E3 is about to start, but has already kinda started. This year, there has been no great anticipated game as this console generation cycle begins to spin to a close.
You might wonder why I’m even talking about video games here (and that’s a valid question, though you’ll likely find I’m liable to talk about nearly anything these days) and that is because I am a gamer and back in the day (and even today) you could not (cannot) always find other carbon based life forms to game with you when you want to. So it goes.
I’ve played Pong and other single pixel games where the pixel wasn’t a cutesy throwback and the pixels were the size of your thumbnail. I have played games on CRTs back when they were just called televisions. I have bought televisions that would display both in 4:3 and 16:9 ratio (to preserve the purity of a particular game play experience). I even had a television with split display so I could kinda watch other shows while I ground levels in Final Fantasy. I even remember a time before loot boxes.
We’ve already heard Sony is passing at this year’s conference and Kojima has already released his latest most excellent Death Stranding trailer a handful of days ago, after I had already praised the job they’ve been doing on teasing the game, and it’s coming out later this year. It will likely be my Game of the Year unless Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered manages to steal the prize. It’s going to be new versus nostalgia.
Back to Cyberpunk 2077. I had seen from a blurb on the home screen of my XBONEX a handful of games that Microsoft announced during the conference. We didn’t watch the show live like we normally do. We were playing modded Skyrim and having a great time. I saw Cyberpunk 2077 among Halo and some other stuff I wasn’t real excited about. Cyberpunk 2077, like I’ve said, risks overexposure with their teasing ads. We start the video of choice, Giant Bomb’s We Talk Over the E3 2019 Microsoft Conference). They expect nothing of note. We sit at the dinner table and watch a little. The show starts slowly with a couple of people from Ninja Theory announcing Bleeding Edge and its game looks weird: a melee 4 v 4 dredged from an alternative art style dripping with bizarre style and I immediately wonder if this will go the way of Battleborn (which I happened to love and hate at the same time). This wasn’t for us, but I immediately longed for them doing an open world Judge Dredd game in that style. (One can only imagine a Futsie doing an illegal boing from a block tower by Ninja Theory. Here’s hoping.) Anyway, Phil Spencer, the Head of Xbox, is on stage and has always presented well; warm and personable, he is a businessman with the pounding heart of a gamer. We notice he is not wearing his signature leather jacket. I suggest this is because Todd Howard (of Bethesda) tainted the jacket look with his Bethesda presentation last year and no presenter would want to be associated, even tangentially, with the Fallout 76 debacle. What can I tell you? I write and part of writing is observing and I go on to point out he’s nervous. He’s never nervous. Was it because the weight of the show was upon his shoulders (with no Sony presentation)? Was he anticipating a bad show? After a few moments, he fell into his regular groove and all went well. He lost the nervous tone in his voice and began doing his thing.
Then came the E3 moment I doubt shall be surpassed. Another Cyberpunk 2077 trailer ran. This threw off the GB (Giant Bomb) staff as V (the protagonist, a street samurai) has always been presented as a female. Our male V entered the scene and it took a moment or two to reorient to this change. I wondered why they changed to begin with as the scene progressed with V going into a bathroom to clean up after a job went sideways for a client who was not particularly happy. This is typical cyberpunk stuff if you ever played the actual roleplaying game or read any cyberpunk stuff. Things rarely ever get in the same city block as success. Next thing you know, our protagonist wakes up in the trash heap, with his systems coming back online (like in the original Robocop) and a familiar, gruff voice is talking to us, to V. First person perspective, a hand reaches out, a familiar face gazes down at us, shifts his 80’s sunglasses down to look us in the eyes and it’s NEO, JOHNNY MNEMONIC, TED, and JOHN WICK. Yup. It is Keanu Reeves.
We are floored. He walks out a few moments later, grinning from ear to ear on the stage and laughingly reads through his lines, astounded by the warmth, excitement, and appreciation in the room. Keanu Reeves is obviously not a gamer, but keep in mind he gets paid to play roles professionaly. He once again has amazed us by being in what is likely to be an iconic video game. If CD Projekt can keep more secrets hidden like this one and continues to give this upcoming title the time, talent, and attention it deserves, I have no doubt the studio will have another hit on its hands.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu.