Remark: some spoilers for the Cyberpunk 2077 story below.
Pawel Sasko, Cyberpunk 2077’s quest director, has said that players who criticize the open-world RPG for being too “linear” are “fully justified”.
Through PCGamesN (opens in new tab)The comment came up as Sasko was answering questions from viewers during a recent Twitch stream. A viewer asked what he thought of people criticizing the open-world RPG as “linear.”
“Well, I think it’s totally justified,” Sasko said. “Players expected more, they expected more because of the way Witcher 3 is built. And I think Cyberpunk has an insane amount of non-linearity. But again, I think the expectations were higher.”
Part of the criticism that Cyberpunk 2077 is too linear stems from the introductory quests, which begin with the player choosing their starting role from three different origin stories. Whichever they choose, their character gets funneled into the main storyline pretty quickly and there was little impact on the story regardless of which origin you chose. Others have said that there aren’t many big choices in the game that lead to big ramifications in the storyline.
Sasko raises an interesting point in his response to this: sometimes major branches in a story don’t even register with players, because the choice itself isn’t the one most people end up thinking about. The example that Sasko uses is Goro Takemura, one of the best and most likeable characters in the game.
“The fact that Takemura can die or not is such a big giant branch that affects so many things along the way. And it was so much work to make it work both ways.”
But for players who made it a priority to save Takemura because they liked him so much and didn’t want him to die: “In a way, it almost became a non-choice,” Sasko said. “It became linear in players’ minds.”
However, Sasko says Cyberpunk 2077 is an extremely non-linear game. “There’s so much randomness in that [quest] system, that it’s not possible to have identical playthroughs at all.” That said, he still thinks players’ complaints about linearity are valid.
“I’m fine with it. I think it could have been better, honestly,” said Sasko. “And we know how to make it better. And I would expect more from us, from myself and from us as a studio.”
You can look at the VOD of Sasko’s streamwith the discussion starting around 1:17:00.