Cyberpunk 2077: A World Review
There’s no question that Cyberpunk 2077 received a lot of backlash upon its release. Yet if players can tough it through the numerous bugs and glitches, then they may discover an incredible world to explore. In this review, we’ll be focusing solely on the Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay and the world that CD Projekt Red created.
Is Cyberpunk 2077 Actually Cyberpunk?
One of the first questions we need to ask ourselves in reviewing Cyberpunk 2077’s world is if it lives up the genre. According to Britannica, cyberpunk features characters that are largely part of the stigmatized or antihero class. These characters are trapped within a world of cutting edge technology, dehumanized society, and deep class divides. Cyberpunk 2077 has all of these variables, and then some.
There are two main characters in Cyberpunk 2077. Spoilers ahead, so beware. Obviously, the first main character that you play is V. There are three main backgrounds that you can select for your V. Other than the corporate background, the other two feature characters who are antiheroes and belong to a stigmatized part of society. The second main character is Johnny Silverhand. Though he belongs to a time before the world got as dirty as it is currently, he still can be classified as antihero since he’s a “terrorist” punk singer. Granted, whether Johnny becomes a true villain or retains his antihero title is largely left up to the player and their choices in the game.
The second factor is a dehumanized society. As soon as you enter Night City, you’re immediately aware of just how low human society has become. For one, you learn about how corporate wars have more or less destroyed the country everyone once knew. More than that, they even destroyed parts of the world with nuclear warfare.
Besides that, sex is rampant and is its pursuit. Thanks to things like braindances, citizens of Night City–and likely those across the world–are able to live out any kind of fantasy that they desire. Yet how Cyberpunk 2077 portrays the immoral decline of its society is done in a true, cyberpunk, way. Advertisements.
Because corporations are a core of the cyberpunk genre, and of Cyberpunk 2077 in particular, they have advertisements everywhere. And it’s clear that these corporations know that vanity and sex sells. The only things that matter in this world is pleasure–and getting more of it–and profit–and getting more of it. Each ad promises you either a pleasurable experience, a way to increase your wealth (or at least appear as you have) or sell you something that can further make you more machine than human.
Let’s not forget that Night City also promotes gun ownership among children. If that doesn’t say dehumanized, I’m not sure what else does.
Class divides are just as obvious. The world, itself, is built up into boroughs or neighborhoods that show a steady incline or decline in wealth. Even the ghettos have ghettos. You’ll find people sleeping on the streets, making camp in the local green zones, and even roughing it out in the landfills. Then there are those who live in incredible and towering penthouses. It’s a race to get as much money as possible and join the others at the top. And your character is stuck in that race as well.
In terms of setting itself up within the genre of cyberpunk, Cyberpunk 2077 certainly gets it right.
Characters and Citizens of Cyberpunk 2077
The next aspect of our worldbuilding review of Cyberpunk 2077 is the characters and citizens that fill the world. In regards to the characters that V can regularly interact with, you mostly run into fixers, a few love interests, and enemies. When building a world, whether for a tabletop campaign, book, or video game, it’s essential that you keep any characters that the protagonist runs into fresh and interesting.
Cyberpunk does this to a degree. The fixers, in particular, are well-written. Each one has a personality of their own–although that does tend to become a bit bland and generic when they text you–and feel as though they have actual histories that led them to where they are now.
One of the issues that CD Projekt Red didn’t handle so well is the love interests. Granted, I come from a love of Bioware and their incredible romance storylines. When another game states that it has love interests, I typically hold Bioware’s love interests as a standard. The problem that Cyberpunk 2077 has with its love interests is that there’s too few.
This is particularly problematic considering the world the love interests are in. With the many ways to change your body, sex, and appearance as a whole, one would think that the general population would be a bit more open-minded. This isn’t to say that concepts like heterosexuality and homosexuality are erased. After all, people love who people love. The real problem is that there’s just too few love interests and those that are available seem a little too strict in their likes and dislikes than a cyberpunk world should be.
Again, considering that you can literally change your appearance and gender in a cyberpunk world, concepts like gender and sexuality are pretty moot. Romances should be based on attraction, and for some that might mean a male or female presenting appearance, which is certainly valid. Yet it’d be nice to see a game that chooses to take a long route on the road of romance.
That’s an entire blog in itself, however, so let’s make this succinct by stating that Cyberpunk 2077 drops the ball with the number of romances. If you don’t like the one character that is attracted to your V, then you’ll just have to tough it out like I did.
As for the denizens of Night City, Cyberpunk 2077 did a good job here as well. Considering how large the map is and how filled it is with NPCs, the fact that they took the time to create small plots for some NPCs you just happen to walk by is wonderful. It’s these small details that make a world feel alive.
They also created an array of different characters. Sure, you’re bound to run into familiar faces–sometimes only a freet apart–but who’s to say those two individuals didn’t stop at the same store and buy the same face? You’ll find NPCs of various ethnicities, weight, temperament, and class.
Stumbling upon some clandestine conversation in a back alley is part of the joy of playing a game with an engrossing world. Creators and worldbuilders should take note of how Cyberpunk 2077 fills its world with minimal characters and gives just enough of them a history and simple plot to make players feel engrossed in the world.
The Language of Cyberpunk 2077
One aspect of worldbuilding that some beginners forget is language. While English speakers will likely stick to english as the language, you need to also think about slang. Cyberpunk 2077 clearly took great care in considering the slang and language that would exist in its world. Because of that, we can’t help but rate it high on its time spent thinking up new words and slang that makes sense within its world.
Language changes. How we speak today will not be how we speak a century from now. One only needs to look at our history to see how much our language has changed from the 1800s to today.
One of the biggest words you’ll hear in Cyberpunk 2077 is Choom. It’s basically a new word for “buddy, dude, friend, man,” and so on. You don’t have to understand where the word Choom comes from or how it came about. It makes sense in the world and enough people use it in the world for it to feel natural.
Cyberpunk 2077 excels at this because it doesn’t give you a dictionary of its new language. The designers and developers expect you to pick it up as you go along. It’s a part of the lore of the world and when it comes to these kinds of things, I certainly prefer that it’s up to the player to feel comfortable with the language rather than just having it explained or having it force-fed to us.
Lore Delivery in Cyberpunk 2077
The manner in which you uncover the history of the world in Cyberpunk 2077 is perfect. It gives you a few different ways to learn about the world. The first is by listening to the radio or the conversations around you. It informs you about events happening in Night City, the world, and before the events of the game. This is an organic way to learn about the world without making the player feel as though they’re just that–a player in a video game world.
Another way in which Cyberpunk 2077 devs reveal lore is by allowing your character to access the internet and reading up on the news. This also makes sense. The lore is placed on websites that have links to the town’s history as well as the region’s history. Just like you might click on any link on a web page to learn more about what’s happening, this felt like a natural method to learn more for me. You can also choose to sit back in V’s apartment and flip on the TV to learn about the events of the world and of Night City.
Finally, there are certain lore pick-ups that you can find scattered throughout the world that reveals more information. Some may be archived conversations held between a few people. Others are excerpts from biographies, documentaries, and interviews. Placed on items called Shards, you can refer back to whenever you want to review a piece of history. This system is similar to a codex that is popular in a lot of games.
In regards to lore delivery, Cyberpunk 2077 does a great job of offering different ways to learn about the world. It rewards exploration and uses methods within the world that makes gaining lore feel organic and realistic.
What Worldbuilders Can Learn From Cyberpunk 2077
There are a few lessons that worldbuilders can take from Cyberpunk 2077. The first is to enrich your characters with a history. When NPCs in your world have a history–even a small and simple one–it can make interacting with them more enjoyable for your players. You may also find that it’s easier to roleplay them. With a set history, you can quickly decide how it would impact the NPC and how it might make them react to certain choices that the players make. At the very least, each of your NPCs will feel different and unique.
You should also think about inventing slang or vernacular for certain regions within your world. Even if everyone speaks the same language, you can be sure that accents may vary with enough distance and isolation. With accents also likely comes slang that exists in that region that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Using slang words can differentiate your regions and the citizens that reside within them.
Finally, you should think about the ways in which you deliver your lore. For tabletop games, lore delivery can be difficult. Some of your players may not care. Others may want to know every detail. Using unique ways to explain and deliver may satisfy both parties. In medieval settings, you can always rely on books, plaques attached to statues, or even make a quest that takes your players on a tour of the city. Urban settings set in the modern or future world can mimic Cyberpunk 2077 in releasing lore through news broadcasts, websites, or displaced phones with intact messages.
What’s Your Review of Cyberpunk 2077
In summary, Cyberpunk 2077 gets a solid 9/10 in terms of the world it created. With a little bit more work done on the love interests, it would have received a solid 10/10. Otherwise, players should prepare themselves to explore a rich and inviting world that offers plenty to do and plenty of fun and interesting characters to meet. If you’re looking for a cyberpunk experience, then Cyberpunk 2077 won’t disappoint.
What do you think about the world of Cyberpunk 2077? Do you have any suggestions on how they could have made their world and lore better? Let us know in the comments!