People have been waiting keenly for Cyberpunk 2077 ever since it was first announced. But judging by the Australians who have gotten hands-on time with the new CD Projekt RED RPG at E3 this year, there's a genuine concern that it might not get past the Classification Board.
Whenever a game is refused classification in this country, it's usually due to two things. The first is around the depiction of sexual content, typically involving sexual violence or the depiction of minors in sexual scenes, acts, and so forth. That's how a lot of anime-style games, like Omega Laybrinth Z, get slapped with an RC.
The other, and more common, reason for a ban: drugs. "Computer games will be refused classification if they include or contain 'drug use related to incentives and rewards,'" the Classification Board's report for We Happy Few said.
It's a clause that has seen changes to Fallout, State of Decay, and numerous other games. And it's because of that clause that many Aussies, in town for E3, are worried.
Also this game is totally not gonna past the classification board: substance abuse, extreme nudity, violence and I think gambling themes.
— Julian Rizzo-Smith @ E3 (@Retawes) June 13, 2018
To clarify, you have an inhaler that restores health and seems to give you some buffs. At a certain point a guy that upgraded your tech gives you one and says "take two puffs". It's plausible that more context will mean it's something else, but I think the implication is there.
— David Milner (@DaveMilbo) June 13, 2018
David Hollingworth, editor over at PC Powerplay and a friend of the site, noted that drug usage was a big theme in the Cyberpunk 2020 source material as well:
And let me tell you, drugs are BIG in the source material. Here's just a few from the Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook:
SynthCoke: The second generation, synthetic replacement for cocaine.
Speedheal: Designed to enhance the natural healing process.
— The Elf Respecter (@CptHollingworth) June 13, 2018
He also tweeted this image from the rulebook, which I've taken out separately (because it's rotated on Twitter):
Image: Twitter (David Hollingworth)
A detail confirmed by IGN is that the player uses an inhaler to heal, which historically has been a giant red flag for the Classification Board. The censors have always been very quick to ban anything that treats drug use as a reward, whether those drugs are over-the-counter medicines or via prescription.
Asthma medication is a pretty broad range of medicine - there's preventative puffers, combination preventers, tablets, puffers just for relief - but in general, it's difficult to see how the Board wouldn't have a problem with this. State of Decay fell afoul of censors because "it would be very difficult to complete the game without some form of medication", and it seems Cyberpunk 2077 will run into the same issue unless there is an alternative healing mechanism.
That said, Cyberpunk 2077 is still a long way from being released. E3 is still ongoing for this year, and if we can get some more info from CD Projekt RED about the game's use of drug usage and how that might affect its release in Australia, we'll let you know. Correction: GalGun was never RC'd in Australia, although EB did pull it from sale voluntarily. Apologies for the confusion.