Since Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference, we haven’t stopped thinking about Keanu Reeves. The Reeves-surgence is in full swing thanks to John Wick (and to his excellent appearance in Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe), and now CD Projekt Red has somehow had the foresight to include him in Cyberpunk 2077. From the trailer, though, it wasn’t clear how big a role Reeves’ character would have in the game.
During a behind-closed-doors presentation at E3 2019, we saw nearly an hour of Cyberpunk 2077 footage that strongly indicates Reeves has a very big role in the game’s story. He plays Johnny Silverhand, a major character from the Cyberpunk 2020 universe (the tabletop game on which 2077 is based). In the demo we saw, Johnny appears as a hologram that’s apparently in your character’s head, and he acts as a guide of sorts through key moments.
“He’s a primary character in the game,” lead quest designer Pawel Sasko told GameSpot. “He’s the front man of the Samurai band… The Samurai band is the one from [Cyberpunk] 2020, from the original sourcebook. He was the guy who was extremely charismatic, and very lively, and loves life, and goes in gun in-hand. There were extremely bad things that happened to him in 2020.”
How Cyberpunk 2077 Got Keanu Onboard | E3 2019
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This is less weird than it might sound; your character, V, has a biochip embedded in their brain, and that’s apparently where Johnny resides. He was killed in the Firestorm Cyberpunk 2020 sourcebook but exists on the chip as a “digital ghost,” Sasko said.
“He ends up as a digital ghost, and your whole relationship starts with him, and it’s really complex,” Sasko said. “You can develop it through the whole game. So he is absolutely throughout the whole game from beginning almost to the end.”
Because it’s in your brain, Johnny will stick around for a significant part of the game, and your relationship with him is a large part of the story. That is way more Keanu Reeves than we expected at first, and it’s looking like that’s a very good thing.
“You can develop [your relationship with Johnny] towards different resolutions I would say, and that happens in the late game and finale, and so on… so really important part of the game,” Sasko said. “One thing I could add is it’s not absolutely completely true that he’s a really nice guy. He has his own agenda. There are things going on between you, and he may not always like what’s going on. I think that’s something that we could emphasize here. There’s this play between [Johnny and V]. This play, I would call fight, slow pushing, one pushing another, seeing where are the boundaries.”
Cyberpunk 2077 now has a release date: April 16, 2020. Look out for more Cyberpunk news as E3 goes on, including how the team got Keanu Reeves involved in the first place.