As it has been revealed that players will select from three distinct origin stories for their characters in Cyberpunk 2077, it is time to madly speculate about exactly what kind of effect these origins will have. They're the Nomad, Corpo, or Street Kid, and they could impact the overall story and gameplay farther down the narrative line.
Lead quest designer Pawel Sasko recently informed VG247 each choice will provide both a unique prologue to each character and a different starting location and background. Before diving into the potential of each individual, we should consider other sources that feel similar in theme and aesthetic look to the upcoming game, namely Cyberpunk 2020, a role-playing game inspired by Hardwired, a novel by Walter Jon Williams.
Fans of the RPG likely already recognize how similar the old game feels to the upcoming release of Cyberpunk 2077: both emphasize combat that uses high-tech weaponry and the physical augmentation of one’s body with cybernetics, and both are set among the gritty backdrop of a city written from the perspective of a futuristic, dystopian, dark-film noir setting.
In the RPG it is skills rather than levels that matter to a character, and the same could be said of the upcoming game. Does it mean anything if a character is level 5 or level 50? Perhaps, but what is far more important is going to come down to where you have focused the development of your skills, or the augmentation of your body.
With that in mind, what skills could a Nomad develop or start off with, that the other two may not?
The very name implies an individual with no stable location to call home, nor perhaps even a family to associate with. They may be a wanderer, moving from place to place in an effort to survive.
Such an individual in the futuristic world of the game may be an expert at a skill we will call Scavenging, whereby nothing is left to go to waste, and everything has a purpose. This would allow them to loot more from their opponents once defeated, or simply have an easier time crafting items of use. They could also have augmentations specifically meant to survive the harsh conditions of life outside a city, particularly if the world has become warmer, or more of a wasteland like the Fallout series.
Perhaps then the augmentations could take the form of utility rather than combat like we have seen in the game trailers so far. Imagine the functionality of a “Stillsuit” in Dune by Frank Herbert, designed to preserve the moisture of a body in a place where water is scarce and every drop counts. In this sense, augmentations for combat would be useless when you struggle to survive against nature.
Since we know little of the world in Cyberpunk 2077, there is also a distinct possibility that Normads are fierce Road Warriors ala Mad Max, not so much moving around out of necessity but because of an unquenchable desire to be on the road. This of course would call for a cosmetic variation of Mel Gibson’s original Road Warrior outfit!
A Corpo brings to mind at once an image of a young, slick looking individual with the hottest cybernetic augmentations on their bodies, but highly indebted to the corporate Masters who have footed the bill in exchange for their perpetual service contracts.
One cannot have a futuristic world without corporations having a massive influence over all things political (much like our current reality), and so to have corporations arming scores of young people with the goal of having their own private force is perfectly believable.
For those who have seen, read, or listened to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (narrated by Wil Wheaton), one need only recall the Sixers, or Sux0rz, the section of IOI who were indebted workers given a range of outstanding and expensive items in the virtual world at the cost of their freedom, and any chance of finding the Easter Egg.
So, what would it take for one of those Corporate tools to be thrust into the story of Cyberpunk 2077? Well, if Ready Player One, Repo Men, Elysium, Gattaca, Ghost in the Shell, and a slew of others are any indication, our Corpo character might simply decide that the life of a corporate tool is not for them, incurring the wrath of a former employer who likely has a financial claim to some expensive body parts that have been augmented.
It seems fair to assume that “Street Kid” is probably not the finalized name for this individual, but it is probably not Disney’s Aladdin either. However, the theme would fit perfectly in Cyberpunk 2077.
Our character could be an orphan, or a runaway, one who has come to know every street and alleyway of their city and has survived and thrived in its harsh environment. Their augments may be patchwork, or largely stolen, or perhaps they are part of a communal “family” of street folk who work to survive and take what they can.
In this sense, while the Nomad may be a wandering soul, and the Corpo may be a on the run from Corporate debtors, the Street Kid may be an integral part of the living organization which is the city, right at home in the slums.
How Will These Three Stories Come Together?
More importantly, will these distinct origins have any real effect on the game past the initial prologue? If not, it will drastically undermine the importance of selecting a background, and hopefully the game will not feel as the Mass Effect series did towards its end, where so many choices seemed to cascade into a single ending, lacking any real meaning in the process by which we arrived there.
For now, we can only speculate about what these three stories will bring, and what they will allow us to do as players later in the game, but the various options available are enough to keep us excited for the release of the game.