On Thursday, the first episode of "Night City Wire," a regular series that will contain exclusive information and content leading up to Cyberpunk 2077's Nov. 19 release, aired on Twitch. It contained a previously unreleased trailer, gameplay footage, an exploration of a new mechanic for the game and a content series announcement.
Here are my five takeaways from the 25-minute episode.
Content is king
CD Projekt Red is teaming up with Studio Trigger and Netflix to create "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners," an anime series that will drop in 2022. It will be a standalone story set in Night City, with new characters; it will not be a recreation of the Cyberpunk game.
CD Projekt Red's official description is:
"CYBERPUNK: EDGERUNNERS tells a standalone, 10-episode story about a street kid trying to survive in a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future. Having everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner -- a mercenary outlaw also known as a cyberpunk."
This isn't the first Netflix project for CD Projekt Red, of course, as "The Witcher" is set to enter Season 2 in 2021. I can't tell you how many non-gamer fans I saw on social media tweeting about "The Witcher." The formula of releasing some form of series alongside a video game franchise is a tried-and-true one, especially with so many content platforms to put them on. A Cyberpunk anime is a no-brainer and has all the makings of being a hit for both Cyberpunk die-hards and those new to the series.
The best line out of this part of the presentation that also hit home the most was from producer Saya Elder.
"Wherever there are nerds, there are anime fans."
We can Braindance if we want to
Men Without Hats reference aside, this was the crux of the presentation from a gameplay perspective: a new mechanic being introduced as the central tool in the game.
The easiest way Braindance was described was an immersive memory video. Sort of like The Matrix meets virtual reality for memories recorded in life. In the game, you will be able to watch other people's memories and experience them, change camera angles and look for clues within them, and essentially slice and dice -- pause, rewind and fast forward -- those moments to find what you need and experience them several different ways.
The lore of Braindance was also explained as an invention in the early 2000s (shouldn't we have it in real life by now?) at a university as a way to record memories in all facets. It was initially used for therapy and prisoner rehabilitation, but in 2077 it's a total industry for film, movies and video games as examples. The particular example shown in the presentation was a "Flatliner," where the person recording dies during the recording. Gruesome!
The point was stressed that this isn't just a collectible you pick up in the game, use in one part and discard; Braindance is used as a keyhole to the residents of Night City and is at the very core of the game.
This game could teach us more about non-playable characters than any other.
Free upgrade for next-gen
CD Projekt Red announced that people who buy the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will get a free upgrade if they move on to the Xbox Series X and/or PlayStation 5. The company said more info will be revealed in the weeks to come about that. This is a smart move. Other companies like Electronic Arts are doing the same thing for games that are cutting it close to the next-gen release, and that's just a very smart play to continue brand loyalty and favor.
There wasn't much Keanu, and that's OK
We got only a few seconds of Keanu Reeves, who plays Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077. He swore. That's it. But this presentation didn't need a lot of Keanu. There was enough meat on the bone here to not need the breathtaking star sizzle. I'm certain more of that will come in future episodes.
This show deserves its sequels
"Night City Wire" will be an ongoing series on Twitch leading up to the big release. I love that we have a series like this for a game so many fans are looking forward to. Whether we learn about the gang called the Mox, or characters like Jackie who are supposed to help us along the way, or get more announcements and gameplay and interviews with devs and those involved with the project, I'm looking forward to it.
"Night City Wire" won't be weekly, so the freshness will stay put, but if we get a show every few weeks, that will be more than enough to keep people hooked until November.
Overall, two thumbs up from me. The show boasted great updates about the game and the franchise as a whole and was entertaining. It had a good pace to it, too: The interviews weren't bland and didn't drag on. Now, I just need to read Pawel Burza's notepad.