- Author: Mila Grish
- Date: July 12, 2020
In early June, Rockstar made an unfortunate misjudgment with the announcement of Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 5.
The company didn’t highlight any expansions or improvements done to this release in addition to poor timing and the particularly old footage used in the trailer. Live reactions to the announcement demonstrated extreme disappointment, mirroring opinions of the gaming community. YouTube compilations of these reactions and disgruntled discussions followed not long after.
Still, this article will not be about Rockstar and their own complicated history.
Instead, we will be talking about expectations around the long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077 in the context of GTA V.
Of course, there is enough to be said about Cyberpunk 2077 player expectations in general to deserve a topic of its own. But the recent events in the GTA‘s community, some compelling comments arising from comparing GTA V to Cyberpunk 2077, and the conflicted conversations arising as a result certainly shine light on how Cyberpunk 2077 presents itself to the fans and what these fans wish Cyberpunk 2077 to be.
What Game is Cyberpunk 2077 Like?
If you followed discussions around Cyberpunk 2077 you most likely heard that some of the fans are concerned with Cyberpunk 2077 being developed as a first-person RPG.
It’s easier to understand this position when we consider the intimate relationship that some of these players have developed with the Witcher 3 series and its unique third-person environment.
For these older fans of CDPR’s masterpieces the first-person view seems to be a step-back in regards to storytelling and control of the camera (that is, the dizzying constriction of the field of view). Furthermore, limitations of the first-person perspective also seem to be counter-productive to the deep customization of the character appearance coming as a newer feature in Cyberpunk 2077. That is, what is the point of carefully picking shape of your eyes and then the color of your shirt if you will only encounter the mirror once or twice during multiple hours of gameplay?
CD Projekt Red took their time to explain why the first-person view is essential to the cramped and perspective-reliant places of the Night City, as well as the dialogue functionality (ability to switch focus during conversations). Yet, this change from familiar and highly received Witcher games did create some disconnect with older fans. With such significant changes from CDPR’s older games,Cyberpunk 2077 can’t really be seen as “Witcher in the Cyberpunk universe,” which left some of the players uncertain in their own expectations.
Meanwhile, people who were drawn into the discussion because of their interest for Cyberpunk 2077 and are otherwise new to CDPR’s fanbase, come with their own visions for what the game will look and feel like.
The effects brought about by the decision to make Cyberpunk 2077 a first-person RPG and the manifold genre of first person shooters warrants a discussion on its own. But, there is yet another way the gaming community talks about this game, and that will be our focus in this article.
Namely… have you heard Cyberpunk 2077 be called “Grand Theft Auto V set in a sci-fi universe”?
Can Cyberpunk 2077 Actually Be This Year’s Grand Theft Auto?
Let’s approach this question with an open mind.
Yes, of course — Cyberpunk 2077 is a whole another game with its own, very different story. Despite the opportune discussions around Rockstar and GTA VI, Cyberpunk 2077‘s release can’t resolve tensions growing within the more and more impatient GTA fanbase.
However, that’s not to say that Cyberpunk 2077 can’t show Rockstar how to excite their players and what direction to take GTA VI in to make up for their mistakes! Right?
We will skip the muddy logistics of “showing Rockstar how it’s done” and look to other misunderstandings between the player base and CD Projekt Red in regards to what kind of a game Cyberpunk 2077 will be.
It’s all too easy to see Cyberpunk 2077‘s scenes of car driving in demo footage and imagine teasing banter, contract crime missions, and chaos of law and violence of GTA V to follow. Many major games in the past fell under these associations, which defined their reception within the community (think Sleeping Dogs, Watch Dogs, and Just Cause). A term “GTA clone” began to define a kind of a sub-genre of video games with a defined list of tropes.
Absence of certain items from the list could mean disappointment, while inclusion of others could mean lack of originality.
We can definitely draw a plenty of parallels between GTA V‘s themes, cultural messages, combat, and Cyberpunk 2077‘s own presentation of dystopian society. Will that line of thinking cause more misunderstandings in regards to the story-focused first-person RPG gameplay? Arguably, we can already see how studying the game through the lens of GTA can affect the tone and the reception of Cyberpunk 2077.
Cyberpunk 2077 Lightens Up its Story Perspective or… Does it GTA it?
If you haven’t already, I suggest that you watch the E3 2019 Cinematic Trailer and the 2020 Night City Wire Story Trailer to understand the point I am about to make. In 2019 we saw Jackie’s bloodied corpse, V’s disheartened determination, and DeShawn’s cold-blooded betrayal. It is gritty, it is grim, it’s unnerving in a thrilling kind of way.
The 2020 trailer is likewise covering the events of the prologue of the story — that has been confirmed by the developers. Yet, this one is punctuated by Jackie’s friendly laugh and entertaining dialogue lines, a stranger buzzed by the simulated sex scene in his headset, pleasant rendezvous at the night club, and quick montage of the scenes of V and Jackie in a kind of a buddy crime comedy.
Merciless violence, gore visuals, and even the somber encounter with DeShawn are retained within, but the upbeat music and the implied story delivered by the rest of the trailer provide for a comfortably playful tone.
Each trailer suggests different things about the game’s story and focus. Neither has to confine or define what the experience of the game will be like. However, each of the two trailers will still elicit different kinds of associations from the viewers, especially if they do not spend hours of their time studying lore and gameplay of Cyberpunk 2077. Which of the two, do you think, would make a viewer think that Cyberpunk 2077 is trying to attract the GTA V fanbase?
Are These Associations Intentional?
What we know, however, is that the developers of the game are not trying to make it a Grand Theft Auto successor, at least intentionally. Since their early interviews about the game CD Projekt Red was insistent that Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG game, driven by its focus on the story and the consequences of players’ approach to problem-solving.
A significant amount of the gameplay will be spent in dialogue mode, working with and within individual factions, making setting-altering decisions, and on strategically advancing your character’s abilities. How destructively and chaotically you behave during missions or behind the wheel will all have far more serious consequences on your progression. In other words, the differences between the Cyberpunk 2077 and GTA V experiences can easily begin to outweigh a few similarities they share. At that point only specific features and missions of one game can be compared to the other.
Arguably, this means that Cyberpunk 2077‘s case is no different from any other sizable, multilayered title which can be compared to a number of video games out there.
Parallel Worlds of Cyberpunk 2077 and GTA V
Yet, let’s return to the concept of expectations and why some players begin to roll back their opinions, fear “overhyping” of the game, or put a lot of significance onto supporting elements (for example, the smoothness of driving controls and the progression of job-based quests).
Some of it can understandably arise from multiple years of waiting and the events within the gaming community that occurred during that wait. Here is an interesting perspective: Cyberpunk 2077‘s Teaser Trailer came out at the beginning of the same year as GTA V‘s release.
So, just as the fans waited for any news regarding the sequel to one of the most popular titles in the video game history, CD Projekt Red drew attention with their success with Witcher 3 and the inspiring promises over their Cyberpunk game. It’s easy to see how a part of the GTA playerbase felt attracted to the project.
Now, in 2020, Cyberpunk 2020 TTRPG views confront the Witcher fanbase and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim history, to then stumble upon first-person shooter impressions and passionate Grand Theft Auto conversations. Sometimes the feedback and opinions from these groups begin to clash and CD Projekt Red have to make decisions based on what their targeted fans will enjoy while keeping faithful to their original vision.
So, is it problematic that a lot of the audience members anticipating Cyberpunk 2077 are Grand Theft Auto fans, propelled by their long history of waiting for their favorite game’s sequel?
Well, it doesn’t look like CD Projekt Red is giving in to the expectations of any of these individual fan groups fully, especially in the game’s late stages of development. Because of that it’s hard to imagine that anyone’s vision will override the intended identity of Cyberpunk 2077 in its final gameplay.
It’s likely that we will see more heated discussions in regards to Cyberpunk 2077‘s gameplay and further comparisons or criticism over certain features being included, being worse, or entirely absent. However, ultimately, there isn’t a lot of data to back the game following GTA‘s model, or set tropes of any other game, for that matter.
This does seem to cause some confusion among fans of individual popular open-world AAA titles but, at the end of the day, this also means that Cyberpunk 2077 will be a game of its own.