The great thing about CD Projekt RED is, it doesn’t shy away from saying exactly what it aims to do with its games. Not too long ago, the developer spoke about how the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 won’t shy away from discussing political issues, and while speaking with Edge (November 2018, Issue 324), quest designer Patrick Mills has re-iterated that point.
Mills spoke about how CD Projekt RED is a studio that wants to change the games industry, to show their peers how to do things, making the point that where other games or developers or publishers would have denied having any sort of political or social commentary in their game, that’s not what Cyberpunk 2077 is going to do at all.
“One of the things about this company has always been we want to show the game industry how to do things,” said Mills. “We want to change the game industry. We want to say, ‘We can do things differently, we don’t have to do things that way.’ It’s in our motto: ‘We are rebels’, right?”
What that means, according to Mills, is that with Cyberpunk 2077, the studio is going to be veering into political topics without any hiccups or hesitations, something he feels more other studios wouldn’t do.
“So when you’ve got other studios saying, ‘Oh, no no no, there’s nothing political here’, we say, ‘Yeah, there is.’ It’s not necessarily what you’re expecting, and we’re not going to talk about exactly what we’re going to say- it’s for you to decide when you play it. But Cyberpunk is relevant to today, extremely so. To pretend like it’s not? Come on. Mike [Pondsmith, Cyberpunk 2020 creator] wouldn’t let us. Mike would throw a fit if we tried to say, ‘This is just about cool hairstyles and cool guns, that’s all.'”
It makes sense, what he’s saying, to be completely honest. More than anything else, the very concept of a cyberpunk setting and everything that it entails involves a lot of topics that require thought, transhumanism being chief among them, so it wouldn’t really make much sense for a cyberpunk-themed game to shy away from such things- not if it wants to tell a proper story in that world, at any rate.
The only concern would be how smartly the game does it, because doing it in a very heavy-handed manner can be pretty much as bad as ignoring it completely. It needs to strike the right balance, which, if Mills’ comments (and CDPR’s writing chops) are anything to go by, it will probably end up doing. At the very least, CD Projekt RED can at least take a look at how Deus Ex handles it, because that’s a decent blueprint to take inspiration from.