Breaking down the Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Wire episode

With Cyberpunk 2077 being delayed to November 19, it leaves everyone waiting with bated breath for new information. The Night City Wire livestream was CDPR’s way of getting the updates to us and with the first episode done and dusted (you can watch the full episode HERE), here’s what we know.

The content packed twenty-five minute episode included the new trailer called “The Gig”, details on the world and some of its characters and classes, an announcement of Edgerunners – an anime collaboration with Studio Trigger and Netflix, and an in-depth look at the “Brain Dance” mechanic.

The world… and Night City

From what we could see from the episode, the consensus is that the game is “overwhelming” to say the least, but in a good way. While a chunk of the gameplay and narrative would center around Night City, there’s confirmation of the option of exploring the vast Badlands that surround said metropolis. While Night City is centered on the massive cyberpunk aspect focused on urban combat, heists, and netrunning akin to Bladerunner or a William Gibson novel, exploration of the Badlands takes a more Mad Max or Rage approach interacting with nomads and exploring a barren but dense locale filled with its own dangers and curiosities. I’m excited to see how exploring the open world will be implemented.

Going back to Night City, what we see from the trailer is reminiscent of the game’s prologue. If you’ve been following the trailers presented during its development years: it’s shown us a failed heist of a chip that grants immortality (betting on the fact that this is a red herring that’ll lead to corporate espionage, corruption, and a secret that will bring down the status quo as we know it, gasp!); this trailer shows a more in-depth look at the planning process of the heist as well as the protagonist’s relationship with Jack and dealing with the fixer Dexter.

Night City is more fleshed out in the discussion after the trailer. Relationship building with the Mox Gang is discussed, akin to the same way one builds a relationship with various factions in Witcher 3 such as the Niflheim Empire and the Temeria Rebels. NPC interaction is discussed, further expanding discussion with the Fixer class, who usually are the go-to NPC for quests and to purchase items. The Reaper Docs in the form of NPC character Victor Vector has been explored. Reaper Docs are the NPC where one can purchase and install cybernetic implants. 

Cybernetic implants are a major part of Cyberpunk 2077; they turn your body into a powerful tool to aid with your quests and through various interactions with the world. This can be seen thematically from a character that’s been brought over from the pen-and-paper RPG counterpart Cyberpunk 2022 — Adam Smasher — who has turned his entire body into a fully functional cyborg because of his loyalty to the Arasaka Corporation. To speculate further, one of stats on the character sheet in Cyberpunk 2022 is the empathy stat. The more one uses cybernetics, the more one’s humanity is lost in the process. I hope they bring this feature in Cyberpunk 2077.

CSI, Cyberpunk style

Video courtesy of IGN

At the very end of the episode, we deep dive into the ‘Brain Dance’ component of the game. The concept of Brain Dance or BD is the concept of watching a pre-recorded experience of another person. It is a hot commodity in the streets mostly utilized for adult entertainment. You are able to be in the same moment of said character; to taste, touch, feel, see, hear, smell, and experience the moment. If you’ve seen Altered Carbon, there are moments where characters could watch a person’s memories and the same concept could be seen in Black Mirror’s “Story of You”. It is being positioned as a window to the lives of other Cyberpunk 2077 characters and NPCs. 

How it works gameplay-wise and as a narrative tool is that an editor mode in BD that could be accessed to have an omnipresent mode to find out details recorded through that experience. As a voyeur, you will notice various details that the BD recorder probably overlooked while in the moment. The scene we viewed in the episode presented a convenience store robbery gone wrong and ended up with the subject being shot. The designers referred to it as a “XBDS” or by its street name “Flatliner”. Missions that involve an investigative aspect could navigate this feature in a more real-time mode from the perspective of the victim or suspect who recorded said BD. The cyberpunk-style investigative feature is not new as seen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Heavy Rain, and Detroit: Become Human— what makes BD stand out is actually living in the moment of the recorder.

Speculating further than what has been discussed, there’s unlimited potential with this feature. We could have in-game content sharing with other players using their shared BD to the system server. It could work like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s ‘My Story’ mode where we could have custom adventures designed by players. Or we could use it the way Night City denizens would — for adult entertainment.

We can only hope for the next episode to feature more updates and other surprises down the line. Maybe there will be more Johnny Silverhand or Keanu2077 action on the next episode of Night City Wire but until then, consider the hype train running at full steam.

In the mean time, enjoy these utterly fantastic screenshots from the game.

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