There’s little doubt that Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be absolutely huge. But no one really knows what this means in terms of gameplay.
True, CD Projekt Red is known for making open-ended, open-world games on a scale rarely attempted outside of an MMO or an Elder Scrolls game, but Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot of expectations to meet. And the thing is, it is coming out a pretty long while after CD Projekt Red’s last masterpiece, The Witcher 3. Not only are role-playing game mechanics in nearly every game genre now, but “life simulation” mechanics are a necessity for open-world games.
To be sure, The Witcher 3 has a ton of these in place, but, again, that was years ago. Plus, not every gamer likes to role play living in the world they game in; on the contrary, some people are all about the single-player experience and the main story.
So how is CD Projekt Red going to balance things out? Go too hard one way and a lot of people are going to be disappointed with Cyberpunk 2077. But if the company plays it safe, that could also lead to a lot of unnecessary disappointment. After all, how many times has a janky Elder Scrolls game been saved by the player’s ability to pretty much do anything?
Of course, from a development standpoint, making that kind of game is really, really difficult (hence all of the issues you see in open-world games). This introduces another balancing act that CD Projekt Red will have to do: Keep the quality level high while doing some new things here and there.
That’s why most people think Cyberpunk 2077 will have some life-sim elements, but not a ton of them. In other words, you probably won’t be able to play the game exclusively as just one among many denizens of Night City. Yet there will be enough life-sim elements to keep the game engaging for people that enjoy that slow burn type of gameplay. Cyberpunk 2077 is derived from a tabletop RPG at the end of the day so “becoming” your character makes sense in a lot of respects.
We think you’ll be able to do pretty much everything you can do in Grand Theft Auto V’s single-player game but without all of the raunchy undertones. Night City is supposed to be a living, breathing city and we think CD Projekt Red will make sure that happens. We don’t think that it will be a gameplay path unto itself, though. Just like in The Witcher 3, we expect that Cyberpunk 2077 will have an epic, engaging story that players will want to play through.
On top of this, there will be DLC or additional content down the road for the game that will add to the life-sim elements but will primarily focus on fleshing out the story as was done with The Witcher 3’s DLC.
This could all change, though, especially if CD Projekt Red tries to pursue some kind of persistent online mode in the same vein as the aforementioned GTA V. There’s no indication of this yet but, just like the expectation for life simulation elements in the game design, online modes are almost another requirement for any triple-A game title released in the modern era.