CD Projekt Red has made it clear to fans, through the numerous trailers, press releases and development updates, that immersion is going to be a very important facet of Cyberpunk 2077.
Senior gameplay designer Pawel Kapala recently spoke about an aspect of the game that hasn't been addressed in detail before, though we have seen evidence of it gameplay footage - destructible environments. As it turns out, V will be able to wreck much of Night City during their adventure.
Immersion, as a word, has been worn paper thin by AAA game marketing over the years, devolving into a generic buzzphrase that doesn't really mean anything anymore.
That said, based on what we've seen in various gameplay demos, as well as CD Projekt Red's track record (The Witcher 3 jumps to mind), immersion will, in fact, be meaningfully present in Cyberpunk 2077. This bring us to the topic at hand, destructible scenery.
We put a lot of emphasis on having destructible environments overall in our game. Players will experience things ranging from very simple, so for example, if you have a shootout in a bar, and you’re shooting the environment, you will see glasses exploding, or things like beer bottles disintegrating on bullet impact. We wanted to have that feeling that, basically, after you’re done with a shootout, the place where you had the shootout is destroyed.
Destructible scenery has occasionally been a feature of AAA titles, but never truly became an omnipresent staple, hence it being worth its own piece being said in an interview.
Kapala spoke to VG247 in an extensive interview regarding Cyberpunk 2077's gameplay, mechanics and activities, with environmental interactivity cropping up.
Many games just bag this area of development by slapping bullethole sprites that fade after a couple of seconds on anything you shoot at, however an immersive game that markets itself as being cutting edge will need to to better.
We're not talking fully destructible environments like later Red Faction games or Battlefield, but there is going to be a high level of environmental reactivity. Glass shatters, shot pipes leak whatever they transport, bullet holes don't magically disappear and different materials react to force realistically.
We have stuff like destructible cover. So, we want the players to actually use some weapons to destroy the cover, so that the enemies are at a disadvantage. We have destructible glass. All of those things give you the feeling that the projectiles from your weapons actually carry power with them. And this also extends to stuff like, you will see bullet decals on most of the things, all of the things in the level. You will see different hit reactions. Like for example, if you hit a pipe with water in it, you will see the water sprouting from the place that you hit it. And this extends to nearly every object that we have in the game.
This also introduces a tactical element to gameplay, beyond just looking pretty. Cover can, in many cases, be destroyed or shot through with suitably powerful weapons. If you're in a brutal shootout with a group of hostile gangsters or cyberpsychos, then V won't exactly be safe when crouching behind a chest-high glass panel.
That said, in a world with auto-targeting smart guns, cover has dubious validity to begin with!