So I'm mulling over the new Utopian goals in the upcoming Stellaris expansion, thinking about all the story possibilities, when a weird thought occurred to me: In new media that can be considered in the "Cyberpunk" category, or at the very least heavily influenced by said genre, have you noticed a distinct lack of actual cybernetic implants? And before you jump in with examples, I would like to clarify "new media" as stuff without direct connection to a previous franchise. The Robocop remake, the Deus Ex prequels, etc. have certain expectations to meet. What I mean is stuff that is fairly recent that can be considered "new IP".
For clarification, the stuff I'm thinking about include:
- Neill Blomkamp movies (Elysium and Chappie in particular)
- Titanfall 1 & 2
and plenty others that I'm sure someone will bring up.
In addition, now that I think about it, there's also franchises that have "changed" into the cyberpunk genre, without "needing" to add those elements:
- XCOM 2 (after all DLC in particular)
- Call of Duty: A&IW(will dive deeper into this in a bit)
Now, to be clear, I'm not saying that Cybernetic augmentations, implants and replacements, are going away completely. On the contrary, with the large number of remakes and sequels to classic Cyberpunk franchises, it's safe to say that they will be around for a good long time. There's even Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, with it's "modern" take on cybernetics. However, what I'm suggesting is that there seems to be an interesting evolution of the genre, one that is remarkably lacking in limb replacement.
Think about this for a minute: In those examples I gave up above, what is usually the source for increased physical capabilities?
Sure, some of them require a surgical connection to a nervous system to function, but usually that's the extent. People still have their flesh and bones (or in CoD: Advanced Warfare's case, a rather meh arm replacement), they just help them a bit with a robot shell. Even Deus Ex, the quintessential Cyberpunk staple, introduced the extensive usage of exo-suits in their most recent game as a sort of counter-culture to the previous one.
And what about this: What element is most common in all those examples above?
Robots. Mostly with droids, but sometimes with one struggling with human level self-awareness.
Probably the best example of this shift comes from a game that usually isn't used in the same sentence: XCOM.
Now I know what you're thinkin', "ooooh RusVal's talking XCOM, what a surprise", but hear me out.
In EU, the aliens had a clear example of cybernetics in the Floaters, which one character even calls out about. Similarly, even the aliens that could be considered "robots" (Cyberdisk, Sectopod, and so on) are implied to have some form of biological element to their processers, possibly even being a silicon based lifeform (I think I spelled that right).
In EW, they introduce MECs, which require the implicit chopping off of human limbs to function. And they include the alien version of it, with the Mectoid. They even go out of their way to change Shen's (the said character's) line about it.
Then comes XCOM 2, a game so heavily Cyberpunk it hurts. And yet... Okay, a chip in the brain in the ADVENT grunts, a chip for civilians... the Archangel is definitely a cyborg, but it's to an extent where its hard to tell were the bio ends and the metal begins. The Berserker has shed their armor, and seem to be running on injection ports. The robots are definitely robots now, with no implication that there's anything organic inside them (and at one point they even say that Sectopods don't actually have a pilot, despite what the troops had thought). And over in XCOM, MECs have been replaced by SPARKs, a completely robotic unit with an advanced AI, one of which is the very much self-aware (yet *ahem* reformed) Julian. And for the squishy meat-bags, a nice new set of EXO-suits for them to wear!
So I hope y'all get what I'm trying to get at, in that it seems that Cyberpunk seems to be going in an interesting "Post-Post" direction. Any ideas why that might be, and what do you think about it?