Cyberpunk 2077 – Cyberpunk 2077’s Jackie Welles Deserved Better
While Jackie’s death ultimately became one of the more memorable moments in Cyberpunk 2077, it feels like a missed opportunity for a great character.
Despite some of the game’s glaring shortcomings, Cyberpunk 2077 has a few redeeming qualities like its memorable characters. Much of the discussion pre-launch centered around the involvement of Matrix and John Wick star, Keanu Reeves, but it soon became apparent that Keanu’s character would be just one of many interesting personalities the player would be meeting along the way. Whichever choices the player makes on their playthrough, they’re bound to encounter some notable individuals. While Cyberpunk 2077 may now be remembered for different reasons, a solid motivation to check out the game later down the line will be the characters it is home to.
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Since its launch, there have been a number of controversies surrounding Cyberpunk 2077, which makes even minor things easier to look over or pass. While a number of standout performances followed the death of Jackie Welles, it’s hard not to look back on his untimely end as a missed opportunity. Sure, Jackie’s fate served as a potent foreshadowing of the ruthlessness of Night City and brought with it one of the more memorable scenes in the game, but it came at the expense of a real candidate for Cyberpunk’s best character.
Starting Cyberpunk 2077
There are various opportunities throughout the game for the player to make choices in Cyberpunk 2077, but the conclusion of Jackie Welles’ story is out of the player’s hands. From the moment the player is introduced to Jackie, his fate is sealed; he won’t be joining V in their escapades beyond the first Act. While his appearance in the game was short-lived, he made a mark and helped prepare the player for the rest of the game, providing valuable exposition while sharing his extensive knowledge of Night City. Jackie is hardly painted as the hero of the story; in fact, his actions portray that of a hardened criminal, unbothered by the morality of his actions so long as he’s able to complete his job, but his personality shines all the same.
Cyberpunk’s glitches and bugs stole the show at launch and became the main focus of the game’s coverage, but the protagonists conflicted, yet charming best friend stood out as a bright spark among the negative coverage. The circumstances under which V and Jackie meet are dependent upon the player’s choices, yet a common theme becomes Jackie’s kindness. In two of the options, Jackie takes a complete stranger under his wing, and in the third, he sticks up for his life-long friend and looks out for their best interests. Throughout the rest of Jackie’s involvement, his lovable nature is on full display as he shares his varied knowledge on everything from Night City to Iguana species.
Towards the end of Act 1, the player makes a decision of where to send Jackie’s body. Should the player choose to send Jackie’s body to his mother, V is invited to a funeral procession that offers a great deal of insight into the type of person Jackie was. One part of Jackie’s funeral quest is joining Misty to pick out an item of significance from his garage. This quest involves Misty providing commentary on a number of Jackie’s personal items. The commentary she provides highlights Jackie’s multifaceted personality, as she gives a detailed backstory on Jackie’s family problems growing up, his sentimentality, his dreams to be something more, and his surprising adoration of For Whom The Bell Tolls. While a heart-wrenching send-off for a much-loved character, this quest highlights just how much of a missed opportunity Jackie’s character was.
Cyberpunk 2077’s Jackie Deserved Better
A plethora of glaring issues were highlighted at launch, including Cyberpunk’s annoying lighting quirks, which made the world of Cyberpunk a pain to navigate. But perhaps the most egregious of all is Cyberpunk’s treatment of a beloved character. On Jackie Welles’ final mission, V makes various attempts to paint Jackie as a liability. Initially chastising him for his excitement about the mission ahead, V goes on to ask Jackie if he’s ‘happy now’ after losing contact with T-Bug, revoking any of their own responsibility for the predicament they each find themselves in.
Of course, Jackie ultimately succumbs to wounds sustained during this heist, leaving V to navigate the majority of the game on their own. This mission comes across as an unfitting final few hours for a person of Jackie’s character, he’s unfairly made out to be responsible for a situation both he and V are equally culpable for.
It may not be too late for CDPR to redeem itself, however, with Cyberpunk’s upcoming DLC providing a perfect opportunity to bring justice to a much-loved character. Jackie dies far too soon, it’s one of the standout moments of Act 1 and is made even more apparent by the posthumous character development he receives. A DLC could be used to award Jackie some much-deserved attention, or at the very least offer the player some form of closure. While difficult to envisage a story in which Jackie comes back from the dead, allowing V and Jackie to say one final goodbye is the least the latter deserves.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now on PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One.
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