So, what's the deal with Cyberpunk 2077? It beckons fans with a Westworld-esque Grand Theft Auto experience that will make William Gibson's Neuromancer look like an outtake from the Matrix.
Just when you thought the excitement at Gamescom couldn't reach newer heights, CD Projekt Red enters the fold with a laundry list of behind the scenes scoop. Various new images were unveiled and posted on Twitter, showcasing stellar graphics, swanky futuristic coupes, and a world flush with character. With their experience from The Witcher 3, open-world gameplay is obviously the most important aspect of CDPR's ventures, as well as an layered narrative that challenges the player's morality.
But, will it have multiplayer?
With the somewhat debilitating news that the game's map size will be smaller than The Witcher 3's, fans were then uplifted by the added possibilities of a Cyberpunk multiplayer mode. We stress that it's only in development, as senior concept artist Marthe Jonkers related in an interview with Eurogamer at Gamescom:
"If you add multiplayer functions it has to be right. Immersion is super important for us and we have to make sure everything fits together...We're not just going to slap some [multiplayer] feature in and that'll be it."
The words strike home, especially for The Witcher 3 fans, who were not as fortunate to get a multiplayer mode. As CDPR communications director Michal Platkow-Gilewski puts it, the game had "no place for multiplayer." Hopefully, the upcoming project finds a toehold for online competitive playability, but no matter what, single player will remain the focal point for the studio.
Despite the news breaking out from Gamescom yesterday, the idea of a multiplayer functionality being present in Cyberpunk 2077 has been in ongoing speculation for over a year, as denoted by Ali Jones' article. In it, he lists various CDPR job postings identifying multiplayer development. Most revealing of them all is the "senior tech programmer," which it also highlights "experienced with shooters and multiplayer games" as "nice to have." Even back then, Cyberpunk quest designer Patrick Mills sounds quite similar to Jonkers:
"The game we're shipping to you, the game you're going to buy is the single-player experience. That's what we want to nail down before we start looking at any of these other things."
It's comforting to know that, although we may never see it, multiplayer functions are still being developed for the futuristic sci-fi RPG. With an intended Cyberpunk gameplay demo appearing at Pax West, maybe more multiplayer concepts will be showcased. While it is feasible for CDPR to operate a multiplayer functionality, what with over 400 employees and already existing card games for both The Witcher and Cyberpunk, it's safe to assume any kind of online mode would be added long after launch. How a multiplayer mode would even function in Cyberpunk remains to be seen, but if Kojima can do it with Death Stranding, anyone can.
One thing is for certain; a long line of fans eagerly await to bear witness the year 2077. Jack in, plug up, and explore the worlds of online speculation as the April 2020 release date draws near.