With Cyberpunk 2077 out, everyone will know the name Johnny Silverhand as the legendary rockstar played by Matrix star and generally nice guy Keanu Reeves. Despite default V sitting on the game’s box art, Silverhand is practically the face on the game, getting merchandise and one of the most hyped out moments in the game’s marketing dedicated to him.
If you weren’t familiar with the game’s tabletop roots, it’s easy to think that Johnny Silverhand is just another of the characters created exclusively for the game. However, Silverhand represents a lot more of the world of Cyberpunk than you’d think.
As a tabletop RPG, Cyberpunk allowed players to take on a variety of roles for their life in the Dark Future. as of Cyberpunk 2020, you could have all types of roles, from Media, Techies, to even Corporate Executives (Corpos).
Silverhand represents the Rockerboys, the bards of the future. Similar to bards, Rockerboys are the charisma-based class in Cyberpunk, and its their job to inspire the masses into a rebellion.
While Johnny Silverhand might be the archetypal Rockerboy- frontman for his band Samurai, the role is much more deep than just punk singers. Street performers, Activists, even the occasional good Politician all count as Rockerboys. If they’re talking to the masses to inspire change, they’re a Rockerboy.
In Cyberpunk 2077 you don’t really get that kind of roleplay option, since V is very much a Solo- the mercenary class of the game. Some of the game’s other roles kind of manifest in 2077, such as V’s Nomad or Corpo life stories. But the inclusion of Johnny Silverhand is a nice nod to the fact that there’s more to Cyberpunk than robot arms and shooting things.
The Not-So Living Legend
Of course, there’s also Johnny Silverhand himself. The systems of Cyberpunk 2020 would have been an easy way to just create an icon for use in 2077. Instead, they went with Johnny Silverhand, who already existed in the game’s lore.
He features grand prominence in the Cyberpunk 2013 sourcebook Rockerboy, where he’s largely credited for starting the rockerboy movement.
Granted, in the tabletop he was largely a mythical figure, with his stories being used to flesh out the world. It wasn’t until 2077 where he got upgraded from background character to the main focus, where he lives rent-free in V’s head egging him on his vendetta against one of the Megacorporations of Night City.
One thing that the game seems to lack (from our impressions so far, anyways) is the overflowing charisma out of him. For the most part, Johnny SIlverhand treats V with some hostility, and he’s only ever shown in acts of male bravado which only make him look cool if you’re already on his side. Considering all the Rockerboy’s talents are supposed to be about winning you over, you’d think there’d be a little more dramatic flair than just screaming profanities.
Still, the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 has managed to include (at least, in lip service) some links back to the tabletop is a cool feat. Although it could have been done better, it’s great to see that the game has at least taken heed of some of its source material.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One as well as their next-gen counterparts.