That’s my point though. That’s not anti-capitalist in the way Marx was, for example (let alone more extreme people). That’s anti laissez-faire 1980s capitalism. Capitalism has existed since at least the 1800s, arguably the 1700s (I don’t hold with “it is eternal” type arguments). You can say “oh well yet but all capitalism will end up that way!”, and whilst I might agree, I actually doubt a lot of genre authors regard it as a necessary/inherent trait of capitalism in that way.
I disagree strongly. Virtually every major cyberpunk genre author has broadly libertarian, liberal or even centrist political leanings. I can’t even think of one, off-hand, who leans hard socialist, let alone Marxist (maybe I’m forgetting somebody - if we include post-cyberpunk then perhaps Richard K. Morgan, but you can’t have this whole “cyberpunk isn’t an aesthetic” deal and yet include post-cyberpunk, I’d suggest - if it is an aesthetic then it might become arguable). Freedom of choice is often lauded, and characters who make their way in basically low-end capitalist ways on the edges of the system tend to be seen as positive. The problem is frequently shown to be that there is no real freedom of choice because the megacorps have wrapped up the whole thing. Hell, you get this same argument from some neoliberals today - that capitalism isn’t the problem, just the lack of restrictions and/or people being bad/greedy is the problem (I think the latter is a stunningly dumb point but w/e).
I haven’t read your spoilers, but I did just read something pretty important to this discussion, which is Cyberpunk Red, Mike Pondsmith’s new Cyberpunk RPG, which is, it turns out, the actual basis for Cyberpunk 2077. It explains a lot about what’s happening in 2077. It’s actually set in 2045, so you could think of it as Cyberpunk 2045, if that helps.
Things it explains:
Corporations in in 2045 and in 2077 are a lot LESS powerful than in 2020. This is the result of the world’s response to the events of 2020-2025 (not just nuking Arasaka tower, a whole lot of other stuff). This is pretty easy to see in-game, given you don’t have corporate kill squads openly patrolling the streets and so on as they could in 2020.
Militech effectively ARE the US military, rather than just this massively powerful arms manufacturer/mercenary organisation.
The massive changes to the shape of Night City and what’s in it, and indeed what’s around it - the nuke and massive deaths (worldwide) and so on shaped this.
The vaguely post-apocalyptic vibe which 2020 didn’t have - 2023-25 pretty much wiped out a significant chunk of the population of the Earth.
All in all, Cyberpunk Red is notable in that it does actually change Cyberpunk 2020 significantly, but perhaps not in the direction you want. It distinctly and intentionally tones down the corporations, because megacorps haven’t really happened (the possibility still looms, with Amazon, Facebook and so on, but they’re not really any bigger than 1980s corporations in terms of real power, for now). The world is more fucked-up and it’s not just the fault of the corporations, but, for example, the 2020 equivalent of the European Union, and the shattering of the US, and so on.
Not in the English version I played it isn’t. I dunno about other languages. Perhaps you mean paraphrasing rather than word-for-word (it’s the opposite concept)?
I don’t entirely disagree, though obviously that’s hyperbole, but I think you’re completely and utterly wrong to think 2020 wasn’t also that, and wrong on a very basic level about how the cyberpunk genre works. You seem to think it’s some sort of progressive, vaguely socialist deal. It’s not. It’s a vaguely reactionary one or even a nihilistic one. This is not some original criticism of mine - it’s been a frequent one for decades. For example:
I can’t find several good essays I’ve read on this, but it’s extremely valid to suggest that cyberpunk as a genre is basically a dystopian vision which says the world is going to get worse, and there’s very little we can do about it, just maybe try to survive. And that’s pretty much reactionary, because it’s saying the world now (or in 1983 or whenever) is “better” than it will be in the future. And when it’s not saying something like that, cyberpunk as a genre is frequently nihilistic, suggesting little/nothing matters, and it’s all going to shit anyway. Cyberpunk 2077, oddly enough, cannot be accused of being nihilistic. It’s vision is a lot more positive than most cyberpunk, and doesn’t really derive from noir and so on. Indeed, Cyberpunk 2020 used to get called out for this - it’s far more Walter Jon Williams than William Gibson.
You seem to think punk is socialist too - this has never been consistently true. Some punks are - but nihilism, historically, has been much more a core of punk - as has a feeling of being excluded from (and perhaps not even wanting to be part of) the main “line” of society, of the benefits of society. The anger than engenders, and so on.
Something not really present in much “cyberpunk” genre writing, not even in the early days.
I think for 2077 to be the game you wanted it to be, you’d have to delete the non-Streetkid origins, and focus much, much more on the “fuck the system” angle, and probably change the setting to return the corps to being megacorps truly. As is, in 2077, just like 2045, they’re not drastically more violent or even really powerful than other factions in society.
Plus you keep saying none of the main stuff is critical of the corporations (who again, aren’t the megacorps they once were, so aren’t the sole cause of how fucked up the world is), but what about them literally sponsoring and engaging in the literal crucifixion and death of a basically brain-washed prisoner, directly for their own profit? I mean, that wasn’t just an advertisement or something. That’s a whole big thing, and utterly horrifying. And that was one of the less-scary-seeming corporations.
Have you considered you may just dislike AAA open-world games, particularly those which don’t give you a strong shove in a particular direction? Neither Skyrim nor RDR2 are bad games by really any standard.
I’ve likewise enjoyed the side-missions, both the gigs, which like you describe tend to be able to be finished in several ways, and the actual, more complex side-stories. Frankly the stuff with Panam and Judy is more fun and interesting than the main story. Even the detective’s side-story (in Mass Effect or Dragon Age you’d call it a loyalty mission, but it’s a lot longer and more complex than those) is quite a thing. I enjoyed the bizarre and creepy side-quest with the would-be-Christ-figure too.
In general I think the high-point has been the vibe and various different ways stuff can be approached, for me. Some of the writing is also pretty good (even great, in a few cases, albeit somewhat balanced out by clumsy stuff).
Oh and re: trans representation, turns out a notable and purely positive character is trans, it’s just kind of difficult to find this out (which is maybe a good thing on a certain level?). Claire btw It doesn’t fix the other issues but it’s notable because it’s easy to miss.