I am deeply uncomfortable.
Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 is a huge place. You can take part in all sorts of quests and activities, and meet all kinds of people. As you immerse yourself in the story of V, your character, you'll investigate murders, carry out a few of your own, interact with gangs and corporations, and try to grow your own legend as a mercenary. [Update: Our Cyberpunk 2077 review is now live.]
But with a vast new RPG world from the studio behind The Witcher series, there are pressing questions on the minds of fans--questions that need answering. Questions like: just how far you can take relationships, whether you can have sex, and what it's like to go all the way.
I recently spent a huge amount of time playing Cyberpunk 2077, starting at the beginning of the game with a male V on the Street Kid lifepath and working through story and side quests for some 16 hours. Despite playing through the game with a CD Projekt developer watching along, I sought out a chance for boot-knockin' in Night City--for science.
On the second day of my two-day Cyberpunk preview, after putting it off for about as long as I could, I awkwardly broached the topic of getting freaky with quest designer Mateusz Albrewczyński, who was watching my playthrough, answering questions, and chiming in with interesting lore information about everything going on in Night City. With a laugh, Mateusz disappeared for a few moments to confer with other CD Projekt developers about how we could get this done. Presumably, he said something along the lines of, "That gross GameSpot man wants to see some dirty stuff, what do you reckon, team?" but I can't be sure. Either way, when he returned he sent me to Night City's Kabuki neighborhood.
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The easiest way to create bow-chicka-wow-wow situations in Night City is to seek out sex workers, who hang around in certain districts like Kabuki, and who are marked on your map by a slightly parted pair of lips. I found one such woman on an infamous sex-addled strip called Jig Jig Street, although you can pick up workers of other genders as well. Finding and hiring a sex worker goes about how you'd expect, with a quick discussion and a small transaction of Night City's currency, "eddies," to trigger a sexy cutscene.
Players familiar with CD Projekt Red's last big RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, will have an idea of what to expect in terms of boning down, although the scene is a bit more involved and a bit more graphic than what Geralt gets up to. Protagonist V and his partner slam the ham in a number of positions (all played from a first-person perspective), and there was a fair amount of full-frontal female nudity and moaning in the scene. Just as an aside: There are a lot of boobs to see in Night City.
Things cut away at key moments so it never gets full-on pornographic, and it's all over in probably 30 seconds, which maybe doesn't speak too kindly of V's performance. Hopefully, there's a mod to help with that.
I was thankful that the scene ended quickly because I was feeling pretty uncomfortable about the whole thing (Mateusz kindly let me know he'd looked away from the screen during this private moment, which maybe made it weirder?). This particular sort of encounter is entirely optional and doesn't bring with it a lot of effects other than a lighter wallet and a quick cutscene--don't expect a Grand Theft Auto-style boost to V's vitals afterward.
That wasn't my only sexual (or sexual-ish) encounter in Night City during my playthrough, though. The next time things got a bit steamy was in Clouds, a high-tech brothel-type establishment that the story's twists and turns led me to. Clouds employs human sex workers, but they're referred to as "dolls"--they use specialized software in their cybernetic implants that allow them to give up control of their bodies to, apparently, an AI program. The idea is that the Clouds system scans you, chooses a doll for you, and then fulfills your deep-seated desires, including things you might not even be consciously aware of. The dolls also don't remember what happens in the sessions, adding an extra layer of security for those seeking discretion--or depravity.
Posing as a customer to get inside and find some information, I signed up. After I chose a safe word (uh-oh), the system picked a male and a female doll for me, Angel and Skye, and showed portraits of each. When the clerk asked which I would like, I immediately forgot which name applied to which person. I picked Angel and found myself in a small room and a pink-haired man who invited me to sit on the bed.
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Angel, under the control of the AI, started talking with V about what he wants most--but, interestingly, not in a "what would you like me to do to you" kind of way, but in an existential "what do you want out of life in Night City" kind of way. You can end the encounter by invoking your safe word to get on with your investigation, but Angel was really prying into V's heart in an unexpected way. As we spoke, V and Angel both laid back on the bed.
It never went any further than Angel laying a hand on V's, but it was a surprisingly intimate scene that got into some of V's drives and fears as a character. It seemed that the algorithm had determined that what V really needed wasn't a chance to boink, but someone to listen to him a bit while holding hands. It was a nice change compared to V's other relationships with characters, both friendly and hostile. (In one particularly unsettling ambient moment later, in a hangout of the steroid- and cybernetics-loving Animal gang, a huge guy screamed "D**k is hard!" while chasing me around, trying to crush my skull with a sledgehammer.)
That's all the sex V managed to have in my 16 hours in Night City, although sex is a pretty big underpinning for the game in general. Like in similar RPGs, you can find lots of random objects to pick up in Cyberpunk 2077, such as decks of cards and ashtrays, which you can sell or break down into crafting components. For some reason, as you make your way through gang hangouts, you'll find a ton of dildos. People just got dildos everywhere--future generations are not concerned with dildo privacy.
And on Jig Jig Street, your investigations take you into a couple of seedy sex shops, sporting provocatively posed mannequins and even more dildos. Though the ones you find out in the world tend to be of a generic type (they're all bright colors and ribbed, though, which seems notable), the Jig Jig Street shops have a lot of variety in shapes, sizes, and seeming, ah, danger levels.
Besides the sex workers you'll meet, there are many other people you'll spend time with in Night City, and you can develop some pretty close relationships with them. Both the main story and side quests put you in contact with people you'll wind up hanging around with, like Judy, a braindance editor, Panam, a nomad mercenary, and River, an NCPD detective. As you complete missions with these characters and choose different dialogue options that seem to affect their view of you, you'll get opportunities to have conversations and exchange texts with them, and that can create more opportunities for side quests. According to Mateusz, many of those characters have expansive story arcs that you'll work through on those side quests, although he was cagey about explaining just how deep things might get.
So it's an open question of whether, after adapting those working relationships into friendships, you can also turn them into romances. On a story quest with Panam, she and V stop at a small motel outside the limits of Night City as they prepare to execute a job. As the pair hang out at the bar and drink, Panam books a couple of rooms so they can sleep, but I chose the dialog option in which V suggests they share a room.
"Good idea, saves money," Panam replies. "Give us one of the rooms with twin beds."
When I pushed the issue further and V stumbled through the suggestion of just one bed to celebrate the previous job they'd just pulled off, Panam laughed him off.
So maybe there's hope? Or maybe V just has zero game. On the bright side, I didn't wind up uncomfortably watching another sex scene with a Cyberpunk 2077 developer. Sorry about that, Mateusz.