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Cyberpunk 2077 hands-on: Night City is a playground of customization and player choice

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Cyberpunk 2077 hands-on: Night City is a playground of customization and player choice

Resourceful cybernetic modifications, ample player choice, and an unendingly cool cityscape have us ready to play come November 19.

My time in Cyberpunk 2077 begins with a broken nose. Staring back at me in the grimy mirror of a seedy neon-lit bar is my customized mercenary V, and her nose is gonna need resetting. I have the choice to take an offered shot to ease the pain, or just get it over with, quick but painful. It’s the first of many choices I’ll make across my four-hour prologue playthrough, both physically and otherwise, to help V begin building her legacy in Night City.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person, open-world RPG set in a not-too-distant future where the world runs on power, glamour, and most importantly, cybernetic modifications. RPGs usually have some level of customization, but in Cyberpunk it is an essential feature for navigating Night City’s darkest corners. 

Before the game truly begins, I went hands-on with the character creator — and the level of detail available is staggering. Regardless of base body type, I could choose for V to have either a masculine or feminine voice, and adjust granular features like cybernetic markings, tattoos, and individual body features (including some that are too private to mention here). It’s impressively diverse, and these options feel natural in a world so focused on individuality. 

My V gets her broken-nosed start because I selected the Street Kid lifepath, one of three set backstories (other options include Nomad and Corpo) that affect how V’s journey begins and affords her a unique perspective while interacting with Night City’s denizens.

Once the game begins, the ceaseless allure of cybernetic modifications open up new pathways to glory. Levelling up granted me access to sprawling perk trees that could increase my hacking capabilities or brute strength, while Cyberware allowed me to modify V’s body with active weaponry or more passive buffs that could change the course of my playthrough. 

One of my first mods allowed me to hack into tech and send a Ping, alerting me to enemy and camera positions throughout the room, and becoming essential to my stealth arsenal. Monowire installed wire-like whips into V’s arms, allowing for intense melee attacks. Each new mod becomes a seamless extension of V, and maximizes her potential across encounters.

V will need all the help she can get while navigating Night City’s various threats. The city is split into districts, each with distinct styles and factions ranging from wastelanders working to pull themselves out of poverty, to stylish anarchist street gangs, and corrupt but tech-heavy megacorporation shills. 

V meets characters from each walk of life, with dialogue and quest choices determining whether they stay friendly or become foes. Quests can branch off in multiple directions, and violence is not always the answer. 

In one mission, I bargained with the more-machine-than-man Maelstrom gang to obtain a powerful drone. I chose to attack their leader and steal the weapon, which resulted in me wading through a heavily guarded warehouse to escape. In a second playthrough I could have won over the Maelstroms, but then been double-crossed by my financiers, the Militech corporation. In yet another version, I could have put my own money forward and brokered the deal with zero conflict. 

Sometimes the game let me pause to consider the weight of each reply, but some decisions have a limited response time, where gut instinct takes over. 

Once conflict becomes necessary, Cyberpunk offers multiple paths to victory depending on chosen skill sets. Brute force is always an option. Increasing V’s Body and Reflex skills will turn her into a tank, busting through enemy encounters with conventional firearms, electromagnetic super weapons, or even melee weapons like pipes or katanas. 

I leaned into a stealthier approach, investing in the Intelligence and Cool skills (that’s right, there’s a Cool skill tree) to make hacking a breeze. V can tap into cameras to help monitor rooms, or commandeer various tech to distract enemies. More importantly, V can target enemies and install programs called “daemons” to turn their tech against her foes. I could select an unsuspecting gang member and make his weapon malfunction, or cause a grenade to explode once I had lured a group of enemies together for maximum damage. 

I found myself treating new encounters like a puzzle, trying to determine the best combination of hacking and combat to clear the room, gleefully watching my plans come to fruition. 

V isn’t alone in this journey. Early on, I had a run-in with a beefy thief named Jackie Welles who gets in the way of a grift. No matter which lifepath is chosen, Jackie and V eventually become allies, with Jackie providing support on occasional quests. Along my journey I met more tech-savvy co-conspirators, from the quick-witted netrunner T-Bug to the nefarious cigar-smoking Dex Deshawn. 

I was especially drawn to Mox gang member Judy Alvarez, a rainbow haired tech wizard that teaches V how to navigate “braindances,” enchanting neural tech that allowed me to relive memories, scrubbing through them like video-editing software. Every new character made Night City feel more lived in, each woven into the city’s very fabric. 

No character makes a bigger impression than Night City itself. Every inch feels alive, to the point that I could have spent my entire playthrough exploring its cramped alleyways, neon-lit clubs, and looming skyscrapers. 

The easiest way to travel around is on wheels, but I found myself hoofing it more often so I could turn down every corner, exploring steamy alleyways, decrepit dive bars, and the occasional sinful establishment. I lost count of the amount of times I stopped to take in an advertisement, or did a double take to see a hologram flashing something titillating. 

Neon City also features a surprising amount of verticality. Opening the map revealed a 3D model of the city, where you’re encouraged to follow staircases or enter basements to discover new interactions. Districts are designed with distinct flair, from kitschy pleather sofas (y’all should hear the sound design when you sit) to the sleek metal of the upper echelon. Every room is a feast for the eyes, each citizen designed with purpose and style. 

The urge to explore mixed with the mind-boggling amount of customization makes Cyberpunk 2077 feel like a playground, where every choice and body modification shapes V’s world. I can’t wait to return to Night City when Cyberpunk 2077 comes to PS4 on November 19. 

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37 Comments

  • Good morning PhilS1990 is playing PS4 or has a lot of comments to inspect

    • You still spamming off-topic comments?

    • Tew-SP-BR spams off topic nonsense in every post. Can we please moderate this? It makes the Blog an unpleasant place when he’s spamming about HZD going to PS4 and how Hermen and Jim Ryan need to be fired, or starting arguments.

      On topic, 2077 sounds like Deus Ex. They really copied Eidos on this game, but you know critics will overlook every glitch and award it Game of the Year. The Last of Us Part II is game of the generation. It better win GotY.

    • @iamtylerdurden1 I agree with you about moderating the Blog. I’m not sure what happened to the moderators but they’ve been MIA for months ever since the COVID-19 lockdown began. I really hope the moderators are coming back soon at this point. He literally has no position within Sony and/or PlayStation to talk about firing people.

  • Because of the time it took to write this blog, the game has been delayed another 4 weeks. Sorry

    • Hopefully it gets delayed into next year so The Last of Us, Dreams, and Tsushima can sweep Game of the Year.

  • Wow, this looks insane. So excited for this game to come out. Great post.

  • Games looks promising 👀 they even have a Netfix series coming out soon

  • Hey Sony how much of this game is gonna be censored? You guys should really move out of California already.

    • I’m also worried about that! I won’t buy it on PS if it’s censored.

    • They literally said that none of it will be censored on Playstation. The only games that are ever censored on Playstation are sexy anime games. Otherwise TLOU2 wouldn’t be having that garbage sex scene.

    • @bloodhurl67 Wow, you guys really don’t understand how censorship works, huh? Did the full-body anime pillow hinder too much airflow?

  • It looks gorgeous, but the PS4 isn’t a $4000 PC. Will we be seeing the console version?

    • Not until launch. Microsoft has the marketing deal. Even if Microsoft announces (like with Xbone), that the next gen Xbox is delayed in Poland, CDPR will still embarrassingly look like sellouts talking the game up on the platform that will sell the worst, (again like what happened with Xbone and The Witcher 3).

      They have no shame. Which is a problem because the PS4 owners got screwed the most with the whole 15fps thing in TW3 for the 1st 6 months. No wonder they never showed footage of it.

      I will NOT be buying this game until its dirt cheap and fixed and running properly.

  • Already gets the award for worst cover image. That yellow background and the bland looking thug.. The female character looks good, but unoriginal.. I’m not getting my hopes up for the game, but I’m sure many people will like it. It’s proly gonna a be like COD, Star Wars and Spiderman.

  • So why don’t the consumers get to play this demo?

  • All that jargon of customisation and its played mostly in first person lol.

    • This sounds so inspired, so innovative, so….much like Deus Ex..

      It’s Deus Ex with a larger budget. Cybernetics, hacking, emphasis on stealth, numerous ways to solve missions, branching choices, dialogue opinions, multiple outcomes, future, FPS with 3rd person elements, playing as an enhanced thug for hire, ect.

    • Deus ex was inspired by cyberpunk actually, this game is based on the original first cyberpunk stuff, boardgame, etc, and the creator is literally working with them

  • I have been waiting for this game for sometime now I am just confused about how it plays. Is this game similar to a GTA game or what ?

  • Please fix the release date, It still says September 17

  • This game is based on the work of Mike Pondsmith from 1988 for anyone wondering, his work was inspired by bladerunner and the book Hardwired, it’s one of the original cyberpunks, and he’s working closely with cdproject red on the game, which is finished btw, they are literally taking all this time to November to just polish the game and work out bugs etc, it will more than likely be game of the year, tho it will honestly only have to compete with ghost

  • This looks amazing. Looks like it’ll push the PS4 to its absolute limit.

    • But will it break the Ps4 and work that fan like a turbo jet engine till it explodes.

    • That jet engine is annoying, can’t really play games with how loud it is. I’d probably have to get it on next gen consoles if I wanna play this game in peace.

  • People on here saying it might get censored jesus christ have you not played last of us part 2 😳

  • Sounds awesome. My only gripe (with the game and the article) is all that focus on customization, and you can’t see any of it while you’re playing since it’s all first person. Still prefer 3rd person or over the shoulder but I assume they did this because of the way they wanted it to play. Still obviously going to play it and that’s a minor gripe. Just figured it was important to mention, since apparently gamers don’t know how to do anything other than talk shit about upcoming games and comment on them even though they’re “never gonna play it”.

    • I prefer 3rd person as well, coz I like to look at my character after creating it. If there’s mirrors in this game, I’d probably spend a few minutes staring at it haha.

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