Life is not great at the moment. Still. I’ve been unable to try new games because when I get like this, I revert to comfort. DemonCrawl even though it’s…not great, for example. I recently reinstalled Binding of Isaac: Rebrith. It is very soothing for me to play now (except when I get no upgrades in my skill and a ton of health so I can’t die), and I don’t really have to put much effort into it. There are a few games that I’m interested in that are coming out either in the near future or the undetermined future, but I’m pretty underwhelmed by the big games that other people are hyped about.
Let me come out and say it. I hate what I’ve seen from Cyberpunk 2077. It’s probably the most anticipated game to come out in some time, and everyone else seems to get more hyped about it over time whereas I am not even lukewarm about it.
Let’s roll it back a bit. Cyberpunk 2077 is the newest game of CD Projekt Red who made the huge hit, The Witcher 3. My boo, Geralt of Rivia, was the protagonist of that game. It was an incredible game, and I put probably a hundred hours into it. I did have a bit of a qualm about how white the game was (yes, set in Poland) and the fact that all the women were sexy and fuckable whereas the men were allowed to be of all sizes, shapes, cleanliness, etc. I also grew weary in the last few hours of the game. I blamed that on myself, however, because I tend to binge on games until I’m absolutely glutted. In this case, it was because I was in some cave with a witch, and I had to find my way out of it instead of her simply transporting me out when the quest was over. The map didn’t help, and I became increasingly lost. I almost quit, but I knew I was really close to the end. I don’t remember how I got out, but I finally did. I’m pretty sure this was a mandatory quest, and I was pretty pissed that I had to do it.
The ending I got was worth it, though. Spoiler warning, I guess if you don’t want to know one of the several endings for The Witcher 3. I chose Triss over Yennefer, and I retired at the end of the game in a small house in the woods somewhere. Ciri takes up the mantle of witcher, and there’s a very touching scene between us before I got my epilogue. I was extremely satisfied with my experience in the game, if somewhat burnt out by the end. Then the first DLC dropped. I eagerly snapped it up, and…I fucking hated it. The main antagonist is a violent, arrogant, narcissistic prick, and I have a really difficult time dealing with them given my personal history.
I tried to override my internal objections and play it, but I was gritting my teeth the whole time. Part of the reason was because they decided to make the enemies a million times harder in the DLC. Why? Who knows. I didn’t play the game for the combat, so suddenly having to learn new ways to fight was not a pleasant surprise. The thing that made it worse, however, was when Geralt had to let the asshole take over his body. Can’t remember why, but the feeling of violation was so strong, I got nauseous as I played. It was at a wedding, and I barely made it through. It was either that that made me quit or the other thing that really pissed me off. Geralt had to go talk to the asshole, and the asshole and friends were drunk and being very dicey. Like, almost sexually assaulting women dicey. Geralt stepped in and confronted the asshole, and then they had to throw down.
The fight was brutal, and I died several times. Again, this was not why I played the game, and the fact that I suddenly had a Dark Souls boss up in the business pissed me off. When I finally beat the asshole, he laughed and said he was immortal. What? Then why the fuck did I have to do the fight? I’m pretty sure this is the reason I quit and never looked back. Everyone else raved about it, but I had nothing but hatred for the DLC. I didn’t even bother glancing at the second DLC when it came out, even though it was supposed to be even better.
All the goodwill the game had built up during the vanilla game was wiped out by the first DLC, and I’ve had a bitter taste in my mouth ever since.
Side note: When pushed on the lack of diversity in The Witcher 3, CDPR kinda brushed it off. I see their point that it was set in Poland, but it was irritating that the one black woman I can remember being in it was a succubus. At any rate, when they announced Cyberpunk 2077, I was cautiously excited about it. Then, I saw the first trailer, and all my excitement fled my body in a hurry. It was slick and stylish, yes. The graphics were amazing, yes. But, the characterization was dreadful. SO dreadful. The way they portrayed black people, Latinos, and women was horrific, and I was, quite frankly, disgusted. To me, it felt as if they said, “You want diversity? Here’s your diversity!” in a defiant way. The woman was a grotesque caricature of the cool girl in saying ‘suck my dick’ and being just as foul-mouthed as the broey-est of bros. The Latino guy was pure cholo, and the black dude? The less said the better*.
In addition, CDPR has had some run ins with trans people, and they (CDPR) haven’t really acquitted themselves very well. It’s not been malicious, but more that it’s not even on their radar. So they stumble along and make statements that would have been better left unsaid. In other words, I don’t trust them at this point to get it right. There was a video I watched about how to handle edgy stuff in games (was not happy because the sword analogy he used fell apart on a technical comparison, but I grimaced and moved on), and it has to be done with such care. He mentioned Cyberpunk 2020 as being very bad on ableism and Orientalism.
CDPR has said that hypersexualism is something they’re portraying in the game and how when corporations use it, it’s bad. (For marketing and such.) Which, fine. But from all they’ve shown, it’s disproportionately skewed towards women and trans people. The thing is, and this ties in with the last paragraph, if you’re going to tackle issues like this, you have to have a very deft hand in doing so. The first trailer made me hate the game. I’ll be honest. The second one? Didn’t make me feel much better. The main protagonist was suddenly a man again (and they’ve gone all over the place on gender choices for the game), and his buddy became even broey-er in this trailer.
I’m suddenly exhausted so I’m going to end this here. I will write more about it later, and what I wanted to talk about–the general mess that is gaming.
*I just want to point out that one of the consultants for the game is Mike Pondsmith, a black man (relevant), who wrote Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Red, two tabletop games. He has vociferously defended the portrayal of black people in Cyberpunk 2077.