Right now the game dominating headlines is Cyberpunk 2077 – Cyberpunk this and Cyberpunk that. I honestly believe some players expected this game to change the way we see a perfect game going forward, though whether it’s done that in practice is another story. But what if I told you the epitome of a cyberpunk world already existed years before Cyberpunk 2077 released? It lives in a realm parallel to ours. Just relax, open up your mind, and make some maximum head room available for an MMO sandbox!
You don’t need to go out and buy new hardware or fake a smile while looking at those awful textures rendering on your ten year old console. No, no, no my friends. A real cyberpunk world that can bend and change according to your whims is waiting for you in Hackmud. I’ve told you about my love of it before, but this time let me tell you why it is the definitive cyberpunk MMO you should be playing, especially since we’re years away from Cyberpunk 2077 opening its own multiplayer doors.
A futuristic dystopian world whose only limits are your imagination, literally
The world of Hackmud is absolutely chock-full of cyberpunk themes and visuals. Just looking at that colorful, rainbow of a terminal brings back thoughts of all the classics in the genre from WarGames to Hackers and even Blade Runner if you squint a little.
You can’t ignore the music that plays in the background throughout the game either. It has just the right beat to hack to. Most of the time it’s just a real nice, subtle ambiance to your game experience. Then other times it picks up with a quick driving beat that starts to get your heart racing while you slam out the keystrokes to hack into whatever you are attempting to unlock.
While the game is a total sandbox, where you can create anything you can program and script; it does introduce you to the game’s world brilliantly. As I noted earlier, the tutorial is a full single player campaign that introduces you to the whole Hackmud world. It’s a world that may or may not still have life. (Although if you could download your consciousness perfectly into a digital format, where an AI could reach the exact same conclusions and take the same actions as you do in the meat space, who’s to say that isn’t life too?)
The game is entirely text-driven, even though it can be animated and still looks very nice, so there isn’t a 3-D space that tells you what the world looks like. Instead it is entirely in your own mind. Having played the tutorial and through some of the rooms, I can say that it is completely up to you to determine what the limits of the game’s world are.
You can be anyone you want to be
In Cyberpunk 2077, you can give yourself a ding-dong or a ba-donka-donk that we’d all be very impressed with, but the game itself will tell you what kind of gameplay choices you have and what types of results you’ll get from those. I’ll admit too that I haven’t played through the entirety of Cyberpunk 2077, so I don’t know all the game paths available. It might even be the greatest and most diverse set an RPG has implemented, but it still can’t compete with a complete sandbox MMO. Don’t get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoy games with light side and dark side choices. But I think we’ve all seen that a couple of choices with a couple of different outcomes don’t really provide you the full freedom to be whoever you want to be.
Sure, saying that you can be whoever you want to be can be said of just about any MMO, but I think Hackmud takes it up a notch. Do you want to play as a white hat, black hat, or something else? You might want to roleplay as some kind of big shot, doling out credits to players for something in return. Or maybe you want to be a samurai and take on a player who seems to have it all?
All it takes is the effort and time to create the tools you would need to pull off your grand schemes. Some players have even created little gambling games. I played a very interesting version of Tetris that was challenging and had a daily high score board. If you can imagine it, and take the time to build it, you could even make your own RPG inside this MMO.
Why wait for 2077 multiplayer when an MMO already exists?
Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t even have multiplayer yet, much less anything resembling a full-fledged MMO. But in Hackmud, when I completed the tutorial and entered the main lobby, there were dozens of other players (or at least the appearance of players) chatting about the game and doing things. Some of the players were helpful – some of them not so much.
And don’t let Steam charts and all the jazz scare you off of the game. I know when I was logging in and playing the world felt alive. And when it comes to MMOs, that’s what really matters the most. Does the world I am inhabiting and interacting with feel alive? For me, Hackmud was a resounding yes.
Quests, missions, and puzzles to solve
You can take on jobs and missions in Cyberpunk 2077, but you can just as well take on interesting missions in Hackmud too. And from some of the news I’ve read, taking bounties from cops in 2077 to take down gang members isn’t exactly the “fighting the power.” That isn’t very cyberpunk to me.
Even after you’ve completed the game’s tutorial, there are additional quests and missions you can take to earn some credits and build up your character even if you don’t want to directly PvP other players. Beyond that, community and developer events and puzzles are still alive and well. Just last week Drizzly Bear announced some community Christmas puzzles. The game goes above and beyond simple developer only made quests and even enables players themselves to put together events.
With all that said, I hope players take another look at Hackmud. Who really needs Cyberpunk 2077 when a real, actual cyberpunk MMO already exists and is just waiting for you? What are you waiting for? Jack in and go hack something!