During the E3 trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 we saw Keanu Reeves appear as Johnny Silverhand, an iconic character from the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop RPG CD Projekt Red is basing the game on. But something unusual happens at 3.45 in the trailer: there's a visual glitch, and for a second Keanu's not there. You can see powerlines right through him just fine, so it's not a problem with the protagonist's cybernetic eyes, but something stranger.
He's a ghost, not just some NPC who shows up briefly, and it seems he'll be a big part of the game.
We know he's a ghost because one of the RPG books killed off Silverhand years ago, and though the body was never found, he'd be a lot older if he were still alive. (Clones exist in the setting, but we'll ignore that.) He should basically be Keith Richards by now.
According to Cyberpunk 2077's lead quest designer Pawel Sasko, Johnny Silverhand manifests as a "digital ghost" who is installed on a chip that V (the game's protagonist) has in their head. They're not explaining exactly what that means as "it's getting resolved fairly near the end of the game", Sasko says. However, it's canon in the RPG that Silverhand's girlfriend Alt Cunningham was a netrunner who was uploaded and became an AI ghost in the machine. Maybe Silverhand pulled a similar trick? We'll have to wait until 2020 to know for sure.
As for what it means for us as players, the obvious implication is that we may get to spend a lot of time with Keanu. He can appear anywhere to chat with us, and even taunts the player after character creation, saying, "C'mon, you really think they give a rat's dick about how you look?"
As for what Silverhand wants, Sasko wouldn't tell us everything, but did set up his backstory.
"He use to be a fighter for freedom, but in the eyes of corporations he would be probably called a terrorist," Sasko said. "This is the guy he is. He has a very strong vision for how the world should work, and he's like a true cyberpunk. He's the guy who goes against the system, and against the corporations, and against the city that's just an embodiment of this. He knows the city holds people in shackles—this is his way of seeing things. And suddenly he's back."