What seemed like an eternity of excitement, anticipation, intrigue and perhaps a few too many fan dreams, finally came into view this E3 when Cyberpunk 2077 — the long-discussed, next big project from CD Projekt Red — was officially unveiled to the world and while viewers may have only gotten a cinematic teaser as to the world and the tone they’ll be met with, if thoughts on the demo (shown only to members of the press) were any indication, Cyberpunk has only gone from anticipated to hotly anticipated in the space of nearly an hour. But with such a popular genre of fiction that is cyberpunk — one usually more embedded with social and even politically-orientated themes in and out of its main narrative — the question remained as to whether CD Projekt Red would in fact try and remain faithful to the original tabletop game, Cyberpunk 2020.
In an interview with this month’s edition of Official Xbox Magazine, Patrick Mills — a quest designer for Cyberpunk 2077 — explains that, in the team’s eyes, Cyberpunk as a genre is “inherently political” and that overall, the IP is “an inherently political franchise” as a result. “Cyberpunk 2077 is a game about people with power at the top and people at the bottom with none,” he explains. “That power can come from money, hierarchies, technology and violence. The original Cyberpunk 2020 setting, like the setting of The Witcher stories, was a complex critique of the author’s world, and we don’t shy away from that in our games. On the contrary I think it’s one of the things that sets us apart.”
In a separate interview, one of the game’s lead writers, Stanislaw Swiecicki, added to this when asked about the notion of video games tackling political themes. “I think what makes games powerful…the moments like when I feel that a scene becomes powerful, it’s when they touch upon universal human emotions, like fear, loss, love, friendship, trust, and sometimes that touches upon the politics spectrum. I think one shouldn’t stray from that. For me anything that makes you feel emotions…the emotions become stronger the more it touches upon you as a person the better. Sometimes politics is part of that in a neutral way. In the sort of storytelling we’re going for we really want to be a game for mature audiences, so it has to have all those things.”
While some, understandably so, may immediately be cautious — worried even — about the idea of politics perhaps encroaching a little too much on the overall quality of Cyberpunk 2077’s delivery, let alone its writing/story/narrative — given the “questionable” state of the industry in some parts — let’s hope CD Projekt Red can strike a balance between politics and genuinely fun gameplay when the game eventually makes its way onto PS4, Xbox One & PC.