The PCG Q&A
Find previous editions of the PC Gamer Q&A here. Here are some highlights:
Cyberpunk 2077‘s now-public 48 minute gameplay walkthrough is the topic of the week, and we’ve already shared the highlights in gifs and videos. But we’re still talking about it. What was better: that slow-mo shotgun blast to the knees, or the stealthy brain hacking takedown? Does the city live up to the hype? Will the writing and questing live up to The Witcher 3?
For this week’s topic, we polled the team on our favorite and least favorite moments from the Cyberpunk 2077 demo. Everyone had a different favorite, but there was a common thread to what we didn’t like much: the dialogue. No one came away impressed with the writing or delivery. Everyone in the future talks with an attitude, but the edgier lines just didn’t land for us. With many, many months to go before Cyberpunk 2077 is released, there’s no telling just how much the game will change.
Wes Fenlon: The ripperdoc & the dialogue choices
The animation on this ripperdoc’s mechanical hand.
The dialogue—but specifically, your character’s dialogue options, which look limited in the demo. I think most of the PC Gamer team were disappointed in the dialogue they saw in the Cyberpunk demo, but I can’t say while I was watching that it stood out as particularly bad, to me. There’s definitely a lot of pulpy ‘tude in there in a way that feels like cliche sci-fi, but maybe it feels cliche because, well, that’s pretty damn cyberpunk. But what I saw of the player’s dialogue options didn’t seem to offer much room for roleplaying.
And that feels especially important in Cyberpunk, because we’re not playing a defined character like Geralt. We’re playing our own character, in the future, in what could be the most ambitious RPG ever in scope and detail. Those dialogue options really need to let you express yourself in as many ways as possible, and I hope they regularly extend beyond choices that trigger specific actions, and offer more opportunity to add flavor and personality to who your character is in this world and how they interact with it.
Jarred Walton: The environment & the linearity
The environment on the whole was impressive, transitioning from walking to driving to a mission without any loading screens. The atmosphere looks good, though perhaps a bit to sunny on the whole. I want rain and misery to go along with my brooding protagonist.
I didn’t enjoy the frequent narration of what’s going on, plus slow wandering around in areas, or stopping to go buy a drink at the vending machine. This was ultimately a very linear scripted sequence. I realize the narrator is there to provide context, but the “this is a work in progress” disclaimer already accomplished most of what he said.
I wanted to see smaller segments of the demo repeated with alternative choices. Did we really have as many options as the narrator implied, or was the “grab gun” a dead end for the character? Also, what was shown was mostly a shooter, with very little in the way of hacking or other cyber skills. Gunplay is the least interesting approach to a game like Cyberpunk, IMO.
Jody Macgregor: Slow-mo & dialogue
The bullet time. I am an easy mark for slow-motion combat bits in games, whether it’s VATS in Fallout or the reflex booster in Ruiner or, you know, all of Max Payne. Watching V dodge bullets while they leave rad-looking trails in the air, or do the slide move then lazily shotgun a Maelstrom ganger’s legs out from underneath them, that all looked slick as hell. Even when that one guy continued complaining about his legs even after having his head blown off I just thought it was funny. The drug that gives you slow-mo superpowers is one I plan to huff all day long. Oh hell, this game’s going to get refused classification in Australia, isn’t it?
Like everyone I thought the dialogue and voice-acting was forgettable at best. At least nobody said “chombatta,” a slang word for friend from the tabletop RPG that I’ve never been able to take seriously. (On the subject of Cyberpunk 2020, I’m glad they referenced Afterlife, a Night City hangout from the pen-and-paper game.) I can only hope this is mostly first-draft placeholder stuff, and that there will be more dialogue options for the player and punchier writing for everyone in the finished version.
Samuel Roberts: The city & the dialogue
The damn city. I’ve always wanted to see a cyberpunk city of that scale in a game. We expected CDPR to deliver on that side of things, and they sure did in this demo. I hope the finished game looks this nice.
Like pretty much everyone else on the team, the dialogue. Damn, I liked almost none of the one-liners, and nothing about the story in the demo drew me in. I hoped it would, given CDPR’s form with The Witcher 3. But hey, it’s still early days.
James Davenport: The car dash & the missing head bob
The car dashboard. It’s gorgeous. I suppose I have a thing for detailed car interiors in games, opting to always play from the first-person dash perspective if I can, and Cyberpunk will be no exception. Look at that pure noise. It’s ridiculously busy, with meters and switches and readouts everywhere. This isn’t the ideal car of the future, it’s a tricked-out Speak N’ Spell with wheels, something futuristic and functional and somehow still industrial and junky. I just hope I can drive Cyberpunk’s take on an old pickup truck.
The dialogue, yeah, but I’ll choose my next least favorite bit to avoid repeating what’s already been said. I weirdly miss the camera bob. If ‘immersion’ is the thing CD Projekt is going for, I’m surprised they went for movement as smooth as a drone rather than the slight implication that who you’re controlling is at least partially human. I think I get why so many game demos go for smooth, robotic movement, but it was such a distraction for me.