Cyberpunk 2077 – how lifepaths and optional companions can completely change your playthrough

By Kirk McKeand
11 September 2019 12:16 GMT

Cyberpunk 2077 looks like the kind of game you’re going to be playing more than once.

The adventure begins with three different playable prologues depending on the origin story you choose for protagonist V, called lifepaths.

“The player in Cyberpunk 2077 can create a custom character that has one of three origin stories, that we call lifepaths: you can be Nomad, Corpo or Street Kid,” lead quest designer Paweł Sasko told VG247 at E3 this year.

“Each of that Lifepaths has a different starting location and story background that are strongly connected with the origin story. Anything more I say can reveal too much from the story, so I will leave it like this.”

As well as changing how Cyberpunk 2077 begins, these lifepaths will have dramatic consequences on specific missions as well. CDPR senior quest designer Philipp Weber gave a specific example in a recent Q&A.

“As quest designers we were already used to [telling] nonlinear stories, so having a character like V gave us more of what we already like to do,” Weber said. “The lifepaths are actually one of my favorite features, because they just give us more roleplaying opportunities. A Nomad can of course solve some problems much better than a Corpo, but put him into a board room and he might not really have the best way to lead a conversation the way he wants to.

“So when we come up with challenges, we also like to think how different lifepaths could solve them effectively. This will hopefully give players lots of motivation to play the game multiple times, because they can have a completely new experience.

“The new gameplay options thanks to our fluid class system essentially give us more opportunities to make our quests even more nonlinear. It’s a lot of fun to work with our level and encounter designers on locations for our quests, because there are always so many different options we can come up with. And sometimes, these options can then also change the story, so just like the lifepath, these gameplay abilities just make it easier for us to make the quest more nonlinear than ever.”

It sounds like we’ll be playing through Cyberpunk 2077 at least three times, then. But lifepaths and the class system aren’t the only factors that impact how quests can play out. Cyberpunk 2077 also features optional companions – taking these along on certain quests could change the outcome, since these characters may also have their own motivations.

“It essentially means having to implement a good chunk of this quest two times, because we of course want to have a very different experience if you have someone with you,” Weber explained. “They will take part in dialogues and the whole story can go into a different direction if they’re there or not. So in some ways it can feel like playing a completely new quest.

“At the end of the day it’s a lot of work, but it’s also one of the best feelings when you can make a quest that can be so different for the people playing it. So yes, it’s hard to do, but it’s absolutely worth it!”

CD Projekt also reinforced the fact that each quest will be handcrafted and have its own storyline, ranging from short skits to epic, multi-layered missions. There won’t be any procedural missions to pad things out.

“For us, quality is always more important than quantity, and we just couldn’t deliver this quality with modules we assemble in different ways to create these random quests,” Weber said. “We don’t just want to keep people busy, but actually give them something to do that’s worth their while. The decisions players make can really shape what the story becomes and also what kind of themes it leaves you with. If we make a story that has nothing to say, then what would be the point of telling it?”

Cyberpunk 2077 is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 16, 2020. It’s also planned for release on Google Stadia.

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