Years ago I made a post on the sub about the flaws with in-game currency in RPG’s. Like many people I’ve been playing a lot of Cyberpunk 2077 in the past week, and apparently UNlike many people I’ve been enjoying myself quite a bit with it. There are definitely flaws with the game, but it gets a lot right. And one of the things it gets right is the currency system, improving on a lot of the issues I had with past games I highlighted in my last post.
One of the primary ways the game circumvents the drop-off in importance of currency is that it gives you access to many purchasable upgrades right away…the only limitation is how much money you have to spend. Early on you are introduced to cybernetic mods to enhance your body, but many of the more enticing options are expensive. For example, a leg mod that allows the character to double-jump costs $45,000 – which is attainable, but requires grinding for 5+ hours and spending money on nothing else. It’s a fun way to keep the inventory loop of kill-loot-sell-repeat interesting, because we have these mini-objectives to work towards.
For another thing, V starts the game in debt to a number of people, so while you are given an ample amount of cash at the outset of the game, you are pressured into funneling a lot of that money into finishing main quest lines. Certain quests only become available if you’re willing to pay for information. Money is easy to acquire for the necessities, and most quests provide substantial rewards that more than cover basic expenses like ammo and crafting materials. But the game has plenty of built-in money sinks to prevent the feeling that there is no point to keep earning after a certain point. The progression is balanced well enough that you can afford most necessary upgrades through simple quest rewards and the like, but there is still a reward for those who enjoy penny-pinching and looting/selling everything they can carry because they can access more powerful upgrades earlier in the game.
That isn’t to say everything is front-loaded and there is no sense of progression in the items you have access to. Many of the mods and upgrades are available for purchase right away, but have strict requirements for skill levels and street cred in order to actually use them. It’s yet another reason to care about the grind, having benchmarks to work towards in order to achieve some significant upgrade or perk. V also periodically receives texts offering him the chance to buy vehicles of increasing quality (and price). You can jump at the opportunity for a mid-range vehicle you can afford now, or wait for an offer for a high-end vehicle you can save towards in the future.These offers officially count as quests (a decision I’m not sure I agree with myself), but completionists who want to clear their task bar will have more incentive to amass piles of cash to make these purchases.
In short, one of my favorite things about C77 is the satisfying progression system when it comes to cash (and many other aspects). It solved a lot of problems I felt other games failed to address, and it’s clear they actually had currency in mind when designing the quests and gameplay loops. I know it’s popular to pile on this game right now and highlight its problems (believe me, I have plenty of my own), but I wanted to give the game its due and praise it for something it gets very right.
P.S. – Before you rush to the comments, I know C77 isn't technically an RPG according to CDPR's new marketing strategies. But it's close enough for our purposes.
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