Cyberpunk 2077, the upcoming science-fiction roleplaying game from The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red, is rooted firmly in the cyberpunk spirit of the late ’80s and early ’90s. As a genre, it is a mishmash of themes and imagery, spanning everything from body-horror to existential crisis, anti-capitalism to our sense of identity in the face of a changing world. What does it means to be human when the constraints of humanity are left behind?
There has always been a central premise that violence would be easy to come by in the dystopian worlds that cyberpunk stories tend to take place in, and that progress and technology would end up devaluing human life as the rich and powerful chased every greater power and profits. If you were wondering what the game would end up being like, and exactly how close it would venture into this type of territory, then a recent ESRB rating summary of the game is giving some clues. While the summary doesn’t tell us if the game will make you question your humanity because you own an iPhone, it does gives us some hints about violence, sex, and drug use in the game.
On the violence front, the summary mentions combat involving handguns, machine guns, rifles, and explosives being used again humans and “cybernetically enhanced enemies.” You can also use enhanced limbs and wrist-mounted blades to stab people. Additionally, there is a mention of some locations depicting “mutilated corpses with open chest cavities and/or exposed organs.” Finally, a line mentions hammering nails through a character to “assist” them, so make of that what you will.
Concerning sexuality, the summary mentions that “players can select a gender and customize their character; customization can include depictions of breasts, buttocks, and genitalia, as well as various sizes and combinations of genitals.” (There is a lot to unpack at the end of that sentence.) There will also be first-person sex scenes, for those who enjoy that sort of thing…?
With drugs, it would seem that references to fictional, futuristic drugs will be common, and the main character will be huffing something from an inhaler that alters their perception of reality. You can also drink so much booze that your screen will go weird, and there is the judicious use of bad language.
All in all, it rings pretty true for the kind of grim worlds that the cyberpunk genre tends to explore, but it doesn’t tell us if we get to ride a motorbike down the middle of a grim neon highway carrying some futuristic oligarch’s head on a pike. Here’s hoping.