You know that developer called CD Projekt Red? The one that made that awesome mature fantasy role playing gamed called The Witcher, and more importantly, The Witcher 2. Well they recently announced (Okay more like a few weeks ago…) they were working on a new title called Cyberpunk 2077! That exciting right?!
Okay, by a show of hands here, how many people have heard about Cyberpunk 2020? Not many I assume. Let’s be honest here. If you do know about it, you are among a hardcore group of pen and paper players. Why do I think this? Well, diehard roleplaying gamer notwithstanding, I would venture to say very few of the people who will play Cyberpunk 2077 will know where it will originally come from. However, people will play this game. How many people had heard of The Witcher in outside of Poland prior to game being released? Probably very few, but that is what makes CD Projekt Red so special; they have the ability to turn a niche-rooted title and do it immense justice with a quality title for PC and most recently, consoles. Based off The Witcher series, I can almost guarantee that this game is going to do very well for itself.
However, I digress. This is about what Cyberpunk 2077 is, not about how it is going to succeed.
So what is Cyberpunk 2077? Well I don’t know, but I do know what Cyberpunk 2020 is! (More on this later on, I promise!) You see, this new Cyberpunk game is new generation of the titular genre – yes, cyberpunk is a genre first and a pen n’ paper game second.
So what kind of genre is it? Well, that’s rather easy to explain actually since many of you readers have probably seen a few movies that fit the bill. Androids? Check. Cybernetic Arms? Check. Dark Atmospheres? Check. Leopard-print jerkin? Well maybe… Really though, the key component is a digital era. All novels, movies, anime, and comic/manga that depict cyberpunk themes have one thing in common, a digital future where globalized economics thrive and technology has no peak. In novel form, you have William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). This book was the first of its kind, the archetype for all future cyberpunk projects. To give you an idea about what I am taking about (to those who haven’t read this fantastic book), we are looking at a type of world where hackers are the “cowboys” and corporations are the government; the backdrop being the neon light filled Japanese-city. Seriously, this book is an amazing read despite whatever your feelings toward the genre.
So what is a typical city in a cyberpunk world like? A great example of that giant neon light city comes from Dues Ex: Human Revolution’s Hengsha, China. A giant two level city, Lower Hengsha houses the struggle of poverty in a crime struck neo-city that is populated by cybernetic triads, gangbanging hackers and drug induced prostitution. In contrast, Upper Hengsha houses open skyline with wealthy corporations, media conglomerates, and political figureheads. You can see why CD Projekt wants to get in on this action when considering all of the mature themes that come with the territory. I mean this is right up their alley.
At this point your probably thinking, “So it’s a huge science fiction romp? Big whoop!”
Wrong! It’s actually much more than the atmosphere care to convey. Cyberpunk titles tend to challenge philosophical, or rather “human” complexities. Perhaps the setting is neon lights, but what if the rest of the world is a potentially dystopian wasteland? What does that mean about humanity and the rise of technology? Those are the type of questions that are typically normal in Cyberpunk, I mean those are themes that come straight from an anime called Texhnolyze. What about Blade Runner (1982) and eventually The Matrix‘s (1999) impact on the genre? Simmer down kids, I’m getting there.
Arguably the most popularized origin of cyberpunk, Blade Runner is what many people associate with the term with. It’s for good reason too, since it accurately follows the criteria: A dystopian neon lighted Los Angeles that analyzes the troubling relationship between man and machine. I’m Gibson was furious when he saw some of what he imagined on the big screen before he could publish, but at hopefully that is what gave him to push the boundaries of cyberpunk to where they’re at today. Or at least until The Matrix came out.
I don’t believe I need to say much about the original Matrix movie. It did so many things right with the genre: a grim machine ruled future, man against “corporation” (ie. Smith), an insane amount guns, hacking into bodies and improving via software; I mean come on! This movie is oozing cyberpunk and its like you guys never knew!
So Cyberpunk 2077, whats all this nonsense about then.
Well, 2020 is the base for what 2077 will become, so lets go off that for now.Cyberpunk 2020 is the second of three iterations of the boardgame. The reason we are analyzing 2020 rather than the other two is because the scribe of 2020, Mike Pondsmith, will put his writing skills to work on a new story for 2077. So it’s safe to assume the rules sets for the role playing aspects will be the same. So what are those rules? Well for one, its skill based not level based. You allocate points into skills within your expertise (and outside of it as well, but that is tad more complicated) or can improve yourself via augmentation ala Deus Ex. This is something that I am very intrigued to see how CD Projekt will tackle the system. They say it will be true to the nature of the game, battle system and all.
So not much to say about the gameplay…yet! I think I can make some safe bets though about the setting and general ideas that would implemented regarding the roles in the game.
The setting of the game is obviously 57 years after Cyberpunk 2020, so their could be huge changes to the corporations that dominated the economic landscape prior to this new game. For example, there are numerous corporations in Cyberpunk 2020, but none is more formidable than the Arasaka Corporation. However, if my lore is right, the head of Arasaka Corporation is dead. The once ruler of the island nation of Japan and Third World, (most of the world, actually) Saburo Arasaka was killed during the Cyberpunk 2020 campaign. Will another corporation rise? Does the corpse of Arasaka go fully cybernetic and come for blood? I dunno, pen-and paper games are their own masters. All I can say with certainty is this:
- The socio-economical situation of the world will be no different. Things are bad are they are not getting any better.
- Most likely, the setting will take place in some remnant of the Night City (aka. San Jose/ “Silicon Valley”); but definitely California.
- There will be several corporations, some okay, some really bad, no brainer there.
- There will be a baffling amount of equipment to match the intricate class system
Again, these are predictions based on speculation from what I know about the original Cyberpunk. So don’t come yelling at me telling me I’m wrong! I probably am people and I know it…
That being said, the class system is the most intriguing part of this deal. The classes in 2020 are not your average tank and caster classes, these classes are freaking bonkers. Aside from the normal cops, solos and media, you have the netrunners, techies and rockerboys. Yes, rockerboys. They are literally what they sound like. Netrunners are computer hackers, the ones that rule the net that we today enjoy so much. Techies are no longer the Apple nerds, but the sole source of tech repairs and medical needs. And rockerboys…well they are guys who use the power of rock and roll to rebel at the corporations. Yep, and they are a pain the ass too if the have skates on. All of these classes are unique and have some innate ability attached to them. Cops are the authority, corporates are the money, ect. This will all lend its self to a crazy character creation system. How would a pure hacking class work in this game, or a rockerboy? I can’t imagine the amount of thought the developers will have to put to make the game somewhat balanced. Oh yeah, in this game you make your own character the way you want him to be; its not like the Witcher in which you must play as Geralt. This is your story, and you will play it out the way you want to. So if you wanna tackle the world, one guitar solo at a time: Go for it!
So am I excited for this game? Abso-freakin-lutely. I believe that this game is going to revolutionize the modern RPG because that just what CD Projekt RED does… they innovate. They also have the balls to make a mature game that tackles heavy themes. Cyberpunk is one of the heaviest and most profound genres out there. I can’t imagine what Pondsmith and CD Projekt have in mind. Sadly, we wont see this game for a while because it and The Witcher 3 are going to be on next generation consoles. But now you know what the hell Cyberpunk 2077 is all about…hopefully!
Jaime loves RPGs, which should be very apparent at this point. Cyberpunk 2077 is also quickly becoming his most anticipated title based on concept alone. Will it meet his expectations? God I hope so… If you wanna discuss about video games, hit him up on twitter @RTBL1990 or just comment below. And always check back on Analog Addiction for more opinions, reviews, and other gaming related snafu.