With a brief episode of online controversy over a purportedly transphobic piece of in-game art more or less resolved, CD Projekt Red has announced that it's aiming to offer transgender options in Cyberpunk 2077's character creator. Thus far, only gender binary versions of protagonist V have been shown off, so non-binary options in the upcoming gritty RPG would be revolutionary for mainstream gaming.
E3 2019's Microsoft press conference brought an all-new Cyberpunk 2077 cinematic trailer, which CD Projekt Red used to demonstrate to players just how dark, harsh, and player-driven the game's setting of Night City will really be when the game releases in April 2020. In addition to breaking the internet with a trailer appearance of Keanu Reeves' never-before-seen character and an infectiously charming on-stage appearance from the man himself, soon-to-be players were given a sizable dose of what's to come as Cyberpunk 2077 inches closer to the finish line. With the deep, immersive storytelling that the Witcher developer prides itself on, greater on-screen representation for a greater number of players would fit right into an involving tale like Cyberpunk 2077's.
Following the immediate fallout from the debacle regarding an in-game poster of a questionably sexualized trans person - as well as the quick resolution brought on by the responsible artist's clarification that the art said something greater about the game's themes - CD Projekt Red's Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz responded to Gamasutra when asked about adding trans and nonbinary elements to the Cyberpunk 2077's character creation system. Tomaszkiewicz says that such groundbreaking representational options are "one of the things [they] want to do in the final game," with the ultimate aim of providing "as many options of customization in the beginning of the game as we can." Though Tomaszkiewicz remains vague on the subject due to character creation still being a work-in-progress at this stage of development, he had this to say when asked specifically about non-binary creation options:
"The idea is to mix all of those up, to give them to the players, as they would like to build it. Same goes for the voice. We wanted to separate this out, so the players can choose it freely. This is something we are still working on, it's not as easy as it sounds. This is one part of it. In terms of how we depict the characters within the setting itself, of course, yes, we are paying a lot of attention to it; we do not want anyone to feel like we are neglecting this or treating it wrongly."
Rather than rolling with the small wave of backlash it weathered over the in-game poster controversy and adding extended customization options as an attempt to pander to outraged players, it seems that CD Projekt Red may have actually already been ahead of the curve on the gender representation front well before the issue was ever raised externally. Of course, it's not yet clear if this feature will actually make it into the final game, and Tomaszkiewicz's careful vagueness to avoid making any unintended promises doesn't make the prospect any more reassuring. That said, Cyberpunk 2077 has been constantly changing since players first saw the game, so extra character creation options that will include often-ignored groups of gamers seem far from impossible.
Although Tomaszkiewicz was intentionally (and understandably) a bit noncommittal as to whether trans and non-binary character creation options will be present in the release build of Cyberpunk 2077, the cat is now pretty well out of the bag on this one. CD Projekt Red's large fanbase already has sky-high expectations for the neon-soaked RPG, but maybe this is one feature worth fast-tracking from all rational standpoints.