Oh, Cyberpunk 2077. What went wrong? And why does it keep getting worse?
What Is Cyberpunk 2077
Back in 2013, Cyberpunk 2077 was announced. CD Projekt Red, the company that created the celebrated The Witcher video game series, announced plans for a video adaption of the tabletop game series Cyberpunk. Since then, hype around the game has grown and grown with each year.
The game takes place in a dystopian Californian city in 2077. The gamer plays a mercenary named V who is tasked with a dangerous heist. That heist then skyrockets the character into a large plot against one of the city’s biggest corporations. Meanwhile, V races to find a solution to his (or her) degrading health.
Apologies and Pushback
Unfortunately, the seven years of hype for Cyberpunk 2077 could not save Cyberpunk 2077 from public backlash. While many reviewers have praised the game for its fun storyline and game mechanics, many have also called out CD Projekt Red for releasing the game with many bugs and some significant gameplay failings. Many are calling the December 10 release an expensive Beta testing. And with faulty performance on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, CD Projekt Red itself has admitted to mishandling the release.
On that note, CD Projekt Red held a conference call between the Management Board and the company’s investors on December 14. In that call, co-CEO Adam Kiciński admitted that the management ignored signs that the game needed more time to refine its gameplay.
“We ignored signals about the need for additional time to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles,” Kiciński said. “It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy.”
The company has already announced that after the holiday break, developers will continue to refine and patch the game. There will be two major patches in January and February to get the game to a standard quality worth playing and purchasing.
Warning: The rest of this article includes SPOILERS for Cyberpunk 2077.
But then what brings us here? The fact that the game is buggy and doesn’t perform well on old-gen consoles is already all over the internet. But, the fact that some of the game’s marketed features are lackluster, specifically the romance dynamics, is not as heavily reported. So, let’s discuss.
When Cyberpunk 2077 was being marketed to gamers, CD Projekt Red promised a true RPG experience. Meaning, the ability to make meaningful choices.
“You will not find, really, a ‘filler’ in this game – Everything has a meaning,” said developer Pawek Sasko in June. “We put so much effort into making sure that everything is rewarding, is interesting; is talking about characters, as Patrick said, is talking about worlds, is talking about emotions. Touching the player in a real way. And I just can’t wait to find out what you think!”
Unfortunately, many gamers think the game feels very bare when it comes to game features. And one of the biggest draws to an RPG is romance. RPG characters love to spend time with characters, flirt with them, run around the game world with them, and sometimes have sex scenes with them. But when it comes to Cyberpunk 2077, the game’s romance options are pretty sparse and bland.
— Little Lord Natsume (@chonkynatsu) December 14, 2020
I'm honestly begging one of the promises @CyberpunkGame fixes is the promise of multiple gay romances. I'd really like to just be able to romance another dude who isn't 70+ yrs old. pic.twitter.com/XnwXz0gumj
— Mike (@14Mek) December 16, 2020
— Master ❌ Cortez (@masterxcortez) December 13, 2020
— Freyja (@xXFreyjaXx) December 10, 2020
What Was Delivered (And Gamers’ Response)
“I know a lot of people don’t care about romance in games but when they’re done right I always enjoy them,” wrote one disgruntled player on Reddit. “Which is why I’m kind of shocked to see there’s apparently only one primary romance for each gender-sexuality? I’m really confused as to how this is supposed to be the game where you can go and do anything, but if I’m a straight male I only have one romance option?”
“I agree as a dragon age fan and with all the interviews about romances I thought there would be way more options and actual DEPTH in those options,” wrote another in response to the prior comment. “Probably just not going to romance anyone even though I really enjoy it in RPGs.”
But the problem isn’t just the romance but also the sexual flings. When marketing the game, CD Projekt Red gave the illusion of a game riddled with adult themes such as sex work. But upon delivery, that side of the game is minuscule at best.
As a third Redditor later wrote, “Game lacks everything in the romance department. Kinda surprised there are only two prostitutes on Jig Jig street. For a mature adult open world, it feels kinda tame. Especially after Witcher 3.”
Make River Ward a romance option for all genders.
Make all the romance options for all genders, you guys made A LOT of huge "propaganda" of how this game would have more romance options than Witcher and more impact in the history. In the end almost all players have only 1 option.
— Ly (@LycorisDBD) December 11, 2020
What Was Delivered
So what did the game deliver that has disappointed RPG gaming fans? First, the romance options are limited to primarily one romance option per sexual orientation. So, there is one lesbian romance option, one gay male romance option, one straight male romance option, and one straight female romance option. On top of that, the straight male and gay male options are locked behind side quests. Players could go through the game without discovering them.
Next, the one-night stand options, which were marketed as a show of world-building and immersion, were lackluster. There is a bisexual woman that characters can interact with for a one night stand. Otherwise, there are a few sex workers, called joytoys in the game, that you can pay for “service.” But with those minor characters come cookie cutter sex scenes that all look the same.
On that note, the romance and sex features of this game are ultimately unsatisfying because of their lack of choice and variety. The announcement of these adult themes seemed more like a marketing ploy than actual immersive features of this game. Sex sequences are quick and copy+pasted, joytoys are all bland and beneath wasting time (also, all the male joytoys are coded as gay, which leaves female gamers in even more of a bind), and the inclusion of genitalia is more for the pitch of its inclusion than for any application. You’ll never see it again beside the main menu because of the game’s first-person perspective. But hey, CDPR got lots of headlines for including that (basically pointless) feature!
Ultimately, romance and sex in Cyberpunk 2077 was marketed as a viable sector of the game. But, frankly, its laughable at best. This is just another ball that CD Projekt Red has dropped. For gamers who have played other RPGs like The Witcher, Mass Effect, or Dragon Age, romance is a large part of the draw. It’s the fantasy and immersion that many gamers and gaymers enjoy. But, there’s almost nothing to enjoy in Cyberpunk 2077.
Perhaps CD Projekt Red will update these features in their January and/or February patches. Perhaps gamers will get additional romance options. Perhaps more joytoys with differing looks and personalities will be added to the game. Perhaps the heart in Cyberpunk 2077 will actually beat with new life. But that’s a lot of hopeful thinking. And as CD Projekt Red said themselves in their recent conference call, they’ve ruined a lot of the good faith they’ve previously built with gamers. Its hard to give them the benefit of the doubt at this point.
Gaymers, Cyberpunk 2077 is a fun game. But it’s also a pretty flawed and barren game too. If you’re looking for something fun and sexy to play during this holiday season and in the next few months… Cyberpunk 2077 may disappoint. Proceed with caution.