How “Punk” Cyberpunk 2077 Really Is


In many respects, the Cyberpunk 2077 online game, tailored by CDProjekt Red from the Cyberpunk Red tabletop RPG franchise, is a high-fidelity illustration of old-school Cyberpunk in all its gritty neon-chrome glory. Night City, the open-world setting of Cyberpunk 2077, comprises all the important thing visible aesthetic of a traditional cyberpunk metropolis – it is dominated by ruthless mega-corporations and crime syndicates, and its noir-genre outlaw protagonists alienated from their very own humanity partially resulting from cybernetic implants, however largely resulting from employers who deal with them like expendable instruments. At the identical time, the quests and over-arching plot-lines of Cyberpunk 2077 do not all the time lean into the “punk” side of traditional cyberpunk RPGs – that’s, the anti-authoritarian creed that values a rejection of consumerist tradition and defiant anger in direction of methods that management and oppress.


There’s a scrumptious irony in the truth that William Gibson, the creator that Cyberpunk 2077 owes a lot to, is not a very computer-savvy individual. His pioneering cyberpunk yarns – the Burning Chrome quick story assortment and the novel Neuromancer – had been written on a circa 1927 typewriter, and he solely acquired a desktop laptop for story writing close to the top of the Eighties. As a fascinated exterior observer of data know-how, the nascent web, and early arcade hack-and-slash video video games like Gauntlet, his career-making cyberpunk tales had been born from a mix of movie noir story-telling tropes, social commentary on Eighties tradition/enterprise values, distaste for the know-how fetishism of Golden Age sci-fi, and a wholesome dose of punk skepticism in direction of authority.

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The Origins Of Cyberpunk & William Gibson

Besides creating names for modern-day laptop ideas such our on-line world, Gibson’s novels additionally codified a few of the unusually anachronistic tropes seen in films just like the Matrix. This contains digital realities stuffed with unusual glowing polygons, laptop hackers that “jack in” to laptop decks with neural implants, and “street samurai” city mercenaries with cybernetic augmentations and warrior codes bastardized from Japanese tradition.

The Shadowrun tabletop RPG, which blends cyberpunk with D&D – model fantasy, and the Cyberpunk Red RPG, a straighter instance of the cyberpunk style – draw closely from William Gibson’s early Sprawl trilogy, that includes character creation methods and gameplay mechanics designed to let gamers create crews of “punk” cyborg criminals who reside an outlaw way of life free from company possession, however do should pay the payments by finishing missions of theft and subterfuge for untrustworthy purchasers. As a single-player adaptation of Cyberpunk Red, the online game Cyberpunk 2077 tweaks the foundations of the tabletop RPG so the principle character, a customizable “Edgerunner” avenue mercenary, can full harmful jobs solo and purchase extra cybernetic augmentations with out affected by disagreeable uncomfortable side effects.

The pleasant and bizarre NPCs of Cyberpunk 2077‘s story incessantly embody the outlaw punk aesthetic of the traditional cyberpunk protagonist, significantly within the case of the rock star-turned-anti-corporate insurgent Johnny Silverhand (voiced and mo-capped by Keanu Reeves). The participant character of “V,” nonetheless, is introduced extra as a gun for rent who’s extra all in favour of “sticking it to the man” and extra all in favour of turning into a legend individuals will keep in mind perpetually; this imprecise motivation does give gamers area to mission their very own beliefs and traits onto their online game avatar, however can also be one among a number of moments the place Cyberpunk 2077 fumbles the “punk” a part of the style it embodies.

Cyberpunk 2077’s Core Gameplay Can Trend Towards Violent Nihilism

The Legendary Antisurge ICE-Protected Netrunner Infovisor in Cyberpunk 2077.

As an motion RPG the place gamers tackle the function of a mercenary for rent, Cyberpunk 2077 and its Night City setting are stuffed with missions and quest traces the place gamers remedy their issues by killing individuals; gunning down crooks and cyber psychos, hacking the {hardware} of safety guards to make them self-destruct, and so on. The Cyberpunk style, centered round darkish polluted futures stuffed with crime and brutality, is actually no stranger to violent protagonists. At the identical time, it’s extremely a lot constructed round protagonists who rage towards the violence and cruelty of their world and battle for one thing higher (one good instance of this punk theme is the Flux State hub space within the Shadowrun universe, a flawed, however vibrant anarchist enclave in future Berlin that may be a main set-piece within the Dragonfall marketing campaign of the Shadowrun cRPG trilogy).

The extra flawed missions in Cyberpunk 2077 are nearly killing or stealing from random “bad guy” targets and do not give gamers an opportunity to be non-conforming rebels (significantly the missions the place gamers really work for the corrupt police of Night City); cyberpunk tales the place protagonists can solely select between having a boot on their throat or being the boot on another person’s throat aren’t significantly punk. Appropriately sufficient, Cyberpunk 2077 is at its finest when it provides gamers the possibility to be greater than only a gun for rent and interact in advanced, messy, and human actions. Side-quests the place the protagonist V helps an AI who runs a taxi enterprise, escorts an ex-convict who crucifies himself to atone for his sins, or goes scuba-diving via underwater ruins with a buddy actually stand out from the opposite missions in Cyberpunk 2077 and its open world.

Cyberpunk 2077’s Side Characters Can Be Superficially Punk At Times

A replica of Johnny Silverhand's Samurai Jacket in Cyberpunk 2077.

A bitter irony about real-world Punk tradition is that it began out as Do-It-Yourself and anti-commercial in ethos, however over time was itself commercialized by vogue corporations, big-name music studios, and large enterprise basically throughout a variety of mediums – together with video video games. An analogous paradox might be seen in Cyberpunk 2077, a online game that oozes contempt for large companies that accumulate climate and energy on the expense of the setting and the welfare of their workforce, but additionally occurs to be an AAA title made by a giant recreation writer and studio criticized for forcing online game builders right into a crunch tradition the place they work in fixed time beyond regulation.

Like many anti-corporate works of media made by companies, it is necessary to look at the Punk supporting characters of Cyberpunk 2077 and see whether or not they’re extra than simply the visible anesthetics of punk vogue. Some characters within the video games, when one appears previous their hair-styles, tattoos, unusual piercings, ragged clothes, and slogans, come throughout as moderately un-punkish, targeted on revenue, conspicuous consumption of the most recent fad, and carving out a snug area of interest inside their harsh establishment. In some methods, the most effective “punk” characters in Cyberpunk 2077 are usually individuals like Viktor Vektor, an retro ripperdoc walked away from his outdated glamorous life as a professional boxer to run a back-alley clinic, generously serving to the participant character and others in want with little considered reward.

More: Cyberpunk 2077 Is Missing A Crucial RPG Element


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