We’re now less than six months away from the release of what’s already the most anticipated game of 2020 – Cyberpunk 2077, a sci-fi RPG from the people who brought us the decidedly unfuturistic The Witcher series. We spoke with CD Projekt Red’s Krakow studio head, John Mamais, to learn more.
Following the long history and lore-rich universe of The Witcher with something entirely different was always going to be a risky move, and Cyberpunk 2077 already has hungry RPG fans salivating over every scrap of gameplay footage.
“I think a lot of people had burned out on The Witcher after working on it for so long,” says John Mamais. “It’s a cool thing to be working on, but you can have too much of a good thing. And cyberpunk itself fits well with RPGs – body modifications, customisations – it fits for a company that makes RPGs.”
While a decade of Witcher experience has CD Projekt Red now operating at a true AAA level, Mamais says the process of crafting these huge, sprawling epics doesn’t get any easier.
“I think we’ve learned a lot – but the funny thing is, we’re making a lot of the same mistakes we made on those games. Getting into a completely new IP, it was hard. The Witcher took us a long time to perfect, but with Cyberpunk we need to do it right on the first game. We’re doing a lot of things better now.”
As for the size of the game, Mamais notes that comparisons to the sheer size of the map in The Witcher III aren’t really fair. The game’s added vertical dimension (buildings and areas with multiple levels are everywhere) makes like-for-like comparison impossible anyway, and CD Projekt is actively discouraging the idea.
“…but you’re not comparing apples to apples. This is an orange we’re making.”
“We shy away from talking about that, because we don’t want to make comparisons based on the size of the map. But in terms of content, there’s more content in Cyberpunk than there was in The Witcher III, for sure. And we did say it was going to be bigger… but you’re not comparing apples to apples. This is an orange we’re making.”
This particular orange will also get a bespoke multiplayer mode, something never attempted with the Witcher games. But that mode, whatever it entails, won’t be seen until after the game launches – and it’s not taking development time away from making the best single-player experience possible.
“I can tell you that we’re not working on multiplayer at all in my studio,” says Mamais. “We’re totally focused on the single-player game. There’s no mixture of ideas floating around that will cause multiplayer to affect the single-player game.”
With nearly 500 people working on that game right now – including over a hundred at Mamais’ satellite studio – players can expect a unique, state of the art experience next April, pushing the current console generation to its limits. “Right now, we’re just making this game for the current-gen consoles. We don’t talk about the new ones. But we’re excited about them. I can’t wait to play around with those and see what we can do with them.”
At the centre of attention for Cyberpunk 2077 right now is the game’s star, Keanu Reeves. “We were writing the story and the character evolved to a point where it clicked with Keanu Reeves as a good choice of actor for Johnny Silverhand. I don’t know what our backup plan was – he liked it, so we got lucky!” While Reeves is the big name on the marquee, Mamais suggests announcements of more cast names may be on the way – but for the moment, he’s giving nothing away…
Cyberpunk 2077 launches April 16, 2020 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Pre-order from JB Hi-Fi here.