Cyberpunk 2077

Game Description: is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour, and body modification. You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality.

Platform: PS4/PS5 Xbox One/Xbox Series X/PC Genre: First-Person, RPG

Role: Senior Level Designer Date: Jan 2017- Dec 2020


Two Side Quests I worked on made it into the top 5, with that of River Ward (Fought The Law) and Johny (Chippin) 

You can see the multiple locations I worked on during the development of Cyberpunk 2077

During the development, I worked on a range of different levels, from the bombastic tank boss battle concluding the Normand’s story line. To the more sombre ‘Mini-Stories’ players can find as they explore every nook and cranny of the open world.

Designing for these different styles of levels presented itself which different challenges and opportunities. While working on the tank battle, I was heavily inspired by the ‘Fury’ so getting a chance to give players a true feeling of those tense and gut-wrenching moments helped me plan the routes and encounters.

One of the biggest challenges is that players needed to leave and enter the tank in this area, so figuring out metrics to help the tank’s form of movement, but also not making the space feel colossal while on foot. I think we achieved this, but also we decided it would be best to move some of the phases of the tank battles outside of the construction site, to allow players to go wild on the terrain.

While on foot, to keep the player engaged and making sure that they would not be bored from re-using this space, multiple times. I focused on creating three lanes for the player, as well as having the player view this location from multiple angles, to keep the area looking different. Not only did this help to re-use the space but due to the fact players would fight multiple waves of enemies from a different front, it allowed players to discover more about this location and build a strong mental map for the player.

The most exciting part of being a level designer on this project is the amount of freedom you can offer the player. As players can customize their play-styles, we really had to make sure we offered enough options/routes for players to use as players moved through the game. One example of this design ethos is in my work on the Quest ‘Chippin’ Location: Ebunike

Players arrive at the shipyard of the Ebunik to find Adam Smasher, yet this is also the home to Malesrtom and their drug operation. I was in charge of designing the space to best suit the options for gameplay but also combat (Which involved enemy distribution, enemy types, as well as reinforcements, and spawn locations) Below are images of the level from a top-down map, with icons on the objectives/routes available for the player, as well as enemy distribution.

As you can see by the images above a lot of options are available for the players to choose from as they make their way through the level. One of the big challenges when designing these routes is making them meaningful for the player. I addressed this in a number of ways, from that of level duration, unique challenges or solutions for the players to use, types of locations players would explore on side of the level to the other, or the number of enemies players may face. Another challenge of offering so many choices for players is making sure they all end up at the same objective point and making that feel natural. While designing I had to keep in mind how to funnel players to the objective and sure the objective was clear to all players and could see the location no matter which side of the level they are exploring. You will see below an image of a decision point I use to help establish the objectives for the player once entering the facility.

Providing these options for players was great fun, but making them feel meaningful was the element that required the most thought. As each location provided its own sense of challenge and logistics of choice and memorable moments. Below you will see another level I worked on “Red Queens Race”

Players arrive to a warehouse of all places in order to find a club called ‘Red Queens Race’. Accompanied by Riverward, players must find the entrance to the club, in order to carry out their investigation. Whether that be taking out the gang members of the ‘Animals’ or finding a quieter way in.

One of my favorite design ideas when working on this location was considering how to reveal the club. I was listening to a podcast ‘99% Invisible’ which told a story of how a drug cartel bought two properties one on each side of the border (Mexico & USA) and one on the American property had a secret entrance to the back garden pool via a tunnel from the property in Mexico. Which inspired me to create the entrances to the club as freight containers, so when you open the doors it has a wow factor.

While working on these locations, level designers would closely with the Quest Designer and Environment artist to best bring these spaces to their full potential. Our role was to make sure we delivered the story for the players in an exciting way as well as making sure the layouts were clear to the player. Communication was key for us as we needed to make sure that our visions were united. Once we were all in sync that is when I would work on the blockout of the levels. These blockouts needed to communicate the routes for all players, spaces for scenes when needed, as well as which areas were gameplay and which were optional routes.

I mentioned earlier how I also worked on the open-world content as well, these were great ways to bring life to our world. It took many different shapes and forms, from small combat encounters to hidden loot, environmental storytelling, and Gigs.

A different and fun aspect of working on the open world of Night City, was that of creating ‘Hidden Gems’ which were self-contained stories that players could stumble onto when exploring. Working with the narrative & open world team we designed different narrative events players can find, from a serial killer’s hideout to the stealing of tomato seeds from one greedy Corpo to another.