Before it was a videogame, Cyberpunk was a tabletop RPG published by R. Talsorian, a classic that went through multiple editions and spin-offs. While there are 57 years between the setting of Cyberpunk 2020, its definitive second edition, and that of the videogame currently being made by CD Projekt, they still share the same backdrop of Night City and some of the videogame’s mechanics are inspired by the tabletop game’s rules, even down to keeping ‘Cool’ as a stat. Here are some of the other things we hope have survived the years.
The demo showed behind closed doors at E3 included a meeting with the Maelstrom, a combat gang who are into black leather and chrome, and the trailer features someone with “Valentino’s” written on their jacket, a reference to the “posergang” of the same name who are essentially cyberpunk PUAs. Both the Valentino’s and Maelstrom are from the original game, which has a wealth of strange street gangs straight out of The Warriors, only with more plastic surgery and cyberlimbs.
The Philharmonic Vampyres, for instance, are pranksters in black tuxedos who hate mimes with a passion and are at war with a gang of street performers called The Julliard. Meanwhile the Bozos, biosculpted killer clowns with white skin and red noses and bombs that detonate when their heart stops, are at odds with everyone because nobody likes clowns. A few of these stranger gangs would be great to run up against in 2077.
Though we’ll all be playing a protagonist called V in CD Projekt’s game, we’ll be able to personalize them thanks to a “backstory creator”. In the tabletop game character creation included a system called Lifepaths, a set of flowcharts from which you could choose or roll dice to randomly determine everything from your Childhood Environment and Most Valued Possession to your Tragic Love Affair. While it would be a bit much to include all that detail in a relevant way in a videogame (you could wind up with a family “cursed with a hereditary feud that has lasted for generations” for instance), a trimmed-down equivalent would be a fun way to make V our own.
Infamous Night City hangouts
Between the timeline of the tabletop game and the videogame a nuke got dropped on part of Night City and an entire district had to be rebuilt, but still it’d be nice if a few of the more memorable locations remained. Like Totentanz, a club that takes up the top three floors of Burleson Tower, and where a variety of enhanced “boostergangs” meet. Their meetings aren’t always friendly, so “It’s considered a bad night if the body count is under twenty” according to the rulebook. There’s also Afterlife, a bar built in a former mortuary and divided into sections called The Antechamber, The Crypt, and Hades. It sounds goth as hell but it’s actually where mercs go to find work via a marquee that acts like a bulletin board.
Rockerboys and girls
Cyberpunk 2020 posits a future where rock & roll is still the soundtrack of rebellion, and “rockerboys” like Johnny Silverhand are important countercultural figures. They were even a playable character class. In the trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 we see posters and newspaper headlines about a performer named Lizzy Wizzy, the chrome-skinned mohawk lady we also see stepping out onto a red carpet, so while rockers like Silverhand would be as old as The Rolling Stones by this point, maybe a new generation is filling that gap. Even if we can’t play as a rockerboy or rockergirl this time, they’d make for interesting NPCs.
A world beyond Night City
The only hint we get in the trailer of America beyond Night City is a glimpse of a couple of hillbillies, one holding a neon shotgun. In Cyberpunk 2020 there’s a whole world out there, sprawling cities separated by a full-on Mad Max highway nightmare wasteland populated by packs of travelers called nomads (many of whom are displaced farmers kicked off their land by corporations). It would be a shame to have a sweet car and not have at least a little bit of highway to test its limits on.