Cyberpunk 2077‘s release in December 2020 has been a big deal in the video game industry. The hype level was already high — after all, the game’s launch followed delays that led to it being at least seven years in development. And now that it’s out, its good reviews from critics have been marred by major bugs that quickly appeared on every system. However you feel about Cyberpunk 2077 at this point, though, one thing is clear: This is a game that engenders strong feelings in the people who’ve been playing it. And these are mostly adults, since this game is not for the faint of heart.
Cyberpunk 2077 is rated M for mature players only, according to its ESRB rating — and for good reason. Alongside depictions of nudity, crude language, and sexual references, not to mention the fact that you can adjust your genitalia in the character creation tool regardless of your actual gender, the themes may be considered inappropriate for younger players. But in addition to that, there are other references that only adults with some experience in life — or those with more adult sensibilities — will get. Here are a few of them.
The nudity makes a statement
If you have any sexual hang-ups, you’ll want to shed them before playing Cyberpunk 2077. For one thing, at this point, there’s no shortage of dildos in the game. CD Projekt Red says the sheer amount of sex toys in the game is a glitch that will be fixed shortly. And, in a separate glitch, characters’ genitalia aren’t staying inside their clothing.
You start to see naked bodies pretty quickly in Night City, starting from character creation and continuing in quests where you’re asked to rescue cybernetically enhanced beings. If you’re an adult, you’ll start to realize that the nudity and sexual references in the game aren’t about shock or gratuitous depictions of sex. Interestingly, even the glitches add to the feel of Night City. It all furthers the dominant theme of transhumanism, regarding the way bodies are treated in this futuristic world, where cybernetic enhancements are commonplace and so is sex.
"This is cyberpunk, so people augment their body" explained game director Adam Badowski to Polygon. "Because people modify everything, they are losing their connection to the body, to the meat. And that’s why we need to use the nudity in many situations."
The pop culture references are on point
As with any game, Cyberpunk 2077 features Easter eggs that are not only there to please gamers who are eagle-eyed enough to find them but also to acknowledge pop cultural influences, whether major or insignificant. Some of these references are best understood by people who’ve experienced the cyberpunk genre before — or at least understand the appeal of Sylvester Stallone.
One of the Easter eggs found in the game has to do with a scene in 1993’s Demolition Man in which future cops in 2032 have to explain to Stallone’s just-unfrozen character that they use seashells in the bathrooms instead of toilet paper. In Cyberpunk 2077, you visit V’s domicile, where the toilet does indeed include three seashells.
Another Easter egg references the red and blue pills in the Matrix movies from 1999 and 2003, which makes sense since Keanu Reeves plays Night City’s Johnny Silverhand. Also, you’ll see one clear reference to an influence both of cyberpunk generally and of Mike Pondsmith, Cyberpunk‘s creator: Blade Runner. In a section of Night City, you can find a character and some wall writing that evokes the 1982 film’s final "tears in rain" scene.
The sheer level of detail in Night City may escape less savvy players
Cyberpunk 2077 is a huge, ambitious game with a huge amount of detail in an open, explorable world. Developer CD Projekt Red clearly poured a lot of effort into making this game full of content in a seamless way that more careless players might not fully parse.
For example, there’s fashion. An official video from the Cyberpunk 2077 YouTube page calls style "deeply linked with this history of the world" and still important in every part of life. There are four different types: kitsch, entropism, neomilitarism, and neokitsch. Sadly, your choice of fashion doesn’t seem to affect your "Cool" stat, a combo of charisma and stealth, the way it might in real life, but that stat in itself is another little detail that makes this world both unique and thoughtful.
Even the cars and vehicles have context and backstories in Cyberpunk 2077. The level of detail extends to the style of the car and how each vehicle drives – every one feels different. Johnny Silverhand is known to drive a 1977 Porsche 911, which has been authentically remade for the game.
The user agreement is tongue-in-cheek
These days, adults encounter a ton of user agreements before downloading apps and software, and may be required to click through briefly before agreeing to them. But let’s face it — most people don’t actually read much of them at all. This is a fact that CDPR acknowledges, right in its online user agreement. Under the Quick Summary section, it explains the purpose of the document by saying, "It’s kinda like a safety manual for a new piece of cyberware (like anyone reads those, right?)."
There’s a real function to the many humorous asides CDPR has added here — it makes the agreement more approachable and entertaining, so people will actually look at the thing and can easily understand the rights, responsibilities, and risks. By separating the more casually-phrased commentary out in a separate column, it also draws attention to important passages in the document. On the other hand, it’s a bit worrisome that a game that has been shown to cause epileptic seizures in susceptible individuals only lists its medical warning here, in the fine print — inside text that CDPR has basically confessed it doesn’t expect anyone to read.
The traffic lights always turn green
Video game life diverges from reality in so many interesting ways, some good and some bad. A particular idiosyncrasy of Cyberpunk 2077 that can be filed under "Things I Wish Happened to Me IRL All The Time" is the fact that the traffic lights in the game always turn green as you approach them in your vehicle.
Multiple people have noticed this phenomenon, according to several Reddit threads. The streetlights in Night City are apparently so well-synchronized that getting around doesn’t require you to slow down at all, unless you’re coming up too fast or at an angle that the game’s AI hasn’t quite figured out.
As gamers have pointed out, though, this could mean Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t really have much of a traffic system, or its driving AI is imperfect. Some people have also felt that the realism of the game is negatively affected by this lack of a real-life obstacle. On the other hand, this can be very helpful if you’re, say, hauling an injured sidekick to the closest Ripperdoc, hopefully in time to save his life.
Cyberpunk 2077 is political — but not in the obvious ways
While everyone marvels at the amount of imagination involved in the world-building that’s being done in Cyberpunk 2077, some may have missed how political it is. The stories that take place in Night City focus on power disparities in a dystopian world, broadcasting a warning about where humans are headed as well as making a statement on society’s current condition.
"Cyberpunk is political, but it’s not political in a blue-state-red-state-conservative-liberal [way]," Mike Pondsmith explained to NME. "It is basically [that] people deserve to be able to get a decent meal, live in a decent place and do all that if they’re willing to work for it, and not get screwed over by people more powerful than they are[.]"
Cyberpunk 2077‘s quest designer, Patrick Mills, also addressed the topic in 2018.
"The original Cyberpunk 2020 setting … was a complex critique of the author’s world, and we don’t shy away from that in our games," he told the Official Xbox Magazine, as reported by PCGamer. "On the contrary, I think it’s one of the things that sets us apart. Cyberpunk is an inherently political genre and it’s an inherently political franchise."
Spam in 2077 looks a lot like spam in 2020
As it turns out, people in Night City communicate the same way people in real life do: through email. And, as in the present-day world, citizens of the neon-filled future often get unwanted spam along with their important notifications.
If you go to V’s computer and check your email while you’re at your character’s apartment, you’ll discover a few messages you can laugh at and then basically ignore, including an ad for a buy-two-tickets-get-one-free raffle for medical services, a scam alert on a genitalia-enlarging nanogel, and a malware notice alerting the user to attempts at accessing their personal information.
Sounds pretty familiar, right? Cyberpunk 2077 life might be set many fictional years in the future, but apparently the people in charge still haven’t quite figured out how to rid inboxes of ads, phishing scams and hoaxes designed to take advantage of gullible folks. Actually, since it’s the corporations that run the place, they might even be the ones sending these things out. Think there could be a Nigerian prince somewhere languishing somewhere in the Cyberpunk universe?