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Cyberpunk 2020: A Year in Review for Cyberpunk

 

A Time to Look Back

We are lucky that the end of the year brings us two weeks of holidays, for Christmas and New Year’s, where we can sit down and take a minute to reflect on what the year has brought us. My last Year in Review, for 2019, described the many things that we got to enjoy in the year, along with looking ahead to the future of what 2020 was meant to have in store for us (boy, were we in for a BIG SURPRISE with that one!) While different from 2019 in many ways, 2020 has been a great year for the genre of Cyberpunk in general. On the first few days of 2020 I wrote the following:

“So what does the future hold for Cyberpunk? Something very exciting indeed. Just look at all the great content, announcements and surprises we got from 2019! So while it’s impossible to say what surprise announcements or content we will get, what we can do is predict things that are already in the pipeline and have been announced:

1. Altered Carbon: Season 2 should arrive to Netflix in February 2020, which will start off our year right

2. Cyberpunk 2077 will be released in April, which should really kick the Cyberpunk genre into front and center of pop culture, especially considering it’s in the name of the game itself.

3. Matrix 4 isn’t expected until 2021, but 2020 will bring with it more and more production and casting updates, as well as hopefully story clues, so the production of Matrix 4 will be very fun to watch. Production should begin in February as well.

4. While not exactly Cyberpunk, Denis Villeneuve did an excellent job with Cyberpunk 2049, so his adaption of the science-fiction classic DUNE will be very exciting to see. There may be some cyberpunk elements present, but it should be a mostly science fiction tale.”

Well, Altered Carbon: Season 2 was good, but it didn’t live up to the first season sadly, and then the series itself was cancelled.

Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t released in April, or September, or November, but finally in December, and while it did well on the PC and next-gen consoles, it had so many game-breaking bugs in the old-gen consoles many gamers demanded refunds and others considered the release a monumental failure.

Matrix 4 is still set for 2021, but instead of a May release date, or an April 2022 release date due to covid, its newest release date is for December 22nd, 2021.

As for Dune, its release was pushed back from December 18th, 2020 to October 1st, 2021. We were able to get a glimpse of the trailer, which looks amazing, but it’s still a long way away.

Meanwhile, we got a lot of other Cyberpunk media in 2020. So come join me, won’t you, as we take a walk down memory lane and look at all the Cyberpunk media that came out in 2020.

February 27th: Altered Carbon Season 2

Cyberpunk in 2020 started off the year with Altered Carbon Season 2, releasing February 27th on Netflix. Compared to Season 1, I noted how the second season felt very toned down, with less torture, violence, and gore. Unlike the source material (Broken angels and Woken Furies, books 2 and 3 in the Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy, respectively) the Netflix series decided to pursue a love story between Takeshi and Quell, for better or for worse. There’s also a lot less gratuitous sex than in the books, a stronger focus on family ties, and generally a lot of missed opportunities with the changes they chose compared to the books. The result is a more wholesome, safe season that probably had a smaller budget but also didn’t wow the audience in any way, and as a result led to the unfortunate cancelling of the series (partly also because of how darn expensive the series was).

February and March: Matrix 4 begins shooting, and the lockdowns begin

Project Ice Cream, AKA Matrix 4, began shooting in February and we were treated to some incredible stunt scenes over skyscrapers and explosions along the city streets in Alameda and San Francisco, California, which I reported in my Matrix 4: 2020 updates post in March. Fortunately, Matrix 4 was able to wrap up all of its primary US shooting before March rolled around. The team were later able to continue shooting in Babelsberg, Germany, although under significantly different conditions

A medical staff member sprays disinfectant at a residential area in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 11, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The end of February was the final normal month as we knew it. We had no idea at the time, but we were about to be hit by the world-changing pandemic known as COVID-19, which would affect media releases, travel, result in thousands of deaths and billions of people affected and forced to rethink their daily habits. The entire world, almost every country, had to learn how to confine, lockdown, or quarantine, an event I discussed in my April post on how dystopian it felt in real time.

March: Altered Carbon: Resleeved and Bloodshot

After Altered Carbon Season 2 came out, we were treated to a Netflix animated film called Altered Carbon: Resleeved. Released on March 19th, the story had fairly good voice actors and story, if you could get past the unusual animation style. It was only 1 hour 14 minutes in duration, so it was pretty short, but had some awesome ninja action scenes. More on our review of Altered Carbon: Resleeved can be found here.

Meanwhile, Bloodshot was meant to be released in theaters, (and maybe it was in some places) but due to the pandemic it was mostly moved to pay on demand. I just recently posted my review and thoughts of this recent quasi-cyberpunk film with Vin Diesel here.

April: The first podcast and the beginning of our Is This Cyberpunk? Series

In April we had our first podcast of the year, an exciting hour-long talk with friend to the blog Lazarus over at NeoMatrixology. In it we discuss the Cyberpunk genre, our first impressions viewing the Matrix for the first time, and many other things.

We also had the first of what would be many different posts in a series called Is This Cyberpunk? where I look at media that could be considered Cyberpunk and offer my thoughts of why or why not they would be considered in the genre. This year we looked at the following movies: The Wolverine, Big Hero 6, Batman Beyond, and Tomorrowland.

April: Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Also coming out in April was the next animated Cyberpunk work on Netflix, Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045. Released April 23rd, it comprised 12 20-minute episodes to create a fast-paced, interesting series that decidedly does not finish at the end of its run, suggesting a season 2 was always in the works. Although great parts action and cyber-sleuthing, I noted that it might take a minute to get past the unusual 3D CG animation. Check out my full review of the series here.

June: The beginning of Night City Wire episodes

Night City Wire was a series of what would become 5 promotional short videos to advertise the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, This provided a great opportunity for fans of Cyberpunk to get excited together about what would be available to do in the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 title. When we got it in June it was supposed to come out in September, before it eventually got delayed to November and then finally to December 10th. I personally had a lot of fun tuning into my favorite Cyberpunk content creator on YouTube and seeing their reactions and joining in the chat as thousands of similar fans all watched the wires drop simultaneously. You can check out my breakdown of wire 1, wire 2wire 3 and wires 4-5 plus the special on the blog.

October: World Cyberpunk Day

October 10th, 2020 (or 10.10.2020) was World Cyberpunk Day. Designed to be a free fun #hashtag celebration of all things cyberpunk, it was also meant to promote lesser known Cyberpunk content creators. For my own post of World Cyberpunk Day, I took the opportunity to celebrate all my favorite Cyberpunk media, including both well-known and lesser known content. You can check out all my favorite Cyberpunk picks in all the different categories here.

November: Ready Player Two

On November 24th, Ready Player Two, the sequel to the acclaimed Ready Player Novel, was published By Ernest Cline. After loving the first novel and going to see the film adaptation by Steven Spielberg last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. It was a fast-paced page-turner and I finished it in about a week or two, and I highly recommend it. You can check out my full review for the book here.

December: Cyberpunk 2077 finally releases

On December 10th, the fateful day finally arrived. I remember waiting until 2am to download the game, waiting an hour using my slow internet to download the game, and then finally being able to create my character and playing the first 20 minutes of the game (the introduction) before crashing. Unfortunately, despite having downloaded the game previously when I pre-ordered the game, I like thousands of others around the world like me took a really long time in downloading the final pieces in order to make the game playable.

Once I finally was able to play the game…I wish I could say it went swimmingly. Unfortunately, I had a couple bugs that really bothered me during the introduction (like bushes appearing in frames when they were supposed to be outside far away but otherwise, I didn’t have any problems playing the game (although I played on the lowest graphics settings due to the old nature of my gaming laptop). Others, however, weren’t so forgiving with the game, and had much worse bugs. So bad, in fact, that Sony pulled it from their online store, and CD Projekt Red lost millions when they had to offer refunds for the game, sparking disgruntled developers pushing back on management claiming their timelines to get the game out were unrealistic, and even resulting in lawsuits from investors. Nonetheless, I had a great time playing Cyberpunk 2077. I have since finished one of the game’s main storylines, but I still have much more to play. I published an initial review of the game with my first impressions as one of my last posts of 2020 here.

Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community at Cyberpunk Matrix:

Finally, throughout the year, I was able to interview all kinds of great Cyberpunk content creators and see how they got into the genre, as well as what they love about Cyberpunk. Starting with Bradley B, founder of the incredible Cyberpunk website http://www.cyberpunks.com, I later was able to interview all four most popular YouTube Cyberpunk content creators: Madqueen, The Neon Arcade, Last Known Meal, and Triple S League. They also have a mutual community podcast which I often joined on occasion every other Sunday during 2020 as we all mutually waited for Cyberpunk 2077 to release and shared the latest info and hopes for the game.

Cyberpunk Media to Look out for in 2021

Dune

While not exactly cyberpunk, Frank Herbert’s Dune is a science fiction classic and a lot of sci-fi has drawn inspiration from his spice world of Arrakis and the fear-inspiring worms that live there. Considering how great Denis Villeneuve did with Blade Runner 2049, I’m really excited to see this come out next year. It’s also starring a great ensemble cast like  Timothée ChalametRebecca FergusonOscar IsaacJosh BrolinStellan SkarsgårdDave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.

Matrix 4

Obviously  what we are most excited for here at Cyberpunk Matrix, and indeed a lot of the inspiration why I created this website in the first place, is the return to the world of The Matrix with Matrix 4. Now that Lana Wachowski and the production team was able to wrap in Germany, it seems like the biggest work in producing Matrix 4 is done. Now comes the step of adding the music, edits, and all the other post production work, before marketing and getting Matrix 4 ready for their release date of December 22nd, 2021. Hopefully that release date won’t be pushed back yet again.

Edgerunners

While all we know about this standalone series from Netflix set in Night City is that it will come out in 2022, hopefully there may be some news about its production to come out in 2021. Similarly, I am looking forward to any and all Cyberpunk 2077 DLC that comes out in 2021 that adds to the already very rich world that CD Projekt Red has created.

Thoughts and Expectations for Cyberpunk in 2021

2020 has been a difficult year for most of humanity. Fortunately I never contracted the virus this year, but I know many friends and family members that did, and it certainly wasn’t easy. We changed out habits, lifestyles, values, perspective on life, because of the virus–it really was a pandemic that will change human history as we know it, developing in front of our eyes in real time. But with all these vaccines rolling out for 2021, the year looks very promising. And with the vaccines will hopefully come a new stability, a new normal that will allow travel and production on all our favorite media to resume again. After 8 long years, Cyberpunk 2077 finally was released, and although its release definitely wasn’t perfect, the stories in Cyberpunk 2077 will now be in the forefront of our modern culture’s mind, with society knowing exactly what a cyberpunk world looks like and what kind of cyberpunks they might encounter in such a world if they played the videogame. Ready Player Two will probably be coming out with Steven Spielberg producing at least, and I wouldn’t be surprised if CD Projekt Red learns from their mistakes and creates another Cyberpunk title, or at the very least more DLC to add to the night city, if what they’ve done with The Witcher 3 is any indication. So goodbye 2020, for all its challenges and change, and welcome 2021. As Panam says, cheers — here’s to what’s yet to come.

Review: Cyberpunk 2077 — First Impressions

As of writing this, I have played just about 30 hours of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s enough so far to get a bit of a first impression, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 (Note: I have not finished the main campaign yet).

Additional note: I preordered Cyberpunk 2077 through Steam and downloaded it when it first became available on December 10th onto my laptop. I have a Dell Inspiron gaming laptop with Nvidia Geforce GTX, which is pretty old at this point so I run Cyberpunk 2077 on the lowest settings possible. As a result the graphics are pretty bad, but good enough for my purposes, and in general the gameplay is fast and smooth. Regarding bugs, I’ve experienced a very minimal amount of bugs in the game thus far that haven’t ruined my experience yet. Small things like bushes appearing inside when they should be outside buildings out in the distance (which was fixed with the first day patch, an update of my Nvidia drivers, and when I arrived in Night City), NPCs walking around when/where they shouldn’t be (like one notable NPC that was walking in the air above me like it was nothing), and music sometimes playing on a loop when it wasn’t supposed to be while other music was playing and clashing with it (I saved and reloaded and that took care of it). All in all minimal bug experiences.

Cyberpunk 2077: First Impressions

When I first started playing Cyberpunk 2077, I had some expectations on how the story would play out, specifically with Jackie Welles. I thought I knew what would happen, and while the broad strokes were mostly correct, there was also a whole lot that I didn’t expect that was never spoiled in the trailers or the gameplay videos we saw.

I also hadn’t thought about tutorials. While the game does give you some basic tutorials on how to shoot, melee, dodge, sneak, and hack, I wish they had given several tutorial-style missions to explain how exactly the world works. There were a couple of these–like with Brain Dance, which we saw in one of the Night City Wires, and there’s also a bit of a mission early on to explain how to buy body augmentations. After that, though, that’s about it, and it’s up to you to figure out how to maximize your experience playing the game, and also how you want to play the game in general. Once I finish this game, I think I’ll finally understand well enough how to play it, in order to maximize my experience during the second playthrough. Because, just like the Witcher 3 was before it, this game is definitely complex and confusing.

Storylines

There’s the main storyline, of course, and then side storylines to follow. After getting what I felt might be halfway through the main storyline, I intentionally stopped to be able to focus on all the side quests that I had been neglecting.

Main Storyline

Regarding the main storyline, the beginning feels slow, until a big event happens (your heist with Jackie Welles) that introduces you to Johnny Silverhand and sets the rest of the main storyline in motion. In this regard, I felt like the introduction wasn’t nearly as gripping as I would have liked. As V you arrive to Night City in some capacity (depending on which backstory you chose) and start picking up gigs with your buddy Jackie. There was no driving event to make me feverishly search for relevant missions or to play. Take Fallout 4, for example. Right at the very beginning of the game, something shocking and tragic happens–a terrible wrong is committed–that you have to right. You feel compelled to fix what was broken. There is no similar feeling here in Cyberpunk 2077. Sure, once you meet Silverhand and the climactic event happens, there is a clear goal that you’re working to achieve. But the goal feels a little hollow, a bit as if I know what will probably happen in the end of the game, which is why I’m not too worried about resolving the problem that is presented in this game. A secondary goal that is hinted at several times is “to become a legend in Night City”. But what if you don’t care about becoming a legend, like me? What if you simply want to take on the impossible task of cleaning up Night City instead? I personally couldn’t care less if I become “a legend” in night city, although that does run against the “street cred” feature of the game.

At least the main storyline is better than the Witcher 3, which simply involved, more or less, finding Ciri. Again, like the Witcher 3, it’s the side quests where the game really shines. (Disclaimer: I never finished The Witcher 3).

Side Quests

The way that side quests work in Cyberpunk 2077, as far as I can tell thus far, is the following: you are either introduced, recommended, or stumble upon a new character who needs your help or services. After you help them out with an initial quest, they will then wait “a day or two” before calling you back with another problem or issue they want your help with again. Do enough of these, and you will eventually complete that character’s storyline arc.

Romancing Characters

One clear example of this is with characters like Panam, whom you can romance. Apparently there are only 4 characters you can romance and have a proper relationship with: Panam Palmer, Judy Alvarez, River Ward, and Kerry Eurodyne. Whether the option to romance them is even open to you depends on your V body type and voice type. Since I chose a male V body type with a masculine voice, Panam was the only character I was able to romance thus far (I haven’t met Kerry yet).

I was able to play to the end of the character arc with Panam already, and I can say that I thought the dialogue, character development, and missions were all excellent. I really enjoyed playing them and developing V’s relationship with Panam. Since I was playing with the Nomad life path, this opened up a few additional dialogue options for me, and also made it feel like a great fit to my character. Which makes me wonder if street kid or corpo backstories have similar character arcs that the player can similarly bond with as well.

Gameplay

How you play this game depends on your playstyle. Do you like playing an RPG where you read every scrap of information you can find, and complete all the quests religiously, or, do you stick to main and big side quests and ignore all that other noise? Also, are you a more direct, guns-blazing kind of player, or do you prefer living and breathing stealth? Yet another type of gameplay style would be a hacker, who hacks everything they can to get their hands on for the money, upgrades, and any other benefits they can glean.

First Person Shooter

Personally, I’m a First Person Shooter gamer all the way. Halo and Borderlands are some of my favorite video game franchises. As a result, I keep my stealth to a minimum, in order to simply optimize my first couple shots in my guns-blazing approach. So while I can’t speak too much to the stealth elements of this game (which are always an option, and seemed good in my view) what I can speak about is the First Person Shooting element of this game. And that part really depends on what type of gun you’re using.

Gun Stats

Compared to Borderlands, for instance, I felt myself a little frustrated by the stats given for each gun. There’s a DPS number, then a damage per shot range, the name of the gun, the type of the gun, and then a little flavor text. There’s no accuracy number, nor is there a reload time number. There is, however, a shots per second number to indicate how fast the gun fires. In this regard, I felt the stats considerably inferior to those of Borderlands guns. I often found myself wondering which gun was better, and when elements like accuracy and reload speed are important, it would have been nice to have that information for each weapon.

Nonetheless, some guns feel great to have in your hands. The sound they make when they fire, the reload process…it all depends on which gun you have. I tended to favor conventional guns to tech or smart guns myself. I don’t like charging a gun to fire, although I will from time to time. I also don’t like the idea of a smart gun doing the aiming for me. Being able to shoot in any direction simply isn’t appealing to me, because it takes the fun out of constantly improving my accuracy with each gun I wield.

Each gun can also be upgraded, to make it even stronger. You can also craft guns using certain components you find lying around. In general, however, finding the right components and remembering to craft guns can be complicated and onerous. Simply not having enough of the right components can discourage you from doing so. After 30 hours of playing, I’ve never crafted my own gun, simply because of how many guns I encounter already, and the only guns I can really craft are ones I already own.

Adult Content

So in addition to sexually charged scenes with romances among certain specific characters, there are also some sex scenes you can have with secondary characters, and then of course there are the joytoys on jig jig street. I’ve never hired one of these myself in the Cyberpunk 2077 red light district, but I hear it’s possible. As a result, this game is very much an adult game, and it doesn’t shy away from it. Cursing, violence, sex, and drugs too are available. I haven’t tried any specific in-game drugs yet either, but my character has raised plenty of glasses with his fellow NPCs, and every time you have a drink the screen sways a little to mimic the effect of the alcohol affecting you. And no, I didn’t try getting drunk either and seeing what would happen. I imagine passing out?

Music (and Radio)

The music in this game is absolutely phenomenal–that is, the natural soundtrack when things are happening, and even when they aren’t. It’s partly electronic, partly rock, partly orchestral, and blends so well into the setting of Night City that you hardly notice it’s there, while getting you revved up in all the right intense moments.

The radio in the car, on the other hand…could have been better. The few channels I sampled, I didn’t hear much radio talk the way you might hear someone talking between songs in Fallout 4. Some of the radio channel options are shown above, and as you can see, there’s no real description for each one. You just have to listen to them and see for yourself. I was looking for something a la Synthwave, in the order of my fav synth bands like Carpenter Brut, or at least Kavinsky’s Night Drive, but could not find a channel that fit the bill. It could be it is there, and in some of the rides with NPCs, they have the radio on tuned to certain stations already, which felt like a subtle way to get to know the character by seeing what music they listen to. Speaking of rides with NPCs…

Riding With Characters: A New In-Game Feature

So riding with characters is actually a new in-game feature that I really enjoyed, at least new to me (does this happen in any other games?) The idea is that once an NPC gives you a mission and a place to get to, since they’re going too, they offer you a ride in their car. If you accept, you get to ride shotgun and look out the window of their car as they drive you to your mutual destination. The result is much like when someone’s driving you around in a new city when you’re on vacation. You get to talk to the driver, briefly, while also having full control to look outside the windows and watch the different cars drive by, people walking, and the myriad neon signs and billboards. Sometimes it’s by day, other times it’s by night, sometimes it’s clear skies and other times it’s raining and you get to watch the rain gently fall down your windows. It’s quite a calming experience, in fact–Except for the occasional hilarious bugging moments when your driver runs over another NPC (who is never harmed) or smashes into another car and keeps on driving like nothing happened.

Johnny Silverhand

Because Johnny Silverhand is a digitized consciousness hanging out on the data chip in your brain, only you can see or hear him, and he only appears at certain moments in the game, when you go to certain places, doing certain things. However, he appears A LOT all over the place. Sometimes he just won’t shut up! As a big Keanu Reeves fan, I personally loved hearing his voice and having him give his two cents at random moments I can never predict throughout the game. Sometimes I heeded his advice, other times I ignored him. Sometimes Silverhand loves or hates certain characters, and you might feel the same way or completely different. He definitely encourages you to bail on people or commit violence regularly, staying true to form as the punk rebel rocker Johnny Silverhand.

Cars and Driving

Driving in the game took a bit of practice at first. While playing on the PC, I prefer to use third person (you can alternate between 1st person and third person) and every touch left and right can send your car or motorbike veering off in the direction you tapped, which makes small turns and adjustments to your trajectory rather challenging. Nonetheless, after a while I started getting the hang of it. I only occasionally run over innocent bystanders now or crash into the traffic around me. One thing I had to learn that was never explained in the game is that once you acquire new vehicles that are given to you from completing quests, it’s available to you in your garage and you can summon those vehicles too. Instead of just pressing V and summoning your default black brick of a car, you can also press and hold V to see what vehicles are in your garage, and then choose the car or motorbike you want at that specific moment. So far I haven’t bought any cars yet (they’re very expensive and it’s hard to find one I like) but I’ve acquired 2 motorbikes in addition to the black car you start off with (which wasn’t hard, I just had to complete certain side quests to their entirety).

Endless Missions

One Truism about Role Playing Games is that you always have a ton of missions at any one time. Instead of getting a mission upon talking to someone, most of the time, a new mission would text my phone (yes, you can receive and reply to text messages) or call me directly and offer it to me then and there. Sometimes when I was very busy doing other missions at the same time. While acquiring new missions through no effort of my own was great at first,  it quickly resulted in a huge pile of missions that were more or less open at the same time, resulting in me getting anxious at leaving so many unfinished (a huge portion of these are all the cars the AI construct Delamain wants you to fetch for him). You just have to choose the right time to pause your main mission (s) in order to start working on these side missions. Each mission stored in your journal also has a risk indicator (from low risk to very high risk) which helps you organize your missions, going with the lower risk missions first and saving the higher risk missions until your level is higher and you have better gear.

Overall Verdict: 9/10

As a first person shooter, the gameplay feels like it’s lacking something, although it’s unclear what to me exactly. As a role playing game, however, it’s excellent. The dialogues that can be discovered throughout this game are truly incredible, and have quickly become my favorite part of playing the game–simply listening to the characters talking about their hopes, dreams, fears, worries, and having deep discussions with them as we all try to make sense of living in this dark, dystopian cyberpunk world. At the beginning of the game, for instance, I took the elevator up to my apartment but ended up staying in the elevator several minutes after I arrived at my floor because the TV inside the elevator was showing a debate on a talk show between a religious anti-augmenting zealot and a human augmentation spokesperson. The age-old debate on whether or not we should augment our bodies, in particular what being able to digitize our consciousness and live forever would mean to religion and spirituality, was something that was very interesting. And it all happened randomly, passively while I was riding the elevator. That’s the magic of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City.

So for the fun, decent shooting action, the incredible dialogues, quests, and stories, the soundtrack and the detail-filled beautiful city, I give Cyberpunk 2077 top marks. My only complaints would be about the occasional bugs, better information about the guns you can pick up, better tutorials on more details of how to play the game (like quick hacks, body augmentations, weapon crafting and disassembling, selling weapons, buying cars, etc.), and better game play in general. The pace always slows down in any RPG when you have so many different things you can do in an open world you can explore. Games like Borderlands and Tomb Raider had smoother gameplay and better pacing, as well as a better balance in general. I also felt those other games had better hooks and compelling overall story plot for the main storylines.

So because of all these, I’d give it a 9/10. I still haven’t finished the entire game and will be posting a full review, possibly with some spoilers, at a later date. There are even features I haven’t even talked about here, like the photo mode. But I’d highly recommend getting this game and playing it on a PC on the highest settings, if possible, and if not to get a next-gen console and play it there. Until next time, Choomba!

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire Episodes 4, 5, & the Special Episode

Although here at Cyberpunk Matrix I wrote up individual posts for Night City Wire’s episodes 1, 2, and 3, for this final post and because I’ve been so busy, I decided to create one big mega-post for Night City Wire combining episode 4 which came out October 15th, episode 5 which just came out on November 19th (when Cyberpunk 2077 was supposed to be released before it was delayed a third and –hopefully final–time to December 10th), as well as the surprise special episode that dropped on YouTube and Twitch without warning on Tuesday, November 17th. Let’s jump right in.

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire Episode 4

This episode contained a look at some of the vehicles available for driving in Night City, including some behind the scenes of how they were created and a collaboration with Keanu Reeves’ co-owned company Arch Motorcycles (yes, Keanu Reeves loves motorcycles so much he helped start his own company that custom makes them, for more check out our bio for Keanu Reeves where we go into detail about that here.) Then the episode covers four different fashion styles that you can see in Night City, before finally showing the cosplay contest winners (they really went all out!) Oh and they also mention Cyberpunk 2077 is available for Stadia, but I doubt that is relevant for many people.

Cyberpunk 2077 Vehicles

  • Economy class: Affordable with no frills, this class includes tiny cars from Makigai that were shown to be able to fit driving up stairs and along sidewalks. Probably not what it was intended for…or was it?
  • Executive: Designed to impress, this class of car generally are long, fancy, and sometimes has even six wheels.
  • Heavy Duty: This class includes “trucks and tanks” for when you don’t mind taking a while to get to your location, as long as it’s bulletproof. And can probably smash through everything in its way.
  • Sport: Much like sports cars in real life, these seem to prioritize speed, are generally 2-seaters, and seem very expensive.
  • Hypercar: Combining the size and power of a sports car with the armor of a tank or truck, Hypercars seem to have the best of both worlds. These will be undoubtedly even more expensive than your basic sport car.

Johnny Silverhand’s car: A special car that you’ll find in the game as well is Johnny Silverhand’s car, which is a 911 Porsche from 1977.

Arch Motorcycles: Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger are the co-founders, and they partnered with Cyberpunk 2077 to do the audio recording for the motorcycles found in Night City.

Cyberpunk 2077 Fashion

This episode also clearly outlined 4 unique fashion styles prevalent in Night City. They are Kitsch, Entropism, Neomilitarism, and Neokitsch.

  • Kitsch: Neon hair, illuminated tattoos, and chrome. Style over Substance. 
  • Entropism: Necessity over style. “Get the job done no matter how it looks.”
  • Neomilitarism: Deadly elegance without ostentation. This is corporate, militaristic fashion. Substance over Style. 
  • Neokitsch: Celebrities and Braindance stars choose this fashion style. Style and Substance. A return to kitsch from Neomilitarism, but repurposed.

Cyberpunk 2077 Cosplay winners

The winners of the Cyberpunk 2077 cosplay contest are shown above. Although not shown in Episode 4 of Night City Wire, CD Projekt Red later uploaded a 20 minute video showing the contest finale. You can check it out below:

3rd Place went to Larry Hastings as Royce

2nd place went to Anna Ormeli as Lizzy Wizzy

And finally, 1st place went to Tingilya as Dum Dum

To see the entire Night City Wire Episode 4 from Cyberpunk 2077, check out the video below:

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire — The Special Episode

This episode could also be called the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X Special, as the entire episode was only 10 minutes long and showcased exclusive new gameplay from Cyberpunk 2077 in order to demonstrate how it looked running on the new Xbox consoles, the Xbox One X and the Xbox Series X. Personally I didn’t see much of a difference between the two different consoles, but it could be due to a variety of factors like my slow internet or computer screen resolution.

The gameplay footage contains parts of quests that reveal a bit without revealing or spoiling the quests themselves. A lot of the gameplay features driving around at night in Night City, which simply looks gorgeous. I can’t wait to walk or drive around this neon metropolis. One cool thing was seeing Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand as an NPC that appears in the game. You talk with him briefly during the mission while going up an elevator.

You can check out the special episode and see if you notice any big differences here:

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire Episode 5

Night City Wire Episode 5 featured an in-depth look into Johnny Silverhand, the process of making the original soundtrack for the game, and finished with the last and final gameplay trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. It also briefly mentioned a digital goodies reward system for players, as well as a new cutting-edge technology that maps facial movements to audio in order to better sync characters to the 10 different original languages available for Cyberpunk 2077. It was a pretty good episode.

Cyberpunk 2077: Johnny Silverhand

The main attraction for Night City Wire Episode 5 was going into the making of Rocker Boy Johnny Silverhand, played in the game by Keanu Reeves. Irreverent, crass, rude, but also kinda funny, Johnny Silverhand died a long time ago but was known as a famous rocker who wanted to stick it to the system. In the game he now only exists as a digital consciousness on a data chip that somehow found its way into V’s head–the main playable character, AKA you.

Cyberpunk 2077: Behind the Scenes with Keanu Reeves

They share not only how they chose Keanu Reeves to play Silverhand, but also the process of motion capture that Reeves went through to bring this character to life, along with a huge range of emotions and actions Reeves had to act out. Apparently they had considered all kinds of people to play Johnny, including actual rock stars, and even creating him digitally, before they settled on Reeves for his Hollywood fame, talent, and charm that he brings to the character and the game. And I think we can all agree with that.

Cyberpunk 2077: Original Soundtrack Score

Paul Leonard-Morgan teamed up with Marcin Przybykowicz and P.T. Adamczyk to create what looks like will be an incredible score. We learn that the composers wanted to take Cyberpunk music out of the 80s and give it a 90s flare by taking elements of rave, IDM, and Industrial to fit the story. They wanted to stick to electronic as much as possible, which is why you’ll be able to hear so much analog synths in the score. They also shared that pretty much all of their quests have their own custom score–which would be A LOT, if you think about it. It adds up to 7.5 hours of music apparently.

And that’s not including all the different bands and genre-bending tracks you can find, as well as the radio channels available in the game too.

Cyberpunk 2077 & JALI: A Revolutionary new videogame lip-sync tech

For a language enthusiast such as myself, the short but sweet section about JALI was super interesting. JALI is “a suite of tools and services that result in a high quality facial performance on characters that is automatically generated on a face based on an audio dialogue from a voice actor.” So what this means basically is that for all 10 VO languages that can be chosen to play Cyberpunk 2077 (English, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Russian, Polish, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese) every single character will have their lips and facial features match what is actually being said and expressed. Which is absolutely incredible in my view. This makes me seriously want to play the game in a target language–imagine learning Italian or Russian while playing Cyberpunk 2077! Because along with the VO you can also have your subtitles of choice.

Cyberpunk 2077 Final Gameplay Trailer

Last, but not least, the final episode of Night City Wire included the final latest gameplay trailer which revealed a few new fun details. It provided the clearest, most succinct bit of exposition to prepare players for the game who might not know anything about the lore or setting that came beforehand. Here it is:

The year is 2077. An economic crisis culminating in nuclear conflict has left America in pieces. With most of the continent degenerating into lawless warzones, people from all over have converged on the already overcrowded Night City, one of the world’s last great megalopolises. A hub amassing the best in resources and know-how, and home to manufacturers of cutting-edge technologies, Night City continues to offer the promise of a civilized future. But in the city streets, a merciless struggle for power rages. Gangs, corporate agents, hustlers, religious cultists, politicians and all manner of criminals strive to outplay one another. Ordinary people get caught in the crossfire. In this world, consumed by never-ending conflict, sometimes only an outsider will get the job done. And that’s you, an urban mercenary, a cyber-enhanced gun for hire. As a mercenary, you swear no allegiance. You’ve chosen the outlaw life, and trust that your abilities will carry you up Night City’s ruthless underground social ladder. To thrive as a merc, you need the right combination of gear, skills, and reputation. With the money you earn, you can turn yourself into a living weapon, buying guns and enhancements in the hundreds. As you roam the city streets, you gain the experience you need to upgrade abilities and acquire perks. Combine the right skills and gear to create a gunslinger with inhuman reflexes, a stealthy netrunner with command of all surrounding tech, or practically anyone in between.

In Cyberpunk 2077, you steal a prototype biochip that can set you up for life. When its sealed container is ruptured, the only way to prevent the biochip from failing is to slot it in to your  head. It turns out it contains the digitized soul of Johnny Silverhand, a dead rockerboy with violence on his mind. He’s out for revenge, aims to bring down the megacorp that made the chip. What is in your head can shift the balance of power in Night City. The high and mighty will do anything they can to get their hands on it. The choices you make will shape your story and determine how events unfold. But not everything in Night City is a matter of life and death. Sometimes it’s about style, choosing your look, your ride, your past time, who’s at your side. Choosing how to spend your dirty money.

Cyberpunk 2077 Final Thoughts

From the music, to the voice and motion capture actors, to the gameplay, environment, and immersive yet complex storyline, Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it’s going to be one fun hell of a ride, and a giant step forward for the Cyberpunk genre as a whole. The amount of care and detail CD Projekt Red have put into this project is staggering, and provided there aren’t any additional delays, I can’t wait to get my hands on this game when it comes out December 10th. But what do you think? Are you as excited to play this game as I am, or are you less excited? Let me know in the comments below.

You can check out episode 5, as well as all past episodes on the Cyberpunk 2077 YouTube channel, and my thoughts of the episodes here on Cyberpunk Matrix.

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire Episode 3

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire Episode 3

It sure would be nice to know exactly how many of these will come out before Cyberpunk 2077’s greatly-anticipated release on November 19th. All we know as of yet is that a couple more should still be in the pipeline before we all get our hands on the actual game, but hey, as long as CD Projekt Red keeps on pumping these out, I’m not complaining!

So let’s take a look at what CDPR was able to share with us this past Friday in the third episode of their somewhat-monthly installment of Night City Wire:

A New Game Trailer: Postcards from Night City

Hollie Bennet hosted once again, starting us off with an agenda of things to come in the episode before leading straight into the new game trailer, a rather creative game trailer made in the form of an advertisement for the video game’s setting, Night City, entitled Postcards from Night City. 

This trailer was more of a rapid-burst series of clips of the city itself. Whether a tv channel, a radio show, or perhaps a video channel on the Net, the trailer mixes what could pass as real media in Night City with clips of the city itself, almost like a promotional video trying to entice the viewer to visit.

But not one to be outdone, CDPR decided to create a secret website as a mock-promotional ad website for Night City itself. Appearing at 2:17 in the game, you can check out the Nightcity.love yourself. I personally found the website very interesting yet also entertaining, as I was constantly needing to close pop-ups advertising fictional items that exist in the world of Night City itself. Things like Arasaka Home Security, Arasaka Environmental Protection, an energy drink called GolshevikMedical Malpractice, RealWater, and much more. You can also find a little information on the different districs in Night City, complete with the Night City Police Department’s current threat level warning for the district.

Dev Insights: Night City

Next Hollie interviewed Miles Tost, a senior level designer at CDPR. Taking its original inspiration from the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game, they wanted to decide what to do with Night City.

The goal was to make it believable–an immersive place that felt real. They also wanted it to be diverse enough between districts to make the city fun to explore. So first they looked at the real geography of the coast of California (like ports, huge industrial areas facilitating trade, etc.) Then they divided the city into 6 districts with each having its own characteristics in terms of architecture, demographics, people that live there, and the function within the city. Then they divided each district further into sub-districts using the theme of the larger district. This allows each district, according to Tost, to result in a city with a lot of character, with each zone having its own feel to it.

The other main difference between this game and CDPR’s previous game, The Witcher, is that while The Witcher was very spread out horizontally, Night City is incredibly dense and spread out vertically. So it won’t be as easy as looking on a map and going far away into the distance, since it might be close physically, but 5 stories up along passageways that aren’t clear how to access.

While Tost does a great job hyping it up and making it sound fun to play, based on experience, I personally think it will lead to more frustrating and difficult challenges where the player can’t figure out where to go because they can’t see the map vertically to find the fastest path up. That remains to be seen, however.

Gangs of Night City

This was a very interesting segment to introduce the viewer to the gangs that can be encountered in Night City. The clip covered 6 gangs in total. They were the following:

  1. Maelstrom
  2. Valentinos
  3. 6th Street
  4. Voodoo Boys
  5. Animals
  6. Tyger Claws
  7. Moxes
  8. Nomad gangs
    • Wraiths
    • Aldecaldos

While we just get a glimpse of what each gang sounds and acts like, we were able to get a much closer look when Hollie then follows up the video with an interview with Quest Director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz.

Dev Insights: Gangs of Night City

While he didn’t talk about all the gangs in detail, Mateusz did talk a little bit about Maelstrom as his favorite gang. He likes how unpredictable Maelstrom is and their element of chaos. He also likes how intensely augmented their bodies are compared to any other gang in Night City.

PC Modding Contest & PC Requirements

Finally, Episode 3 of Night City Wire wrapped up with the results of the Cyber-Up Your PC contest (where professional case modders competed for the most original Cyberpunk PC case modification for prizes). The cases were pretty original, you can check them out in the video above. The episode then finally finished with the official System Requirements for Cyberpunk 2077, which I’ve posted in the images below:

And that’s it!

It seems to me that CDPR is eager to showcase the biggest and the best first with each progressive episode. Granted Episode 2 was pretty great, but I do feel that there was more to see in EP1 than EP2, and the same can be said for EP3. Seeing the gangs and the level design was interesting, but the case mods were really not that interesting to me and while system specs are obviously very important to learn about, especially for people like me who will be playing the game on my old gaming laptop, it’s not as impressive to look at as the music development or seeing a brand new game or gameplay trailer.

But what did you think? How does EP3 rank compared to the others? And how excited are you about Cyberpunk 2077? Let me know in the comments below!

Cyberpunk 2077 Updates: Night City Wire Episode 2

Night city wire episode 2

Cyberpunk 2077: Night City Wire–Episode 2

Alright folks, CD Projekt Red is back with another Night City Wire episode, giving us another in-depth look and more information about the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game set to come out November 19th! So let’s jump right into what new things we were able to witness from Episode 2 (in case you missed it, you can check out my thoughts about episode 1 here).

choose your path

An In-Depth Look Into the 3 Available Life Paths

Night City Wire started off with an introduction from Hollie Bennett again, of course, before beginning with an in-depth look into the three back story life paths that the player can choose from. They are: Street Kid, Nomad, and Corporate.

Street Kid

Street Kid seems to have a focus on different friends or connections in Night City, and a constant struggle against the police. If you like knowing all the factions within Night City, all the big players, and all the connections and intricacies within the city itself, Street Kid is for you.

Nomad

Nomads seem to have a particular focus on family connections, freedom, and comradery where the other two factions, Street Kid and Corpo, are too easily morally compromised. If you like the idea of growing up in the badlands and being an outsider when you arrive in Night City, Nomad is for you. This is the life path that I’m personally going with on my first playthrough.

Corporate

Corporate is all suits, hierarchy, phone calls and business meetings in suits. It’s classy meets corrupt. If you love the idea of having power in corrupt corporate companies flush with money, Corporate is for you.

Regardless of what backstory you choose, all three follow the same general path of major events happening within Night City. However, your background will affect your interactions with the characters in Night City, including what options are available to you in the dialogue and how situations play out. Also, regardless of your backstory, you will also find missions that are themed to all three classes.

becoming samurai

Music: How Refused Brought Samurai to Life

Swedish band Refused recorded an entire album of tracks that are attributed to the band within the video game, Samurai. In Episode 2, we are able to see what the process of recording songs for a fictional band set within a video game was like for this Swedish rock band.

Lead vocalist Dennis Lyxzen explained how it was an unusual process having someone monitor his singing a song, since he was singing it as Samurai’s lead singer Johnny Silverhand (voiced and represented by Keanu Reeves) and not as himself.

At the end of the clip about Refused, CD Projekt Red also released the fourth track from Samurai, called A Like Supreme, online.

looking at guns

A Closer Look at the Weapons in the Game

With a short video clip but then also in an interview with senior gameplay designer Pawel Kapala, we learned a lot about the kinds of guns and other weapons that will be available in Cyberpunk 2077. They fall under five different categories: Cyberware, Melee Weapons, Smart Weapons, Power Weapons, and Tech Weapons.

interview hollie

There are also other secondary weapons like Throwables, as well as weapon mods and attachments for the weapons you pick up.

power weapon

Power Weapons are the most similar to contemporary weapons, with some small exceptions like bullets being able to ricochet off walls or surfaces.

Tech Weapons use Electromagnetics to punch through walls or cover.

tech weapon

Smart weapons track enemies in real time, by having the bullets shoot out and then change direction in midair to hit their target, or follow a target that’s in motion.

To get these weapons, you can both find weapons and buy weapons in shops, but the best weapons you can acquire according to Pawel are off of the enemies that you kill or from loot caches within Night City. Weapon rarity ranges from common and uncommon to rare and legendary, which sounds very similar to that of Borderlands’ hierarchy system as well.

And that’s it!

Compared to Episode 1, a lot of immediate reactions to episode 2 were that it was better in the sense that there was more substance being shared (like the life paths and weapons deep dive), but also that it felt like it ended a lot sooner than the first episode. Interestingly, Episode 2 is actually about a minute longer in length than Episode 1, but it is true that it had less segments within it. This may be because there were less surprises in this episode, compared to the surprises presented in the new official trailer that was jam-packed with information, the news about the Netflix exclusive series Edgerunners and its production, and the new in-game mode called Braindance. Nonetheless, Episode 2 was an excellent continuation of Night City Wire, and I for one can’t wait for a third and, if we’re lucky, maybe even a forth episode before the game finally releases on November 19th.

Your thoughts

What did you think of Episode 2 of Night City Wire? What life path will you choose? Do you like the songs that are currently released from Samurai? And what weapons are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below. You can also check out the entire episode here: