CDPR Deliberately Made Johnny Silverhand "Horrible" to Prevent Player Bias

CDPR shared that Keanu Reeves' Cyberpunk 2077 character, Johnny Silverhand, was intentionally portrayed as a "real asshole" to prevent players from blindly siding with him due to the actor's "star power".

During a talk at GDC 2023, Paweł Sasko, formerly the lead quest designer for both The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, who is now the quest director at CD Projekt Red for the highly anticipated expansion, Phantom Liberty, shared that CDPR had to deliberately make Johnny Silverhand initially "horrible" to prevent players from constantly favoring him in quest decisions due to Keanu Reeves' immense "star power."

"We had to take into account the fact that every time we had a star, players were going to fall for a star almost all the time. Therefore Johnny Silverhand, when you meet him for the first time in Cyberpunk, he's a real asshole," he said. "Because we wanted to make sure we could draw this really big arc, from being a horrible person, to the point where you actually really like this guy, and really understand him."

The quest director hinted that the scenario involving Idris Elba in Phantom Liberty is comparable, however, he didn't elaborate further.

Sasko noted that there should be "bravery" in storytelling citing the Cyberpunk quest, The Crucifixion of Joshua Stephenson, as an example. According to the quest director, to enhance the impact of this quest, developers modified it during the development process to put the player directly in the role of the one responsible for the crucifixion.

During the same talk, Sasko discussed the process of making difficult decisions and shared how the team decided to kill a significant character in The Witcher 3.

You can learn more about CDPR's collaborations with celebrities and their impact on the narrative and overall storytelling of a game here.

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