Cyberpunk 2077 and the Teaser Trailer Blues


I know next to nothing about Cyberpunk 2077 — or the pen and paper game it’s based on, for that matter. Up until last week, if I’m being honest, I thought the game CD Projekt Red was working on was some untitled cyberpunk RPG, not one called “Cyberpunk.”

I’m coming into this whole thing totally fresh, with no preconceptions other than knowing that I really dig cyberpunk (that’s “cyberpunk” with a lowercase C). So I can only speak for myself, of course, and as someone who doesn’t know the source material at all, but I think the first sputterings of life from the Cyberpunk 2077 marketing machine puts on display a lot of what’s wrong with promotional content these days — and at the same time, it presents a hopeful alternative.

Two promotional videos are out there, to my knowledge. The first is this one:

It’s actually grown on me since the first time I watched it, but I just can’t get over how little it tells me about the game it’s supposedly teasing. I know — that’s often the rule for videogame trailers rather than the exception. Trailers have a bad habit, not only of saying nothing, but of lying outright. The marketing of Dead Island was infamous for the utter disconnect between its heart-wrenchingly beautiful trailer and the emotionally vacuous gameplay.

Take the cinematic trailer for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which may be my favorite videogame trailer of all time. It spoke to me of the grounded, human story to be found in Adam Jensen’s recovery from the augmentation surgery that saved his life; of the struggle with his literal, physical loss of humanity as a result. This was the same conflict, in miniature, that was raging outside in the streets — the conflict over human augmentation and its implications for us as a species. But the game glossed over most of those hard-hitting issues, mostly playing it safe with the traditional Deus Ex conspiracy stuff instead.

By contrast, the original Witcher had a pretty fitting trailer, introducing the player character and his profession, and even conveying a lot of the setting’s flavor with very little substance. Even though the game’s been put on hold (possibly forever), Prey 2’s is another of my favorites, combining some awesome Johnny Cash with what looks like a bounty hunt straight out of the peeks we’ve gotten at the gameplay.

So, if it seems to be so difficult to make a fitting, honest trailer for your game, is there some other way to get audiences hyped?

Well, yeah. This, for example:

On the one hand, you’ve got some flashy eye-candy set to cheesy music and with very little to say about the final product. On the other, you have an incredibly passionate guy talking in detail about something he obviously loves and believes in.

Any chance of us getting little more of column B and a little less of column A in the future? Please, games industry?


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