In any million-hour role-playing sport, the primary character is the star of the present. Their look, their skills, and their weaknesses assist inform a sprawling story that may hold gamers engaged lengthy after they need to have gone to mattress. CD Projekt Red pulled this off masterfully in its sequence of Witcher video games, most notably The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, making Geralt of Rivia the proper date for a Three a.m. play session. And but, Geralt’s customization choices had been surprisingly sparse. Some haircuts and armor decisions, positive, however most variations of him will comply with the identical spellsword mannequin, mixing casting with blades.
The workforce’s subsequent sport, Cyberpunk 2077, isn’t restricted in the identical approach by the supply materials. The major character, referred to as V, isn’t a identified amount like Geralt was, and gamers are free to experiment with a plethora of various appears to be like and play types.
Exactly how do the customization and development programs work, although? After 4 hours of hands-on time with Cyberpunk 2077, I discovered these programs to be enormously versatile but additionally considerably overwhelming to wrap my mind round. I believe I lastly have a deal with on it, although.
The look of your character and their origin story
Cyberpunk 2077 begins by supplying you with a option to make about V’s backstory: Corpo, Street Kid, or Nomad. You might really feel prefer it’s a very powerful selection you’ll make within the sport, however don’t stress it. These “origins” end in totally different introductory missions, however when you’re via that phase, the remainder of the journey adjustments solely barely relying in your origin story.
In my case, I decide a Street Kid, trying to role-play because the Artful Dodger from Oliver!, the musical I carried out in after I was in center college.
After selecting my origin, I get pulled into probably the most comically detailed character customization engine I’ve ever seen in a online game. The regular choices are right here: coiffure and coloration, pores and skin coloration, and so forth. But the chances shortly turn out to be way more numerous. A easy instance: You can change your eyebrow coloration and your facial hair coloration to be utterly totally different from the remainder of your hair. Eye make-up, cheek make-up, and lipstick are three totally different toggles with a bunch of choices. You can resolve to have lengthy or brief nails, and what coloration they’re painted, if any.
But that’s nonetheless simply the fundamental aesthetic stuff. Although each model of V appears to be like to be bodily match and of their mid-20s, there are another physique modifications at your disposal. You can choose a stocky, extra muscular physique with a higher-sounding voice, otherwise you can provide your character breasts and a baritone talking voice. You can decide your genitalia — penis, vagina, or none — and, if you happen to decide penis, you may select to be circumcised or uncircumcised. The future is now.
None of those visible choices are depending on some other one. Any physique kind can have any genitalia, for instance. I wasn’t capable of finding any moments within the sport when characters commented on the best way I look, but it surely’s fairly nice to see how a lot freedom CD Projekt Red is handing gamers to find out the look of their V.
As for my Artful Dodger, I muddy up his face and attempt to make him appear like a rapscallion, however once more, V appears to be like mid-20s in age. So I simply age Dodger up from his authentic, pick-pocketing self. Sadly, there aren’t any cockney accent choices, as there are simply two decisions of voice in Cyperpunk 2077, but it surely’ll must do.
Given how a lot time I spend crafting my character, I’m truly delay by how little I see of my V in 4 hours with the sport. There are occasional mirrors, and if I hack a digicam I can spin it round to see myself, however a lot of the sport is locked to the first-person perspective. Cyberpunk 2077 was initially designed to be playable within the third particular person, identical to The Witcher 3, however a lot of these options had been stripped out for the sake of immersion on this planet, in line with the builders. Hey, at the least I can see my shiny pink nails after I punch somebody within the face.
Progression: attributes and character ranges
Everything I’ve described up till this level has primarily been beauty, with no bearing in your character’s skills. But clearly what you may and may’t do is a big focus in Cyberpunk 2077, and the programs that decide these abilities are enormously difficult. So let’s dive in.
Character Level is simple: You full missions, you earn expertise, and finally you degree up. With the next Character Level, you may tackle tougher missions and defeat enemies that will in any other case wipe the ground with you.
Increasing your Character Level can grant you an Attribute Point (how usually you get these remains to be being tweaked). With these Attribute Points, you may enhance one of many 5 major stats within the sport: Body, Reflex, Intelligence, Technical Ability, and sure, Cool. In typical D&D phrases, the primary three equate to Strength, Dexterity, and, effectively, Intelligence. Technical Ability ties into hacking, whereas Cool impacts vital injury and stealth.
As the Artful Dodger, I emphasised my Reflex, Intelligence, and Cool stats on the outset, although the pliability of the Attributes system means not being locked into any single play type.
Progression: abilities and perks
Having the next Cool stat grants me just a few issues. There are passive results, like enemies taking longer to see me after I’m crouching of their line of sight. But it additionally impacts the talents which are categorized as “Cool” abilities: Stealth abilities, for instance.
I can enhance my Stealth ability by, effectively, being stealthy. The extra you do the factor, the higher you get at it. So if I sneak up behind a man and knock him out with out being noticed, increase, I get some Stealth expertise, which makes me even much less prone to get noticed the following time round. The similar goes for all the opposite abilities within the sport, from Blades to Device Hacking to Rifles.
But right here’s the rub: You can solely enhance your abilities as excessive because the corresponding Attribute. If my Cool stat is at 6, my Stealth ability won’t ever rise greater than 6. So there’s a gated mechanism there. To get my Stealth greater, I’ll want to enhance my Cool first.
Every ability within the sport has between 20 and 30 perk choices. These are often passive upgrades that drastically enhance your fight potential. One perk within the Stealth ability tree lets me transfer 30% quicker whereas sneaking. Another within the Rifles tree dramatically will increase the injury I deal after I’m additional away from a goal, making it supreme for snipers.
You’ll earn Perk Points to unlock these perks if you enhance your Character Level, however many of those perks can be grayed out if you begin the sport. To unlock extra superior perks, you’ll must spend extra Perk Points in that particular tree. Advanced Stealth perks require primary Stealth perks, and so forth.
Early within the sport, my Artful Dodger solely accrued two Perk Points, so I wasn’t capable of dive too deeply into this method, but it surely does appear strong and versatile.
Street Cred and Cyberware
There are two remaining elements that decide your capabilities as a legal mastermind in Cyberpunk 2077: Street Cred and Cyberware.
Street Cred is your popularity inside the metropolis. Completing missions and pulling jobs for individuals will enhance your Street Cred. But it’s not a morality system, and your Street Cred will solely ever go up.
In addition to unlocking new, harder missions, the next Street Cred may even enhance vendor costs and inventory. There are gadgets in varied shops that require a sure degree of Street Cred. Character Level doesn’t come into play for these necessities, and plainly you’ll be capable of use any weapon or merchandise you decide up, no matter your Character Level. But to purchase one thing notably fancy in a retailer, you’ll should be well-known all through Night City.
The biggest-ticket gadgets you’ll discover in shops are items of Cyberware, a lot of which require a really excessive degree of Street Cred (along with a excessive credit score value). Cyberware is yet one more layer of character development, granting much more skills.
Cyberware might be put in throughout your physique, out of your arms, to your legs, to your eyeballs. Once put in, you’re granted new abilities and upgrades. Some of those are passive, like a chunk of Cyberware in your circulatory system that barely heals you everytime you kill somebody. Others are extra energetic, granting you the power to double leap. Each of your physique elements has a number of slots, and Cyberware might be slotted out and in at will, upon getting it unlocked. While Cyberware doesn’t come closely into play within the early hours of Cyberpunk 2077, it’s simple to see how this method may finally increase your current abilities or assist patch up holes in your character construct.
It’s all about flexibility
There don’t appear to be very many limitations put in place for the character programs in Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red has constructed the sport with the intention of maintaining issues as open as doable, letting gamers lean into most popular tropes and handmade lessons. And whereas it’s not the best system to grok, the complexity will supply way more versatility than The Witcher 3’s small handful of viable builds. So watch these wallets, of us. Come November, I’ll positively be selecting a pocket or two.
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