Cyberpunk 2077 Rated M With Emphasis on Gore and Sexual Content

Cyberpunk 2077 Rated M With Emphasis on Gore and Sexual Content

The ESRB's rating summary is pretty clear about how far Cyberpunk pushes boundaries.

From a short glimpse of its gunplay and with an understanding of CD Projekt Red's stance on risque content (here's looking at you, bathtub Geralt), it should come as no surprise that Cyberpunk 2077 has earned an M rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB. Still, if you're on the fence about how tasteful 2077's content will be, the newly released ratings summary might give you some clues.

If you're unaware, along with the simple letter ratings it doles out, the ESRB always releases a detailed rating summary for the games it assesses. They're pretty dry and objective, and while they don't call out every thematic element or potentially transgressive choice, they pinpoint some extremes. Here's a passage concerning some of the more extreme gore players will encounter in Cyberpunk 2077—also, if you're particularly spoiler averse, you might think of this description of how players will "assist" one character as a giveaway:

Combat is frenetic, with frequent gunfire, cries of pain, explosions, and blood-splatter effects. Some locations depict mutilated corpses with open chest cavities and/or exposed organs/entrails. During one quest, players assist a character by hammering nails through his hands and feet; screaming sounds and blood effects accompany the scene.

The ESRB rating summary also devotes a lot of space to addressing nudity and sexuality in Cyberpunk 2077. From the details given here, it sounds like the character creator is somewhat flexible in the options it provides for defining how the mercenary, V, looks in the nude beyond a simple this-or-that choice of body type. It also looks like CD Projekt Red is sticking to its commitment to show most of Cyberpunk 2077, sex scenes included, in first-person view:

Players can select a gender and customize their character; customization can include depictions of breasts, buttocks, and genitalia, as well as various sizes and combinations of genitals. Players can encounter events where they have the option to engage in sexual activities with other main characters or prostitutes—these brief sex scenes (from a first-person perspective) depict partially nude characters moaning suggestively while moving through various positions. Some scenes contain brief depictions of thrusting motions; other scenes depict a character's head moving towards a partner's crotch.

On top of the sex and violence, there are other taboos such as drug use (apparently there's an "animated billboard ad" of a man snorting speed, presumably not an anti-drug PSA) alcohol consumption (plus driving while drunk) and foul language ("'f**k' and 'c*nt'" are singled out by the ESRB).

Now, you're probably not alone if this has you thinking "so what?" Fixating on how mature a game's content is a bit like a throwback to the '90s days of "edgy" magazine ads, cooked up by people who likely had "excitable teenage boys" in mind as the prime audience. Even if CD Projekt Red is leaning into that attitude, with one designer recently quipping that they "don't fuck around," parts of The Witcher 3 certainly prove that the team is studio is capable of handling this stuff with grace and nuance.

The question of whether something's in good taste will be left up to players when Cyberpunk 2077 comes out on September 17, 2020. In the meantime, don't expect to see Cyberpunk's most provocative bits make it into mainstream TV ads—but maybe we'll see some during whatever CD Projekt's upcoming "Night City Wire" showing in June is.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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