If you hadn’t picked up on it already, one of the biggest themes of Cyberpunk 2077 is player freedom and choice. CD Projekt RED has crafted a massive world packed with things to do, choices to make, and consequences to suffer.
We know that there are multiple “origin stories” and life paths that your character can go down, a diverse range of romance options to pursue, a ton of minigames, and an incredibly detailed character customisation tool that’s unconstrained by binary gender options.
Basically, in Cyberpunk 2077, it’s looking like you can live and play the way you want to live and play in a dystopian sci-fi city. Sounds great, right?
Based on what we’ve seen from the RPG so far, it’s looking like we’ll be able to extend that same commitment to freedom and choice in how we approach combat. Players can hack, sneak, or shoot their way through situations, while certain players will able to negate conflict completely in certain scenarios.
But while it was previously suggested by CD Projekt RED that Cyberpunk 2077 could be beaten without killing anyone, the developer recently clarified to Kotaku that it would be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to beat the main story without a little violence here and there.
Cyberpunk 2077 producer Richard Borzymowski told Kotaku that “there are different ways for the player to try to finish a mission non-lethally”, but that the question of whether or not you can beat the game as a pacifist is a question with a “complex answer.”
You might be able to sneak your way around and get past certain scenarios but, if you do get noticed after some point, and still don’t want to kill anybody because you’re playing a character that just by definition doesn’t kill a lot of people, then you can leave them on the ground: so they’re still alive, but are wounded enough not to interfere with you.
Essentially then, it sounds like you can avoid killing, but you will have to occasionally maim and incapacitate those that get in your way using particularly violent methods. Does this mean a true pacifist play-through is impossible, then?
When Kotaku asked Borzymowski if it was possible to get through the game as a pacifist-hacker, he replied; “Oh, you probably wouldn’t finish the campaign.”
Cyberpunk is a violent universe — we don’t really shy away from that. The main quest can branch into many paths, and choices are connected. The thing we’ve done in The Witcher, which we want to do in Cyberpunk 2077, is that when we are presenting choices to the player, we want them to be meaningful choices. And a meaningful choice is a choice that has causes and effects. Sometimes this effect might even mean a player won’t see every element that the game has to offer.
It’s important to note that this isn’t direct confirmation that you absolutely can’t finish the game if you attempt a pacifist play-through. Borzymowski seems uncertain that it’s possible, but we’ve seen plenty gamers do things in games that the developers clearly never intended or expected.
I give it two months after release, tops, before somebody uploads a true pacifist run of Cyberpunk 2077.
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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.