Character creation is always a vital part of open world RPGs. Everything from the hair length you choose when you first start the game to the upgrade options later in the story are things you need to think about carefully, and that’ll still be the case in Cyberpunk 2077.
The release date trailer during Microsoft’s conference focused on the spectacle and the reveal of Keanu Reeves’ character but Twinfinite had the chance to attend a 50 minute, behind closed doors demo of the game in which CD Projekt RED showcased how the character creation system will dramatically affect how the wider story and individual missions play out.
There is still all the cosmetic options that you’d expect from an open world RPG. You can change body type, gender, eye color, skin tone, hair, make-up, and beard length, some of which seemed to be set by a percentage scale.
Then there are also stats you can assign to certain categories, which allow you to build a character more suited to your play style. None of that is particularly revolutionary; it’s just what you’d expect from a game like Cyberpunk 2077.
However, other character creation mechanics, and how the basic aspects play into every decision as you play are very impressive.
First of all, you play as V, male or female, who has a biochip in them that is said to grant immortality. However, you can decide his/her past, which is done by a feature called ‘Life Paths.’
There are three options to choose between: Street Kid, Corporate, and Nomad, and they change the personality of your version of V. Before you begin, you’re able to choose between each one and that’ll be your character for the rest of the game.
Street Kid just refers to experience in the world. With that Life Path active, V will be more confident in conversations and will have more wit in dialogue that could open up different story moments.
Nomad is more of an unpredictable free spirit, able to drift from place to place, but it wasn’t clear how that would affect dialogue and story choice moments.
To me, Corporate was the most intriguing, though. It indicated that your V would have a history in the corporate world that collapsed not long before the time in which Cyberpunk 2077 takes place. It would allow her to be more manipulative in conversation and more confident in transaction-like situations. That could make for some really interesting character dynamics in such a volatile world.
The way that Life Paths impact the game most is in conversations with NPCs. When the dialogue options appear, you’ll often see choices that are only available to characters with particular Life Paths.
So, when introducing yourself to a seemingly dangerous guy who’s organizing a mission, as happened in the E3 2019 demo we saw, you could jokingly calm the atmosphere if you were a Street Kid V, making the whole situation more calm. Some of them will likely just be quirky options with no consequence, but they can also lead to new dialogue paths.
Beyond that, there are skills that influence dialogue options and missions paths. Starting with dialogue options, on top of the Life Path options you’ll see options that are depending on unlocked skills.
It wasn’t clear from the demo which color or icon refers to which skill, but you’ll see a fraction and the top number will be how many skills you have in that category and the bottom option will be how many you need.
For example, if you have invested enough in intelligence, you may be able to choose a different dialogue option to a version of V with technical ability skills instead. Your character creation choices having such an impact on dialogue ensures that you’re really invested in every interaction.
Then, those skills also impact how you can approach missions. During the 50 minute demo, we were shown that one build of V could hack into a base’s system to disable a security camera, whereas another build of stats could allow you to burst through locked doors to get past where cameras are if your skills don’t allow you to hack them.
There won’t be any preset, named classes, so the build of the character is down to you and it takes a lot of though to create a character that works well for how you play.
Therefore, depending on how you build your own version of V, the missions could be completely different to you, you’ll be able to explore different areas of the map, and talk to characters differently, which makes Cyberpunk 2077 unique to you and you’re creating your own story.