Cyberpunk 2077 comes from a deep role-playing history with tabletop roots. Its class system came out of a different time, when roles were for role-playing as much as deciding abilities. A much needed revamp is on the cards, while staying true to the classes — and Cyberpunk 2077 will go with a fluid system that lets players chop and choose.
Before we take you down to it, please understand that Night City isn’t Paradise City. The grass is not green here (in the year 2077 it’s either non-existent or faked via holograms). And while the girls are pretty nothing is quite what it seems with anybody’s… body.
That hottie you’re flirting with at the bar could be one bad firmware update away from half their face falling off into their drink. Those sexy limbs you’re dying to have wrapped around you come closing time? They may just be sheathes for transforming blade tech borrowed from the General Grievous Spring Collection. You may need Kenobi-level reflexes to get out of this bar alive…
Cyberpunk 2077 is the next RPG from CDProjekt Red — custodians of The Witcher series — and it’s got our neurals fully amped. After witnessing the title at E3 2018 it’s gotten under our skin deeper than the sub-dermal augs we bought in the board game that inspired it — Cyberpunk 2020.
CDPR’s video game adaptation isn’t a 1:1 replicant of its pen and ink progenitor, but it will pay to have a working knowledge of 2020. You’ll need every edge you can get to stop yourself from being cyberpunk’d by the psychos inhabiting Night City.
This is How Cyberpunk 2077 Roles
The Cyberpunk 2020 equivalent of character classes were named “Roles,” of which the main rulebook contained nine (supplements greatly expanded this number, too). We’ll delve into the details of those in a sec, but for now all you need to know is that Cyberpunk 2077 ditches the pigeon-holing of Roles in favour of a fluid class system.
You won’t pick from an edgy, futuristic version of Fighter / Mage / Rogue here. CDPR has co-opted three of the named classes of 2020 and used them as a basis for three major branches of a skill-tree.
Other RPG tropes still remain, of course. You’ll have your attributes – Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Reflex, Tech, and…uh, Cool – but these are still quite malleable to the branches of NetRunner, Techie and Solo (more on these in a bit).
Interestingly, before you can set about defining yourself by your actions in Night City you’ll need to take a survey in the Life Path system. Yes, while you’re in the opening character creation menu – giving yourself an awful nose and mutton chops – you’ll need to give a brief indication of what your life has been like so far and what your motivations are moving forward.
According to our interview with cinematic animation acting lead Maciej Pietras, our backstory, class, and sex will all have big effects on how people will treat us in the world. But when it comes to choosing classes and roles, Cyberpunk 2077 will let you drift between each and pick the skills you fancy.
That said, 2077’s rudimentary questionnaire won’t go as deep as the War and Peace novel one needs to write before rolling some dice in 2020. The board game went into crazy depth, thanks to year-by-year timeliness, nationality, ethnicity – everything but your turn-ons and whether you scrunch or fold your toilet paper, basically.
Licence to Skill
No matter what your shady past is, when 2077 starts you’ll always be V, a ludicrously customisable mercenary who can nudge him or herself into any sex, skillset, or shape desired. “Techie” class skills will be for renegade mechanics and medics who are even less legit than Dr. Nick Riviera.
When you’re not being an organ-swiping, chip-ripping scumbag you can engineer your way into security panels to run bypasses on locked doors. Techies will also probably be quite adept at milking more performance from their items and weapons and augmentations while ruining the tech their opponents via malware.
Meanwhile, “Solo” skills are for the violent-minded among you. Soloists are bodyguards, soldiers, wet-workers – the sort of dyed-in-the-wool killers that Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg would keep on retainer. The fruit at the end of the Solo branches are lethal body augs that turn you into a living weapon, big gun proficiency, and one-use combat stims. (Think: a little pick-me-up to put other people down. Permanently.)
We spotted a bunch of cool Solo things in the behind-closed-doors demo. Expect to nab reflex neuralware that can turn the world slow-mo while giving the user normal-paced agency. Quick-slide dashing and sword arms will be something we’ll go out on a limb to get, too. Last but not least, we just can’t see the downside in a cover-thwarting gun that bends bullets. We can’t wait to go (Beck)ham on people with it.
The last branch on the tree sprouts towards “NetRunners,” Matrix-like users who put their physical bodies at risk by jacking into virtual worlds. Interestingly, we’ve seen these skills used to brain-hack unfortunate people. It was nothing so harmless as planting the inception of an idea – it was more a case of setting their head more on fire than a pissed off Ghost Rider. Here’s hoping we can hijack and commandeer NPC consciousnesses as well. A bit of cyberpunk possession, like the action in obscure 2000’s PC game Messiah.
Each Role from the board game had its own special ability, and now that nine playable classes have been cut to three, we can see some of these being absorbed by the survivors. While the Rockerboy might not warrant a full playable class, the “Charismatic Leadership” ability could be co-opted. And while the Medic isn’t a class, its “Med-Tech” ability would be right at home in the Techie category. Perhaps Nomad won’t be selectable, but could a quest, ability, or consumable item similarly call for the help of its “large, extended tribal family?”
NPCs Classier Than You
This isn’t to say that the six remaining classes in the 2022 rulebook have been ditched – the keen-eyed tabletop player will notice that these archetypes are alive and well in the large cast of NPCs. Night City is still home to Rockerboys, bard-types who use music to fight authority; Corporates, cybernetic versions of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman; and Fixers, the futuristic smuggler equivalents of Red from Shawshank Redemption.
Within the space of one mission during the E3 demo, we saw two of these classes. A Fixer and high-level Corporate acted as questgivers, each with their own agenda. It perhaps makes sense for Corporate to be an NPC Role — given this city is run by powerful corporations, it’s unclear how the power balance would work with a Corporate player class.
Also sure to be involved will be Cops, law enforcers cut from the same cool-ass trenchcloak of Rick Deckard; Medias, influential attention-seekers who wield considerable people power; and Nomads, ex-middle-class worker drones who have gone feral à la Mad Max. Our hope is that the unique skills and opportunities associated with these Roles will filtered into V’s repertoire over time. Possibly via bolt-on DLC adventures.
Who knows — with the aforementioned consciousness hijacking, perhaps you can play other Roles by proxy? Fingers are very much crossed.
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