Following its initial announcement all the way back in 2013 – by way of a jaw-dropping CGI trailer – one game immediately shot the top of everybody’s list of most highly-anticipated games: Cyberpunk 2077.
The legendary pen-and-paper role playing series is being resurrected for a new generation by one of the most respected developers of the modern era. The same team behind the critically-acclaimed RPG saga, The Witcher, as well as its upcoming card-based spin-off, Gwent, is trading in Geralt of Rivea’s swords and magic for the dystopian future of Night City in the not-too-distant future.
Polish developer CD Projekt Red has been hard at work on the game for years now, but, aside from that breathtaking (and pre-rendered) debut trailer, they have been firmly tight-lipped regarding the Cyberpunk revival. Not a single screenshot, video, or even a gif of gameplay footage has been revealed, which only makes the years-long wait even more unbearable. Despite their relative silence, some details on the sci-fi RPG have slipped through, and those tasty morsels will have to do until more concrete information emerges. Here is Every Update About Cyberpunk 2077.
15. From The Developers of The Witcher
CD Projekt Red is an ambitious studio who have made a name for themselves with their series of games based on The Witcher, a series of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. While calling it the “Polish version of Game of Thrones” would be an oversimplification, the fantasy aesthetic, complex characters, and adult sensibilities have given the stories a worldwide cult following.
After enjoying considerable success with the first two video games, CDPR blew it out of the water with The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, which earned universal acclaim which is normally reserved for the likes of The Legend of Zelda or Grand Theft Auto.
While The Witcher is fairly well-known in some circles, it was mostly a mystery to American audiences before the video games came around; likewise, while the average tabletop RPG fan has surely heard of Cyberpunk 2020, it’s not exactly a household name. CDPR aims to work their magic and reinvigorate that Cyberpunk brand the same way they did with The Witcher.
14. Based on the Table Top RPG Cyberpunk 2020
Way back in 1988, Mike Pondsmith created Cyberpunk, a role-playing pen-and-paper game in the vein of Dungeons and Dragons, but with a strong influence from the works of science fiction authors like William Gibson (Neuromancer) and Walter Jon Williams (Hardwired).
Cyberpunk proved to be a success for company R. Talsorian Games, and a sequel, Cyberpunk 2020 was released in 1990; the story and mechanics were polished in this version, which remains a favorite in the tabletop scene. In the decades since the release of the genre-defining Cyberpunk 2020, several updates were released, expanding the universe and updating the timeline; Cyberpunk V.3 released in 2005, updating the setting to the 2030s, and exploring themes of information control and the loss of history to the unregulated internet, though its shoddy production values and focus on transhumanism rather than traditional cyberpunk themes led to it being mostly skipped over by longtime fans.
The upcoming video game, Cyberpunk 2077, will release alongside a new edition of the tabletop game; if and how the two games will interconnect remains to be unveiled, but if all goes well, Cyberpunk 2077 could be a huge shot in the arm to the niche genre of pen-and-paper RPGs.
13. Has Been In Development Since 2012
The company’s last game, The Witcher III, came out in 2015, but Cyberpunk was first announced in January 2013. According to an interview with IGN, the uncharacteristically early reveal was an attempt to test the waters and make sure they were making the right game for their fans while also flexing their creativity and not getting too complacent in the fantasy world of The Witcher.
CD Projekt Red has a team of around 300 people working on Cyberpunk 2077, making it their largest project to date, and studio boss Adam Badowski predicts that the team will grow to include an additional one hundred people before production wraps on the science fiction title. Between the massive team, their past successes, and the protracted development time of the new game, hopes are high that Cyberpunk 2077 can evolve the RPG genre as strongly as The Witcher III did back in 2015.
12. Marcin Przybyłowicz
After proving himself during development of The Witcher II: Assassin of Kings, Marcin Przybyłowicz became an integral part of the CD Projekt Red team. In his new role as lead composer, his music fueled the adventure of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and its expansions (Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine), as well as the card-based off-shoot, Gwent, based on the addictive minigame from Wild Hunt, and he will continue on in that capacity for Cyberpunk 2077.
It’s too early to speculate as to whether the soundtrack for Cyberpunk will be inspired by the likes of genre classics like Blade Runner and Strange Days, but based on statements from the developer about putting the “punk” back in “cyberpunk,” as well as the hypnotic song from the debut trailer (“Bullets,” by Archive), one can anticipate the sounds of Cyberpunk to be as moody and atmospheric as one can expect from a game set in dystopian metropolis called Night City.
11. An Open-World RPG
While gameplay details for Cyberpunk are being kept as secret as literally all other details of the highly-anticipated game, it is known that 2077 will be set in Night City in the year 2077, and that it is expected to ignore the story developments in V.3, instead acting as a direct sequel to Cyberpunk 2020.
CD Projekt Red’s bread and butter is complex RPG systems, and games rarely get more complex than old-school pen-and-paper tabletop games, so an adaptation of a tabletop game is the logical next step for the Witcher developer. Back in 2013, CDPR said that players could print out their own character sheets for the video game, suggesting that the protagonist of the game will be created and customized by the player, and that they won’t be taking on the role of a named “hero” character, like Geralt in The Witcher.
10. What is Cyberpunk?
Cyberpunk isn’t just the name of the game; it’s a whole genre of low-fi science fiction set in futuristic worlds where the ruling class oppresses those beneath them, but where advanced technology, even on the level of cybernetic enhancement, is readily available. Hackers use the internet to free the people from the information control of state-and-corporate run news services. Cyberpunk champions individuality and the uphill battle against the corporate conglomerates which essentially run the world.
Authors like William Gibson, Walter Jon Williams, Bruce Bethke, and Bruce Sterling are some of the most prolific authors in the genre, to say nothing of Phillip K. Dick, who was writing what were essentially Cyberpunk stories before the word had even been invented (Bruce Bethke is credited with coining the term in 1980). Blade Runner, the film adaptation of what is now known as the “proto-Cyberpunk” novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, is considered to be the seminal work in the genre. Other notable films which showcase the versatility of Cyberpunk include Hackers, Existenz, The Matrix, and Strange Days.
Speaking of Strange Days, that film features a drug called SQUID, which allows users to live through somebody else’s memories as if they were their own, sacrificing their own experiences for what are essentially implanted memories. Cyberpunk 2077 will be utilizing a similar concept in the form of Braindances.
Braindances are like the next generation version of the already next-gen concept of virtual reality. New Hollywood creates Braindances for mass consumption in the vein of modern day movies and television shows, but illegal Braindances take the form of snuff films in which the “viewer” gets to take part, first-hand, in brutal murders and other crimes. It’s absolutely realistic in every single way; the only difference is that it’s not actually happening.
Parents groups complain about violence on television and the allegedly photo-realistic visuals of violent video games, but Braindances are on a whole other level. Of course, it’s not quite clear how they will factor into gameplay itself. Will the player be able to partake in Braindances? Will they experience beneficial or harmful effects on the user?
8. CD Projekt Red Filed a Trademark Claim on ‘Cyberpunk’
Just a month ago, in April 2017, CD Projekt Red got into some hot water when they trademarked the term “Cyberpunk.” Aside from the name of the video game, and the board game from which it spawned, Cyberpunk is also an entire genre of science fiction, as explained in entry #10. The move was ultimately decried as being in line with other attention-grabbing trademark filings, like when reality television stars Paris Hilton and Donald Trump tried to trademark their respective catchphrases, “That’s Hot,” and “You’re Fired” (for the record, Hilton succeeded in her trademark filing, Trump did not).
CDPR immediately went into full damage control mode, assuring naysayers that the trademark is not over any and all use of the word “Cyberpunk,” but only as it pertains to the video game. It’s not even a brand new trademark, since CDPR is merely taking over the trademark from R. Talsorian Games, the original owners. CDPR released a statement on Twitter, making it clear that they’re not masters of the word “Cyberpunk, and that trademarks are different from copyright, which would give them far more legal power over the word.
7. Plot Connections With The Witcher?
Spoilers for The Witcher III: Wild Hunt!
While the worlds of The Witcher and Cyberpunk couldn’t be more different, it’s entirely possible that they inhabit the same multiverse, based on a conversation Geralt has with Ciri, his adopted daughter with magical powers.
Ciri has the ability to travel across dimensions, and she discusses one in particular, a world in which she hid out for about a year. She describes seeing people with metal in their heads, and where travelers moved, not on horses, but on personal flying ships. Sounds like Night City.
While it might just be an Easter Egg for players who already knew that Cyberpunk was CDPR’s next project after The Witcher III, it’s entirely possible that Ciri could appear in the upcoming sci-fi game. It would be unwise to expect her to show up as a major supporting character, but perhaps a small cameo is not out of the question. Time will tell.
6. Mike Pondsmith
“Maximum” Mike Pondsmith is the man behind the world of Cyberpunk 2020. Pondsmith is working as a high level consultant on the new project, ensuring that the world of the video game is recognizable to fans of the original pen-and-paper game, and not just a sci-fi RPG with his brand name slapped on it.
Unlike The Witcher, which adapts the original novels and acts as something of an alternate continuity to the world created by author Andrzej Sapkowski, Cyberpunk 2077 is a sequel to Cyberpunk 2020, and will explore the world of the series following events like the Fourth Corporate War and how the years have treated Night City. Through all of this, Pondsmith remains involved, visiting the CDPR offices in Poland several times a year to ensure that their progress remains faithful to his original vision of Cyberpunk.
Despite the fact that pretty much the whole game is shrouded in mystery, the biggest question mark for the title remains the multiplayer element. CD Projekt Red has remained highly secretive on what exactly the online multiplayer part of the game may entail, though CDPR has confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077 will, indeed, feature multiplayer.
Reports indicate that the game is aiming for a “seamless multiplayer” component, which could mean that player characters will carry over between both solo and online modes. Perhaps the sprawling open world environment of Night City will act as something of a multiplayer hub, with players acting independently within a shared world? Big budget games have trended towards featuring lite MMO elements, from Destiny and The Division to Grand Theft Auto V and even Need for Speed. Will Cyberpunk 2077 follow suit, or does CDPR have something else in mind for the game?
4. Multiple Languages are a Gameplay Mechanic
While it is uncertain if this feature will make it into the final game, reports were that CDPR was toying with the idea of making Night City a massively multi-lingual society, in which everybody speaks their own native languages. The way around this comes in the form of translator implants, which will decode foreign languages for the user.
The twist is that cheaper translators may not be as accurate as more top-of-the-line models, possibly leading to miscommunication and subsequent drama – and shootouts!
Whether or not this idea will find its way into the finished game remains a mystery, but it was certainly a buzzed-about feature during the initial wave of announcements regarding the title in 2013, so a lot of fans are sure to be disappointed if it doesn’t make the cut.
3. That Reveal Trailer
Much has been made of the hype for Cyberpunk 2077, but as for actual footage of the game, there is, as of this writing, none. To date, the only video for the title was the initial, January 2013 announcement trailer, which was comprised entirely of pre-rendered CGI graphics, rather than anything made within the game’s engine.
The video shows a dark and metallic neon-soaked cityscape, and features a cyborg woman surrounded by dead bodies, murdered by her hand… Or rather, knives which emerge from her hands; she’s a cyborg, and bullets explode against her iron-hard veneer. It’s a short trailer full of stunning imagery. It sets the stage with its moody visuals and grim sensibilities, but it doesn’t exactly shed any light on how the game will actually be played. The time will come for those announcements, but nobody knows when. Soon, hopefully. In the meantime, there’s a detailed “making-of” blog post which describes the process of creating the trailer.
2. Putting the “punk” back in Cyberpunk
“Cyberpunk isn’t about saving humanity; it’s about saving yourself.” So says “Maximum” Mike Pondsmith while describing the perspective of his series, as well as that of the new game. While Cyberpunk 2077 is sure to feature massive corporate conspiracies and other grandiose ideas, they are not the core of the experience, but the backdrop for the core experience.
As a genre, Cyberpunk has always been about the little guy, individuals who fight against oppression by expressing themselves and doing fighting uphill battles which they may not have any chance to truly win, but which they must fight anyway. Director Mateusz Kanik says that CDPR’s approach to Cyberpunk is to not just explore the “cyber” side of the genre, but also the “punk” side, telling IGN, “It will be full of rock and roll.” This should mean that the game will tell the personal story of whatever character the player chooses to make, and also that it will have something of a free-wheeling spirit compared to other examples in the genre, like Blade Runner or something like that.
1. Release Date
So, with all this in mind, when will Cyberpunk 2077 hit shelves? Sorry, but nobody knows, and if they do, they’re not telling. The game has been knee-deep in development since 2012, and the team really ramped-up their efforts following the release of The Witcher III in 2015, but the fact remains that, the announcement trailer notwithstanding, the game itself still has yet to be truly unveiled to the public. Nobody has seen video or even screenshots of the game in action.
However, CDPR did say that they were going to start talking about Cyberpunk in 2017. E3, the biggest event in video games, is right around the corner, and it would be the perfect venue to debut real footage of what the actual game will actually look like. A release date within 2017 seems unlikely, but it’s not totally out of the question; in 2015, Bethesda revealed Fallout 4 just weeks before E3, and the game ultimately shipped before the end of the year. Could CDPR pull a rabbit out of their hat and spring the game on an unsuspecting public in 2017? Possibly, but a date in 2018 or even 2019 seems more plausible. Like all things related to Cyberpunk 2077, time will tell.
What do you think? Are you excited for Cyberpunk 2077? Are you a fan of the old-school pen-and-paper games? Share your Cyberpunk memories and hype in the comments!