One of the more surprising stories to come out of E3 2018 was the news that CD Projekt Red’s heavily anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 will be a first-person RPG, not the third-person RPG that fans of The Witcher series expected.
If you’re a fan of The Witcher 3 this is a departure from the third-person action style you’ve seen and I can understand an initial disappointment but if you’re a fan of RPGs as a whole, there have been plenty of incredible, highly acclaimed first-person RPGs that you probably already enjoy.
Dishonored, Deus Ex, Bioshock are each exceptional examples of how the perspective fits the mechanics of an RPG and immersive sims. This is a storied genre that Cyberpunk 2077 appears to be learning from while providing its own unique innovations.
The developers revealed that the reason for this CD Projekt Red says this change was to establish a sense of verticality and allow players to immerse themselves within the character. Cyberpunk 2077’s rich beauty is definitely one of its most enticing attributes, and being able to see it up close instead of over-the-shoulder will only make the eye-bleeding fidelity that much sweeter.
In tone, Cyberpunk 2077’s nearest neighbour is clearly Deus Ex, specifically Mankind Divided for its city base, augmentations and overwhelming corporate oppression.
Tidbits from the E3 press showcase revealed that the main character can install ‘Mantis Blades’ which look like an excellent mix between Adam Jensen’s nanoblade and Molly Millions’ retractable fingernail-razors from William Gibson’s Neuromancer.
Cyberpunk 2077’s setting demands that the game doubles down on the augmentation front to some degree, and will surely be in some way evocative of Mankind Divided’s crisp first-person aug combat.
Perhaps most crucially, your character, V, is directly shaped by your customization and actions. While, yes, unfortunately, you won’t be able to appreciate your hard work in the character creator outside of cutscenes, this new perspective allows you to role-play in a more meaningful manner than with a preordained hero like Geralt of Rivia.
We know you can use stimulants, such as Reflex Boosters to slow down time in combat, effectively acting like Max Payne’s bullet time. And we know there will be a a number of optical implants that allow you to gather information passively, such as a passerby’s level and occupation. The focus on optics in the trailer also suggests we could see combat aid implants that diversify the gunplay. Your body truly is yours to experiment with, which allows for a different approach to each combat situation depending on your enhancements.
Dishonored and Bioshock show what can be done with this combat perspective, where Addermire Solution and Eve Hypos afford the protagonists with strategic advantages, yet brawls are still balanced by quality melee combat and gunplay.
If Cyberpunk’s developers need to seek inspiration for the game’s movement within its vast open world, they need look no further than Techland’s Dying Light, a game that perfects post-apocalyptic parkour. If CD Projekt Red do crib from the zombie game, we could see customisable protagonist V running across walls and scaling skyscrapers to assassinate corporate stooges with gorgeous flair. In the behind closed doors presentation at E3, we were shown that the mantis blades can be used to climb walls in certain situations, so we’re already part way there.
We know that the studio is a fan of detail too, and how better to appreciate that than in first-person? The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine expansion took players to the dreamlike, indulgent land of Toussaint, a setting that somehow works even within the mostly gruesome world of Geralt.The gargantuan setting of Night City and the source material of Cyberpunk, meanwhile, is another rich canvas – something that CD Projekt Red will no doubt use to its full potential given its history. For that reason, I’m confident I’d prefer to be up close and personal. Hell, give it to me in virtual reality.
Hopefully, this will all come out in the wash when we get our first public glimpse of Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay- with any luck at Gamescom in August. Until then, there’s a host of excellent FPS RPGs to play for reassurance.