CD Projekt RED, developers behind the fantastic Witcher series, have a unique mechanic they’d like to introduce in their forthcoming RPG-adventure title Cyberpunk 2077, based on the pen-and-paper RPG of the same name. The premise: To allow some characters in the game to speak in their native dialect, even if the game settings are set to “English” or “Spanish,” etc. In order to understand what these characters are saying, you’ll have one of two options: Learn the language in real life, or invest in and upgrade your translation implant.
Sebastian Stepien, lead story designer at CD Projekt RED, discusses the idea and its potential implementation in the following video:
Here is a transcription of what’s being said, in response to the question about what’s being done for the Polish localization of Cyberpunk:
“Decisions are not made yet, but we are thinking about some kind of system which could, by the way, tell more about the game world.
The idea is to record everything in its original language. If there are, for example, Mexicans in the game, they will speak with slang, all performed by Mexican actors.
Then a player could buy a translating implant, and according to its level, he will get a better or worse translation.
It’s impossible to translate Los Angeles (or similar) street slang in a believable way. It’s just not possible to record voices in other languages and give all emotions, behaviors, etc. at the same time. It must be coherent. We will hear that Polish actors are trying to pretend to be Americans. It will just not work.”
While this may not be the first time a game has allowed characters to speak in a foreign language, the innovation comes in the way it would be used. Since we’ve yet to see any footage of Cyberpunk in action, allow me to provide a hypothetical scenario as to how I would most enjoy seeing this feature implemented. Imagine a design similar to that of Deus Ex, with branching pathways that allow for multiple tactical approaches. The player can choose a style of play that suits their preferences; whether they enjoy running-and-gunning, melee-focused combat, or the stealth approach. For someone interested in the art of silent takedowns, information about your target is key. One of the best ways to obtain information is by talking to witnesses, local informants and everyday citizens. In this scenario, the translation implant could be one of your most versatile and important abilities. Assuming the game will feature some aspect of either globetrotting or cultural diversity within the sprawling cities, being able to converse with folks who don’t speak your language could prove invaluable. Now, on exactly how grand of a scale the team is thinking of incorporating this idea obviously remains to be seen, but if the feature does make its way into the final version of the game, it could fundamentally alter certain playthroughs.
I for one would love to see the team take a chance and run with this idea. So long as the objectives throughout the entire game can still be completed using other methods, therefore not hindering players who opt-out of getting the implant and upgrading it, I don’t really see anyone having a problem with it. I think it adds another crucial layer to furthering player immersion and would really make the game come to life.
What do you folks think about this? Would you like to see CD Projekt RED allow characters to speak in their native tongue, or do you prefer that the entire game be spoken entirely in the language of your choice? Share your answers, as well as your thoughts on how you’d like the see the feature utilized, in the comments below.