As I write this, there's roughly one week until Cyberpunk 2077's long-awaited expansion Phantom Liberty goes live on PC, and less than 72 hours until the big, free 2.0 patch drops for everyone who already owns Cyberpunk 2077. Ample time to watch all 10 episodes of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the Netflix anime series that debuted last year and was popular enough to give the game a big boost in the sales charts. Whether you've already watched it or not, I can't think of a better way to get in the mood for 2077's big comeback this week.
Despite its short episodes, Edgerunners packs a hell of a lot into just over four hours of unhinged animation. As I wrote last year, the action series is a surprisingly compelling gutter-level view of Night City, focusing on a Night City gang and their frequent bouts of ultraviolence. Edgerunners doesn't connect to Cyberpunk 2077 protagonist V at all and requires no knowledge from the game to enjoy, but it actually manages to deepen the world you'll be playing in by exploring some ideas the game doesn't dabble with much.
Here's a snippet of what I wrote about Edgerunners a year ago:
"The smartest thing Cyberpunk: Edgerunners does is build its story around the threat of cyberpsychosis, a psychological condition mentioned in the game but never really focused on. Cyberpunk RPG lore says cyberpsychosis is the violent madness that results from too many augmentations, the brain losing itself to body trauma and turning poor chromed-up chooms into deranged killers...
The characters end up injecting immunosuppressants to stay sane, upping their dosage the more body parts they replace. Edgerunners makes it clear that for characters like David and Maine, it's not the drugs that are addicting: it's the augmentation and the thirst for the power it brings. This is not a particularly deep revelation (if you want a cyberpunk anime that truly has things to say about the blurring lines between humans and AI, watch Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex). But it's still better than I expected from a show that begins with a cyborg dude emulsifying 15 cops just to set the tone."
It's a shame that Cyberpunk 2077 doesn't do as much with cyberpsychosis as the show, but the mod Wannabe Edgerunner does partially bridge that gap, adding a "Humanity" stat that decreases as you install more cyberware and kill more people. You can enter cyberpsychosis if you go too far, becoming a killing machine but also spawning police nearby and eventually "blacking out" and teleporting to a random location. You can also ward off cyberpsychosis by using new neuroblocker injectors. It's a cool mod that will hopefully get an update when patch 2.0 lands.
Beyond the show being a fun, gory watch in general, I think there are a few more specific reasons to put it on this week:
Infamous cyborg Adam Smasher features in Cyberpunk 2077, and also in Edgerunners—watching Edgerunners first will make you appropriately nervous when you run into him in the game.
The Cyberpunk 1.6 patch added quite a few more Edgerunners easter eggs, including a drink named after David at Afterlife and multiple characters' apartments.
When you stumble upon those easter eggs naturally after watching Edgerunners, they'll add a little extra sense of place to Night City that you'd be missing out on otherwise.
Just a warning, though: if you watch the series, you are almost certainly going to get the song I Really Want to Stay At Your House stuck in your head. But when you hear it over the radio in the game, it'll really hit.