Devs Want Cyberpunk 2 To Capture The Worst Of America

Screenshot: CD Projekt RED / Kotaku
Screenshot: CD Projekt RED / Kotaku

Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in Night City, a fictional metropolis in California meant to embody the endgame of America’s capitalist excess. Corporations run everything, people have to resort to a life of crime to get a step ahead, and the only pockets of solace are found in community, because the systems will do nothing to help you. But developer CD Projekt RED feels like it didn’t go far enough in its dystopian near-future setting, and wants to better capture the problems facing Americans with the sequel, codenamed Orion.

The studio posted a new episode of its AnsweRED Podcast (thanks, Rock Paper Shotgun), which hosts interviews with developers from the company’s studios around the world. The latest included an interview with Pawel Sasko, the associate game director on the upcoming Cyberpunk game currently being developed in the CDPR’s new Boston studio. Sasko talked about how he felt that while Cyberpunk 2077 was meant to portray a dystopian American future, and after traveling to the city more frequently in the years since the game launched in 2020, he didn’t feel they went hard enough on certain topics.

“I see that we didn’t push the envelope far enough in some places, for instance,” Sasko said. “Like, let’s say the homeless crisis, when I look at it, I’m like, we weren’t far enough in ‘77. We thought that we were dystopian, but we just touched the surface.”

Read more: Phantom Liberty’s New Ending Is The Perfect Coda To Cyberpunk 2077

Dan Hernberg, executive producer on the Cyberpunk sequel, joked that 2077 had “one homeless person in a tent somewhere” and the team thought that was sufficient, only to be told by Americans that they’d need “a whole city” of people without homes in Night City to capture the homeless crisis in the country. Sasko says living in America has given him a better perspective on how prevalent these problems are.

“We thought like, ‘Oh yeah, we are being edgy’ with all that stuff,” Sasko said. “And I’m like, ‘my walk to the train every day is more edgy sometimes.’”

While Cyberpunk’s portrayal of systemic problems like homelessness are one thing, Sasko says that working on Orion in America will help them catch less drastic discrepancies, like 2077’s manhole covers being the ones seen in Germany, rather than the ones you’d see in American cities.

“When you go to America, there’s things like hydrants, where they are placed and how they look,” Sasko said. “The street lights, the positions of that. The trash bins, they’re in the front of the house, right by the street. In Poland, in Europe, you don’t see it almost anywhere, Like there’s so much nuance. [...] Our curbs are different, our color is different on all of our signs. Everything’s just slightly different and it doesn’t break immersion, but it’s just that little thing you’re like, ‘Well, maybe this wasn’t like, you know, made by people who live here or people who fully understand all of American culture.’”

As work on its post-launch patches and Phantom Liberty expansion have wrapped up, for the first time in a decade, no one at CD Projekt RED is working on Cyberpunk 2077. Despite a bad launch and a lot of controversy, the studio has turned the game around and it’s made them $750 million.


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