After months of the internet demanding Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay footage, CD Projekt Red just… streamed it out. The 48 minute long demo finally gives players an idea of what it's like to play the game as it exists now (which the devs are quick to remind you may substantially differ from the final product), and I've spent the last couple days watching it on repeat to pick out interesting details that were easy to miss if you were understandably busy gawping at this beautiful (though occasionally way too dark to see anything) dystopian world. Ready to chip in?
It all starts with a character sheet
After selecting the main character's gender and before customizing her appearance, the "background check" part of character creation reveals how V is tied into the world even before you take control. She was born in 2054, which makes her either 22 or 23, and there are several options to set up her backstory. We didn't see much of how V's childhood hero, key life event, and why she came to Night City affect the game in this demo, but CD Projekt Red assured us that they'll come up - choices like these are a cool way to give you a choice in how your character is grounded in the fiction.
You can interact with bystanders (or not)
Most games treat NPCs like ambulatory scenery, but Cyberpunk 2077 will give you a little more power in how you interact with them; like how V advises that lady to hunker down before she starts shooting up her neighbors' place near the beginning. Cyberpunk also blurs the line between passers by and Important Characters. Watch how the gunsmith talks to V about retrieving her old .45 pistol around 11:45 and it pops up as a potential activity, without ever breaking into a separate cutscene or quest screen. Not interested? Just ignore him and keep walking, though he may get a bit annoyed.
Equipment has color-coded rarity
Color-coded equipment rarity remains a thing, even deep into our dystopian future. Cyberpunk 2077 gives you a good amount of information when you look at an equippable object in the world, including special bonuses like the "Increases Street Cred leveling speed by 5%" seen on the Samurai Jacket here. Elsewhere in the demo we see items of Rare and even Epic quality, making that Uncommon jacket look positively pedestrian by comparison. Still, you can't argue with earning more Street Cred (which we'll come back to later).
Implants are rad, but they come with Humanity Cost
Look at all those sweet implants you can get. With all the benefits they bring, seems like you'll want to install as many as you can buy, right? Only one problem - that bit about Humanity Cost. CD Projekt Red hasn't laid out how exactly Cyberpunk 2077's humanity system will work, but in the tabletop RPGs it's based on, getting too modded out is a very bad idea. The kind of bad idea that means the game master takes control of your character and starts playing them as a murderous, empathy-bereft "cyberpsycho" (we saw one in the original CGI trailer for 2077 too). Maybe your Humanity will just work like a hard limit for how many implants you can have installed at once here, but that'd be kinda boring in comparison, don't you think?
Third-person is used for effect (and driving convenience)
Cyberpunk 2077 is largely played from a first-person perspective, but it does make use of third-person at key moments. The two scenarios in which we see third-person used in this demo are interstitial moments between story beats and in driving around the streets of Night City. In the first case, it seems like CD Projekt Red may use the camera change as a signal that you can relax for a bit and just take in the world (and how cool your custom character looks) without needing to make dialogue choices. In the latter case, you have the option to swap between first-person and third-person vehicle segments whenever you like.
Conversations are playable events
Now about those dialogue choices. We're all used to RPGs like The Witcher 3 and Skyrim changing "modes" between conversations and the rest of the game. The camera shifts, your character locks eyes with the focal NPC, and you can't do anything but talk until you pick whatever option ends the dialogue. Cyberpunk 2077 rolls conversations right into the rest of the game - one moment you're sauntering up to a militech agent, the next her goon has you in a headlock and is hacking into your brain to see if you're lying to her. You're also often given the choice to draw your gun in tense moments, though it doesn't look like you can just threaten to shoot anybody you like.
Hacking is powerful (but it can end poorly)
The gameplay demo only offers the briefest of glimpses of netrunning (that's hacking) near the end, but look closer and you can start to see some of the many purposes it will serve. First off, hacking into the gang's personnel system lets you see the connected squads. Zooming in on a single squad will reveal how many members are connected - very valuable intel by itself - then let you mess with them. We see the "Get Access" option in action, allowing V to quickly hack other members of the squad, but you could also degrade their aiming ability or outright disable their cyberware. Just remember to pay attention to that anti-hacker "Ice" installed on each node - hacking can be a dangerous pursuit, as proven by that poor netrunner whose entire face bursts into flames around 37:18.
The inventory is nice and streamlined… for now
When The Witcher 3 came out, its inventory system was kind of a mess - frustrating players with limited filtering options, poor grouping, and lots of searching. CD Projekt Red eventually tamed it across a series of patches into the functional-and-only-slightly clunky version that's playable today, and it looks like CD Projekt Red has kept those efforts in mind from the start with Cyberpunk 2077. The inventory screen we see in the demo is very minimal and scaled-back, which makes me suspect CDPR won't be able to keep things quite this simple when it's supporting the full, massive game. Hopefully it won't go too far in the other direction.
Combat can get downright acrobatic
The Cyberpunk 2077 demo started out as a relatively grounded-and-gritty shooter, with lots of crouching behind cover and trading fire with enemies on the other side of a trashed room. But once the developers unlocked a high-level powerset for V, the combat settled somewhere between Max Payne and Doom. Double jumping across the room and sliding into "Kareznikov" bullet time, V was able to down two elevated goons with shotgun blasts before her feet ever touched the ground. And if you prefer the more personal touch, there's always those freaky reaper arm blades we see at 43:55 (complete with wall-hanging power).
Street Cred rules everything around me
Remember that street-cred boosting jacket V equipped near the beginning of the demo? Here's where it pays off. As we saw on the inventory screen before, character level and Street Cred are actually two separate things. Presumably the former will allow you to increase your basic stats (like that all-important Cool), while the demo's narrator confirmed that increasing your Street Cred will give you access to more vendors and other important parts of life in Night City. It could have more immediate rewards, too - notice how it says "New Perk Points Available" under the level-up notification? I wonder what kind of stuff you can spend those on…
Learn more about the world of Cyberpunk 2077 with our detailed breakdown of 20 in-game ads.