Cyberpunk 2077 draws from a genre rich in parallels, allegories, and straight-up warnings for modern life, and developer CD Projekt Red has no plans to strip those away - even if it would be easier just to make a game about cool cyborgs wearing trench coats. In an interview with Official Xbox Magazine Australia (via PC Gamer), CDPR quest designer Patrick Mills talked about how Cyberpunk 2077 will address the deeply political themes of its source material.
"Cyberpunk 2077 is a game about people with power at the top and people at the bottom with none," Mills said. "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 [...] Cyberpunk is an inherently political genre and it's an inherently political franchise."
That idea is easily illustrated by the inclusion of Trauma Teams, the subject of the Cyberpunk 2077's latest official frame-by-frame trailer breakdown. In summary: rich people who can afford Trauma Team services get constant health monitoring and heavily armed teams of paramedics ready to revive them at a moment's notice, no matter how dangerous the situation, and poor people... don't.
Back when cyberpunk was coalescing as a genre, the idea of ever-widening income discrepancy, as well as people losing both their identities and interpersonal connections to machines, was a chilling portents of the future. These days it's reality. As such, there are many, many stories now that ask "what if technology, money, and power but too much?" I hope Cyberpunk 2077 keeps the spirit of its punk roots and pushes past that, using the undeniable talent of its developers to probe the edges of social problems that aren't so widely understood and criticised today.
Also, I hope it's super fun to run around and be a cool cyborg in a trench coat. There's no reason both can't be true! And speaking of gameplay concerns, Mills also made a very succinct argument for presenting the game in a first-person perspective (The Witcher series, which made CDPR famous, is exclusively third-person and/or isometric).
"There's a lot of things we get from first person, and part of it is being closer to the character and to feel like you're inhabiting that character," Mills explained. "But at the same time I would also say this: go play a third-person game, go play The Witcher 3, and look up. Just try to look straight up. You'll find that the [immersion] never truly works. It never feels like you are looking up. It feels like you're moving a camera around."
Yeah, alright. I'm sold. I mean… I still like third-person perspectives for a lot of games, maybe more than I like first-person, generally speaking. But now I'm really interested to see what CD Projekt Red can do with fresh scenery and a new viewpoint. One that can look up.
Read our E3 preview of Cyberpunk 2077 for a deeper look into the near-future world of Night City.