Cyberpunk 2077: Blending ARPG and FPS for Creating an Incredible Cyberpunk World
Fig. 1 Your Own Cyberpunk Journey
Cyberpunk 2077 is a video game developed and published by the Polish game company CD Projekt. Long before its official release date, December 10, 2020, countless video players have crazily high expectations for eight years since its first trailer in 2013. The primary reason behind this long-term enthusiasm should be players’ great anticipation of experiencing the 3D open-world cyberpunk-style future. Since its release, Cyberpunk 2077 has received controversial receptions by players and critics according to multiple criteria; however, in terms of revitalizing the cyberpunk subgenre, this video game is a huge success –– cyberpunk has become increasingly popular again not only among players but also among other communities, like artists, novelists, and designers. This success is largely related to the power of Cyberpunk 2077’s game genre: a blend of the action role-playing game (ARPG) and the first-person shooter (FPS) game. When CD Projekt first announced this choice of game genre, many players were supersized and worried: although both ARPG and FPS are common genres for video games, blending these two, especially in a cyberpunk game, is unique and bold. This concern mainly arises from the distinguishable features of APRG and FPS: the former emphasizes storytelling and environment interactions, whereas the latter focuses on fast-paced and intensive combat. Consequently, a blend of APRG and FPS requires CD Projekt to create an extremely complex cyberpunk world with delicate details that can withstand all the tests of intriguing stories, interactive activities, and immersive experience. Finally, CD Projekt proves that it is brilliant to choose this APRG/FPS hybrid due to its ability to invite audiences to immerse themselves in the dangerous yet attracting cyberpunk world –– a future world that embraces and merges contradictions.
In the term “cyberpunk,” “cyber” refers to the then-novel scientific concept of cybernetics popularized by Norbert Wiener’s book Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine published in 1948, and “punk” relates to the 1970s punk subculture. In the introduction to the Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986), which is regarded as the best-known cyberpunk manifesto, Bruce Sterling accurately describes cyberpunk art as “the overlapping of worlds that were formerly separate: the realm of high tech and the modern pop underground (Sterling ix)” (Csicsery-Ronay 266). Hence, the core of this subgenre is a high-tech and low-life future, making cyberpunk carry the undertone of dystopia.
Like the setting in other cyberpunk works, the social and economic inequalities are so significant that the distinctive “low-life” is the lower class’s exclusive in Cyberpunk 2077’s dystopian future. Hence, in the beginning, no matter which path the player chooses for the main protagonist, V, among the Nomad, Streetkid, or Corporate, V is set as a nobody who will live in an impoverished and dangerous neighborhood in Night City. In this way, as V, the player can experience the lower-class future life full of gun violence, polluted water, and illegal surgeries; and explore the high technologies, including the ubiquitous cybernetic enhancements, the super-intelligent AI taxis, and advanced automatic weapons. In this process of exploring and experiencing, unlike other traditional media or monotone game genres, by taking the advantages of both ARPG and FPS, Cyberpunk 2077 allows the player, as V, to closely participate in risky daily activities like bare-knuckle boxing matches and assassinations, as well as freely interact with NPCs and decide the personal way to complete missions when wandering around dystopian cities (Fig. 1), instead of simply watching a character’s journey as a passenger or viewing a cyberpunk future as an observer.
By presenting and fusing these elements in the game world, Cyberpunk 2077 vividly and convincingly realizes the cyberpunk juxtaposition of the high tech and the low life, where this juxtaposition majorly generates the tension and charisma of the cyberpunk dystopia: the more striking the contradiction the audience perceives, the more overwhelming this cyberpunk work can be. Therefore, Cyberpunk 2077 succeeds in creating an incredible cyberpunk world with its strong effects of juxtaposition via the unparalleled immersion and interaction of blending ARPG and FPS.
Csicsery-Ronay, Istvan. “Cyberpunk and neuromanticism.” Mississippi Review, vol. 16, no. 2/3, 1988, pp. 266-278.
Sterling, Bruce, ed. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. Ace Books, 1988.