CD Projekt RED has confirmed that it’s doing away with “traditional” male and female gender options for the character customisation in Cyberpunk 2077 in an effort to stay true to the ethos of the game’s world.
The studio revealed the news in an interview with Metro, where CD Projekt RED Senior Concept Artist Marthe Jonkers explained how the team is working to make a cohesive, believable world, but also added that they want to make a game that’s “really inclusive.”
This change to the character creation tool comes after critics noted that binary gender options don’t really gel with some of the themes of the Cyberpunk universe. As a result, players will now choose from “body types” so that players don’t feel they’re being limited by gender.
Our character creation menu, for instance, compared to the last demo we now give you so many more options. For instance, you don’t choose your gender anymore. You don’t choose, ‘I want to be a female or male character’ you now choose a body type. Because we want you to feel free to create any character you want.
Players will also be able to choose between two voice options; “one that’s male sounding, one is female sounding.” According to Jonkers, we’ll be able to mix and match these voices with the various body types to create any kind of character we see fit.
At E3 2019, CD Projekt RED came under fire for an in-game ad in Cyberpunk 2077 that was considered by many to be transphobic, especially given the company’s history of having to apologise for multiple jokes aimed at the transgender community.
Despite this, Jonkers insists that CD Projekt RED is an incredibly inclusive studio, and added that the team always asks for feedback when it comes to decisions such as these. In the wake of the E3 controversy, Cyberpunk 2077 Quest Director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz promised that the studio was working to include transgender options in the character creator.
He told Gamasutra:
We want to do this thing where, as you create your character, after you choose the body type, you can, for example, use physical traits as you build your face that could be assigned to a man or a woman. […] The idea is to mix all of those up, to give them to the players, as they would like to build it. Same goes for the voice. We wanted to separate this out, so the players can choose it freely. This is something we are still working on, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
It sounds like CD Projekt RED has managed to achieve pretty much exactly what Tomaszkiewicz said they were setting out to do, though final judgement should be reserved until we see the finished game in action.
We also know that Cyberpunk 2077 will allow players to change their character as often as they like, and that there are multiple, diverse romance options to pursue.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.