CD Projekt’s Next Game Is Based On Cyberpunk 2020
Table Top gamers who didn’t cut their teeth on Dungeons & Dragons – and there are a few of us, I swear – have a reason to celebrate today, as it has been announced that Witcher and Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt’s next project is a video game set in the Cyberpunk 2020 universe.
The new game was announced today at CD Projekt RED’s Summer Conference. Though specific details about what to expect in the final game were not shared, what was shared shows plenty of promise. Cyberpunk 2020 game will be designed for “mature and demanding players” and, they’re promising, will feature non linearity and “a complex and gripping story.” Players will be able to create unique characters from among different classes, “be they blood-thirsty mercenaries or cunning hackers” Like the Witcher series, “players will face morally ambiguous choices, their actions influencing events in the world at large and the fate of the individuals they encounter.”
And that, my friends, is awesome.
If you never played Cyberpunk 2020 (or you’re not old enough to even know what it is), you’ll probably notice it sounds kind of familiar. Set in the fictional California metropolis ‘Night City’, essentially a ‘what if Silicon Valley became a giant city’ type of place, it imagines the US as recovering from a total collapse in the 1990s, with the government replaced by various military and corporate concerns (basically, a William Gibson plot.) It will seem horribly dated to modern eyes; ridiculous character classes like Rockerboys, “Rebel rockers who use music and revolt to fight authority”, must have sounded really cool at the time, but in hindsight seems more like Billy Idol, and the geopolitical environment more focused on Latin America is laughable in a world where wars over oil are the norm. But there’s a lot to work with, most of it easily updated to modern conventions, assuming they move the timeline up a bit.
What really makes Cyberpunk 2020 interesting is the unique Interlock System created for the series (and also used in subsequent games released by the same publisher). In Interlock, you build your character by selecting a range of skills, rather than choosing a specific class with built-in skills. Stats and skills both get a 1-10 rating, and characters can learn new skills in-game (though it takes a while to level up). The ability to purchase cybernetic augmentations is a big part of this process. This allows for more nuanced characters than was previously seen in previous RPG systems. Deus Ex obviously uses a system very similar to this, but echos can be seen in Mass Effect and dozens of other RPGs as well. No doubt the biggest challenge for CD Projekt will be to bring this system into digital form while distinguishing it from the many video games that have already ripped it off.
So far, release date and platform haven’t been revealed but almost certainly this will be a PC-first title that gets a port to console later on. We’ll be spending some quality time with the CD Projekt team at E3 2012. Rest assured we’ll do everything we can to find out more about Cyberpunk in person.