The year is 2077. Corporations control everything. And dildos are everywhere.
You might expect a dildo to be found in an apartment bathroom. On the rim of the bathtub itself, perhaps – ready to be of service as part of a relaxing bath. On the nightstand in a bedroom, too. That makes sense. But how about underwater, on the forecourt of a flooded gas station? Just in the middle of a bar? Front and center on the desk of a corporate high flyer, in case a meeting gets boring?
In Cyberpunk 2077, dildos are all over the place. In one sense, it’s one of those consequences of the tough development grind on an open world game. In another, it tells us something interesting about how developer CD Projekt RED has chosen to build its future dystopia.
Picture the scene. You’re building an open world game, and you only have the resources to create a finite number of interactive props for the buildings and streets. These are props the player will see often, because they’ll constantly be looking for them. Picking them up adds them to inventory, where they can then be disassembled to obtain components for the game’s crafting system.
These items are important. But they’re also mundane – other props include things such as decks of playing cards, ash trays, or scissors. Resources are tight. What items the artists will create has to be carefully considered.
So, obviously, you build multiple dildos. Not even just one or two variations, either! No. Make loads of dildos.
Because there’s a limited number of these props available in Cyberpunk 2077, the level designers then go on to use these props liberally. The end result? Well, in Cyberpunk, there’s a Dildo for every season. A dildo in every home. They’re everywhere.
Skyrim had wheels of cheese everywhere. NPCs would stockpile them in their hundreds. In Night City, these open-world NPCs aren’t so interested in cheese. Dildos, though? Yeah.
Sometimes they’re in places that make sense. Walk into a sex shop and there’s walls of them, alongside other similar products. But they’re also in loads of places that don’t strictly make sense.
I became fascinated by these props, a presence even more constant in Cyberpunk 2077 than Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Silverhand.
My incredulity at their appearances reached a glorious zenith when I went scuba diving with one of protagonist V’s buddies, uncovering a long-flooded township. I swam down into the underwater ruins of a gas station, and what awaited me on the forecourt…? A Pilomancer 3000, of course. It’s a big one. I pick it up and recycle it into parts to make a new gun.
Oh, and there’s a dildo sword. Say hello to Sir John Phallustiff, an iconic non-lethal (it’s blunt, you see) melee weapon. Why not?
This is funny. It makes for great photo mode bait. But also, it’s curious: it tells a bit of a story about CD Projekt’s vision of the decadence of Night City. The number of sex shops per capita in Night City is huge. They’re on every corner. There’s more sex shops than food shops, probably.
This fits in with much else we’ve seen about Cyberpunk 2077, like the over-the-top billboards and advertisements with sexualized images on. In Cyberpunk 2077, sex is used as a shorthand for a world that has spun out of control. There’s no modesty. Billboards feature guys eating ass, or snakes crawling up a naked woman’s leg suggestively. The slogans are deliberately crass.
Some of these billboards, featuring trans characters, have come in for a lot of criticism before the game has even launched. They’re generally boorish, but they’re also part of an overall trend: some of the shortcuts CD Projekt takes to sell Night City as decadent feel as though they’re executed fairly thoughtlessly. So some, like the booming dildo market, come across as a little puerile. Others risk causing offense.
Don’t get me wrong: I got a laugh out of the placement of some of these props. A dildo hiding away under a jacked-up car in a workshop does feel like a little bit of environmental storytelling. Who put that there? But it’s also demonstrative of one of the game’s weaker narrative points: Night City is beautiful, astoundingly big, and incredibly well designed – but sometimes, it feels just a little too over-the-top for its own good.
I look forward to hearing what sort of wild places all of you lot find Dildos in come December 10. And I haven’t even mentioned the Butt Plugs or Anal Beads – also lootable junk. Joy!