This is Ana Muñiz. They’re a random person in Cyberpunk 2077, with a pretty cool haircut and a nifty fashion sense. How do they spend their time?
Since I finished Cyberpunk’s story back in December, I’ve been poking around Night City off and on, admiring the landscape and looking for interesting things to get up to. Developer CD Projekt Red had hyped up NPC behaviour in the game, promising unique characters and routines. A while back, after reading player critiques of Night City’s residents, I decided to find out just what some folks did in a day. I caught Ana on their lunch break in Corpo Plaza, and decided to spend some time with them.
Note: I did all this before the latest game patches. Your mileage may vary these days, though the folks over at Rock Paper Shotgun report that some of the issues I encountered in the following journey are still in the game. But we’re revisiting games as part of Kotaku’s Backlog Month, which for me has also meant thinking about all those articles I didn’t get around to writing, especially ones about Cyberpunk. And I’m not here to nitpick the game’s technical side — I really just wanted to experience the lives of the game’s NPCs and see what I could learn about them.
10:01 am — Ana smokes a cigarette
Given their outfit, I assume Ana is one of those people who works ungodly, nonsensical corporate hours in a ruthless office that nonetheless thinks of itself as “cool.” By 10am they’ve probably done more than I do in an entire day, yelling “buy” and “sell” and firing people for bringing them the wrong spreadsheets or coffee or whatever high-powered corporate people get mad at other people for bringing them. I like to think they earned this smoke break.
Incidentally, way back when I had a brief stint working at a publishing company near Wall Street, I bought some office shirts, including one that looked just like Ana’s: blue with white cuffs and collar. It probably looked terrible on me, but I loved that shirt. (Full disclosure: I am a little over five feet tall, so I bought the shirt in what I thought of as the bar mitzvah section of the Herald Square Macy’s, which was not at all embarrassing as an adult man.)
10:12am — A wild Ana appears
OK, so I ran into some trouble here. This was the first time I’d seen two identical NPCs so close to each other, and I was so startled by the two Anas that I ran down the stairs to take a picture. I’m mostly sure that after this I kept following the correct Ana, but I didn’t check their name until later in this experiment.
Is there something about stairs that just calls to doppelgängers? I had a similar experience years ago in Sleeping Dogs, when I found an entire group of clones while searching for the game’s version of the world’s longest escalator. Mysteries abound!
10:13am — Ana is undeterred by their clone
The two Anas just walked by each other like it was super normal, so I decided to go with the flow and pretend it was super normal too. We passed this other snazzy character with not-dissimilar hair on the way. I’d hoped they would flirt, but they did not.
When I had my corporate job, I think I owned this person’s shirt too, but I did not have nearly as fashionable pants or a belt. There may have been chinos involved. I was not cut out for corporate dress codes back then. Or now, if we’re being honest.
11:19am — Always time for games!
Ana wandered around the plaza a bit, then sat next to this person in an absolutely astonishing outfit and pulled out what is either a weird phone or a game console. They played something very aggressively for a bit, before putting their electronic away and staring sadly into the middle distance. Gotta find those bits of joy where you can.
Also, I notice now that it looks like that person from the stairs was following us! (Or it’s a clone.) Is romance in the air?
11:31am — Noodles
Ana pulled these noodles literally out of their pants and chowed down. I have no idea where they were keeping them, nor how the container didn’t leak while violating the rules of space and time, but hey: it’s the future!
11:43am — Oh no, Ana!
After shoving the noodles back into their pants, Ana seemed to experience some cardiac distress or really bad heartburn, flailing around and bending over. I got worried, but they recovered pretty quickly. Whew!
Also: I would like to rock the short skirt/ suit jacket/ tall boots combo of the person on the left of this screenshot, but I really don’t think I have the legs for it, especially since the pandemic curtailed my running routine. Goals, I guess.
Once Ana was feeling better, they stood up for a little while, then sat down on another bench.
11:55am — Why hello there
Some people came and went, and then this new Ana clone sat down beside my Ana. (Our hero is the one closest to us. I’m like 99% sure this time.) Again unperturbed by the oddity, Ana lit a post-noodles cigarette. The two Anas pretty much ignored each other, which really felt like a missed opportunity.
Also, this ad above their heads is super gross, and I have many questions about the market for…synthetic lunchtime worms?
11:57am — Noodles part two
The noodles re-emerged from Ana’s pants, the container just as pristine as the first time. New bench, new lunch? OK! Look, clearly this day is weird.
12:03pm — Oh no, other Ana!
My Ana kept going with their noodles while the other Ana had some medical trouble. In the end, everyone was fine, but it really makes you wonder if all the noodles and cigarettes are the healthiest choice.
12:38pm — Noodles part three
Ana got up, walked around a bit, then sat on a new bench down along the walkway. I would assume they should have been back at work by now, since their lunch break was nearing three hours at this point, but I did respect them moving into the sunshine. It was a pretty nice day in Cyberpunk, and I certainly would have lingered to enjoy the weather if I were them.
Then it was time for…more noodles. I don’t know if each noodle was a new instance of noodles, or if they were just working their way through one container in intervals. Maybe it’s some kind of high-performance corporate diet, like the way people used to be into that polyphasic sleep trend? It did very much make me want noodles though, which to be honest a lot of Cyberpunk does.
1:31pm — Sorry, Ana
After some more hanging out, it seemed clear Ana wasn’t going to do much more than sit on different benches and eat containers of noodles. I remembered that many players had been annoyed by NPC panic behaviour, so I fired off a shot to see what would happen.
Ana took off running. I’m not sure what happened to them next, because this was before the latest patch: The cops spawned right in and I had to take off running too. Thus ended my lunchtime hangout with Ana.
So what did I learn? There’s the obvious: at least back in December, NPCs didn’t do that much, and the re-used character models were a little heavy-handed. I like to imagine that maybe in the cyberpunk future, people get modded up to look the same, but that’s probably reaching.
But all that aside, I actually enjoyed my weird time with Ana. There was something really peaceful about all their drifting around. Despite the looping behaviour and clones, I really felt like I was following someone who was taking a break from their hectic corporate life to enjoy some time outside. I’m really into the design of Night City, and it was cool to learn more about how NPCs make use of it outside of scripted events.
Perhaps counterintuitively, something about Ana’s aimlessness made them feel very real to me. The getting up and sitting down, the picking at their lunch — it all felt like ways I used to drag my heels back when I had my corporate job. I remember taking the long way back to the office after having lunch, walking the same block repeatedly until I worried store owners thought I was casing the joint, all to have a little more time in the world before submitting to the florescent lights and stress of my workplace. Even though I did this months ago, I can vividly remember the way Ana’s routine felt stolen out of the demands of a workday, a sort of human secret we were sharing. The clones made things feel futuristically surreal, but Ana felt relatable.
I had fun with you, Ana. I hope the rest of your day went well.