Cyberpunk 2077 must get these 5 things right to be the cyberpunk game we need

Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it’s finally on the way. After years of hearing nothing about the game, we have a shouldn't-be-this-exciting "beep" from the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account, and there are even rumors swirling about a big E3 trailer and behind-the-scenes gameplay sessions coming in June. With all that excitement, you're probably cyber-pumped to start playing.

Cyberpunk 2077's release date is still unclear

Unfortunately, CD Projekt Red still hasn't said anything more than "when it's ready" about a Cyberpunk 2077 release date. If it really does show off the game starting at E3 this year, hoping for a holiday 2018 arrival wouldn't be totally foolhardy (though it would be optimistic).

What the devs have said about Cyberpunk 2077

Until then, what solid details do we have to work from? Well, there's still the stylish teaser trailer from January 2013; it stars a rampaging cyborg who is utterly unimpressed by a hail of bullets from the riot squad. The studio has at various points confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077 will be another open-world RPG, so it won't be a total about-face from its last project, The Witcher 3. And some grant applications to the Polish government revealed that Cyberpunk 2077 is aiming for "seamless multiplayer," so think more along the lines of Dark Souls than Battlefield. Also, it's definitely going to have vehicles.

You don't have to wait for an official announcement to already know this much: despite decades of attempts, there still have been few big, definitive cyberpunk games. They've all either been too niche, not very good, or - all respect to Deus Ex and Final Fantasy 7 - just not punky enough. It's about time that changed. 

Here are five things that Cyberpunk 2077 needs to do to be the high-tech, low-life game we've always wanted. 

1. Cyberpunk 2077 has to have great hacking (or none at all)

Art from Cyberpunk 2020 showing a desperate hacking attempt

Art from the original Cyberpunk 2020.

If Cyberpunk 2077 has a little ‘hacking minigame’ where you twiddle the thumbsticks to unlock doors or disable robotic opponents, it will be an awful missed opportunity. Not just because I'm tired of reskinned lockpicking minigames (though I am) but because Cyberpunk 2077's direct predecessor, pen-and-paper roleplaying game Cyberpunk 2020, has an intricately detailed hacking system. It lets ‘netrunner’ characters kit out their cyberdecks and evade or defeat virtual security measures however they like. That system was the basis for the Netrunner card game (now available Cyberpunk-license free as Android: Netrunner) which remains one of the most clever takes on asymmetrical multiplayer ever created.

Maybe the main character of Cyberpunk 2077 character isn't a netrunner type. That's fine. It just means the game shouldn't mess with it at all. Have your character pop open control panels and patch in their tech-head friend, or something like that. Please, just don't let hacking be another five-second-long 'wobble the analog sticks' interlude.

2. Cyberpunk 2077 has to actually be punk

Art from Cyberpunk 2020 s Night City Guide showing a character on the streets

Art from Cyberpunk 2020's Night City Guide.

As our friends at GR sister site PC Gamer said, it's time for cyberpunk games to remember how to be punk; to, just for example, steal the tech that corporations jealously guard then use it to splice weird porn into their skyscraper-high advertisements; or even to rebel by simply continuing to live in a society where most 'normal' people would prefer if you dropped dead. Too many of our medium's cyberpunk stories put the mirrorshades on otherwise generic super soldiers and cops, serving up the same kind of power fantasy you can get anywhere else. If there's a pink mohawk anywhere, it's probably on one of the countless thugs you just gunned down. How is that punk?

Cyberpunk 2077 is starting from behind on this one, because the end of the teaser trailer strongly hints that you play as an officer of the Night City Police Department - specifically of a rogue-cyborg hunting Psycho Squad. I hope that's either a feint or just one optional career for your character to pursue, but I'm not holding my breath. It's easier to market 'you play as a supercop' than 'you play as an enterprising scumbag.'

3. Cyberpunk 2077 has to have weird fashion

The leader of The Clowns gang from Akira

Joker, leader of The Clowns gang in Akira.

This point goes along with the above call for general punkiness, yet also extends beyond it. Let's agree right now that rainbow liberty spikes and floor-length trenchcoats should be the bare minimum for Cyberpunk 2077's fashion sense. I want to walk out on the streets of Night City and see a spectrum of sartorial choices, from the ragged to the elegant to the flashing-LED empaneled. What better way to make you instantly hate your corporate overlords than to clad them in immaculate designer threads? The kind of clothes that are so nice you'd be tempted to kill them over, if only it wouldn't get bloodstains on the material?

And none of this 'clothes are purely cosmetic' stuff! I'm not saying I want tons of stat bonuses and armor values - that seems silly when your crop top could be made out of nanoweave titanium or whatever - but what if your clothing choices cultivate an overall aesthetic that characters react to? Put on your expensive suit to deal with the mega-Yuppies, but make sure you change back into leathers before you meet with the old gang, and so on. That'd be a nice way to tie back into the genre's 'style over substance' '80s mindset.

4. Cyberpunk 2077's locations have to go beyond hazy neon-lit streets

K walks along a deserted dusty promenade in Blade Runner 2049

A dusty, dilapidated scene from Blade Runner 2049.

Everybody loves a rainy street, reflecting towering expanses of neon signage and screens. Cyberpunk 2077 should definitely have some (read: a lot) of those. After roaming around the city of Novigrad in The Witcher 3, I have full confidence that CD Projekt Red's art department can turn the clock forward a few hundred years to create one of the finest future-downtowns ever rendered in polygons. But if we're going to spend dozens of hours of roaming around another open world, we'll need some variety.

Cyberpunk is more than neon! It's also fog, and rust, and dust, and snow, and weirdly sacrilegious megacorp headquarters, and… you know what, I'm just describing the production design for Blade Runner 2049 at this point. If you want an idea of the different kinds of settings that CD Projekt Red's ace artists should aim for beyond the usual city streets, just watch that.

5. Cyberpunk 2077 has to actually come out

It's been more than five years since Cyberpunk 2077 was first announced. CD Projekt Red was always upfront about it being a long way off so I wouldn't call it vaporware yet. The studio just made the unconventional choice to announce Cyberpunk 2077 before it had even officially unveiled The Witcher 3. So the studio basically dangled that tantalizing concept in front of our faces then said "hope you liked that because we need to go finish this other gigantic game now." Please don't make us wait another five, CD Projekt Red.

If you can't wait for more places to explore, don't fret - just check out our list of the 10 best open-world games of all time.