Cyberpunk 2077 Interview: Producer Shares Details on Gameplay, Keanu Reeves, Setting, and Much More

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is without a doubt one of the most exciting games coming in the next few months.

In order to know more about it, Twinfinite interviewed Producer Richard Borzymowski at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.

We asked Borzymowski about a variety of topics after taking another look at the latest demo of the game, which was really impressive.

Giuseppe: Let’s talk about something I noticed while watching the demo. Near the beginning we see an open view of the Pacifica district, and in the background there is a helicopter hovering in front of a skyscraper, gunning someone down through the windows. 

Since this is an open-world game, can I go inside that building and shoot down that helicopter or being shot myself?

Richard Borzymowski: You can probably try to do that, but exactly what would happen you’ll have to find out by yourself. We don’t want to spoil more things.

What I can say is that when it comes to actually driving vehicles, we have cars in the game, we have motorcycles in the game, and players can own those vehicles and store them in their garage.

But when it comes to flying vehicles, we’re just doing that in dedicated story missions.

Giuseppe: so there actually are flying vehicles in the game.

Richard Borzymowski: There are flying vehicles in the universe, and we’re using them in the right parts of the story.

Giuseppe: Can you drive them?

Richard Borzymowski: In the story maybe. You’ll have to find out. Think about those flying vehicles like helicopters nowadays.

Not everybody has a helicopter. You see them some times, but they’re mostly military or police. Only rarely they’re owned by a private citizen.

Giuseppe: You can start as a street kid, a nomad, or a corporate. Does that actually influence your starting equipment and money?

Richard Borzymowski: It does change your starting equipment. It also influences how you’re able to progress at some point of the story.

You are from a certain background and you can draw information from your background, you know things other people don’t, you can talk to NPCs in a certain way.

This backstory is certainly influential on your story’s progression.

Giuseppe: I really love the fashion in the game. How did you guys go about evolving fashion from Cyberpunk 2020 that had an established look, but also a lot of variety in terms of sources and artists?

Richard Borzymowski: We have a very dedicated team of concept artists solely working on designing the characters.

We took the style from Cyberpunk 2020, but it wasn’t simply a matter of adding 57 years to that look because it was originally designed in 1986.

“Style over substance” is one of the mottos of the Cyberpunk that Mike Pondsmith created, so the thing that we did was looking at how the look of celebrities and more extravagant people is progressing.

We did a lot of brainstorming, and there are thousands of concepts around. We ended up with something we find suitable to our setting in Cyberpunk 2077.

Giuseppe: are you guys considering giving Johnny Silverhand a new line of dialogue saying “you’re breathtaking?”

Richard Brozymowski: You will have to wait and see.

Giuseppe: I see. 

Richard Borzymowski: We don’t want to spoil more because we firmly believe that what you saw is representative of the game. People should know by now what to expect.

Now it’s just a matter of delivering the story, which has to have momentum and anticipation building up. The more you tell, the more people will make up their own versions, and then they may be let down.

It’s not about that. We have our game, and you’ll get it in due time.

Giuseppe: Speaking of the gameplay that we just saw. How representative is this of the final product? I guess what we saw last year isn’t as close to it anymore?

Richard Borzymowski: The demo you saw last year is still part of the game right now. Obviously it changed a bit since there will be two years between that and release, but in the end, that quest is still around. It’s more fleshed out, actually.

Giuseppe: So what about this new demo? 

Richard Borzymowski: Considering that this demo was delivered like a year later and it’s a year closer to release, it’s more representative of how things will actually look in the game.

We’re still evening everything out, but this is the quest with the Voodoo Boys.

Giuseppe: So this is what we’re going to play, maybe with some polish on top?

Richard Borzymowski: the thing is that you may play it completely differently. Other routes may lead you to this quest. You may play it out differently.

It’s not like seeing it lets you know what will happen in your game. You don’t know. Maybe some choices from the missions that you’ve done before will influence how this mission will play out.

It should always feel fresh for you or anybody else who will see it.

Giuseppe: Can you actually make choices that will lock you out of some quests?

Richard Borzymowski: We want you to make meaningful choices. In general with video games, you often have two or three options, and five minutes later they join back together into the same storyline.

What we want to do is to actually make those choices matter for the player. There will be content that will be locked behind the choices you’ve made.

This is also due to the fact that when the players know that their choices really matter, they will pay closer attention to what actually happens on the screen.

This Cyberpunk game is all about immersion. This is why we changed from third-person to first-person. We want our players to be immersed in the story and to give them control on how the story is shaping.

Giuseppe: How is law enforcement working in the game? I’m thinking about police, Trauma Team… are they dynamic and actually react to the player’s actions?

Richard Borzymowski: Cyberpunk in general and Night City are dystopian settings, so it’s a tough time for police.

Corporations are ruling most of the streets with their private security guards. Police is around and what the player does in the city will affect how they react.

Giuseppe: So if I shoot someone in front of them, they will attack me?

Richard Borzymowski: You probably shouldn’t shoot somebody in front of a policeman.

Giuseppe: What about Trauma Team? Can you purchase their coverage plans and have them come and rescue you if you’re injured?

Richard Borzymowski: I actually don’t know that. Trauma Team is present in the game. How exactly that is represented, I am not sure.

Giuseppe: the game is fairly sexy in its imagery. Regardless of gender, it appears that you can pick a rather revealing style for your outfits (or be fully covered). How do you guys approach navigating the minefield surrounding this kind of stuff nowadays?

Richard Borzymowski: What we’re doing with Cyberpunk (and not only with Cyberpunk but with every game) is telling our story.

The story is set in a very specific world. I’m this case it is Mike Pondsmith’s world of Cyberpunk 2020. He fleshed it out very well.

Giuseppe: …And he isn’t afraid to be vocal about it. 

Richard Borzymowski: He is very vocal about it. He is not shying away from violence, sexuality, and political issues that are happening in this universe.

The same goes for us. We’re setting our story in the world. We are fleshing out the world, and all of those parts are integral parts of the world.

We are not pointing the player toward any given conclusion. We are giving the player room to come up with their own conclusions. This is how we approach the subject.

Giuseppe: There are 57 years between Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk 2077. How much do you guys explain to the player in the game what happened in such a large time gap?

Richard Borzymowski: We’re explaining as much as it seems natural. Some times — it happens often in books — in the first few pages, we have this character who talks for two pages about how the world was created, although everybody in the world knows that.

It always feels to me like no one would ever do that within that world.

Luckily, Mike Pondsmith actually created Cyberpunk Red that bridges that gap. That’s the perfect point for people who are very interested in what happens in those years in order to find out.

Cyberpunk Red very neatly ties 2020 to 2077. Personally, I think it couldn’t have worked better.

Giuseppe: In the demo we saw that there is a translation cyberware that turns foreign languages into English on our retinal display. Is it an implant that we need to purchase or it’s simply part of the UI?

Richard Borzymowski: It is an implant and you need to get it, but I don’t know when and how you get it. I am fairly sure that you have to buy it, but I’m not completely positive about it.

Giuseppe: Talking about Johnny Silverhand…

Richard Borzymowski: About Johnny Silverhand or Keanu Reeves?

Giuseppe: Both, actually. In last year’s demo he wasn’t in our head. Was it because it was early in the game, or simply Johnny Silverhand wasn’t a thing yet as a ghost in our mind back then?

Richard Borzymowski: He was a thing already, but the demo from last year it was part of the beginning of the game. He wasn’t present yet in our mind. This year’s mission is later in the game, so he’s there.

Giuseppe: So he’s not there from the beginning of the game. 

Richard Borzymowski: He is not in our heads from the beginning, no.

cyberpunk 2077

Giuseppe: How did you guys convince him to take on this role?

Richard Borzymowski: I wasn’t part of the team that made this happen but as far as I heard, we got in touch with his agent, we met and we presented the demo from last year. Keanu asked some questions and he was very enthusiastic about it.

As he said on stage, he likes good stories, which we can see clearly in his movies. This is another good story for him.

Giuseppe: How much insight did he provide for the character? Did he have any creative involvement?

Richard Borzymowski: I imagine that actors of his caliber always tend to come up with their own expertise. It was the same for him. When we were recording his movement he was suggesting things like “should I do it like that instead?”

When he was reading the script, especially after reading something he had already read before, he would go:

“Maybe I should say this in this way because I said that line in that way earlier…”

He got really involved. Certainly, we could count on his expertise, and it was incorporated into Johnny Silverhand, which is exactly what we hoped for.

Keanu is cool, but Johhny Silverhand is also a very cool guy, which is why we were looking for somebody as Keanu.

Giuseppe: Without mentioning names, are we going to meet other legends from the original Cyberpunk lore in the game?

Richard Borzymowski: We are basing our game on Cyberpunk 2020, and we’re using as much as possible. I strongly suggest keeping your eyes open because Night City is still the same city.

Giuseppe: I guess they might be just a little older?

Richard Borzymowski: Somebody may be older and somebody may just be mentioned.

Giuseppe: I guess there are going to be a ton of easter eggs for the fans even about characters who won’t directly appear?

Richard Borzymowski: For Cyberpunk fans that go way back to the pen & paper times, which I can see you’re one, this is going to be a tribute.

Giuseppe: We’re going to see a lot of fanservice, I imagine.

Richard Borzymowski: Yes. Those are details that those who have never played the pen & paper may not get, but that’s ok because they’re going to enjoy the world and we’re going to flesh it out. Yet, pen & paper players like you will very often say “oh! That’s a reference to this!.”

Giuseppe: I know you’re not probably ready to talk about post-launch, but is there any possibility of adding more origin backgrounds? I always tend to play a cop, and I’m feeling a little left out (laughs). 

Richard Borzymowski: We’re now focused on launching Cyberpunk 2077, but we know how well-received the expansions of The Witcher 3 were.

If we’re going to do some additional expansions and DLCs for Cyberpunk, we’re certainly going to make sure that they suit the game and they’ll be fun for the player.

Giuseppe: We saw two ways to get through the mission in the game. Is there even more freedom to approach the same quest?

Richard Borzymowski: There are many different ways, depending on your playstyle. You can mix them together.

It might even be challenging to do the same path in the same way even with the same build. The routines of the NPCs will always be influenced by how you behave at any given moment. There is certainly a lot of room to experiment.

Giuseppe: The builds we saw in action were very specialized, but is it possible to become a jack-of-all-trades that unlocks all the skills if we level up high enough? 

Richard Borzymowski: I actually don’t know the answer, but your main cyberware is limited. I don’t know about the points, if you actually can level them up all at once in one playthrough. Yet, when it comes to cyberware, you will not be able to to use all of the high-end cyberware of a solo, netrunner, and techie at once.

Giuseppe: You basically have to choose one.

Richard Borzymowski: There is basically a budget that you have.

Giuseppe: … Or it’ll make you go crazy?

Richard Borzymowski: We don’t have cyberpsychosis. We’re basically limiting you before that threshold.

It would mean a Game Over anyway, and it would just be frustrating. It’s present in the universe and you’re going to see some effects the more body augmentations you get, but that’s it.

If you want to learn more about Cyberpunk 2077, you can read how character creation can impact the story, every way V can kill someone, and, if you prefer peaceful means, how you can play the whole game without ending anyone.

A 15-minute look at the demo referenced in the interview will be publicly released later this week.

Cyberpunk 2077 is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 16, 2020.

About the author

Giuseppe Nelva

Proud weeb hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long-standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality), MMORPGs, and visual novels are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans on Earth of the flight simulator genre.