CD Projekt Red’s own Paweł Sasko has stated that fans’ criticism of Cyberpunk 2077’s relatively linear storyline is “entirely justified”.
While players have multiple options to choose from throughout the game, which in turn curates different experiences for different players (e.g. starting with the Nomad, Street Kid, or Corpo life paths, or their five different endings), many felt like Cyberpunk 2077 could have had more should give – especially considering how much was promised prior to the game’s release.
Sasko, chatting on his Twitch channel (via PCGamesN), was asked by a viewer, “How do you feel about players criticizing the game for being linear?” justified” before elaborating further.
“A lot of things have happened. First off, players expected more, they expected more because The Witcher 3 is built, and I think cyberpunk has an insane amount of non-linearity, but I think the expectations were higher,” he acknowledged.
“Second, the expectations were specific to large stores [in the narrative]. And again, there are a number of big branches in cyberpunk […] but you think differently about branches.”
Sasko also addressed parts of the game that were meant to be non-linear, but became almost a non-choice due to the relationships a player can develop with characters in the game. This is where Sasko mentions Takamura, a character that can be saved or left to die.
“[This choice] is such a big, gigantic branch that is actually affecting so many things along the way, and it was so much work to get it working both ways,” Sasko said.
“But for the players, the moment they learned how to do it, they kind of ran to save him. In a way, it almost became a non-election.”
He continued, “So something designed to be non-linear… wasn’t really a choice. As everyone learned how to save Takamura, everyone started doing it, and in the player’s mind it became linear, even though it’s not.”
Sasko also said that developers tend to think in terms of “non-linearity”. [in games]’ in a ‘much broader way’ than a player base does.
“Players just go down to ‘Can I make very different choices and see very different content,'” he shared, while again fully acknowledging that CDPR failed to meet player expectations for the Cyberpunk 2077 release.
“We know how we can do better and I would expect more from us,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty DLC is slated for release later this year. This DLC is the only planned expansion of Cyberpunk 2077, although the developer confirms that it will be a paid one.
Phantom Liberty will take place in an “all new neighborhood” of Night City known as Dogtown, with CDPR calling the expansion a “spy thriller.” You can read some of the things (in addition to Idris Elba) that caught my attention from the latest trailer here.