CD Projekt RED have made a name for themselves in the last decade or so for making RPGs that not only present players with tough, engaging choices in narrative and gameplay, but also give those choices weight by having actual consequences for them. That is something that a lot of games and developers claim to do, for sure, but sadly, it isn’t something that actually happens as much as we hear about it.
Cyberpunk 2077 is certainly going to live by that philosophy as well, as you might have guessed already. Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop RPG that the upcoming CDPR game is based on, recently sat down for an interview with YouTube channel LastKnownMeal, and he revealed that the game indeed would have a proper choice and consequence system, and that it would be quite similar to what was present in the original tabletop RPG as well, in that there wouldn’t be a “good and bad” karma system, but that there would be choices that would have a proper impact on how the story progresses, and on what happens next with the characters in the game.
“One of the binding philosophies of the game is that your actions have consequences,” Pondsmith said. “And that also goes back to the original sources in the tabletop game. In the tabletop game, there is no system for karma- good things, and so forth. But you can pretty much guess that if you blow away some guy in a gang, his gang’s going to remember, and they’re going to find you. That is realistic, that is the way things really go.”
“Sometimes karma isn’t really meted out in a nice, neat “dark side, light side” way,” he continued. “Sometimes it comes and bites you in the butt in ways you never expected. We were kidding the other day in the office about that moment when you’re driving on the freeway, and somebody cuts you off, and you flip them off, and then you go into the bank, and there’s the guy you flipped off behind the counter! This sort of stuff happens!”
“Karma is not a black and white thing,” Pondsmith went on. “But your actions do have consequences. In the original trailer, I loved the fact that the music piece they picked was called Personal Responsibility, because it sort of said everything right there.”
Honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything less from CD Projekt RED. The binary “black and white” karma systems never did feel too authentic, and they’ve become a thing of the past now. The Witcher 3 stunned everyone with how it factored in the player’s choices to have actual consequences for all of them, without ever being clear about what’s “good” and what’s “bad”. I honestly can’t wait to see how that same sort of thing turns out in Cyberpunk 2077 as well.