23.11.2019

Why Cyberpunk 2077 Can’t Live Up to Its Own Hype

It was somehow a whole year ago when we last asked — just where the hell is Cyberpunk 2077 already? Another January has rolled around without any major developments on CD Projekt Red’s foray away from fantasy and into the dark future where corporations rule supreme.

While we haven’t hit Star Citizen — or gods forbid, Final Fantasy XV — levels quite yet, Cyberpunk 2077 is nonetheless starting to feel overdue at this point. Fans are hungry for a game that truly exudes the cyber punk style from a development team with a proven track record.

The current cyber punk offerings are few and far between, and usually aren’t of the AAA variety. Most notable are the Deus Ex franchise and the Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun reboots, with last year’s horror entry Observeralso having more than a little cyber punk feel with its dystopian future.

If you really scour the depths of Steam’s ludicrously oversized catalog, you can find a few others, but there’s no question that on the whole, cyber punk is a genre that hasn’t been tapped often enough.

 Not everyone digs the horror walking simulators either, so if you want an action cyber punk game, this doesn’t fit the bill.

The Hype Is Real

CD Projekt Red’s lauded The Witcher 3 began development in 2011 and was released in 2015, nabbing up plenty of “best RPG” and even plain old “best game” of the year awards.

A year later, the “Blood And Wine” DLC would also snag “Best RPG of the Year” awards across the web — and it wasn’t even a full game! Clearly, there’s a huge level of anticipation here as the development team shifts gears away from the perpetually aroused Geralt.

The 2077 game world is based around the tabletop RPG Cyberpunk 2020, which is a huge draw for a large segment of pen and paper fans. While not all of them have been smooth transitions (looking at you Daggerdale and Iron & Blood), some of the best RPGs in history made the leap from tabletop to electronic formats. Think of Baldur’s Gate, Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, or Shadowrun Dragonfall.

Not a lot is known about what the finished product will look like, but the few tidbits that have arrived (and a whole lot of speculation) have increased the hype. Rumors have swirled of NPCs speaking in many different languages in Night City, forcing the main character to buy a language implant … and if you get a cheap one, you might get a bad translation, resulting in radically different quests.

That kind of interactivity and branching story path is exactly what hardcore RPG fans want and why we’ve been going back to the classic RPG well through Infinity Engine-style games like Pillars Of Eternity.

At this point that remains rumor and hearsay, however, with actual, confirmed information essentially nonexistent and no game play videos of any kind to be found.

 The branching dialog of a hardcore RPG with the graphical polish of The Witcher 3 would be a wondrous thing to behold

What Are We Even Hyped About?

A years-old statement indicates Cyberpunk 2077 will be an “open world, sandbox game set in a corrupt and tech-advanced setting.” That sounds interesting, but in practice, what does that really mean?

Considering how games can change during active development, who knows if that statement still even holds true? We’ve got no communication of any kind coming in (except for one notable exception noted below).

Potentially there will be a vertical element to the game, with a job opening for someone who could program flying vehicles listed by CD Projekt Red back in 2016, but we don’t even know for sure that job was for Cyberpunk 2077.

Will it be essentially the free-roaming, open-world gameplay of The Witcher set in a futuristic city instead of medieval countryside? Will it be much more constrained and stylized like Shadowrun Dragonfall or Shadowrun Hong Kong? Will it be somewhere more in the middle like Deus Ex or DIshonored and give us some action-platforming elements as well?

Nobody has the first friggin’ clue, because all we have to go on is a cinematic trailer that was released half a decade too early.

This video was posted on January 10th, 2013, and still sits as the only major showcase of anything from the game. In case anyone missed it, that was over five years ago. Think of everything you’ve done in the last five years since that video was released. You know what CD Projekt Red hasn’t done? Finished the game from that video.

The video ominously ends with the declaration “Coming: when it’s ready.” Honestly, that’s an idea I can firmly get behind. Don’t rush a game, make sure it’s done, and release something high quality that doesn’t need a ton of patches. There’s nothing wrong with that philosophy.

At the same time, maybe don’t release a hyper polished trailer that makes people think you’ve got something nearly done years before you even start serious development.

Did the game get pushed back since that trailer landed? Is it cancelled? Have there been big changes to the style or story? We don’t know, because there haven’t been any blogs, posts, or tweets … until yesterday, with the *beep* heard round the world.

Dystopian Video Game Marketing

After four years of utter silence, the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter feed sputtered to life to utter one single, solitary word:

Beep? As in the sound a computer makes when it turns on? Or beep as in “ohaiiiiiii, we’re still alive?” Who knows, because there’s been no clarification yet from anybody.

I rolled my eyes so hard I nearly fell over when reading the breathless headlines around the web from other game sites: “MAJOR News Arrives About Cyberpunk 2077” or “Cyberpunk 2077 Shows Big Signs Of Life!”

More than just the tweet itself, all you need to do to see the runaway hype train for this game is to look at the response from the fans. Read that Twitter thread or take a look at the comments section on any of the above-mentioned articles. People are losing their minds over the possibility of any tiny crumb of information.

The thing is — the developers literally said nothing. Beep could mean anything, so it essentially doesn’t mean anything at all.

That tweet could just as easily have been a cat walking across an open laptop as something sent on purpose because legitimate news is arriving soon. If someone reveals a rogue employee sent it just to vex their bosses over how they aren’t saying anything about the game, I wouldn’t be surprised.

The fact that the developer couldn’t even do the fans the minor courtesy of typing a sentence like “Hey, sorry we haven’t said anything in four years, there will be an announcement next week” is kind of a slap in the face. All I can really think of to say in response to that tweet is “beep you.”

Seriously.

All Aboard The Hype Train

If Cyberpunk 2077 were more of an indie affair — or even worse, a crowd-funded offering — this annoying lack of communication would be the kiss of death.

But when you combine the praise for Witcher 3 with the high quality of the Cyberpunk 2077 teaser trailer, what you have is a hype train that keeps picking up speed and is now reaching dangerous levels.

When the word “beep” causes a chain reaction explosion across the Internet, we’re officially going too fast on that train. The result is going to be an epic crash.

While I don’t think CD Projekt Red will drop the ball so badly that we get a No Man’s Sky-level letdown, there’s just no way Cyberpunk 2077 can hold up under the weight of its own massive expectations.

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