In a recent stream, Cyberpunk 2077 quest director Pavel Ssko took the time to answer viewer questions about the ups and downs of CD Projekt Red’s dystopian sci-fi RPG.
In what could have otherwise been a normal stream of Cyberpunk 2077, Sasco used the platform to answer some questions fans had about the title’s story structure and much more about its narrative design (via PCGamesN (opens in new tab),
He acknowledged that the game contained an “insane amount of linearity” and that the various branches of player choice were “not satisfying”. He highlighted how developers view “non-linearity in a much broader sense” than players, meaning that “for players”. [Cyberpunk 2077’s story choices] weren’t enough”.
That said, Sasco described some of the player criticism as “a bit overblown”. “People claim that there is nothing, [but]If you use such a strict definition [of what branching storylines are], then you get to the fact that literally only the biggest branches matter and nothing else,” Sasco said. “I’m not saying we’ve done a … wonderful job. I think it’s okay. I just think it could have been better.”
You can find the full stream on Sasco’s Twitch channel (opens in new tab), His discussion of player questions and Cyberpunk 2077’s narrative design can be found at the 1:17:00 mark if you want to hear his comments for yourself.
Sasco also drew comparisons between Cyberpunk 2077 and CD Projekt Red’s previous project: The Witcher 3. The Witcher 3 sets the stage for a story-driven open-world RPG with a branching narrative a few times, and Sasco spoke highly of it: “It’s not possible to have identical plays. [of The Witcher 3] at all”.
“The players expected more [from Cyberpunk]how The Witcher 3 is made…the expectations were high,” Sasco explained. “In The Witcher 3, you had huge branching [including] The Bloody Baron … Vampire or [the] fairy tale world [in Blood and Wine], This meant that, when it came to Cyberpunk 2077, “expectations were [high] in relation to the elder [narrative] Branches”, meaning that the “incredibly linear” cyberpunk wasn’t going to satisfy player demand.
Saxo discussed a particular branching story path in Cyberpunk 2077 as a point of comparison, namely the (potential) death of Arasaka Corporation agent Goro Takemura. “Takemura may or may not die… [it took] to make so [both branches] work ”from a narrative design perspective. However, Saxo admitted that once people get wind of the fact that you can save this fan-favorite character by completing a hidden secondary objective in a main story quest, they’ll “follow him”. run to save”, meaning “something that was designed to be nonlinear”. [stops being] an option.”
In my recent playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077 over Christmas break, I discovered this previously unknown story path for myself. Once I learned that Takemura could be saved from his plight, I loaded a previous save and got the result I wanted. CD Projekt Red had done such a good job of presenting Takemura as a sympathetic character that letting him die no longer seemed like a pleasant option. Saxo was right: it really wasn’t an option.
The revelations Saxo made in his Twitch stream remind us that it’s not enough to fill a game with any number of player arbitrary choices; The choices must mean something – each offering a unique and meaningful story in its own right.