The thing that interested me the most about Cyberpunk 2077 was its character creator. I’m someone who’s spent a lot of her time thinking about character creators and how they work for people who are not cis, white, able bodied, or male. I had hope that Cyberpunk’s creator would meaningfully include the wealth of human physical diversity while also being unfettered by the conventions of what a “normal human” should look like. Cyberpunk as a genre seems to be all about body modification and customization such that a game influenced by the original pen and paper RPG would naturally include diverse options in its character creator. But while the character creator does offer some unique and interesting choices, it fails the game’s overall ambition of being a game that lets you “be anyone.”
The character creator makes its first impression with how utterly atrocious its controls are. Whether you’re playing on PC or console, using a mouse and keyboard or a controller, it is bad. With a controller, the option to rotate your character is, for some inexplicable reason, bound to the left and right trigger buttons instead of the right stick like it has been for every character creator since time immemorial. There were many times when I wanted to rotate my character and instinctively moved the right stick, only to send the cursor flying down the list options instead of moving my character. With a mouse and keyboard, instead of holding down the left or right mouse button and moving the mouse to turn your character, (again, something that’s so prevalent in PC control schemes that it’s second nature to make that motion) you have to use the Q and E keys to turn. Why those keys in particular and not something more natural like A and D? Who the hell knows.
Another major flaw in the character creator: you can’t zoom. If you want to get a more detailed view of what’s going on with the body you’re trying to craft, you have to trick the character creator into showing you. One of the cyberware options is a choice that features the futuristic designs on my character’s neck. Since I can’t zoom in on my head, and all the options that allow me to get close enough to see my head have a field of vision that stops just a little bit under my chin, the only way I could zoom in on my neck to get the best look at the choice was to choose the nail option and take a quick screenshot of my character’s neck before my hands got in the way. Trying to control the character creator is so cumbersome and unintuitive that my colleague Nathan Grayson said he had to “speedrun it because it was so unpleasant.”