CD PROJEKT RED's upcoming open world epic, Cyberpunk 2077, simply has to be one of the most anticipated games of recent times. Following the hugely popular The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, the studio's latest project takes a dramatically different art direction, leaving the medieval fantasy behind in favour of the neon lights of a dystopian future in a way that appeals to me way more than The Witcher ever could.
Along with the vibrant new setting, expect plenty of technical advances too. With improvements such as multiple forms of ray-traced lighting, developed in partnership with NVIDIA and hopefully coming to latest gen consoles in the new year, Cyberpunk is a great looking game, and what better way to take advantage than through virtual photography. This clearly isn't lost on CD PROJEKT RED who have embraced the art form in full with a photo mode worthy of its own reveal trailer. Let's break down what is shown then and find out what camera tools are in store when the game launches on the 10th December.
protagonists in Cyberpunk 2077 definitely do feature heavily in the photo mode...
The first thing to notice, and I hope this isn't just an effect for the trailer, is a very cool glitch transition when moving from the game to the photo mode. Along with a stylised UI that sports a colourful neon glow, complete with a thirds grid that some of you will be pleased to see, the photo mode has a pleasing aesthetic that feels really in keeping with the art style of the game. OK, that doesn't make much difference to how anything works, but it's a good indication that this is a photo mode that has benefited from loving care and attention.
Something that definitely does make a difference to how things work is the freedom of camera movement and, although the trail may not show the full extent of the range, the UI reveals a fairly typical LS/ RS combination along with vertical craning on the triggers and roll in the menu. More interestingly though, is the "camera type" option that is shown set to "drone" on the first UI tab, as well as some sort of customisable preset options that could perhaps act like switching between predefined lenses.
Depth of field control is available through a separate tab that contains aperture value adjustment and an auto-focus toggle; presumably with manual focus becoming available when the AF is disabled and there is even an XYZ co-ordinate readout across the top of the screen should you want to get technical with the camera positioning. All in all, it seems like the camera implementation won't be holding this photo mode back.
everything from a relaxed lean against a wall to a bullet-time style diving shot...
To make every shot look its best, a rich list of post-process editing features includes exposure, contrast, highlights, vignette, chromatic aberration and film grain on percentile sliders, plus at least 15 preset filters that can each be fine tuned using the whole list of effects. Image customisation doesn't stop there though; masses of creative frames and image masks are complimented by background colour options and up to 5 layers of stickers that can be moved, rotated and scaled to give a vast amount of potential to create wallpapers, poster-style designs and really anything your imagination can think of.
Despite the game being entirely first person now, something that does not typically work well with character-based virtual photography, the protagonists in Cyberpunk 2077 definitely do feature heavily in the photo mode. As well as the previously revealed extensive character customisation options, the photo mode itself benefits from a set of posing options that look set to rival even those of Death Stranding.
Different categories, such as idle and action contain a host of entertainingly titled character poses, covering everything from a relaxed lean against a wall to a bullet-time style diving shot. Add a facial expression and the ability to actually rotate and move the character on XY-axes within the scene, and Cyberpunk may be the new benchmark when it comes to character shots.
As one final tease, the contents of the remaining tab labelled Load / Save are not revealed in the trailer. This is not the sort of thing that is frequently seen in a photo mode, so it will be interesting to see exactly what the developer has done here. Perhaps most likely is an option to save and reuse a selection of photo mode configurations that is similar to what we have seen in Days Gone; with the myriad of options available to create stylised work, that would be a welcome feature indeed.
Cyberpunk launches on the 10th December across PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Stadia with a next-gen console upgrade due in the new year. Will you be jumping into night city right away to test out the new photo mode, or waiting for those later versions. Mind you, with a free upgrade path for current-gen owners and a feature-rich photo mode like this, it almost seems rude not to.