It should come as no surprise that the team behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is making another rich and detailed world, but there’s a huge difference between watching blades of grass dance in the wind as the warm glow of the sun emerges over distant trees, and being in the middle of a city bathed in blinding neon lights that’s also screaming thumping bass and ear-piercing guitar riffs at you at every turn. In Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red trades natural serenity for the overwhelming, furious progression of technology. We’re not in Kansas anymore: This is Tokyo turned up to 20.
For the sake of transparency it must be noted that my hands-on with the game was conducted remotely. I was playing over the cloud and, although latency was not discernable, visual fidelity was not the same as what it would be on a machine running the game locally.
Nevertheless, Night City was impressive to behold. It has a raw, grimy kind of majesty, and the sensory overload hits the moment you walk out into its bustling streets. It’s a cacophony of chattering citizens, a barrage of lights, a constant hum of music, invasive advertising, distant sounds of gunfire, strange cars whizzing by, unsavory characters just looking for a reason to start trouble, and helpless people calling out for aid. It’s a place that makes you feel completely out of sorts and instills an odd sense of discomfort, but also beckons you to unlock the potential it holds. From the very outset, as an up-and-coming merc named V, you’re told that it’s a city of dreams where legends are born, and that’s exactly what you hope to become.