Notice: I’m going to say right off the bat if you’re a Centrist™, if you’re a Moderate™, if you’re an SJW, if you’re a Leftist, if you’re a Liberal, if you don’t believe SJWs exist, if you don’t see anything wrong with SJWism, if you hate the Culture War, if you don’t like people criticizing games you obsess over, if you’re incapable of dealing with criticism, if you hate it when people point out the Leftist agenda in gaming, or if you don’t mind the propaganda-laden direction that the industry has gone in, go ahead and close out the tab and do something enjoyable for yourself. Spare yourself the anguish of reading this piece and go have fun; do something nice for yourself. Donate a little of your time to the less fortunate, or go do something constructive with your time, because otherwise this is not an article for you.
All ye who have not been converged, enter here.
Everything Wrong With The Cyberpunk 2077 Protagonist
So first and foremost, your character in Cyberpunk 2077, named ‘V’, is depicted as an outright degenerate. The commentary over the video talks a lot about choice and whatnot, but we don’t really see any examples of it.
That’s not to mention that default character they chose for the demo is as ugly and visually repulsive as the typical depiction of how SJWs make females look: shaved heads, dyed hair, drugged up visage.
To the developer’s credit, at least they didn’t deck her out in hideous tattoos during the demonstration.
Now the Centrist™ and Leftists will say “But it’s cyberpunk… they’re supposed to look hideous!” and to that I say, bullcrap.
They don’t have to look hideous, drugged up, or like SJWs. You can do all sorts of creative depictions of cyberpunk that are both disturbing and sexy, like the female models used in the Deus Ex promos.
But what little we’ve seen of the character creator seems eerily similar to BioWare’s games where you pick a head, pick some hair, pick some colors, change the makeup and add some tattoos. The heads on display in the character creator don’t inspire much confidence as far as choice is concerned, which you can take a peek at from the image below.
The selections are going to be defended by the typical Centrist™ as “They’re not finished with the game” and “Wait until the final product”.
They could have used any avatar they wanted for the demonstration. Why go with something SJW-friendly? Really?
Where the heck were any of the hot women in the selection menu? If you can show us a bunch of SJW options you can also show us a bunch of 10/10 would-bang-again hotties.
Where were the cyberpunk chicks like the mock-up of Ciri, from DesireSFM:
Or the depiction of an augmented beauty from Eddy Shinjuku?
They could have gone with something hot and spicy, like Maciej Kuciara’s cyberpunk chick.
Where was the avatar for the female based on the model used in the original CG trailer that got everyone hyped for Cyberpunk 2077 in the first place?
Now if your response is that they chose something SJW friendly to please the game journalists, then congratulations on having handed over your ideological balls to Leftists.
CD Projekt Red didn’t have to do anything. With the CGI trailer they teased us with the kind of imagery we’re usually used to seeing in association with the cyberpunk genre; something sleek, something sexy, something dirty, and something dangerous.
But more to the point, the one thing most of us expected from the demo was at least something akin to CD Projekt’s original vision that was depicted back in 2012, where yes, the main female featured in the demo was hot, and the world seemed dark and intoxicating.
But instead of maintaining the sleek sexiness, they went with the SJWness.
Regardless, people have given up so much of their own ideological real estate to the Leftist principles that they don’t even mind anymore NOT having the option, and NOT being presented with the possibility of making sexy characters.
Heck, one of our most high-traffic articles for Mass Effect: Andromeda was how to make the female characters look attractive, since all of the default options were hideous.
But I digress.
Back to Cyberpunk 2077…
At the top of the article I mentioned the main character is a degenerate. We see this when the character wakes up after a one-night stand with another character.
According to CD Projekt Red, players will have the choice in how their character develops, but we don’t see this or get any hint of this at all.
The transition from the first mission to the character waking up after a pointless night of sex doesn’t indicate that maybe players can choose to sleep with people, or not. We’re simply told that there are choices but there’s no prompt or any indication that you don’t have to have pointless one night stands.
In the Eurogamer interview it was also acknowledged that in the demo when playing as the male version of ‘V’, your character still wakes up next to another male. So the implication is that your character is gay. Once again, CD Projekt doesn’t really clarify if players can avoid that all together or if that particular cinematic is ingrained into the storytelling. Quest designer Philipp Weber told Eurogamer…
“In this demo at least you will always wake up to another man, so we can show different kinds of relationships will be part of the game, and players will be able to choose what kind of character they want to play.”
This explanation doesn’t necessarily denounce, change, or alter the implication of whether or not this scenario still carries over into the main game. But the presentation here didn’t seem to indicate that your character couldn’t be degenerate.
Now I know what the typical response will be: “Wait for the main game!”
Okay great, but if you’re going to overlay commentary about choice, it would have at least been nice to see or at least get a hint that your character doesn’t have to be a degenerate. You know, sort of like how IO Interactive shows us different outcomes or possibilities in Hitman missions, so you know that you can go in guns-a-blazing or you can be stealthy.
For instance, the trailer below was released a year before the game came out, yet you were given a good understanding of how the choices were actually diverse and how it could affect the outcome of the mission.
Instead, the Cyberpunk 2077 demo talks a lot about choice but we don’t see any of it.
Now granted, if the game is still two years out from release one could be forgiving to CD Projekt Red about this sort of thing; but then I’m at the point of saying why even show the gameplay demo and talk extensively about choice and options when you’re not going to show us any choices or options?
You can defend CD Projekt Red all you want, I don’t care, but if you’re going to talk extensively about choice and options, I would like to think you would have a few on display that actually highlights that point. Otherwise, why talk about it?
That’s not to mention that the choices the player are presented with seem superficial at best. After completing the main mission at the centerpiece of the demo you’re given a few dialogue options to address the corporate stooge and Dex, the ghetto pimp. The options basically boil down to saying very similar things in different ways.
The options also see your character spouting off at the mouth with the absolutely insufferable and grating SJW-style sarcasm that is present in just about every single Western video game: a foul-mouthed, self-centered, sociopathic degenerate.
And to top it all off, your character rounds out the demo planning on getting wasted and insinuating more casual sex on the horizon.
Some of you might say that this all part of the character development, and that’s fine, but then they may as well leave “choice” and “options” at the door if you’re essentially role-playing as a typical degenerate San Francisco millennial in 2077 California. Maybe this all changes in the full game, but the demo did not give a good impression of the character ‘V’ at all.
Typically, games like Wasteland, Fallout or Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun refrain from imposing that kind of characterization on your protagonist, leaving them more as blank slates than trying to appeal to hedonistic, Communistic Liberals.
In fact, Shadowrun was a true role-playing experience, and focused heavily on the worldbuilding rather than trying to flesh out the player-character’s persona, opposite of how ‘V’ is depicted in Cyberpunk 2077. So, right off the bat, ‘V’ is not your character, you’re just kind of wading around in select choices available in ‘V’s story.
Other role-playing themed cyberpunk games like BlueSky’s Shadowrun or Eidos’ Deus Ex attempted to give players more stoic characters to embody, so that the choices seemed more impactful and meaningful. In the Cyberpunk 2077 demo, ‘V’ doesn’t ever seem to shut up, which is an issue regardless of gender, because it completely takes you out of the character when they’re seemingly more autonomous than the way you may want to play them.
This is opposite of how the protagonist in Fallout 4 was demonstrated during the 2016 E3 presentation, where the focus was more on actual player choice and how players could define the role of their character based on their own decisions. It wasn’t about pigeonholing the character into an archetype, but more-so about trying to showcase as much variety as possible.
And finally, regarding the character, ‘V’ is a reprehensible sociopath. This character kills indiscriminately, doesn’t seem to have any moral compass, and is like a typical criminal from Grand Theft Auto V. I know this was only a 48 minute demo, but if the main story clocks in at around 10 hours or so, we’re looking at a tenth of the game’s story on display, and throughout the entire thing – other than retrieving the girl from the harvesting shop – ‘V’ is depicted as an irredeemable reprobate.
The character motivations on display in the demo are about as deep as the Twitter account of a San Francisco socialite. That’s not to mention that we had zero reason to root for ‘V’ during the demonstration. The entire thing was a portentous display of degenerate self-gratification.
It’s difficult to empathize with a protagonist who is essentially a criminal looking to get their next fix. It seems to be opposite of what we’re used to engaging with regarding cyberpunk fiction, which typically uses characters as conduits to discuss social commentary about augmentation, technocracy, surgical addictions, cyber-psychosis, over-abundance of consumerism, and social classism, sort of like Wadjet Eye Games and Technocrat Games’ Technobabylon.
Everything Wrong With Cyberpunk 2077’s Setting
We know that the game is set in Night City, California. It’s expected that the game would be filled with all of the cultural hallmarks that make California sometimes come across on paper like a third-world country, but at the same time there’s supposed to be this inviting nature to the construction of the city that makes the player want to explore.
The problem with Cyberpunk 2077 is that we saw large parts of Night City and none of it looked interesting. In fact, the entire setting is the complete opposite of what they depicted in the original CGI debut trailer from back in 2012. The sleek vehicles, the sexy lines, the Blade Runner-esque atmosphere.
The Gothic high-rises with steamy pipes and overlaying crosswalks? Gone.
The military-style police that were a cross between Robocop and Blade Runner with their flying cruisers? Gone.
The cool, dark, graphic-novel style art-aesthetic that CD Projekt Red teased six years ago? Gone.
All of it… gone!
In the actual Cyberpunk 2077 demo, the architecture was cluttered and sky-reaching, and there were a lot of NPCs walking around, but none of it felt cyberpunk. It felt like the sterilized corporate envisioning of what a very markedly-safe depiction of cyberpunk would be like.
Heck, even Blooper Team’s Observer managed to capture the feel and mood of gritty cyberpunk environment much more so than CD Projekt Red’s E3 gameplay demonstration.
Now some people have tried defending the demo, claiming that since it’s during the day it doesn’t properly capture the cyberpunk aesthetic. To that I say…
They should have set the demo at night then.
People looking for a thorough cyberpunk experience are expecting a certain kind of tonal aesthetic. Tall buildings, lots of rain, flying cars, bright lights, skyscraper billboards, and lots of obliquely shaped structures canvassing the skyline… almost like Blade Runner.
What we see in Cyberpunk 2077 looks more like a stilted, bright, cluttered, multi-layered depiction of the city from Anachronox than a typical cyberpunk city. That’s not a knock against Anachronox by the way, it’s a knock against the visual motif of Cyberpunk 2077.
Then again, even Anachronox seemed to capture more of the Blade Runner aesthetic than Cyberpunk 2077, which is a real shame.
Someone in a YouTube comment section described Night City from the demo as being like a modded version of GTA V. I can almost see that.
The problem is that the clutter doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the architecture doesn’t really depict the cold, brutalist nature of the corporate high-rises that are juxtaposed with the consumer-inviting ads and holograms sprinkled throughout the city, sort of like… Blade Runner.
There was a fascinating dichotomy between the impersonal corporate nature of the fog-kissed towers with the bright flashing lights that beckoned for your attention and patronage.
None of this is present in the 48 minute Cyberpunk 2077 demo, which is a real shame because it makes me wonder how you can showcase nearly an hour’s worth of footage and yet not showcase any of the classical architectural elements that make cyberpunk… cyberpunk.
We did get something close to what we’re used to from the fiction with the alleyway scene outside of a sex club.
Even still, this looks more like an amateur hour of an artist’s depiction of cyberpunk rather than the nitty-gritty alleyways filled with steam-leaking coils, strung throughout leaky-piped, rundown dives and wetware shops selling illegal goods behind the counter.
Just compare that alleyway to how the streets in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was depicted.
Essentially, CD Projekt Red’s artist are trying to imitate what they think is cyberpunk, but without any of the soul.
Heck, even Westwood Studios’ 1997 Blade Runner managed to capture the look and feel of cyberpunk far more than Cyberpunk 2077.
Now some people might use the excuse “Well, it’s still in development!”
Right, but what’s in development isn’t cyberpunk.
The ambiance is all wrong, there’s no fog littering the streets, there’s no acid rain, there’s no flooding, no filthy streets, no rundown buildings. Look at the shot from when the player is driving in the car, the city almost looks like a modern downtown metropolis more than it does a feature a mega-tropolis half a century away. Heck, it looks like a shot from Sleeping Dogs, and that’s not a knock against Sleeping Dogs, it’s indicative of how creatively sparse the futuristic design of the city is in Cyberpunk 2077.
A lot of the problems are just in the atmosphere. It doesn’t capture anything unique to the cyberpunk experience that has been present in other games. It’s more like modern day society with a little more clutter, a little more junk, and a few more signs.
And the clarity is also just something that seems like a real turnoff. It’s as if pollution is all gone, and everything is clean, despite being filthy.
The shot along the docks perfectly embodies just how bright and clear the world of Cyberpunk 2077 is.
Depth of field and a little fog would have gone a long way in at least making the city seem on the verge of being uninhabitable.
Now for those of you who use the excuse “But they’re still working on it, and they didn’t have the resource budget for fog effects!”
To that I say, bullcrap!
They could have easily setup alpha sprites layered over the top of the city skyline and have the artists put together a short 2D looping animation of smoke. Turn up the transparency on the sprite and stretch the box across the city line while the player is at a horizon’s distance so it at least LOOKS cyberpunk. To free up the memory you can cull the sprite once they get closer to the city. It completely bypasses the need for the implementation of real-time dynamic fog simulation for the demo.
Heck, there are ten minute tutorials you can use to fake volumetric fog, as pointed out by YouTuber Mirza.
It’s the complete opposite of a game like Ruiner, where the city always looked terrifying in a really cool way.
Raikon Games’ Ruiner is described by many people as Blade Runner meets Hotline Miami, or Akira meets Shadowgrounds.
The game captures the dangerously sexy allure of the cyberpunk universe – where citizens are always on the verge of experiencing euphoric bliss or unimaginable deaths. There’s a fine line thread between transcending through augmentations, and becoming a meat donor for the bourgeois living in the upper echelons of a seemingly unreachable high-society.
Ruiner isn’t an open-world game, but the few stages it does have and the few areas of the city on display perfectly encapsulate both the horrors and the fascination of a dystopian cyberpunk future.
Everything Wrong With Cyberpunk 2077’s Gameplay
There isn’t a whole lot to say in this category because we didn’t get to see a whole lot. The idea of being able to jack into a character and screw up an entire neural network through hacking seems cool. We don’t get to see much in the way of its operation or how far this goes, but I was fine with the idea that they’re just teasing the possibilities of the wetware skills.
The driving was also okay, but not special, and the roadway shootouts are typical fanfare not unlike what’s been featured in Far Cry games for the last 15 years.
Where Cyberpunk 2077 really fell short was with the gunplay and AI.
So, as far as the guns are concerned the game doesn’t seem to feature shooting mechanics much different from a bunch of other first-person shooters out there. Most disappointing was the fact that the weapons all feel really samey and derivative. I was expecting weapons similar to like what’s been featured in Star Citizen – sleek, large, energy-based weapons with a menacing black finish.
Instead, the gunplay in Cyberpunk 2077 is typical down-the-sights shooting with pistols, SMGs, shotguns and rifles.
You see the numerical displays pop-up as you make contact, not unlike Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. Worse yet, environmental deconstruction is at a bare minimum here. One would expect that walls would break apart, bullet penetration would be common for all applicable weapons and walls, or destructible cover fire would be standard fare, right? Wrong.
The shooting isn’t anything we haven’t seen already from games made within the last decade. You can ricochet bullets off of walls or use a gun that auto-tracks its targets, not unlike the Bullseye weapon from the Resistance series, which originally came out back in 2006, 12 years ago.
And to make matters worse, in addition to having unoriginal gunplay, the AI are absolutely atrocious. They’re the typical bullet-sponges or numbskulls that just stand around waiting to get killed.
Once again, fanboys will defend that the game isn’t finished yet, but nothing was even mentioned in the video about the AI being anymore difficult other than ramping up their level, which will include higher HP and more damage dealt. But as far as smart navigation, dynamic path-finding, procedural flanking, and cross-map tracking is concerned, none of that seems to be apparent in Cyberpunk 2077.
Also all while the player was walking through the Nighty City civilian zones, the AI was completely stilted. They didn’t even seem to have the sort of personable AI routines featured in Warhorse Studios’ Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and that game was a crowdfunded title from Kickstarter!
Majority of the AI just seem to be typical routines following very basic path nodes.
Nothing about Nighty City felt alive, and most of it seemed typical of what we’ve played from every single other cookie-cutter AAA game that has come out within the last decade.
What would have been interesting is seeing street hookers latch onto you asking you if you want their services, and you have to kind of nudge them away like the beggars who pester you in Assassin’s Creed.
It would have been interesting to see the cops patrolling around and chasing down crooks, or purses being stolen, or guys getting mugged, sort of like in GTA IV where the AI has autonomous behavior and does a lot of crazy stuff with or without the player’s participation.
None of that was on display in the Cyberpunk 2077 demo.
At the end of the day, first-impressions are everything. And if the first gameplay demonstration of your title is depicted first and foremost as a game about what amounts to a degenerate San Francisco millennial cosplaying as a criminal, then you’ve already lost people who were expecting an original, role-playing rendition of Blade Runner in an open-world.
TL;DR: The Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay demo featured an ugly SJW-looking degenerate in a world that in no way resembled the cyberpunk fiction we’re used to, and it completely abandoned the cyberpunk aesthetic that CD Projekt Red teased with their promotional art and CGI trailer. Also, the gunplay was dated, old, and passe with unremarkable AI.