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Cyberpunk 2077: When we’ll finally get a release date, gameplay, and more big questions

Getting ready for the Cyberpunk 2077 reveal that we so desperately need

We’ve been eagerly awaiting Cyberpunk 2077 for years and it looks like our wait for something, anything may finally be at an end. After the game’s official Twitter account returned to life in January (with a single “beep”) and reports circulatedthat it would be one of the biggest E3 2018 games, we’re all more ready than ever to hear about the next game from CD Projekt Red. The studio that brought us The Witcher 3 has a big task ahead of it in following up that piece of free-roaming RPG greatness, but it has certainly made the time investment. Hopefully we’ll get to see how all those years have paid off very soon.

Cyberpunk 2077’s release date may still be a while away

Just because things are finally starting to happen with Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t mean you should expect the game to be out in the near future. CD Projekt Red showed off the first gameplay for The Witcher 3 around two years before the game finally came out in 2015, and we still haven’t actually seen Cyberpunk 2077 itself – just promotional videos and art. Granted, CD Projekt Red may take a different approach with a much faster turnaround this time. But I wouldn’t get my hopes up for playing Cyberpunk 2077 any time this year.

Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay will be the open-world RPG you expect

There’s at least one thing we can be sure about Cyberpunk 2077: it will be an open-world RPG. CD Projekt Red has said as much, and the fact that it made its fame off of The Witcher 3’s expansive, reactive world is good reason of its own to suspect the same for Cyberpunk 2077. The specifics get substantially more fuzzy. It sounds like you might be able to create your own character, or at least substantially alter their style, and determine how they interact with the world. There are also murmurs of some kind of seamless multiplayer support – think more Dark Souls than Battlefield – which would line up with a need for custom characters. Oh! And it’ll have vehicles.

Cyberpunk 2077’s trailer is still our best look at the game

The first and only Cyberpunk 2077 trailer came out in January 2013. It was a joyful surprise at the time, but five years later it’s become like an old friend who keeps telling you about all the cool stuff they’re gonna do but never gets off your couch. Anyway, the trailer revolves around a cyborg who seemingly went berserk and slaughtered a street full of passers by with her creepy retractable arm sickles. The cops try to shoot her down to little effect (their bullets literally shatter against her reinforced skin) until some masked dude appears behind her and puts a gun to her head. The trailer cuts, and we see her riding along in the back of a vehicle with the same guy – and now she’s wearing similar gear. Looks like she’s been recruited to the “Psycho Squad,” a special police unit dedicated to apprehending rampant cyborgs like herself. Better than ending up on the scrap pile, right?

Granted, that’s not very much to go on for one of the most-anticipated games of recent years. But You don’t have to wait for an official announcement to already know this much: despite decades of attempts, there still have been few big, definitive cyberpunk games. They’ve all either been too niche, not very good, or – all respect to Deus Ex and Final Fantasy 7 – just not punky enough. It’s about time that changed.

Here are five things that Cyberpunk 2077 needs to do to be the high-tech, low-life game we’ve always wanted.

1. Cyberpunk 2077 has to have great hacking (or none at all)

Art from the original Cyberpunk 2020.

If Cyberpunk 2077 has a little ‘hacking minigame’ where you twiddle the thumbsticks to unlock doors or disable robotic opponents, it will be an awful missed opportunity. Not just because I’m tired of reskinned lockpicking minigames (though I am) but because Cyberpunk 2077’s direct predecessor, pen-and-paper roleplaying game Cyberpunk 2020, has an intricately detailed hacking system. It lets ‘netrunner’ characters kit out their cyberdecks and evade or defeat virtual security measures however they like. That system was the basis for the Netrunner card game (now available Cyberpunk-license free as Android: Netrunner) which remains one of the most clever takes on asymmetrical multiplayer ever created.

Maybe the main character of Cyberpunk 2077 character isn’t a netrunner type. That’s fine. It just means the game shouldn’t mess with it at all. Have your character pop open control panels and patch in their tech-head friend, or something like that. Please, just don’t let hacking be another five-second-long ‘wobble the analog sticks’ interlude.

2. Cyberpunk 2077 has to actually be punk

Art from Cyberpunk 2020’s Night City Guide.

As our friends at GR sister site PC Gamer said, it’s time for cyberpunk games to remember how to be punk; to, just for example, steal the tech that corporations jealously guard then use it to splice weird porn into their skyscraper-high advertisements; or even to rebel by simply continuing to live in a society where most ‘normal’ people would prefer if you dropped dead. Too many of our medium’s cyberpunk stories put the mirrorshades on otherwise generic super soldiers and cops, serving up the same kind of power fantasy you can get anywhere else. If there’s a pink mohawk anywhere, it’s probably on one of the countless thugs you just gunned down. How is that punk?

Cyberpunk 2077 is starting from behind on this one, because the end of the teaser trailer strongly hints that you play as an officer of the Night City Police Department – specifically of a rogue-cyborg hunting Psycho Squad. I hope that’s either a feint or just one optional career for your character to pursue, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s easier to market ‘you play as a supercop’ than ‘you play as an enterprising scumbag.’

3. Cyberpunk 2077 has to have weird fashion

Joker, leader of The Clowns gang in Akira.

This point goes along with the above call for general punkiness, yet also extends beyond it. Let’s agree right now that rainbow liberty spikes and floor-length trenchcoats should be the bare minimum for Cyberpunk 2077’s fashion sense. I want to walk out on the streets of Night City and see a spectrum of sartorial choices, from the ragged to the elegant to the flashing-LED empaneled. What better way to make you instantly hate your corporate overlords than to clad them in immaculate designer threads? The kind of clothes that are so nice you’d be tempted to kill them over, if only it wouldn’t get bloodstains on the material?

And none of this ‘clothes are purely cosmetic’ stuff! I’m not saying I want tons of stat bonuses and armor values – that seems silly when your crop top could be made out of nanoweave titanium or whatever – but what if your clothing choices cultivate an overall aesthetic that characters react to? Put on your expensive suit to deal with the mega-Yuppies, but make sure you change back into leathers before you meet with the old gang, and so on. That’d be a nice way to tie back into the genre’s ‘style over substance’ ’80s mindset.

4. Cyberpunk 2077’s locations have to go beyond hazy neon-lit streets

A dusty, dilapidated scene from Blade Runner 2049.

Everybody loves a rainy street, reflecting towering expanses of neon signage and screens. Cyberpunk 2077 should definitely have some (read: a lot) of those. After roaming around the city of Novigrad in The Witcher 3, I have full confidence that CD Projekt Red’s art department can turn the clock forward a few hundred years to create one of the finest future-downtowns ever rendered in polygons. But if we’re going to spend dozens of hours of roaming around another open world, we’ll need some variety.

Cyberpunk is more than neon! It’s also fog, and rust, and dust, and snow, and weirdly sacrilegious megacorp headquarters, and… you know what, I’m just describing the production design for Blade Runner 2049 at this point. If you want an idea of the different kinds of settings that CD Projekt Red’s ace artists should aim for beyond the usual city streets, just watch that.

5. Cyberpunk 2077 has to actually come out

It’s been more than five years since Cyberpunk 2077 was first announced. CD Projekt Red was always upfront about it being a long way off so I wouldn’t call it vaporware yet. The studio just made the unconventional choice to announce Cyberpunk 2077 before it had even officially unveiled The Witcher 3. So the studio basically dangled that tantalizing concept in front of our faces then said “hope you liked that because we need to go finish this other gigantic game now.” Please don’t make us wait another five, CD Projekt Red.

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