Last yeardominated E3 with a debut trailer (featuring an absolute bop of a song) that perfectly encapsulated the entire aesthetic CD Projekt Red was trying to project with its upcoming dystopian video game nightmare.
This year Cyberpunk 2077.
And of course the crowd went wild. The internet went wild also. He’ll play a major part in Cyberpunk 2077, but Reeves is also at the eye of a perfect storm of online conditions. He played himself in a perfect, Twitter-friendly performance in a new Netflix movie and. Then he came onstage at E3 and screamed “you’re breathtaking” to an enraptured audience in perhaps the only truly wholesome celebrity appearance in E3 history. It went about as viral as E3 can get.
But celebrity performances in video games haven’t gone well traditionally. Game writing is traditionally bad — extremely bad. Celebrity acting performances are often phoned in. In the case of Kiefer Sutherland and, his limited performance meant that the main character, Snake, barely spoke at all.
Thankfully this doesn’t seem to be the case with Cyberpunk 2077. In Cyberpunk 2077, Reeves is everywhere. Literally.
Because he’s inside your head.
After sitting through an extended gameplay demo at E3 2019 it’s become incredibly clear that Reeves’ role in Cyberpunk 2077 (as Johnny Silverhand) is no mere cameo. He’s more like a perennial companion, implanted in your brain in this cyberpunk future. Think Navi, from Ocarina of Time, minus the “HEY LISTEN.” Keanu exists to guide you through missions, provide advice and presumably run tutorials. His performance is also… good?
Part of the credit has to go to CD Projekt Red’s writing team.
As a medium obsessed with technology and improved visual fidelity, video game writing is often an afterthought. It’s understandable. The act of video game creation is sort of like trying to build a plane whilst actually plummeting to your death at 122 mph. Sometimes good writing gets lost in the mix.
But that’s not the case with CD Projekt Red.
CD Projekt Red’s last major release,, was something of a unicorn: a tremendously huge open-world game with incredible visual fidelity, that was somehow also rich with detail. And yeah, it also featured great writing for both its central quest and side missions.
Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be blessed with the same level of craft in all aspects of its creation — and then some.
The best part? The world itself. It’s insane.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that feels like an old-fashioned generational leap. It’s been awhile. Remember when jumps from console to console heralded a complete rewiring of what was possible? Cyberpunk 2077 seems built in that same spirit.
The sheer density of the world, sprawling in scope, is almost shocking. Cyberpunk 2077 feels large but is also precisely designed, steeped in considered lore. Almost as if the stories being told were seamlessly tied to the game world, like they should be.
It reminded me of the jump from Grand Theft Auto III to Grand Theft Auto IV, a leap that felt gargantuan back in the day. Instead of being an empty playground where the player is the impetus for all action, Cyberpunk 2077 makes its protagonist feel like a bit player in a broader universe. A disturbingly huge number of NPCs stroll past, you interact and scan the environment. Conversations occur in multiple languages. It’s overwhelming to the point where I question the ambition at work here: Is this game possible? Can it live up to the promise of these demos? Time will tell.
The only concern? The combat itself. Large-scale open-world RPGs typically struggle with moment-to-moment combat — the Fallout series, Grand Theft Auto and, yes, even The Witcher 3 are good examples of that fact. Cyberpunk seems leaps ahead of those games but, less than a year from its release in April 2020, gunplay did feel a little unpolished. It’s a complaint I’ve heard from a few people lucky enough to check out this year’s E3 demo.
Cyberpunk 2077 is no Doom Eternal, but it still feels eons away from, say, Fallout 4. And when you add the ability to hack enemies and the environment during combat situations, I’m confident Cyberpunk 2077 will provide unique, rewarding avenues for players to experiment.
If CD Projekt Red pulls this off, Cyberpunk 2077 could be legendary.