The first time I stepped out of my character’s apartment in Cyberpunk 2077, I expected to be greeted by a vast world of machine-powered possibility. Instead, I found a dildo. It was sitting next to a random NPC’s foot in my apartment building, near a discarded magazine and some other trash. “That’s weird,” I thought. Then I looked up and saw two additional dildos perched on a nearby bannister, positioned between two conversing NPCs who did not seem to be aware of their presence. “That, too, is weird,” I thought.
(Warning: This post contains imagery that might be considered NSFW, but with many of us working from home during the pandemic, what does NSFW even mean anymore, really?)
In my time with Cyberpunk since, I have stumbled across many, many, many more dildos. I’ve taken to documenting every single one I come across. I have screenshotted 29 dildos. They come in two main varieties: the common “studded dildo,” the lowly street pigeon of Cyberpunk 2077's vast dildo underground, and the rarer “Pilomancer 3000,” a utensil of truly formidable size and girth. You can pick them up and either turn them into crafting parts or sell them for a few bucks. They have no use beyond this. Some have been in sex shops and clubs—places where dildos don’t seem so out of place. Others have been on street corners, in restaurants, in chop shops where human beings get disassembled for parts, and of course, scattered amongst garbage, which is pretty much everywhere.
This is distracting! First off, if you create a world that in many ways resembles our own but with significantly greater dildo density, people are going to have questions. But also, I have yet to witness anybody in Cyberpunk actually use a dildo, even in a sex scene between two women. There is an unlockable dildo weapon, but it’s disconnected from the wider plethora of dildos in the game. And while something like that might fit in, say, a Saints Row game, Cyberpunk’s overall tone is much darker, even if some side-quests are humorous and over the top.
So I had to know: Why all the dildos, CD Projekt Red? Why?
“We wanted Night City to be pretty open sexually,” said senior quest designer Philipp Weber in an email to Kotaku, “where something by today’s standards might be taboo or kinky is very normal and commonplace by 2077 standards.”
But just scattering dildos everywhere is an odd way to convey that, especially without much else to directly communicate this larger cultural shift or tie it back to the conspicuous presence of ding dang dildos all over the ding dang place. Yes, sex workers play a large role in Cyberpunk’s story, and it’s not difficult to find them in various portions of Night City, but the game hiccups when it comes to linking this to believable human behavior. There is no reason to believe that sexual liberation would naturally result in people leaving dildos everywhere, especially in light of sanitary concerns and other practical matters. Are these disposable dildos? If not, who in this demonstrably impoverished world can afford to spend so much money on dildos that they ultimately just drop on the ground?
It feels, as with many other elements of Cyberpunk 2077's worldbuilding, like a half-finished thought—an idea that must be explained, rather than one that explains itself. Meanwhile, the game does little to unravel more fundamental questions about its relationship to sex, like the fact that sex work is generally much more accepted and seemingly legal in Night City than it is in our world, yet it is for some reason still intrinsically linked to crime.
Going forward, CD Projekt will not be removing Night City’s preponderance of discarded dildos. Instead, the developer will fine-tune its flock of wayward phalli.
“The second reason for the high amount of dildos in the world is because they can spawn as random loot, and we were still tweaking those settings, so especially during the early reviews, the amount of dildos in the game world was pretty high. We’re going to adjust them so that the dildos don’t appear too out of place/context and distracting and more where they should be by design,” Weber said, also noting that a recent hotfix “may” have already adjusted dildo density to an extent.
So, at the very least, the dildos probably won’t stand out quite so much anymore. They’ll still be present, though, as will the dildo melee weapon, and of course, we’ll always have our memories of the halcyon days of Cyberpunk’s dildo dystopia.