Jacking in to Cyberpunk 2077 – with the help of the tabletop game

Cyberpunk 2077’s showing at this year’s E3 was extremely strong. The 50-minute gameplay demo I saw left me hungry for more, but it also left me wondering – just how much of CD Projekt Red’s game was pulled from Mike Pondsmith’s pen-and-paper role-playing game? In other words: just how much Cyberpunk 2020 is there in Cyberpunk 2077?

The short answer is: loads. I’ve been poring over the core book for Cyberpunk 2020 over the last few weeks and I’m really impressed by how much detail from this world of netrunners, augmentations and super-powerful corporations CD Projekt managed to cram into the game. I’ve made a couple of videos on the subject, in fact – the first covers how character creation and classes work, and the second covers pretty much all of the Cyberware (augmentation) types that are likely to make an appearance in the finished game.

I go into considerably more detail in those videos, so I’d urge to you to give them a watch, but here’s a brief overview for those who can’t spare the time right this minute. Apologies for not posting the scripts wholesale, only they’re the best part of ten thousand words between them.

Anyway, in Cyberpunk 2020, players are asked to pick one of nine different classes, these being:

Rockerboy – Musicians and rebels who use their music and their fans as tools to fight the authority

Solo – Assassins, soldiers, bodyguards, general all-round tough guys

Netrunner – Hackers putting their lives quite literally on the line as they soar through the digital world and infiltrate data fortresses

Techie – Gear experts, obsessed with Cyberware and how it works. Almost certainly up to their ears in augmentations

Media – Hard nosed journalists who’ll stop at nothing to expose the truth

Cop – The long, metal arm of the law

Corporate – Multi-billionaires with acumen and avarice in spades

Fixer – People with a can-do attitude and contacts pretty much everywhere. If you need something doing, legal or not, a fixer can get it done

Nomad – Itinerant warriors who live on the roads and run in tight-knit groups

In Cyberpunk 2077, however, there are no classes to choose from. Instead, CD Projekt Red has gone for a fluid class system – selecting three different classes (Solo, Netrunner and Techie) and translating them into skill trees, allowing you to mix and match from all three in order to build your own personal cyberpunk on the fly.

That’s not to say the other roles aren’t present in the game, however – the E3 demo was more than enough to prove that these character archetypes are very much alive and well in Cyberpunk 2077. V’s mission to recover some stolen military technology put her in close contact with a prominent fixer, an avaricious corporate agent and an extremely hardline techie group called Maelstrom. There was also a nice nod to Cyberpunk 2020’s most notorious rockerboy Johnny Silverhand, whose music was playing in V’s apartment as she woke up from a three-day bender.

The intention here, in other words, is to give you more of a say in what your character is like as the game progresses, rather than locking you into an archetype at the very beginning as per the pen-and-paper game.

When it comes to augmentations, Cyberpunk 2020 has a lot of them. Cyberware is divided into a number of categories – these being fashionware, neuralware, implants, bioware, cyberweapons, cyberoptics, cyberaudio, cyber arms, cyber legs, linear frames and body plating. Pretty much all of them were in evidence in either the E3 trailer or the gameplay demo, with the exception of linear frames (powered exo-skeletons) which I don’t recall seeing at any point.

While we did get to see V as she visited a ripperdoc for a fancy new eye and a smartweapon grip, the extent of the cyberware options available to players is currently unclear – there are all sorts of augmentations we know to be in the game, but whether V can have them installed for him or herself is another matter.

If you want to know more about cyberware in Cyberpunk 2020 and 2077 – or, indeed, more about the classes – I break them down in detail in the two videos above and give examples of how each was manifested in what I saw of Cyberpunk 2077 at E3. If that’s still not enough for you, the video team will also be starting a campaign of Cyberpunk 2020 on the channel next month, run by yours truly. It should be a lot of fun.

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