Being overwhelmed can have a bad effect when being viewed purely from the perspective of, well, digital things. And that is a large world to explore; a long story to experience; a map littered with characters, activities and quests. Icons everywhere — where being pulled in so many ways, whilst still trying to figure out mechanics, means that even after many hours there’s a sense that you’re still in the introduction.
This moment is how you begin your Cyberpunk 2077 adventure. And the ensuing hours thereafter, well, they’re indeed overwhelming (though not for the reasons mentioned above). Instead, it’s a feeling akin to visiting a new sprawling city for the first time. Where your eyes and brain activate their own organic form of CyberWare™ in order to process the sights, sounds, signage, vehicles, people and fashion – everything around you. Night City is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen, with detail and a sense of scale that is truly awe-inspiring.
A sensory overload of towering buildings, people, animated billboards, vehicles, shops, back alleys, and more. The auditory mind isn’t entirely equipped, honestly, in our modern mindset to understand it. But, damn it’s cool. Night City and its districts present a futuristic megalopolis that stands as one of the greatest achievements in videogame history — where art, interactivity and technology come together in such a way as to make the impossible – possible. The other ingredient is history, creating a world that drips in detail — often literally. With steam and puddles and rain pouring over business signs and branding, and characters that have a lifetime of story to impart.
This is, of course, made by cutting-edge technology, and on a high-end rig powered by NVIDIA’s latest GeForce 30 series of graphics cards; real-time ray-tracing, and DLSS work together to add a dose of proper next-gen to immersion thanks to cinematic lighting on par with, well, cinema. That is, the realisation of a vision beyond what we’ve seen so far on the still brand-new and impressive PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. With the right hardware Cyberpunk 2077 is basically next next
This is not to say these impressions of Night City (or this article) is limited to the ‘RTX On’ PC version, but with an RTX 3080 or even RTX 3070 — the presentation goes from a stunning open-world unlike any other to feeling like you’re actually there, in an insanely detailed vision of the future. In other words, I haven’t been playing Cyberpunk 2077 this past week as much as I’ve been living in Night City.
Built using developer CD Projekt RED’s own Red Engine, the Night City we get to see and explore is one of those rare experiences where it feels like you’re witnessing some of the most interesting concept art come to life. Based on the pen-and-paper roleplaying game from the 1980s, created by Mike Pondsmith, the art direction is what you might call “retro-cool”; hardware and structures that feel lived-in; neon and chunky, like. Cyberpunk’s version of what we know of as the internet captures this spirit by presenting pages on a lo-fi browser but on the sort of transparent display you might imagine existing decades from now.