2020 is an incredible year for games but, evidently, its also an incredible year for game delays – namely those of Dying Light 2, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Marvel Avengers and, my favourite, Cyberpunk 2077. This means an even longer delay to the already seven year wait since the first trailer way back in 2013.
Cyberpunk appears to be a close, personal, first person shooter/open world RPG, heavily narrative focused with each mission having multiple ways to finish. It’s easily the most ambitious project CD Projekt Red has ever undertaken and may be one of the most ambitious games of all time. Watch the hours of gameplay footage and every couple of minutes a unique mechanic or playstyle pops up that is worth talking about. Cyberpunk is a game journalist’s wet dream. Frankly, the fever pitch the current hype has reached is more than justified. I’ve watched and rewatched that trailer for perhaps the 50th time and it’s still as exciting and great as the first time. As the trailer says “> coming: when it’s ready” Unfortunately “when it’s ready” is a terrible thing to read for impatient old me.
We’ve been spoiled with promotional material including multiple E3 coverages, trailers and hours of gameplay footage. We just need the actual game now. So if you’re as impatient as we are, we’ve got you covered with these 7 games; games that will tide you over till Cyberpunk 2077 actually turns up. To give a nice overview, this list consists of some new, some old, some triple-A and some fantastic indie titles. As an added bonus, almost all of these games are cheap to pick up now and won’t dip into your Cyberpunk savings.
7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a masterclass in modern storytelling, character development and world building. Not only is this a fantastic game in its own right but it’s a great sign of how fantastic CD Projekt Red are as a team. Furthermore, Cyberpunk has had a longer development cycle and Adam Kiciński (joint CEO of CD Projekt Red) stated that the budget and upcoming sales of Cyberpunk 2077 are much larger than that of The Witcher 3.
Whilst different in tone and gameplay, I believe that the mature and overall brilliant storytelling will shine through in both games regardless. The stories within The Witcher 3 when contained to themselves would work just as well in any setting. They are intelligent, thoughtful and well designed. The Witcher 1 and 2 are great too but admittedly a little harder to get into, so The Witcher 3 isn’t a bad place to start. You can pick up The Witcher 3 and its excellent DLC in practically every sale that pops up.
6. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Whilst not my favourite in the Deus Ex franchise, Mankind Divided is undeniably the most technically impressive. It boasts great mechanics and storytelling and features some truly unique ways of finishing objectives.
Both this and Cyberpunk 2077 have futuristic augment-fuelled settings with a gritty tone and hints of governmental control and surveillance. They also both feature close visceral combat and a stealthy approach – if that’s the way you play games.
Mankind Divided is also very cheap to buy with discounts in all manners of sales.
5. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Larian Studios have a background in deep, old school RPG experiences.
Its reminiscent of the style set forward by Bioware and Black isle Studios with Baldur’s Gate over 20 years ago and its no wonder why they are developing the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is perhaps their greatest achievement to date.
This is possibly the closest video game players have got to old school Dungeons and Dragons. Its wonderfully smart with a deep mechanic system which encourages the player to figure out smart ways out of situations. A player once beat the entire game using magic and a chest that weighed an infinitely large weight. This is true creative freedom and absolutely worth your time.
4. 2064: Read Only Memories
This is admittedly a nostalgia heavy list featuring a lot of new games in old school styles. 2064 is the pinnacle of this.
It features a lovely 16-bit inspired graphic style, a chiptune laden soundtrack, a fully voiced cast and point and click gameplay. Where it’s similar to Cyberpunk is in its great storytelling and theming. Set in 2064, it features futuristic tech and visuals. Besides all these points, its just a genuinely great and heartfelt indie title reminiscent of one of my favourite titles, Snatcher.
This choice is perhaps a little less obvious and its not just because the vindicator and PPN-8 pistols look similar (which they do, by the way).
I chose Prey as it’s a severely overlooked title from 2017 that has a similar combat feel to Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay trailers – close, methodical and brutal. Furthermore, it has a focus on action-RPG elements and pseudo claustrophobic environments. Its an absolute delight exploring around the Talos 1 and great even for non-horror fans.
To top it off, Prey can be picked up for around a fiver on Amazon. Oh, and its Mooncrash DLC is phenomenal.
From one horror experience to another. >observer_ is a great psychological horror by the team behind Blair Witch and Layers of Fear – one of my favourite horror titles of the last few years.
Set through the eyes of detective Daniel Lazarski in the year 2084, your main ability is one to hack peoples’ brain implants for information. Not only is this a great gimmick, it’s a fascinating parallel between >observer_, Cyberpunk 2077 and the aforementioned Deus Ex, providing great social commentary on the depth of scientific progress and the downside on humanity’s over-reliance.
It’s also just overall great fun.
1. Fallout: New Vegas
By far the oldest on the list, Fallout: New Vegas has noticeable downsides due to its age. It’s not the prettiest game and has obvious gameplay flaws, but the test of time shows this game still has some of the strongest writing on the market.
I first played New Vegas almost 10 years ago and its stories are memorable to this day. It has truly interesting moral choices, great writing and impeccable DLC. If you can stomach its, frankly, ugly graphics you will find an outstanding gem that you yourself may heavy-handedly force into a gaming list in the future. Fallout: New Vegas and its DLC are backwards compatible on Xbox One and absolutely worth looking into.
That’s the list. In total you’re looking at 7 games, around £100 worth of cash investment and hundreds of hours worth of incredible content to get you ready for Cyberpunk 2077, with it now provisionally announced for a release on Xbox One, PS4 and PC for the 17th September 2020. One can only hope it’s not delayed again or I’ll have to write another one of these for you to make your way through. If you’d like more recommendations of a similar nature, feel free to let me know in the comments. Have fun!