Cyberpunk (or Not) 2077

Had not noticed a place discussing it here, and I realized I brought it up in two separate posts now, so thought I would make a last-minute Cyberpunk 2077 post. We can discuss all things controversies up-to-the-minute - after the infamous gamespot 7/10 I am now seeing that this game will also require some lengthy footnotes to a standard epileptic warning.

Branching off the things I was mentioning in the other discussions, however, I would like to discuss the merits of the 'Cyberpunk' aesthetic and culture in 2020. In all the hype of 2019, and especially this year, Cyberpunk seemed to be not only ready for a revitalization, but _demanding_ one. That said, the more I had been following the development of the extensive Cyberpunk 2077 worldbuilding and lore, the less 'Cyberpunk' the image became in my head and more 'Matrix meets Far Cry' with a neon 80s-esque aesthetic, two very different things. I asked earlier about some other contemporary iterations of the Cyberpunk genre and got some cool recommendations that I will include below, but would love to see a deeper discussion of these notions.

Has anyone here read [_Full Metal Apache_](https://archive.org/details/fullmetalapachet0000tats) by Takayuki Tatsumi? I have been meaning to borrow a copy and give it a read, because I do think reflection upon our more serious projections of a globalized future will always lead to fruitful discussions. Anyway, happy to hear any and all opinions, even as we slowly start to witness first hand the masterpiece or maelstrom that will be remembered as _Cyberpunk 2077_.

still ambivalent about playing this, but will say that CDPR's anti-DRM policy should be celebrated by gamers everywhere

the very-first trailer for this game was something i found really enticing. i enjoy Witcher 3, though not nearly anywhere as much as most people seem to, and so i figured the pairing would be great.

anyway, i quickly fell off once they showed gameplay / repeated faux pas from CDPR and it became clear that the game i envisioned in my head wasn't the one they were making (so, similar to OP, i guess!).

i'm mostly waiting to hear what other people i know say about it, and if it has any redeeming qualities, maybe i'll pick it up cheap sometime down the line like i did with Witcher.

I‘m grossed out about almost everything surrounding CDPR, from the business practices to the anti-trans attitudes to the shitty edgelord social media presence, so I won’t be playing it. I don‘t even think I’ll pull the old ‘buy the game used a year from now’ to avoid paying them money directly. I bear absolutely no ill will to anybody who wants to go ahead and play it.

As for the merits of the cyberpunk aesthetic, I have a really hard time: I spent a number of very formative years consuming cyberpunk media, not least of which was all sorts of late 80's/early 90's anime that was at least cyberpunk adjacent. I won't lie, the aesthetic is often pretty alluring. At the same time, I'm constantly amazed that so many fans of the aesthetic just seem to either handwave or completely ignore how at its roots cyberpunk isn't supposed to be aspirational. It's kind of like watching Star Wars and somehow missing that Darth Vader is the bad guy.

I still think the idea that post-human society and culture is an interesting topic and could make a fantastic video game, but I'm not sure this game is the game to tackle it.

EDIT: It also occurs to me that their anti-DRM attitudes aren't exactly consistent with how they've been DMCAing people's screenshots and videos that are critical of the game.

The game's fans are now sending epilepsy triggers to the reporter who broke the story.

I just played a month‘s worth of different cyberpunk games in November (roughly a different game every weekday) and found myself increasingly skeptical that Cyberpunk 2077 would truly encapsulate the spirit of cyberpunk beyond the canned aesthetic. I have mostly tuned out the marketing and asset drops in anticipation of eventually playing it, but what I’ve seen does indeed look very Far Cry-y, as though the cyberpunk aesthetic were simply a veneer for a theme park.

Also, I've got nothing specific against Keanu in general (in fact I defended his acting during all those years he couldn't seem to escape the Bill & Ted stigma), but his inclusion here feels weirdly glamorous, or corporate, or _something_ I can't quite articulate that makes the game feel more like a product of the dystopia it depicts than a warning of it. I'm not sure I trust any AAA game to do cyberpunk right, although I do think it can still be a fun time with cool things in it.

By the way, of all the cyberpunk games I played last month, I was most enthralled with Shadowrun on the Genesis, and Shadowrun Returns on Steam.

I think one cool thing that seems to be unique to Shadowrun is it explicitly illustrates a duality between spirituality and technology, without really passing judgment. As you replace more and more of your body with "cyberware," your "essence" stat, required of mages and shamans for magic and spirit conjuring, decreases. It's just a simple stat, but it made me feel like outfitting myself with all these robo-upgrades had a permanent cost, but also like it was still a valid decision to make. I wonder if 2077 will do anything that profound with all its fanciness--not that it has to to be a fun game!

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@Karasu#10399 At the same time, I’m constantly amazed that so many fans of the aesthetic just seem to either handwave or completely ignore how at its roots cyberpunk isn’t supposed to be aspirational

This is an interesting claim - as when I was younger and consuming a fair amount of similar media (at least similar regarding cyberpunk-adjacent aesthetics and messages) and I often always internalized Cyberpunk as a bleak warning, sure the stories of criminals and the whole 'high tech/low life' archetype is fun to follow along, but so much of seemed to communicate, to me at least, that this is the grim reality of a hyperglobalized _and_ hypercorporatized world - criminality no longer becomes a choice. What guides your interpretation leaning towards aspirational rather than inevitable?

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@MichaelDMcGrath#10400 The game’s fans are now sending epilepsy triggers to the reporter who broke the story.

Horrible, isn't it? Anyone who wants to get on a soapbox that 'journalism is dead' must also claim the fabled 'and we killed it' follow-up, I believe

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@Lacquerware#10401 I’m not sure I trust any AAA game to do cyberpunk right, although I do think it can still be a fun time with cool things in it.

This is a very good point - as soon as Keanu was involved and I started to hear that many 'content creators' were going to be making cameos in the game (like a millennial reflection of _Death Sranding's_ celebrity fanfest) I started to maybe think that the game _itself_ was the most cyberpunk thing out of the whole experience (overly-corporatised, sold as having your best interest in mind, and, ultimately like the people of Night City, a shell of what it could have been). I think many would agree that Companies and Punk (cyber or otherwise) rarely are able to maintain any artistic integrity by the time profits are sniffed, but I was also hoping this game would be different.

I still think I will pick up my pre-order tomorrow, but I know that as of this moment, I am going to be playing through it more due to obligation than passionate fandom. Which is a shame, I have been hyping the game under the discussion point that there is no better time for a _real_ cyberpunk experience than 2020, but perhaps that is the most cyberpunk reality of all, even the things we know we want, are able to make, and ultimately produce are not enough, not matter how loudly we might yell that it is.

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@siebold_magnolia#10405 What guides your interpretation leaning towards aspirational rather than inevitable?

apologies for butting in but by coincidence I was reading a mark fisher essay related to this, in which he observed that the 1980s paranoiac cyberpunk trend gave way to sunnier "end of history" clintonian neoliberal-inflected version. And he argued that the next shift would be post 9/11 war on terror-inspired. And I have to hand it to hideo kojima - I think MGS2/4 got it. And the series itself I think is also at least somewhat in line with fisher's concept of capitalism erasing even the past in it's infiltration of all political/social life

So I agree that there was a period of aspirational or aestheticized media. The matrix for ex is mystical triumphalist in the end

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@yeso#10407 The matrix for ex is mystical triumphalist in the end

That is a very good point, that seemed to be almost kind of New Age mysticism for those who enjoyed spending time on computers. Would Cowboy Bebop be classified as cyberpunk in some capacity? A lot of the more subtle nods towards globalisation and corporatisation I thought were masterfully pulled off in that show, and that show enchanted me by making me feel stuck in a time (the time of the show) longing for another time (a time that has never existed for me) so well just by the aesthetics around it.

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@yeso#10407 apologies for butting in but by coincidence I was reading a mark fisher essay related to this, in which he observed that the 1980s paranoiac cyberpunk trend gave way to sunnier “end of history” clintonian neoliberal-inflected version

EDIT Addendum: which essay were you reading, if you don't mind my asking? Sounds interesting, just seeing this "k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher" that looks like it might be worth a buy.

@siebold_magnolia#10411 sure thing:

https://markfisherreblog.tumblr.com/

and his short book _Capitalist Realism_ is probably the better entry point than the k-punk collection, although that one is very worthwhile too

it‘s a no for me. I haven’t been following it and barely know what kind of game it is. Nothing about it has appealed to me, but I also hardly play any new games.

Great thread and great comments everyone.

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@Karasu#10399 At the same time, I’m constantly amazed that so many fans of the aesthetic just seem to either handwave or completely ignore how at its roots cyberpunk isn’t supposed to be aspirational.

I've been thinking a lot about this the last few days. If you don't know, Gibson is author of _Neuromancer_ and the person who is generally credited with inventing the term "Cyberspace":
https://twitter.com/GreatDismal/status/1333522441625239552?s=20

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@Karasu#10399 I’m grossed out about almost everything surrounding CDPR, from the business practices to the anti-trans attitudes to the shitty edgelord social media presence, so I won’t be playing it. I don’t even think I’ll pull the old ‘buy the game used a year from now’ to avoid paying them money directly. I bear absolutely no ill will to anybody who wants to go ahead and play it.

Agree completely, including the no ill-will clause.

As for this Cyberpunk game itself, I wasn't intending to play a 50+ hour open world RPG to begin with but wow the epilepsy content is totally gross and the social media mob is disgusting. This may be a hollow thing considering I wasn't really in their market to begin with but the company:

  • - Doesn't make content I care about
  • - Doesn't care about/actively harms their employees with their business model
  • - Doesn't care about/actively harms their customers with their content
  • I'll be passing and watch what seem to be semi-official rips of the _Bubble Gum Crisis_ LaserDisc OVAs on YouTube instead. Or maybe finally trying out _VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action_.

    I love The Witcher 3. I think it‘s empathetic, complicated, gorgeous, and one of the best worlds I’ve ever seen in games.

    I cannot get on board with anything CDPR has shown with Cyberpunk. It looks so fucking corny. I like cyberpunk aesthetics as much as anyone but this game seems mean and stupid and in service of what? Your try hard aesthetic meant to appeal to every Gen X asshole out there trying to climb capitalism's ladder while holding onto their childhood? And of course when reviews hit every white dude who reviewed the game and fits that description loved it and CDPR doesn't have to grapple with the way they treat their workers or the way they marketed this game on social media because now they have a certified Game Of The Year with 9s and 10s almost across the board.

    And on a more personal note I'm Puerto Rican. Grew up hearing and speaking Spanish, most of my relatives on that side of my family are either still on the island or came here in the last 40 years. That trailer they put out about the gangs in the game and seeing how vapid and racist the "hispanic" gang was made me laugh out loud for a LONG time. Their portrayal of anything that isn't white in this game looks sooooo backwards. Hilariously bad stuff and, like, come on. I can't support that.

    I‘ve never played a Witcher game but have long been kind of curious because of their reputation for being stellar RPGs. While I’m generally extremely out of the loop for gaming news, I‘ve heard enough about this game to make me feel generally ambivalent. But I kind of lean towards being curious about it and would like to try it, primarily for the aesthetic and the fact that it looks different from other RPGs I’ve played. But also I'm perpetually behind the times and have a huge backlog, so my plan is to pick up a greatest hits version out of a bargain bin in 5 years or so if I happen upon a copy in the wild.

    Honestly probably going to play it. Probably won‘t pay for it, but I’ll play it. It‘s apparently a bit of a mess but it’s not like I have a whole lot going on right now. Starting an IT contracting job at a hospital pretty soon so I‘m gonna be looking for anything else to think about when I’m home anyway.

    Also seconding the recommendation of reading Mark Fisher. Capitalist Realism was pretty compelling. Also highly recommend Slavoj Zizek's Living in the End Times if you're looking for additional exploration of those themes.

    Also if anyone wants to play a guilt-free and very interesting cyberpunk game I suggest EYE Divine Cybermancy.

    I wonder….will a polish head of state give a copy of cyberpunk 2077 to joe biden?

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    @antillese#10427 I’ve been thinking a lot about this the last few days. If you don’t know, Gibson is author of Neuromancer and the person who is generally credited with inventing the term “Cyberspace”:

    This is a pretty interesting Tweet - I know many don't like Gibson for a number of reasons, but this is closer to how I interpret most dystopian media in general - thanks for the share.

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    @sabertoothalex#10432 I like cyberpunk aesthetics as much as anyone but this game seems mean and stupid and in service of what?

    Aimlessly mean and stupid summarises quite succinctly what I have gathered from all the media in the past year that I pop in on (I am even jumping back into Madqueen's live stream currently showing the character creation) and that is a shame. I am ok with some glorification of criminality in a story such as _Neuromancer_ but this just seems absurd. I am quickly growing tired of combat/violence being the main selling points of AAA games, and that goes double for me when there is seemingly no point. The "point" here in Cyberpunk seems to just be to "run Night City" or something, but that is such a weak premise, and as silly as it may be, I am _really_ hoping that CDPR's finesse with a pen has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

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    @donrumata#10459 Probably won’t pay for it, but I’ll play it.

    Anyone that wishes to include the 'punk' idea in their Cyberpunk project needs to be able to respect this on some level.
    Congrats on the new job mate. Also, will add _Capitalist Realism_ to the list after the second recommendation here. Also, big ups on the Zizek reference here, love him or hate him I think he is quite important either way.
    Will check out EYE, I just picked up the Tabletop Cyberpunk PDFs in the new Humble Bundle and am excited to read through that a little bit today before taking the plunge tomorrow.

    Anyone who is playing it this week/weekend - let's see some small reviews here if you'd like, I am very interested in this game even if it is just as cultural zeitgeist rather than the merits of it as a game.

    @yeso#10463 The now vice-president gave the king of Spain a copy of Game of Thrones because he is republican and everyone knows what happens to the king(s) in that series. That was kinda funny.

    About the game itself... I got a preorder for dirt cheap because of discounts and was keeping it despite not being really invested on playing the game just because "it couldn't be that bad" and The Witcher 3 had some decent writing in it, but when reviews broke out and everything was pointing at the game being not that great or inspired and also riddled with bugs... I lost my last bit of interest. I had already been pondering if it was ethical to buy the game at all the whole time, even if I was getting it at half the regular price, but if in top of everything it isn't really worth the time then good riddance. At least the whole thing allowed me to make this joke:

    [URL=https://i.imgur.com/uOLNMGi.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/uOLNMGi.png[/IMG][/URL]

    @yeso#10390 That is a given considering they also own gog.com and build their company initially on pirating and translating English language games

    they could go with frederic chopin, or adam mickiewicz, or maybe wislawa syzmborska, but promoting geralt the witcher or cyberpunk guy with #2 hog and #4 pubes is also an option I guess