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Cyberpunk 2077 taught CD Projekt to be less subtle with player choices in Phantom Liberty

"We kind of missed the point."

Kurt Hansen in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty.
Image credit: VG247/CD Projekt

Player feedback on Cyberpunk 2077 led CD Projekt to change how it handled choice and consequence in Phantom Liberty.

This is according to the game’s quest director Pawel Sasko, who has discussed the effect the reception to the base game’s story had on that of its expansion during a recent interview with YouTuber TheNeonArcade (thanks PCGamesN). Acknowledging that, in terms of both gameplay and storytelling, the studio “knew that players were, like, unhappy with certain things”, Sasko explained that it adopted a different approach in terms of making people aware of how they were influencing the world around them in Phantom Liberty.

The quest director identified the need to more clearly “telegraph” the consequences of choices as “one of the really big conclusions and important conclusions from Cyberpunk”. “We were so subtle in places in Cyberpunk that players didn’t realise (certain choices and consequences were playing out),” Sasko said, citing the fact that some different branches were only noticed by those who’d put around “200 hours or 1000 hours” into the game because CD Projekt wasn’t “telegraphing clearly enough.”

He went on to point out that this is exactly what the studio did in much more obvious fashion for The Witcher 3, with Geralt’s flashbacks at the end of certain quests or arcs narrating to the player exactly what had happened due to what they’d chosen. “In (the base version of) Cyberpunk, we wanted to make it as diegetic (and) as immersive as possible, you know, as natural as possible,” Sasko reflected, “and we were so subtle sometimes… we kind of missed the point.

“We need to make sure that (the) player feels that it’s telegraphed that the result of what’s happening is the result of (their choice), so that was a really big (lesson) for Phantom Liberty.” The quest director then revealed that this is why so many choices in the expansion are followed-up by text message exchanges or certain characters involved in them showing up again in pretty visible fashion later on down the line.

In addition to stressing that player feedback regarding the choice and consequence - or perceived lack thereof - in the original game had led him to regularly stress the importance of it to the teams working on Phantom Liberty. Sasko added that what the studio learned about storytelling from Phantom Liberty’s reception will be incorporated into future projects.

So, it seems we’ve got plenty of reason to look forward to both Cyberpunk’s sequel and the next instalment in The Witcher series.

If you’re planning on jumping back into Cyberpunk 2077 in the meantime, make sure to check out our coverage of its latest patches and must-have mods.

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