Cyberpunk 2077 dev says they went all-out on the memorial to Johnny Silverhand's nuclear attack, then found out bosses 'just expected a commemorative plaque'

Cyberpunk 2077 character Johnny Silverhand with arms crossed looks away from the camera and smiles
(Image credit: Tyler C. / CD Projekt)

The bombing of Arasaka Tower in 2023 is a massive moment in Cyberpunk lore, and pretty much the key inciting event that makes the whole plot of Cyberpunk 2077 possible. No wonder, then, that the ground zero of the blast—right next to the new Arasaka Tower—is home to a sprawling memorial in stark, black blocks.

Except it turns out it wasn't really meant to be there at all.

Chatting with PLAY Magazine, CDPR environment artist Krzysztof Kornatka mentioned that the memorial area was something "one of the directors asked for" while he was working on the Arasaka area of Night City. A simple "something to commemorate the explosion of the main Arasaka headquarters in 2023." 

Kornatka got right to it: With one eye on the movie Demolition Man for inspiration, he set about creating the wide memorial area you can find in the game, made up of those sombre monoliths and part of the original tower's lobby, effectively preserving it in amber. It was only later that he realised the bosses had just wanted "a commemorative plaque somewhere on the side of the building."

Oops. But Kornatka takes it all in stride: "What can I say? In [CD Projekt Red’s] City Team, we like to utilise larger spaces!" And honestly, he's entirely correct. If a nuke went off in my hometown (it would generate millions of pounds in improvements, har har), it'd probably get a bigger memorial than a plaque. Life might be cheap in Night City, but I'm not sure it's that cheap.

Plus, it really does drive home just how murky your own situation is in the game. The Arasaka Tower bombing was carried out by none other than the swaggering ghost in your skull, Johnny Silverhand (well, more or less), and the relationship the two of you develop over the course of the game is a kind of enemies-to-friends buddy cop affair. Running across the melancholy aftermath of the time he immolated a few thousand people in nuclear fire might remind you that he's more than just a wisecracking voice in your head.

Then again, V probably kills more people than that just crossing the road, so perhaps it's not quite as dramatic a contrast as I imagined.

Anyway, it's not just Cyberpunk tidbits that devs have been talking to PLAY about. There's also the Baldur's Gate 3 dev who went into detail about Larian's level design philosophy, noting that players love nothing more than finding a location before "'ending up 2 hours and 3 puzzles later in a sacrificial chamber of a cult that murders giraffes'."

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.