CD Projekt Red's upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077 will feature a first-person perspective. Usually that kind of information wouldn't incite a passionate fan response, but a vocal minority has made enough noise that the conversation around Cyberpunk 2077's perspective will not quite die. That means it bears discussing why the developer made the correct choice and why angry internet commenters should let it go.
Folks have known for a while that Cyberpunk 2077 would play in first-person. Cd Projekt Red announced the fact all of the way back in 2018 when they showed off the game's first footage. This caused concern in fans of the studio. Cd Projekt Red's Witcher series features third-person gameplay and many fans have come to associate that perspective with the developer.
For the most part, the conversation died down, until CD Project Red stoked the flames again when they confirmed that all of Cyberpunk 2077, including cutscenes and sex scenes, would feature a first-person view. This reignited the debate because fans now know that the game will feature deep character customization, and people wonder why the developer would bother if players can never see their character.
Cd Projekt Red has defended the first-person choice, but it hasn't helped. People still want the game to feature third-person gameplay. But fans shouldn't want that. They should trust that the developer knows what it's doing. After all, Cd Projekt Red has had nothing but hits so far, and the style of gameplay they've detailed has a long history of first-person perspective.
Cd Projekt Red has said that Cyberpunk 2077 will feature a smaller map than Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the developer's previous game. The team has justified this by explaining that Cyberpunk 2077 will feature a more dense, more populated world. The game will take place in a single location called Night City, and CD Projekt Red wants the city to feel real despite its futuristic style.
In Wild Hunt, players would hop on the back of their horse and steer Geralt through a wide-open world, across forests and meadows, upon long trails and over grand vistas that allowed players to breathe in the gorgeous scenery. It made sense to pull the camera out and show everything from a wide third-person perspective. After all, Geralt spent most of the game out on his own. Plus, CD Projekt Red hasn't given up on The Witcher which means they have a their-person franchise ongoing still.
For Cyberpunk, the developers want to create a more claustrophobic and dangerous feeling. They want to put players inside of Night City and force them to live there. Putting the game in first-person create's a tunnel vision for players who won't have the ability to seen things behind them. This creates a sense of presence, a sense of danger. Not only will it make the smaller map feel larger, but it will also make it feel more lived-in and intimate. It creates a better immersion.
Speaking of immersion, Cd Projekt Red has spoken at length about the ability for players to take numerous different approaches to any given situation in Cyberpunk 2077. Players can play it cool and talk their way out of situations, or they can go in guns blazing. They can take the stealth approach or maybe try a combination of all three.
This style of gameplay sounds a lot like the immersive sim genre. The developer has even addressed Cyberpunk 2077's deeply immersive nature directly. This genre aims to draw players into its game world by providing them with a simple goal and then dropping them into a sandbox full of different means to accomplishing it. CD Projekt Red has talked about Cyberpunk as an RPG, but games like Fallout 4 have blended those things together before with great success.
Immersive sim games almost always feature a first person perspective. They do this because they want the player to feel a close and personal connection to the world around them. They want to give players the tactile sensation of picking the systems apart piece by piece in order to break down the wall between player and game as much as possible. This kind of immersion doesn't work as well in third person, especially in a very dense setting.
But the fans who have made the most noise recently about this issue have pointed to the game's character creator and the game's cutscenes. They say that it feels weird for a team to spend so many resources on a character creation tool when the player never gets to see the character, especially with all of the cyberwar customization in Cyberpunk 2077. In their opinion, the camera should zoom out in cutscenes and show the player character.
Other games have tried this. In fact, the other big immersive sim cyberpunk shooter, Deus Ex, has a system wherein the player sees their character all of the time. The game operates in first-person, but in conversations, or when the character is in cover, the camera zooms out and shows the player character moving around.
This works, but it always feels really awkward. It feels like the game doesn't know what perspective it wants to be, and it makes it difficult to connect to the world in a consistent way. Immersion requires consistency. Look at games like Half-Life that critics celebrate for their commitment to first-person gameplay.
Giving players the chance to create a character, even if they never see it, will create a greater connection to the player character psychologically and will immerse them even more deeply in the world. The player plays a role in Cyberpunk. Similar to the way the in-game character augments their body with technological enhancements, the player will create a digital avatar in the style they want to play. To make this connection and then drop the player behind the eyes builds an emotional bond that will make the player disappear into the game world.
Cyberpunk 2077 looks to bring a dense and lively city to players. The first-person perspective will give that world a sense of liveliness and realism that it wouldn't have had before.
Cyberpunk 2077 releases April 16, 2020 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.