It's been nearly two months since Polish developer CD Projekt Red shared with us its latest vision for Cyberpunk 2077. A 15 minute slice of gameplay impressed many thanks to the employment of various play styles that allowed you to get the job done in different manners, but there was more to that quarter of an hour than meets the eye. Carefully pieced together to get some of its most important points across, the footage is actually three times as long when left uninterrupted. At EGX 2019 this past weekend, we watched that full 45 minute demo being played in real-time, and we came away more impressed than ever.
Kicking things off with a quick bit of character creation, you'll be able to choose between a male or female protagonist V, adjust their eye colour and facial characteristics, and then select a hairstyle from a limited amount along with its colour. But then you're on your way. A set of red pupils and various surface wiring seems to be about as creative as you can get, but with another six months to go before launch, let's hope this is a feature which is fleshed out at least a little bit more.
Back to the action and we're doing a job for Placide. After asking of his whereabouts throughout the rundown, law-free district of Pacifica, V tracks his location down to a Butcher's shop. Hidden in the back is a makeshift office and the choice of whether to trust him or not. Jacking in and allowing him access to your chip-set basically gives the suspicious character a killswitch, but since the job on offer is an essential one, it's a necessary evil you'll have to deal with. Of course, you can always deny his help in your own playthrough.
It's time to make our way to the Animal gang's hideout, which forms the crux of our next operation, but we'll need some transport to get us there in sufficient time. A motorbike nearby is the answer to that, which appears to be a complete joy to control. The playtester was able to gracefully weave their way between debris, the pavement, and other cars as a booming, original soundtrack played in the background. From the hip-hop station to the selection of dance tracks, there'll be something for every sort of musical taste.
You'll want to scout out the building before entering, though, because while going all guns blazing through the front door might be your first thought, it's probably also going to be your last. The demo finds a back entrance to sneak through, and thus begins the life of a Netrunner. Sticking to the shadows, the playstyle favours hacking and stealth above all else. When used in tandem, those two skills can produce some deadly, but silent, results: turn off security cameras to mask your presence, force an AI bot into overdrive so that it leaves an enemy with a bloody nose, or render a bench press so heavy that its user drops the weight onto their neck. They're grisly demises indeed, but then that's just the cogs of creativity at work.
Alternatively, with a Strong Solo build, you'll be able to bypass those encounters altogether by employing a high strength stat to rip a locked door off its hinges, thus getting you to the centrepiece of the action faster. You're definitely in the thick of it as soon as the gang is alerted, but with a turret nearby that's thirsting for blood, it becomes more of a deadly playground than anything else. The playtester grabs an enemy to form a human shield as they bridge the gap between protagonist and weaponry before ripping the turret from its very foundations and going to town on the rest of the Animals.
It is abundantly clear that Cyberpunk 2077 is going to let you play it however you want to. With a Life Path that helps to form your backstory, dialogue options are affected by your core stats, abilities and how much of an upgrade they're packing, and the relationship you hold with that particular character. On the other hand, combat can be as gritty and intense as you want. Complete the game without killing a soul, tear Night City apart by testing the limits of your ammunition stocks, or fall in-between the two extremes as you forge your own path through what looks set to be the next great PS4 RPG.
But it's not perfect. The 45 minute stretch of gameplay featured some incredibly rare, minor texture issues and two examples of NPCs T-posing as they went about their lives. It's something which highlights the fact that after its proper reveal back at E3 2018 and the aura that came with it, Cyberpunk 2077 is starting to look more and more like an actual video game – and an incredibly impressive one at that.
How hyped are you for Cyberpunk 2077? Did you check out its 45 minute gameplay presentation at EGX 2019 too? Hack into the comments below.