Though it may be based on a multiplayer pen and paper tabletop RPG, that doesn't mean Cyberpunk 2077 needs to have its own online competitive mode. Taking the world by storm after more Gamescom reveals, the news that CD Projekt Red's upcoming open-world RPG may have multiplayer modes is simultaneously intriguing and terrifying. While the function may not be a focal point in the game's development, it's obvious that more of a detailed RND of multiplayer will ensue following its release.
However it may look - whether it's open-world lobbies like Grand Theft Auto Online or competitive versus modes like Call of Duty - multiplayer will only ruin the identity of Cyberpunk. Sure, the game could look like a more futuristic version of Grand Theft Auto Online, with players all across the world roaming the illustrious Night City together. Sounds enticing, but I think of all the issues that could arise the most obvious is balancing. Players unfamiliar to CDPR games will already be at a disadvantage. Add in all the new gameplay elements Cyberpunk is introducing - mind hacking, drone combat, and bio-enhancements - and multiplayer would simply be muddled in fluidity problems.
From the looks of recent gameplay trailers and the inside scoops revealed amid Gamescom, it's safe to assume the narrative playthrough will be beyond epic. Down to the level of detail compressed into every inch of the world, Cyberpunk is made from the ground up to be a singleplayer experience. Adding a multiplayer mode to the mix, especially one that is lackluster, it only downgrades the overall game and satisfaction of playing it. Red Dead Online suffers from this very dilemma, showing just how important narrative is to the industry over multiplayer functionality. Similar to its western counterpart, Cyberpunk's multiplayer modes would probably see certain gameplay elements not translate well when transitioned out of the singleplayer context.
Seeing that the creator of the original tabletop RPG is in the game, there's a level of intimacy far outmatched concerning the heart and soul of the game. A lot goes into it, from character creation to level design, there are all kinds of blood, sweat, and tears inherent in the game's singleplayer experience. Describing Cyberpunk's in-game law system and the way certain areas of the city operate, CDPR developer Richard Borzymowski said:
"In Pacifica (one of the poorer areas) you could probably shoot someone, and if nobody would see then nobody would care. If you would do that in the City Center you would probably get some law enforcement."
These same dynamic interactions wouldn't be possible within an online competitive setting. A multiplayer function in Cyberpunk 2077 would only blacken the spirit of the game. The playability may be present, but the game is a singleplayer experience, one meant to playfully diagnose our modern era using a futuristic setting overrun by tech and corporate greed.
The game looks already loaded with immeasurable amounts of adventure and is poised as an early contender for game of the year 2020. Expect to be mesmerized even more by the gameplay demo releasing at PAX West later this month. On all accounts, I pray they don't end up cramming some unnecessary multiplayer mode in at the last minute. CDPR marketing head Michal Platkow-Gilewski said it best when concerning The Witcher 3, it has "no place for multiplayer." The Witcher 3 was a completely different experience, one that challenged its players with a fierce leveling system and dangerous open world. Unlike its predecessor, maybe Cyberpunk beckons all new possibilities for competitive gaming, but from afar I only see it as a curse.
One thing I do wish The Witcher series had employed was an online competitive mode surrounding the card game Gwent. Though it's a relatively popular real-world game, I think a small dash of multiplayer functionality in this way would be interesting to see in Cyberpunk. Instead of having a cluster of online player chaos like that seen in GTA, I find that a dose of multiplayer competition in the form of a card game or any other futuristic entertainment CDPR has in store for the title would be the best route to follow. There doesn't have to be a major portion of the game dedicated to online multiplayer when it has been designed solely as a singleplayer narrative.
No matter which way you look at it, Cyberpunk's multiplayer possibilities seem more unnecessary than they do revolutionary, but we'll just have to wait and see. The various elements of tech in the game, from connective hacking to cybernetic narcotics, are enough to draw a crowd, but I think more important at play is CDPR's willingness to breathe life into a narrative through multiple avenues and mindbending moral choices. The Witcher 3 may have made us question our actions, but Cyberpunk will have us slowing time just to decide how best to deal with antagonizing punks.
My only hope is that they aren't griefers in the real world.