Cyberpunk 2077 gives players a lot of choices, from how you approach missions to how you deal with interpersonal situations. This freedom extends to character-creator options you’ll never even think about again, like choosing your character’s teeth or genitals. But one bit of choice I wasn’t expecting, and which I can’t remember seeing in a game before, is that you can turn down alcohol when a character offers it to you.
Spoiler warning: There are vague spoilers for characters throughout Cyberpunk you might not have met yet if you’re early in the game. I’ve mostly left them unnamed, and it’s nothing major, but if you want to discover absolutely everything for yourself, you’ve been warned.
Cyberpunk portrays a gritty, underground world of the future, and as such there are a lot of scenes in bars. While I used to go out of my way to drink and visit bars in video games, I feel differently about all that now that I’m sober. On top of all the ways I’ve had to change my life and myself to stay sober, I’ve also had to ingrain the simple but wildly difficult habit of not picking up booze and putting it in my mouth. It’s taken a lot of conscious thought and practice; I get nervous when I have to carry someone’s drink for them in real life, even if I feel confident I won’t drink it. I still really like bars, both in games and in real life, but now they’re sites of anxiety as much as they’re fun. I worry I’ll be tempted to drink, or that people will comment uncomfortably on my choices. I don’t get upset when my video game characters drink or go to bars—breaking my sobriety in a game is not the same to me as breaking it in real life—but having the choice wrested from me can remind me of the compulsive habit my drinking once was.
My sobriety made me hyper-aware of an early Cyberpunk scene where a drink was poured for my character V. A woman I needed to meet with ordered drinks for both me and her. I braced myself for my character to drink, only to find during the course of our interaction that I was never forced to pick the drink up. When we moved to a new location, she chugged her drink, but I was able to leave mine untouched.
I had similar freedom in other scenes in which drinks were poured for me. In one instance, the game gave me a timed choice on whether to drink it or to say, “Thanks, I’ll pass.” In a later scene in which shots were handed out, I had the option to pour my drink out when everyone drank theirs, a moment that had its own animation.
At other times, I was given the option not to order a drink at all. When visiting the Afterlife bar with a companion, I could say, “Nothing for me” to the bartender. Sometimes characters commented on my choices: When I told one character “Don’t really feel like drinking,” my V followed up with “Don’t let that deter you,” to which the character replied in a friendly voice, “I don’t aim to.” Characters aren’t always so nice about it; in a side mission, I asked a companion, “Got some lemonade or something in that vein?” He replied, baffled, “Well sure, but seriously?” V made some excuses about not expecting alcohol. While the character’s surprise and protest felt realistically uncomfortable, he brought me a lemonade anyway.
I haven’t found my decision not to drink to have any great effects so far. I actually wondered if having lemonade instead of something stronger in the scene mentioned above affected the outcome, so much so that I reloaded and tried the scene with drinking (a decision I felt all kinds of weird about, and also felt weird about feeling weird about). Things turned out the same way, and I reverted back to my previous sober save to continue the game. There was one quest where you could only talk to various characters if you drink, but those objectives were optional. I felt a little stressed that I was missing out, but this also felt a lot like real life, where I’ll excuse myself if things get too boozy, even if I know I’m missing out on spending time with people I care about.
I’ll say, very vaguely, that I wasn’t able to entirely avoid consuming booze from a first-person perspective. While I didn’t feel like I’d compromised my sober V in one instance—it’s also never made explicit that you’re drinking alcohol, though it seems strongly implied given the circumstances—lacking choice in that moment felt dissonant for my playthrough, even though I understood why it existed. I’m still not done with the game, either, so all this could change.
Being able to turn down drinks is a subtle choice, but one that means a lot to me as a sober person. It feels like a surprising kindness in a game that celebrates its edgy maturity through violence, nudity, and sex. I wouldn’t expect to be able to stay sober in Cyberpunk’s world, much less to have that option written into the game’s interactions themselves, but I really appreciate that I can.