That Keanu is so hot right now. And after he showed up at E3 2019 to announce his role in the most anticipated game in the next year – Cyberpunk 2077 – there’s only one way to describe it: Most excellent.
Somehow, CDProjekt RED (CDPR) looked into its crystal ball months ago, saw that John Wick 3 was going to be awesome, divined his viral formula-breaking, surprisingly deep answer on the Late Show, predicted his hilarious cameo in one of the best Netflix movies, and calculated he would be hottest, most interesting damned property during E3 2019.
Of course it took no astronomical amount of deciphering to figure out Reeves is inherently interesting. Sad Keanu has been around for years, but it’s more than a meme. It’s a life philosophy we don’t understand. Many of us may aspire to give away large sums of money if we ever struck it rich, but he’s the rare example of actually doing it. Why this multi-generational movie star should live lonely and without his earned wealth, by choice, despite business and personal suitors lining up around the block? Who even is this man?
But still — well done CDPR to decode the formula, and the Law of Keanu dictates Cyberpunk 2077 will be several times better for his inclusion.
But what exactly will he be doing?
NOTHING MORE PUNK THAN A ROCKER
Just a few seconds at the end of the E3 2019 trailer is all we get of Keanu Time. Taking off some futuristic highway patrol sunglasses, he says:
“Wake the f— up, samurai. We’ve got a city to burn.”
It was a pretty good guess if you deduced Reeves would be playing Johnny Silverhand. Similar faces, the robot arm, and Reeves’ penchant for playing Johns…
— Fandom (@getFANDOM) June 10, 2019
We’ve covered how Cyberpunk 2020 had many more “roles” than Cyberpunk 2077’s upgrade tree will allow the player to occupy. In 2077, those extra classes are embodied by NPCs. We’ve already seen a Corporate and a Fixer acting as questgivers, so it’s easy to imagine Johnny Silverhand as a Rockerboy class getting V into trouble.
And who wouldn’t have this reaction:
It's not even like he was made for the role, it's like the role was made for him, like John Wick
— Hookshot the Very Very Sad (@Hookshot18) June 9, 2019
Not to mention, the E3 trailer has him call you Samurai. That’s the name of Silverhand’s rock band — could 2077’s winding decision trees have a branch with you as a member? According to canon, after astronomical success the band broke up when some members ran into trouble with the law. Perhaps Silverhand is looking to rebuild.
Even though it seems perfect, though, Silverhand still might not be the character. Along with Reeves’ appearance at E3, the Xbox Twitter account initially tweeted this after the trailer:
“Introducing Keanu Reeves as Mr. Fusion in Cyberpunk 2077, coming April 16, 2020.”
But that tweet was later deleted by @Xbox, and replaced with this one:
— Xbox (@Xbox) June 9, 2019
Perhaps it was incorrect information by mistake, or perhaps we weren’t supposed to know that yet.
Speaking to GameInformer, quest director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz said Reeves will play a “supporting protagonist” who is “present throughout most of the game.” That raises many questions. Tomaszkiewicz seemed to speak as though Reeves is indeed Silverhand, but how real is he, really? If he’s a “digital ghost” in your mind, to quote the GameInformer article, is he more like a Cortana figure? Perhaps your navigational and moral GPS?
We know less about this “Mr Fusion,” but if Silverhand is in play, we can gather a few ideas of what his character will be like.
Rock and Role
Rockerboys can be more than the name suggests (including, one would hope, Rockergirls). They can be more about street poetry than grunge guitar, they can be primarily about activism, or even become politicians. But our man Johnny Silverhand? He’s a proper rocker. With his robotic digits he can jam out solos like no human.
Despite mostly being about how you act in the world of Cyberpunk 2020, these classes still had abilities that affected gameplay. The Rockerboy’s special ability is “charismatic leadership,” and can learn the following abilities:
- Wardrobe & Style
- Play Instrument
Keanu Reeves casting “Seduction” is perhaps the most fitting match since Doug Bowser took over at Nintendo of America. We’re thinking those robo-enhanced fingers aren’t just for the “Play Instrument” ability.
Even though some Rockerboys are politicians, their main thrust is anti-authoritarianism. And given Silverhand is meant to be an iconic, perhaps even “lead” Rockerboy, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to see Reeves leading some kind of organised resistance. That would certainly fit with his “We’ve got a city to burn” line, and Tomaszkiewicz talked about Silverhand as someone who dislikes corporations and fights oppression.
At the very least, the Samurai are probably on a level of activism akin to Rage Against the Machine, and affiliation with the band would be more like being a part of a movement, rather than just wearing your favourite band T-shirt to the corner store. In fact, in the Cyberpunk universe, Rockerboys have led entire armies to overthrow dictators.
Silverhand — Friend or Foe?
Built into the roles of Cyberpunk is a natural friction of interests. Certain classes like the Corporate or Cop might be more interested in preserving the status quo. Though the majority of roles seem intent on smashing it.
Given CDPR’s penchant for genuine choice, it’s likely you’ll be able to navigate your way through the intrigues of the haves and have-nots however you see fit. The three roles that make up your upgrade tree (Techie, Netrunner, and Solo) don’t have any particular allegiances. So that means it’s up to you.
The question is, how hard-coded is your attachment to Johnny Silverhand? Keep in mind, CDPR is not afraid to build a mountain of content you’ll probably never see — even if they’ve paid Reeves to play a large part. This is the studio that sent you to one of two regions for The Witcher 2’s entire second act, unable to see the other region until your next playthrough.
Decisions matter in CDPR games. It’s possible that you could piss off Silverhand without making an authentic enemy of him, a la Yennefer. Tomaszkiewicz’s comments above seem to support the idea that he’ll regularly show up to support you, like your own little Cyberpunk Navi.
But if Silverhand is in more of a Dijkstra role? Choosing wisely will be good for your health. You’ll probably be able to support the authoritarian powers of 2077 if you choose, but Silverhand seems to want to burn the city down, and if he decides to put a knife in your back, he’ll have an army of Samurai to help him.