Open-world games are on top of the heap these days, and CD Projekt Red’s 2015 masterpiece The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is currently the benchmark of open-world games when it comes to size and scope. The Witcher 3 was 30 times as large as The Witcher 2 and 20% bigger than Skyrim, the previous titleholder. Since they started The Witcher series in 2007, CD Projekt Red’s ambition has been on a slingshot trajectory pointed toward outer space, and now it looks as though their next project will continue that journey.
The Polish developer’s next game will be Cyberpunk 2077, a game whose name makes no bones about its genre, and will doubtless take players through a vast science fiction world reminiscent of Blade Runner and Shadowrun. In fact, Cyberpunk 2077 will be so large that it might make The Witcher 3 look like a trial run in retrospect.
Jose Texeira, a digital artist at CD Projekt Red, told MCV that Cyberpunk 2077 will be “far, far bigger” than anything they’ve done before, and that Project Red’s experience with the Witcher series served as practice for an even more daring open world experiment:
"The Witcher helped Cyberpunk quite a bit, because the game got so big and so complex that it really taught us. We really didn't know what was going to happen…If anything, working on The Witcher 3 was a really good and often brutal learning experience. Cyberpunk is going to benefit greatly from it. I can almost guarantee it.”
If Texeira is speaking the truth, it’s safe to say that a cyberpunk videogame of 2077’s size and scope has never been done before, and that Cyberpunk 2077 may turn out to be the biggest open world game to ever hit next generation consoles. Most recent open world games have featured either fantasy or contemporary crime settings, so a sprawling cyberpunk open world game is a bold new experiment. However, we think it will be a successful one.
Though Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t yet have a release date, we seem to be entering an era of peak popularity for the cyberpunk genre for both videogames and film. Blade Runner 2 is in the works and a live-action production of Akira may yet happen - and Treyarch has embraced cyberpunk elements for the campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. CD Projekt Red's open world cyberpunk game would seem to be filling a unique niche at just the right time.
But genre aside, is there such a thing as too big? Do players want even deeper immersion into virtual worlds, particularly virtual worlds about virtual worlds? Let us know in the comments.
Cyberpunk 2077 does not yet have a release date.