18 Astute Observations From Cyberpunk 2077’s Crazy Demo
More than two months after raking in countless Best of Show awards at E3, video footage of Cyberpunk 2077’s whopping 48-minute gameplay demo is finally available to the public. Join me as I expound on all the things that stood out to my decidedly low-tech peepers.
Look, I know I normally start Funny To A Point with a long, rambling intro that justifies my expertise in analyzing these sorts of demos, but here’s the thing: The video was really long, okay? Like longer than an episode of America’s Got Talent – and almost longer than an episode of America’s Got Talent feels like when you’re watching it! As such, I had to save all of my rambling for the actual feature this week, so we’re just going to dive right in. If you’ve already seen the video, try not to feel too bad for missing these incredibly perceptive and enlightening observations. If you haven’t watched it, you should do so right now – otherwise you won’t know what the hell I’m talking about!
Observation #1: You’ve Got Tons Of Customization Options
Unlike The Witcher series, CD Projekt Red is giving players a lot more control over their character’s appearance and backstory, which makes sense since you aren’t playing as a specific character like
Geraldo Rivera Geralt of Rivia. You start by picking your gender from two censored character models, which is a bit confusing since there are boobs pretty much everywhere you look during the rest of the demo. After that, you’ve got a wealth of hair styles, facial features, tattoos, and clothing options to choose from – or if you’re like me, obsessively flip between for hours on end until your wife finally asks, “Are you ever going to start playing the actual game?”
One of Cyberpunk 2077’s more unique customization options tasks you with selecting your childhood hero. You can choose from “Samurai Rockerboy” Johnny Silverhand, “Solo of Fortune” Morgan Blackhand, or “Corporate God” Saburo Arasaka. Unfortunately, “Nana DiAbove” doesn’t seem to be an option.
Observation #2: You’ve Got Lots Of On-Screen Info To Guide You
During the demo, V (the protagonist) is inundated with all sorts of supplementary information thanks to her retinal scanners. Hacking notifications, character names and captions, and even live video of V’s associates frequently pop into view as she interacts with the world. It’s kind of like your social-media feed, only implanted straight into your eyeballs. This must be the “dark version of the future” the announcer warned us about at the beginning of the demo.
Also, the computer serving up V's augmented reality labels is surprisingly judgmental. The lady in the picture doesn't look that old, and even if she is, it's rude to point it out like that!
Observation #3: People Don’t Know How To Perform Surgery In The Future
Seriously, look at all the blood on the walls! How does a medical operation go THAT wrong?!
Nurse: “Come again?”
Nurse: “…What’s that?”
Doctor: “It’s like a tiny knife used for surgeries...like the one we're doing now?”
Nurse: “I’m pretty sure we don’t have any of those.”
Doctor: “Well, what DO we have?”
Nurse: “Just a buncha shotguns. You wanna shotgun?”
Doctor: “Better than nothing, I suppose!”
Observation #4: You Can Get A Bullet-Time Upgrade. It’s Called “Kereznikov” For Some Reason
Slowing down combat to time your shots is a classic staple of modern-day action games, and usually sports a common-sense name like Bullet Time or Focus or Deadeye. In the Cyberpunk 2077 demo, the announcer calls it the “Kereznikov” ability. Come on, guys! That sounds like a Call of Duty villain, not a kick-ass combat upgrade! At least give it a Cyberpunky name, like SLO-GO or F@ZEminD. Those are free suggestions, by the way!
Observation #5: Everybody Loves The C-Word, Apparently
It’s understandable that a bunch of cyber wasteoids in the criminal underworld would use salty language every now and then, but in Cyberpunk 2077, they come toting giant water-heater bags of salt. Multiple enemies call V the c-word during the demo (and I ain't talking about "cyber"), and she even uses the term herself at one point. Obviously America isn't the only country in the world, and the c-word is used a lot more liberally in Europe, so one could argue that it makes sense for a game set in *checks notes* …northern California.
Either way, parents will want to earmuff the kiddos before they start playing. And blindfold them. Maybe just invest in a pint-sized sensory deprivation tank?
Observation #6: Future-EMTs Are Real Jerks
The first mission of the demo tasks V and her Juggernaut-esque pal Jackie with rescuing a woman who was kidnapped by scavengers for her body mods. The duo finds her floating in an ice bath in the apartment’s tub (some urban legends never die), and after reviving her with a syringe to the heart like a cybery version of Pulp Fiction, they learn the victim has Trauma Team Platinum insurance. V carries the woman out to the apartment balcony, where a hovering ambulance shows up – and the EMTs that get out are real jerks! They scoop the woman up while shoving V back and holding her at gunpoint, then fly off without so much as a thank you. I guess platinum-level insurance doesn’t cover showing your caregivers some basic human decency. Sheesh.
Observation #7: V’s Spiffy Leather Jacket Earns Her Street Cred
I’m sorry, did I say “spiffy”? That’s not very Cyberpunky. Let’s see… V’s razzboozy leather jacket speeds up how fast she earns Street Cred, which is basically XP for cool people. According to the announcer, Street Cred unlocks new vendors and items around the city, and I don’t see why the announcer would lie about something like that – it would be a very strange marketing decision on CD Projekt Red’s part. The fact that Street Cred is independent from your main character progression basically reaffirms what we all learned in high school: Being popular has absolutely no correlation to your actual abilities.
Observation #8: I MUST Know More About Dirtgirl And Scooter Guy
This one isn’t so much an observation as it is a declaration of fact. How could V not take the time to investigate these two fascinating weirdos? I would have followed each of them around for at least an hour. Hmm...this is why I never finish open-world games, isn’t it?
Observation #9: Cyberpunk 2077 Doesn’t Have Load Screens, But It Does Have Elevator Rides
When V exits her sprawling mega-apartment for the first time, the announcer...well, announces that the game doesn’t have any loading screens. It does, however, take the elevator V enters a good 20 seconds or so to reach the ground floor. We know what’s going on there, guys! Sneaky load times are still load times!
That said, it is a seamless transition, and it’s not like giant apartments in the future WOULDN’T have elevators, so I’m willing to give it a pass. At least it’s a helluva lot faster than the Citadel’s elevator...
Observation #10: There’s No Such Thing As Bad Fashion Sense In The Future
V passes this guy on the street while on her way to invest in an optical upgrade, and clearly she needs one – she doesn’t even give him a second glance, despite the fact that he’s wearing shiny-gold hot pants and a police hat! Come on, V, be a little more curious! At least I can rest easy knowing that no matter what hodgepodge of mismatched apparel I clad my character in I won’t be judged by Night City’s freaky citizens...even if it results in my Street Cred circling the toilet.
Observation #11: The State Of Technology Is Very Confusing
The Cyberpunk demo contains a long and impressive sequence where V upgrades her abilities at an underground ripperdoc, which on a side note, isn’t a job title that instills a ton of confidence in your services. Anyway, despite dealing with state-of-the-art technology that blurs the line between organic beings and synthetic hardware, the cyberdoc is still using …ONE-BIT monitors?! How is that even possible?! V frequently streams full-color video feed straight to her damn EYEBALLS! And yet this guy's still using monitors that would make Boris Rosing cringe. I’m starting to think this whole Cyberpunk concept doesn’t make a lot of sense…
Observation #12: Driving Looks…Fine
After the upgrades, V and Jackie (who I’m just going to call V-Jack from now on) go for a drive in Jackie’s car, which looks straight out of an Ernest Cline wet dream. An extended chase sequence ensues, and while Night City continues to look spectacular during the joyride, the driving looks…alright, I guess? Future cars sure do speed up and slow down quickly. Also, street posts and fences are apparently made out of tissue paper in the future, based on the way V-Jack and their pursuing thugs blow right through them. Whatever – I’m sure you’ll be able to take a flying taxi around the city, so I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
Observation #13: Dialogue Choices Have Major Gameplay Implications
The bulk of the gameplay demo revolves around V trying to get her hands on some high-tech military gear, and the player makes a number of choices that affect how things play out. One of those choices involves meeting up with a woman who works for a megacorporation called Militech. V cuts a deal with corpolady, who supplies the cash to buy the gear – but a secret double-cross results in a major firefight with the sellers. V could have shot up corpolady and her guards instead, or absconded with her money – or, presumably, spent all of her time screwing around with random side activities in the city while ignoring any and all main quests for hours on end. Guess which option I’ll be choosing?
Observation #14: Some Bad Guys Are Called Gangoons, And Now That’s All I Can Think About
When V-Jack enter the hideout to buy the Militech spiderbot they’ve been hunting for, Jackie casually refers to the sellers as "gangoons." The two parties meet up a few moments later, and a tense conversation ensues as they try to discern whether they can trust each other and discuss the terms of the deal. I didn’t really follow any of that, however, because I was still thinking about gangoons. Gangoons! Is it a simple yet ingenious contraction of “gang” and “goons?” Or a playful spin off “gang” and “baboons?” Just imagine a gang of cybermonkeys running around the city with electronic bananas that can shock –
And that’s about when V started shooting everybody again for some reason. Oh well – I’ll try to pay more attention during my playthrough!
Observation #15: CD Projekt Red Made A Gun Just For Me!
While blasting her way through the warehouse, V finds a smartgun that automatically tracks and kills anyone inside of a massive targeting box – you don’t really even have to aim, the bullets just zigzag their way straight into your enemies. That sounds more like a bigdumdumgun than a smartgun, but either way it was very thoughtful for CD Projekt Red to create and include a weapon custom-tailored to my skill level in shooters. Thanks, guys!
Observation #16: Ricochet Shot Looks Awesome
By far the razzbooziest combat ability (we can make it stick!) used in the demo is the ricochet shot, which shows precisely how bullets will bounce off of surfaces – kind of like a billiards sim, only the cue ball is tiny and super-deadly and there are hundreds of them. It will make more sense if you just look at the picture, alright?
V takes down a number enemies hiding behind cover by bouncing around shots with the ability. Also, kudos to CD Projekt Red for just calling it Ricochet Shot – I’m surprised it’s not The Spiridigliozzi Maneuver or something.
Observation #17: You Can Mindjack People
No, not that Mindjack, though it is essentially the same concept. At one point during the demo, V knocks out and hacks into the noggin of an enemy, which allows her to mess with all the other gang members, because they are apparently all logged onto the same brain wi-fi account like millennials and Netflix. V uses her newfound powers to remotely jam one enemy’s gun (seriously, not everything has to be logged on to the damn internet, people!), then executes another with a giant preying-mantis-like blade sticking out of her forearm. According to the announcer, the weapon actually is called a …mantis blade. And here I thought I was being clever.
Observation #18: Other Developers Have A Lot To Be Nervous About
I didn’t get to see Cyberpunk 2077’s lengthy gameplay demo at E3, which is why it earned the highly coveted Jealous Jeff Award in this year’s Dubys. After finally watching it, I can officially declare that the wait was worth it. I’ve still got plenty of questions about the game’s story, tone, and what you’ll be doing when you’re not blowing the limbs off of gnarly cyberfreaks, but so far Cyberpunk 2077 looks remarkably ambitious. I’m guessing the demo elicited some audible gulps and collar-tugging from the Fallout and Borderlands 3 dev teams, and anyone else working in the open-world RPG space – which last I checked was pretty much EVERYONE. The Witcher 3 set a new high bar for what modern RPGs have to offer, and Cyberpunk fittingly looks like the heir apparent. Here's hoping we don’t have to wait until 2077 to play it.