There’s a word in that header that is poignant to what’s coming at the close of this insane year; “retro”. Why is it poignant? Well, for one, we keep hearing pundits talk about “better times”, but modernity aside, it’s actually about the idea of how we thought of the future, ‘back in the day’. Hover cars, boards, bikes and… we dunno, stovetops -- all were pipedreamy stuff. And here we are in the year 2020, no less closer to any of the above outside of very niche values around them -- an air-fryer here, mag-rails and Musk
-promises as pink and pasty as the namesake suggests there, and weird Uber
-copters still being tested in a single city. The future seems further away right now than it ever has.
Maybe that’s because the lofty neon dreams of 80s exists in LIFX
lights and a preference for chunky synth music. Our skateboards still have wheels, bearings and, if left out in the rain, the deck splinters and those bearings rust. Why is this important? Because we had dreams of electric sheep back in the day, but the world has well and truly caught up with those dreams, surpassed them and where significant, scoffed at them. But CD Projekt RED
is here to “keep the dream alive”, so to speak. Reality and realistic endeavours be damned. We want future samurai swords in jet-fuelled muscle cars while we listen to synthwave and consider our next cyber-enhancement. Maybe a new leather jacket to accompany all of that, too.
"A future that ignores the rust and splinters, and gifts us the neon-dream we’ve forever been promised...”
Now, *that’s* a future to look forward to. None of this 2020 Moore’s Law and Pandemic business -- a future that ignores the rust and splinters, and gifts us the neon-dream we’ve forever been promised, only now with a sensibility non-80s cats can also buy into.
Night City in the Year 2077
Not only the setting for Cyberpunk 2077, the vast open-world playspace of Night City is a bustling metropolis -- in the year 2077. (What a trip.) A retro-future vision unlike any other, it takes the concept of the 20th century city and expands upon its ideals, excesses and multi-layered class structure to present a living, breathing, environment -- ready to explore. And yes, that includes flying cars. As the follow-up to CD Projekt RED’s incredible The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, which presented a vast fantastical Continent to explore that included unforgettable landmarks like Novigrad, Cyberpunk’s Night City is one of the most evocative and stunningly detailed locations ever seen in the digital space.
From the heart of vertically impressive City Center to the corporate-owned and run Santo Domingo district to the residential and entertainment areas in Westbrook, each of the six districts to discover features its own rich history and sense of growth spanning decades. And although skyscrapers in the year 2077 are bigger than ever -- areas like the northern district of Watson have seen prosperity come and go; crime and illegal activity arrive en masse. This sense of history and story can be felt in every building and neon sign. Right down to the types of vehicles you’ll see on the ground -- the aesthetic of Cyberpunk 2077 is almost anything but. It’s lived-in, functional, over-the-top and, most important of all: fricking cool.
A Bustling Metropolis Full of People, Corps, and Gangs
The size and scope of Night City can be as daunting as it is awe-inspiring, especially when its skyline fills the horizon as the sun sets. And that’s a sentiment shared by those that choose to live outside its walls. With the region simply called the Badlands, Nomads and others have created their own communities free from corporate control. Off-the-grid living but with the help of future-tech; physical augmentations, weather-worn vehicles, high-tech weapons, and all the access that brings.
Inside Night City, the idea of the multicultural and multi-faceted organism we call a city takes on new heights, with Cyberpunk 2077 showcasing just what advanced technology like cyberware can bring - from replacing a limb with a more powerful robotic version to incorporating technology directly with brain functions. 2077 takes what we know of and philosophise about today - from medical breakthroughs in limb replacement to the concept of the ‘Singularity’ - and makes it a reality.
With powerful corporations using advanced tech to exert control, gangs creating their own versions of super soldiers, people simply looking to accessorise and look good on a night out -- individuality and the human condition can be found on every corner. And in Cyberpunk 2077, as you walk through its streets passing countless people, each has their own story and potential augment to show (and tell).
Neon Digs and Future Rides
"One of Cyberpunk 2077’s key aspects is going to be total adoption of capitalism. This is a world rich for the picking...”
Touched on in this feature’s intro, but one of Cyberpunk 2077’s key aspects is going to be total adoption of capitalism. This is a world rich for the picking. We’ve built settlements, homesteads and even villages before in other games, but Cyberpunk is as fantasy as it gets, in OTT purity -- two concepts that are as oxymoronic in concept as you can get. But here… well, they work. Thanks to Night City.
As it is in our own day and age, getting a quick overview of who you’re talking to based on appearance and what they drive is a thing. Except that also extends to implants and weaponry. For those that embrace the neon and shine across clothing and hair and other accessories, it’s a style known as Kitsch - style over substance. On the other end of the spectrum there’s Entropism, where augmentations are utilitarian and the style of clothing worn purely there to serve a function. And like our own society, there’s both nuance and an easy to understand love of all things classic and retro. From sports cars that look like “the DeLorean but even more 1980s and cool” to all-wheel vehicles and flying limousines carrying rich people to and from their latest corp takeover.
A Weapon and Augment for Every Occassion
From the earliest visions of the future seen across fiction, the idea of a weapon not of a current time and place usually falls into the category we simply call ‘lasers man, lots of lasers’. In its detailed, heightened (and grounded) vision of the future, Cyberpunk 2077 presents weapons in a fashion that feels like a natural extension of its world. Sometimes quite literally, with melee augmentations turning a once organic limb into a cybernetic samurai sword ready to deploy if the need were to arise. Of which it will, many times over.
And like our own pocket rectangles we carry around everywhere, in 2077 the idea of a Smart weapon means bullets can actively track and find their target without the need for pin-point accuracy. And when it comes to lasers, guns that fire off electromagnetic charges definitely fall into that futuristic category. But with many corporations creating a vast number of different weapons and augmentations, the freedom of choice is as diverse as picking out what clothes to wear, or what vehicle to drive. And for those pining for that classic retro feel, Power weapons with live ammunition, cartridges, and firing chambers can be found too - because in the future, fans of recoil are catered for.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out December 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. It will also be playable on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. Content provided by Swear Jar Editorial and Media