Cyberpunk 2077 likely claims a top spot on just about every gamer’s most-wanted list. Though the sci-fi game has seen its share of delays over the years, including a recent one just this week, the title is ready to go as far as the main game itself is concerned. It’s already gone gold and been pressed into its master disc; the devs team just needs a few more weeks to get the Day 0 patch ready to go. So what are players in store for when the game finally arrives in just a few weeks?
Senior Quest Designer Patrick Mills spoke with our own Dennis Tzeng and Dorian Parks about just that. The highly anticipated CD PROJEKT RED release clearly has cyberpunk inspiration in mind (I mean, it’s right there in the name), but Mills goes deeper into what really forms the DNA of Cyberpunk 2077. Additionally, Mills expands on Keanu Reeves‘ part to play in the game, as well as the studio’s plans for DLC, and much more. Listen to the video interview above and be sure to read along for more content and context below.
What movies were inspirational and influential to the world and story of Cyberpunk 2077?
Patrick Mills: There’s actually two different ways I can answer this question, since Cyberpunk 2077 is of course based on the pen & paper role-playing game, Cyberpunk 2020, released all the way back in 1988. So there’s actually two different sources of inspiration: First, the books and movies that inspired the original and, of course, continue to be an influence on the franchise today, but also all the media that’s been central to our development of Cyberpunk 2077.
For the original material, there’s a number of very important cinematic influences. While Blade Runner is the most obvious go-to for the visual style, I think the original material is even more influenced by the little remembered Streets of Fire, a “noir-musical” about urban gangs, hot-headed teenagers, and fable-style storytelling.
Noir films were an important influence on Cyberpunk 2077‘s story, more even than the kind of Sci-Fi you might expect. The themes of corruption, moral ambiguity, death, fate, and futility in our game are leaning on the work of the noir genre.
Was the character of Johnny Silverhand created specifically for Keanu Reeves or was the character first created and then adapted once Keanu Reeves signed on?
Patrick Mills: Johnny Silverhand is a character created by Mike Pondsmith for the original Cyberpunk 2020 book. He appears in a series of short stories, which we reference in the game. With the exception of the hair color and the beard, though, we didn’t really need to change that much about the character to prepare it for Keanu, at least physically.
In the world of Cyberpunk, Johnny isn’t just famous — he’s infamous and notorious, as famous for his music as he is for his radical approach. There’s a moment in one of the short stories where he stages a surprise concert in the plaza outside of a major corporation’s offices. He riles up the crowd with speeches and music, causing the concert to descend into a riot, the audience throwing themselves at the corporate security, attempting to storm the offices. A character like that can’t be played by just anyone, it has to be someone who you can believe has that level of presence and charisma that people would throw themselves at armed guards for him.
Has Keanu played the game?
Patrick Mills: Keanu has been involved in development not just by lending his face and voice to the character of Johnny, but with mocap as well. I haven’t had a chance to ask him yet what he thinks of the game.
Were any of the different gangs inspired by any movies or television shows?
Patrick Mills: Most of our gangs come directly from the source material, though obviously with a lot of tweaks. “The Warriors” is maybe the most obvious reference, with campy urban gangs who dress alike and represent distinct subcultures. The work of William Gibson is of course hugely influential in this aspect. Think of the Panther Moderns of “Neuromancer”, or the Lo-Teks of “Johnny Mnemonic” and you have an idea of what we’re going for.
Aside from Blade Runner was there any other influences on the design and look of Night City? Akira perhaps?
Patrick Mills: “Blade Runner” is an obvious one, but really, Syd Mead’s life’s work, not just that one movie, deserves to be mentioned. In terms of influence from Japan, there is of course “Akira”, but I think we may have drawn even more direct influence from Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” movies. There’s one particular set piece in our game that draws a clear and unambiguous reference to “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence”.
Beyond that, we’ve drawn inspiration from the general spirit of the era in which Cyberpunk first took form in the 1980s. I sometimes think about William Gibson’s “The Gurnsback Continuum”, a short story about a man haunted by what he calls Semiotic Ghosts, images of a future that never was. But we have to be careful when we draw from that spirit of an era that our images and ideas don’t come out as ghosts, but instead feel extremely real and pertinent.
What are the DLC plans?
Patrick Mills: We’re currently focusing on the main game, but you can expect something similar to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in terms of DLC treatment.
What was the process of getting Refused involved? When did that idea come about? Will there be a soundtrack for sale?
Patrick Mills: The image we have for a band like SAMURAI is a band that doesn’t really play arenas, despite worldwide fame and popularity. They could fill one if they wanted to, but they don’t, it wouldn’t feel right.
Both our game director, Adam Badowski, and one of our composers, P.T. Adamczyk, are huge fans of Refused, so when it was time to pick a band that could really sell the idea of SAMURAI, well-known but never inauthentic, it was obvious.
Any significant differences between the PS4/Xbox One versions and the PS5/Series X versions?
Patrick Mills: When the game launches on
November 19th [December 10th], everyone who purchases the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 version will be able to play the game on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 respectively via backwards compatibility. And as we’ve announced some time ago, in the future we plan on releasing a free update that’ll allow the game to take full advantage of next-gen hardware.
What was the biggest hurdle when creating the overall open world system that is unique to Cyberpunk 2077?
Patrick Mills: What I think sets CD PROJEKT RED games apart, in terms of open world, is that we aim to give the player a deep, personal story with extremely high quality while combining that with a compelling open world and believable activities that don’t spoil the narrative content or waste the player’s time. That’s what we tried to do on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and it’s what we’re doing now with Cyberpunk 2077. And it remains just as complex and difficult now as it was then.
How much do players’ choices throughout the game affect the main storyline? Can their choices have a major effect on the world outside of the main storyline?
Patrick Mills: Player choice is important, and indeed, the way you handle quests or side-content, even the earlier ones, can dramatically change what our main story looks like by the end. With that said, this is a personal story. Mike Pondsmith has an adage about Cyberpunk, “In Cyberpunk, you can’t save the world, you can only save yourself.”
If a player wanted, can they ignore the main quest indefinitely or to a reasonable, lengthy degree and play sandbox with meaningful character and level progression?
Patrick Mills: Absolutely. One of my favorite ways to play the game is to set my destination to a quest on the other side of the city and slowly make my way there on foot, taking in the sights and completing side activities on the way.
About how long does it take to complete an average playthrough?
Patrick Mills: It depends on how you play. I don’t have enough information to give you an average. It’s a long game.
Anything they can say about Witcher 4?
Patrick Mills: Never heard of it, anything you can tell me?
Cyberpunk 2077 will arrive at long last on December 10th (we hope)!
Seriously, it’s great.
About The Author