Despite its hectic launch in December 2020, Cyberpunk 2077The many patches have made it much more playable. The game follows the customizable Mercenary V as he navigates the seedy, dystopian world of Night City. The game’s developer, CD Projekt Red, is renowned for its brilliantly engaging writing and character relationships, which again shine in cyberpunk.
Unfortunately, however, the story is let down by the game’s underwhelming romance options. There are only four options in the entire game: one for the straight male, straight, gay, and gay female versions of V. This choice very limited contradicts and harms the rest of the game and is definitely something CDPR should address in future updates, expansions or sequels.
V’s relationships with the various characters in cyberpunk are incredibly well written. Players can see and feel the shared emotions on screen and learn to care deeply about these people. However, only being able to truly romance one character, despite being able to heavily flirt with all four, is a disappointing limitation to these relationships.
Players who want to play as a particular version of V, with a set gender and sexual orientation for example, have no choice but who they can like. As a result, this aspect can feel forced and take over the player. In a game where the protagonist can be largely shaped to match the player’s desired identity, with its extensive character customization, life paths, story, and combat choices, the limited romance options present themselves as a flagrant and disappointing contradiction.
Additionally, players who find that their version of V has a better relationship with one character than another may feel disappointed that pursuing those feelings is not an option. For example, those who have chosen the nomadic life path might find that their V can share more and understand Panam more deeply than other characters, given their nomadic bond. However, she’s only available for male-to-male romance, which means Female Nomads V are forced to settle for a character they have less of a connection to. Of course, this limitation is somewhat true to real life, and not everyone will be romantically interested in the player, but cyberpunk should have done more to make players feel less rejected.
The most obvious way to fix this would be to have other similar characters romanticized as well. For example, during side quests involving the Aldecaldos nomads, V gets close to several other party members. CDPR could have given players the option to romance one of them, so all versions of V could find someone they really bonded with. This option would mean that players could experience realistic rejection of characters who are simply not interested, without feeling stuck in a drastically different relationship.
The game’s endings further highlight the disappointment some players feel at not being able to choose the partner they really want. For example, the widely regarded “best ending” sees V leaving Night City with Panam and the Aldecaldos, with Panam even hinting that she might have a friend who could help with V’s life-limiting condition. haven’t had a romance with Panam, this ending is less joyous as V is forced to leave his romantic partner behind.
cyberpunk should have allowed other fictionalized characters to join the finale, or written equally satisfying endings for them. As it stands, the other romance options seem half-baked in comparison. Given how well-written the other characters of River, Judy, and Kerry are, the lack of a happy ending involving them is a major injustice to players who have felt a stronger bond with them.
Globally, Cyberpunk 2077 is a great game with emotionally compelling writing that brings its characters and world to life. Unfortunately, this major force is unfortunately limited by its severe lack of romantic options. CDPR must prioritize improving this area to ensure that the stories of future games have an even deeper impact, allowing players to freely pursue the love interests of their choosing.
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