The text bit of this is going to assume you’ve already watched the gameplay demo, because there’s no way I could ever do it justice through something as simple as a description. If you have not seen it, please do.
Still here? Great. Let’s keep moving.
It was the question on the minds of all the media persons and reporters who first got to see this demo behind closed doors, and it’s now the question of the entire public who just got done watching it: “Is that real? That can’t be real. If that’s real…”
By “real”, I don’t mean real footage. It’s clearly real footage: Everything shown is in-engine, the gameplay demo is far too long for that to be a faked, vertical slice of the game. By “real”, I’m asking if this demo is truly the result of a player choosing a set of options among many, and if their experience would not have suffered had they chosen any other options.
What do I mean by this? To be frank: This demo positively reeks of fake gameplay-showcase bits. Other games in the past have featured what they claim to be ‘real gameplay’ in shows and demos, shows that have impressed and pleased crowds but have then ended up being a very poor representation of the actual game experience.
The common connection between those demos and this one is how personalized everything feels: When V goes to see the Ripperdoc after accepting her mission, she goes through a dialogue sequence that mentions the mission she just took. If she had gone to him before accepting the mission, what would they have said to each other? Would the conversation have been as dynamic? What might change? Would V mention her doc to the person who gave her the job? Would the job-giver have noticed V’s implants?
In addition, when V is driving and is attacked on the road, she asked her partner to ‘take the wheel’ for her while she shoots out the window. There was no indication that this process required the player to input a command – Was control automatically taken from the player during this on-rails shooting sequence? What would the player’s options have been if this event had occurred while their partner was NOT in the car with them?
And finally: During the final boss-fight sequence of the game, the player encounters the final opponent while he is still getting into his protective gear. In the demo, the player takes the time to scan them and learn their weakness, but this takes about 5 or 6 seconds – more than enough time for them to rush up and shoot the weakness automatically – Say this is the player’s second time playing through this game, or they saw a video walkthrough online… However they did it, somehow they’re already aware of the weak point without needing to go through the scan sequence. Would it have been possible for them to disable this boss before it ever became operational, or would the boss have been invulnerable until it got set up?
Not to mention: Even during the gameplay sequence, the player learned of the boss’s weak point through what the game stresses is an optional upgrade they got earlier. How would the fight have gone without them being able to know about the weak point? Would the scenario change, or would the boss have just been MUCH more difficult to kill and have taken way longer?
There’s a lot of questions here. A lot of disbelief. And I believe that’s a good thing because the disbelief is coming from the notion that what was shown here is too good to be true. Way too good.
I write stories for tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. I believe this allows me to create more personal and impactful stories than those featured in video games because I don’t need to develop assets or graphics for the adventures I create, just text descriptions and lines for other characters in the world. But this demo blew me away. I’ve never written a story that immersive, a world that connected. If this is real, it’s a real game changer.
I wouldn’t believe it from anyone but CD Projekt RED, this game’s developer: A developer with a reputation so good, so incredible, that they just might be able to actually pull off something of this scale. Something that will be used as a point of comparison for other games years and years in the future.
And, hey, what the hell. It’s been a while since I wasn’t the cynical voice of reason on things like this. I’ll buy into it. After all, CD Projekt has proven themselves in the past that they can reach limits unknown to any other developer. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with a little faith.