I don’t think I like my Cyberpunk 2077 boyfriend very much. Yeah, Kerry Eurodyne is an attractive dude, has money, and is nice to me. However, he isn’t nice to other people. I was excited when he asked me on a date, but I didn’t expect my romantic evening out with a wealthy musician to include light terrorism as he blew up another musical act’s equipment for the slight of them performing a cover of his song. I thought us going to a concert would be a second chance at him doing something nice for me, but instead he just went backstage and held a group of women at gunpoint and called them every terrible name in the book. They came to an understanding and are all good now, but the whole time I kept asking him if we could just enjoy the concert instead. Rather than listen to this snack and a half, he insisted we go backstage and do some more light terrorism in lieu of dancing together. And okay, was our sex on a couch he set on fire hot in more ways than one? No, actually. The sex scenes in Cyberpunk 2077 look like silly POV porn.
In general, everyone in Cyberpunk 2077 is their own brand of terrible. Moments of true, genuine feeling come after you’ve waded through the filth that is Night City. Is Kerry that much worse than the majority of people I’ve met in CD Projekt Red’s RPG? Probably not, but that doesn’t make him a good person. Different settings move goal posts for who and what we consider good and tolerable, but a burnt out rockstar picking fights with girl groups because he’s worried they’ll be more successful than him isn’t someone I want to jump into bed with…or burning couch with, in this scenario.
But the thing is, Kerry Eurodyne is my only option.
For all the posturing leading up to launch, Cyberpunk 2077 is a game built on an illusion of choice. You can customize protagonist V to look all sorts of ways, but you can’t change it up after you hit confirm on the character creator. You can pick your genitals, but they only appear on the inventory screen and are covered up in the photo mode. Your voice determines V’s pronouns and the way the game perceives you despite the body you choose. So while there are options here, it’s impossible for everyone to be represented in a system more rigid than it appears on the surface. That rigidness of gender expression seeps into romance as well, as the four love stories in Cyberpunk 2077 are set to such specific parameters that your options are very limited.
Kerry, for example, is the only romance between two men in Cyberpunk 2077. He’s specifically gay, and will only enter a relationship with a V who has both a typically masculine body type and voice. If you don’t like Kerry, your other two options are either pursue Panam, a woman, or stay single forever. The only other gay interaction I’ve been able to have is with a sex worker on Jig-Jig Street. Which is fine, but sometimes you want something to come home to. Meanwhile, Vs on the feminine side can pursue Braindance expert Judy or Night City cop River, both of whom will rebuff any advances from a more masculine V.
More Cyberpunk 2077:
- Cyberpunk 2077 Review Podcast
- After a Messy First Week, The First Hotfix Patch for Cyberpunk 2077 Is Here
- Cyberpunk 2077 Is GTA Online Without the Online
When it comes to portraying the spectrum of sexuality in a video game with romance, there are a lot of spinning plates to manage. If you have characters who are all of varying identities, you are both representing different kinds of people while actively denying content and relationships to players. In the case of games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, making characters explicitly gay rather than “playersexual” means you can tell different stories inherent to their queerness rather than writing something that works regardless of the protagonist’s presentation. And it also gives characters a bit more authority to be who they are regardless of the player’s influence. Characters like Dorian Pavus being gay and rejecting the player is great because it means they can maintain pieces of themselves the player can’t touch.
Then there’s the Assassin’s Creed approach, which lets players romance whoever they want regardless of their character’s gender, meaning I was able to kiss any willing man in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (although the specifics of the setup muddied things). The game lets you have the freedom to pursue whoever you want, and while it means romances feel less tailored than something like Inquisition, that freedom is its own perk.
Personally, I prefer Inquisition’s approach, as I think representing different identities across the board is more progressive and meaningful than making characters playersexual and romances a “one size fits all” affair. And, in theory, Cyberpunk 2077’s version of things would fall under that category. The trouble is, the game’s romantic options don’t account for one major thing that made games like recent Bioware work: representing the spectrum without hamstringing player choice.
It’s good that Kerry is a definitively gay man and that he’s allowed the agency to turn away a feminine V, but the way Cyberpunk 2077 has set things up, players are stuck in a situation where they have to settle for a character they might not like or end up alone. The second option is a valid one, but it’s a shame when you’re given only one romantic option if you identify as straight or gay. While bi and pan folks have a little more freedom to pick between two people, they’re still not given much to work with.
For a game that is all about the impermanence of the human form, I would have expected Cyberpunk 2077 to be more open and fluid than most RPGs, and somehow it ended up being more fixed than modern RPGs with relationships typically are. It’s somehow both progressive in its inclusion of unapologetically queer characters who will deny the straight gaze, while also regressive in just how limiting it is in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think the solution is for all four of these characters to be made pansexual, but if there were additional options that represented the spectrum more, it could feature straight and gay romances without also feeling so limiting.
I’m at the end game of Cyberpunk 2077, and despite my mostly negative feelings on it, I’m going to see it all the way through. And I guess Kerry will be by my side in the end as my burnt out rocker boyfriend who unearthed a heart of gold after digging through his baggage. Kerry is probably not in the top ten worst people in Night City, but he certainly wasn’t someone I would have pursued romantically if I was given another man fighting for my affection. I guess I’ll live with it for the last like, three hours I have left of this game. But it would’ve been nice to have been able to walk away knowing I had options.