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We break down Cyberpunk 2077’s 50-minute demo

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It’s visceral, claustrophobic and beautiful

Polygon senior reporter Charlie Hall and I were lucky enough to get into CD Projekt Red’s exclusive gameplay demo for the team’s upcoming game, Cyberpunk 2077. After a bit of time to digest the 50 minutes of gameplay, and Charlie’s interviews with the developers, we got together to talk about what we saw.

The biggest thing from the demo was how instinctive it all felt. Every decision, every new augment, every conversation seemed like it would actually affect how the game continued.

We spent a lot of time talking about the ripperdoc, the person who installs cybernetic prostheses for V, the protagonist. The whole scene felt like an actual doctor’s visit. Ripperdoc’s bedside manner and banter about payment was harshly juxtaposed with his violent removal of V’s eyeball from its socket and replacing it with a newer version. Though V could now zoom into things and scan devices from afar, we were all aware of how this enhancement came with a distinctly transhumanist consequence. We weren’t just picking augments from a menu screen; the choice felt much heavier.

We recognized a few familiar faces from the E3 trailer, namely Jackie, V’s partner in crime, and the spider bot that V’s first real mission revolves around. But the biggest revelation was how different this game felt in comparison to CD Projekt Red’s other big franchise, The Witcher.

The Witcher 3 does a great job telling a story, but I always felt like the dialogue took me out of the action, breaking the gameplay into distinct chunks. The Cyberpunk 2077 demo felt much more fluid in comparison, with all of the conversations happening in-engine, and immediate reactions affecting how events played out.

The game also felt incredibly close to its tabletop roots, which Charlie digs into in his report. The constantly changing skill system made it feel like the player might have more of a say in how their character interacts with the world, instead of having to choose a class and stick with it throughout the entirety of the game.

Though the developers aren’t sure if this demo will ever see a public release, it felt like a strong offering for a game that feels entirely different from what CD Projekt Red has previously published — but with all the polish that we expect from the studio.

If you’re looking for more impressions, hot takes, or just a touch of fun, check out our E3 2018 playlist on YouTube. It’s a one-stop shop for all the biggest news from the show floor and beyond.