Saturday Morning Gaming: Spoiler Theory (with regards to Cyberpunk 2077)
Okay. Cyberpunk 2077 has a release date of November 19, 2020. Remember when we first mentioned it? It was back in March 2013. We thought the game would be coming out in 2015. How young we were!
Since then, I’ve wandered from wanting to know absolutely everything about the game to kinda trying to avoid finding information. As such, it was only recently that I found out that there are three different “paths” you can play in Cyberpunk 2077: Corporate, Nomad, and Street Kid. Awesome, I thought. Then I remembered the 2019 Cinematic Trailer (content warning: strong language, graphic violence):
Okay. That’s the Street Kid storyline. Or a hint of it, anyway. And that got me thinking about video game theory. Let’s say that you want to write a main storyline and have a couple hundred side-quests that are available to everybody who plays the game BUT, at the same time, make the game replayable as heck?
Well, one thing to do is to tweak the emotions of the player. It’s not how you do the quest, it’s how you FEEL about the quest. How you FEEL can be new and fresh even though you’ve done this quest before.
Let’s go back to Dragon Age (the first one). They had six (SIX!) different starting chapters. A Dwarf from a Noble House. A Casteless Dwarf. A Human from a Noble House. A Human (or Elven) Wizard. A City Elf. A Dalish (forest) Elf. Sure, the main storyline had you fight The Blight… but that starting chapter changed how you felt about every single person you interacted with for the rest of the game. If you started off playing as a Casteless Dwarf (as I did), you had very strong feelings about Dwarven Society and you really didn’t give a fig about Arl Howe. I mean, sure, he was a jerk and you had some quests that involved him but, really, he was just this Human Noble who did Human Noble things the way that Human Nobles do. What you cared about was making things right back in Orzammar. When you finally do wander back there, there are a bunch of quests that have you pick sides between your old friends and your old enemies… and, of course, now you are several levels higher in skill than you were back then. And you can pick who you end up helping.
When you replay the game as a Human Noble, you are quickly thrown into an attack on your ancestral home by the wicked Arl Howe. Oh, gosh! How you hate him! He killed your family! He stole what was rightly yours! And, by Andraste, YOU WILL HAVE VENGEANCE! And as you wander the world doing the main quest, you find yourself wandering through Dwarven lands and there’s all kinds of bickering between the various houses there and, jeez guys. Lighten up, right?
And so, with that in mind, I rewatch the Cyberpunk trailer.
You’re a Street Rat. The corporation killed your friend. Your old fixer contact stabbed you in the back even though you got him what he asked for. Now it’s time for you to get revenge. You start at the bottom but, hey, that’s where you’ve always been. No place to go but up from here. You wake up outside. Keanu Reeves is there. How do you feel about things?
So then I thought… well, what about the other paths? Corporate is easy. The trailer mentions the corporate cops that killed your buddy. So… if you’re playing as a corporate, you’re the corporation in the deal that went bad. It went bad under your watch. You had it on easy street but then these street rats came in and didn’t know how to do a deal and you’re left holding the bag after making your boss look bad. You’re Fired. You get kicked to the curb for one friggin’ mistake made and then you get stabbed in the back. Keanu Reeves is there. How do you feel about things?
The Nomad, then. Well, the Street Rat had a deal with someone else, right? Hey, let’s make it the Nomad. This Street Rat comes in, steals YOUR stuff even though you went to all the trouble to make the Corporation your guarantor and everything. The Street Rat gets away, the Corporation flubs everything up, and now your stuff has been stolen and you’re out of luck. Keanu Reeves is there. How do you feel about things?
All of the above is nothing but pure speculation, of course. The only information that I have is the information that you also have (and it’s quite possible that you have more than me, because most of my information comes from the widely-released trailers but not, you know, digging for information in the various forae and subreddits. Because I know that, if I do, I’ll start thinking about video game theory and start spoiling myself.
So… what are you playing?