how the player is able to get cyberware, new eyes or arms installed, we see a particularly interesting scene. The player character jumps behind the wheel of a car and starts to drive around the city. The narrator tells us all about the various cars, bikes and other vehicles that will be available for players to make of use of in this open world. Here’s where I feel the next bit of deception comes in, the player is then assaulted by a group of thugs from earlier in the demo. A sort of action packed car chase ensues in which the player leans out the window of the car, while their NPC companion takes the wheel. The narrator tells us that this is a random event that is based on our previous actions against that particular group from earlier. However, this entire sequence played out as incredibly scripted. I am highly dubious of this being the reactive and spontaneous event that the narrator leads us to believe that it is. The driving and swerving done by our companion feels too scripted, steering in such a way as to lend to the action movie feel of the encounter.
There are a few more moments in which I feel this demo is misleading, but for brevity’s sake I won’t cover each one. I would encourage anyone to watch the demo for themselves. In conclusion, this sort of deception in marketing is something that many gamers, including myself, no longer have much tolerance for. The demo just seems too good to be true and we have been burned too often by such things in the past. In conclusion, Cyberpunk 2077 may not end up being exactly the game that this gameplay reveal lead me to believe in on my first reaction. That being said, I am still incredibly excited to see this title released to the wild and I have faith that CD Projekt Red will release a great game regardless. Upon further inspection of the footage, I have tempered my expectations a little from what had initially set my imagination on fire.