At E3, CD Projekt pulled the curtain back on Cyberpunk 2077, its upcoming sci-fi open world game. As it did, one major revelation emerged: Cyberpunk is a first-person role-playing game.
Not everyone, it seems, is thrilled at the news. The Witcher 3, CD Projekt’s previous game, was of course a third-person adventure. The switch to first-person for Cyberpunk 2077 means the game is in part a first-person shooter, and it’s this realisation that seems to have worried some fans of the studio’s games.
So, why did CD Projekt go with first-person for Cyberpunk 2077? Quest designer Patrick Mills told me there were a few reasons for it. First up, the developers wanted the player to feel like they were in the body of the character they control.
In Cyberpunk 2077 you play V, a mercenary who is making their way through Night City on the hunt for the big time. However, you can create your own version of V – male or female – and customise everything from how they look to their backstory. Your version of V can become a Netrunner, Techie or a Solo – or a mix of all of them.
“With Witcher 3, you’re playing Geralt and you’re watching Geralt. You’re controlling Geralt. He’s a character, right? He’s somebody who already exists,” Mills said.
“In this game we wanted to put you in the shoes and in the body of the character you’re controlling, so you feel like this is your character. First-person was one way to do that.”
Secondly, the developers felt that a first-person perspective offered a greater sense of immersion. At one point in the gameplay demo, I saw V emerge from a mega building into the City Center, and the jaw-dropping scale and detail of the world hit me as the CD Projekt member of staff moved the camera to soak everything in. It’s this possibility for kind of effect that meant a move to first-person make sense for the developers.
“Additionally, you have a greater immersion,” Mills said. “And we can do some environmental stuff from first-person that you wouldn’t be able to do in third-person. If nothing else, I think it’s going to be really cool when you’re walking around the city and you look up, which is something that in third-person doesn’t really feel right. To really experience that verticality you need a first-person perspective.”
Whatever your opinion on Cyberpunk’s camera perspective, there’s a lot more to the game’s combat than first-person shooting. While we did indeed see a lot of FPS action during our 50 minute gameplay demo at E3 this week, there’s a lot of variety to the combat. With the twin blades seen in the game’s debut trailer, there’s the possibility for melee fighting. You can also disable enemies by hacking into their dead friends and infecting them with a virus.