Well, I suppose it was inevitable, but less than two months after the release of Cyberpunk 2077 PC modders have found a way to swap character models - and naturally, people are using it for naughty purposes. Yes, that includes creating a way for the player to have sex with Keanu Reeves' in-game character.
Over on Nexus Mods, a modder by the name of Catmino has uploaded several files allowing players to swap models in Cyberpunk 2077, along with an extended tutorial for how to do the process manually. The mod includes swaps for main characters such as Judy and Panam, along with swaps for Cyberpunk 2077's "joytoy" sex workers. Many of these files are for characters you can romance in the game, but the mod also includes swaps for characters the player wouldn't normally be able to romance, such as Goro Takemura... and Johnny Silverhand.
Although Johnny Silverhand has some sex scenes in the game, these are all viewed from the player's perspective, so modding the game is the only way to "romance" Silverhand yourself. By swapping Johnny into the place of a joytoy you can enter a sex scene with Keanu Reeves - of a sort. The model remains fully clothed and can be a bit glitchy, while you're also hearing the voice of the joytoy rather than Reeves. It's also just a bit awkward. Still, as one mod user put it, "this is as close as we can get to romancing Johnny".
From looking around social media, it seems people are using model swaps to continue canon relationships post-game, romance previously un-romanceable characters, or create abominations like Adam Smasher as a joytoy. I guess the name checks out. But the fact you can use this to have sex with a character who bears the likeness of Keanu Reeves - outside of CD Projekt Red's control - is what caught my attention. Cyberpunk 2077 has a number of celebrity cameos, and I couldn't help but wonder if CDPR and the celebrities involved would be entirely happy about some of these model swaps. So I decided to investigate further.
The model swapping process, for those wanting to do the whole thing manually, is surprisingly fiddly. It requires the use of CP77Tools - a modding tool that allows you to extract and then re-pack modded files into the game - along with a hex editing process to trick the game into loading a different model. Think of it this way: it's like sneakily unwrapping a Christmas present, swapping out the contents for something else, then re-wrapping the whole thing as if nothing happened.
"A lot of people were asking for model swaps on both NPCs and player models ever since the game first released... mainly because they felt like the game lacked some sort of customisation, be it player's clothes, vehicles or even their companions/friendly NPCs that they met throughout the quests," mod creator Catmino told me. "...All it actually took was unpacking the archives, swapping one desired file with the other, renaming them and then doing some hex editing, and finally repacking it."
As I found out when doing some swaps myself, the hex editing process is limited: you can only overwrite the existing bytes, and the file size cannot be changed. This means celebrities with limited appearances, such as Hideo Kojima, have so far avoided the joytoy treatment.
"I have a lot of model swaps that I haven't released as they've quite a few bugs - Kojima being one of them," Catmino said. "Kojima is one of those that has only a single appearance name, and to make it even worse, it is called 'default', while the shortest joytoy appearance name is '_ow__poor_01'. So, in short, Kojima would be a no-go for model swapping to a joytoy. The best swap for him would be to swap him with another character that has just a single appearance, and obviously one named 'default' or something shorter, at least if we'd want to play without him disappearing in certain scenes."
But Catmino thinks the process could get easier once modders figure out how to edit CR2W files without the need for hex editors. This would allow modders to "simply expand the array of appearances and add in as many of them as we would need to," which would "completely swap out one character with another". Although modders are still reverse-engineering the game, it's possible we could one day have real-time swapping through an in-game mod menu. Even mid-way through writing this article, CDPR published some official modding support tools, and the community-made ones are improving every day. So we might end up seeing some unfortunate scenes with Kojima after all.
On top of these difficulties, making sure a swapped model remains visible can be tricky. Main characters often go through several appearance changes, meaning swapped models can disappear at certain points when the character would normally change outfits. The nudity filter can also cause swapped models to go invisible, while joytoy models can also be quite buggy. But the method works well enough if you want to take photos, or view a specific cutscene.
Something I found particularly strange when trawling through the files was that Cyberpunk 2077 contains a naked version of Lizzy Wizzy, the character voiced by celebrity musician Grimes. Lizzy Wizzy doesn't appear naked in the game's story, so I was surprised to find this nude version of her in the files - and it means you can create a fully nude sex scene by swapping her out with a main character like Judy or Panam. Although Lizzy Wizzy doesn't share Grimes' likeness (and looks more robot than human), I can't help but wonder if Grimes knew her character would have a nude version in the files.
On this topic, I asked Catmino if they thought CDPR could get upset with joytoy model swaps for celebrity characters. "...Since [there] are already sex scenes with Keanu Reeves in the game, and my mod uses the textures and models that are already in the game - I don't really see a reason why would they go against it," Catmino said. "Keanu Reeves was one of the most asked for swaps for joytoys from the community, as I did not have him included in the very first version of the mod. On top of that, the archive files are one of the easiest to mod, as just placing the modded version into 'patch' folder swaps out the original one, so I believe this was something they intended for modders either way - maybe not in the sense of swapping Keanu Reeves for a joytoy, but modding models and other game files in general.
"Naturally, if Keanu Reeves or CDPR do have something against it, I'd take those modded files down from [the] Nexus Mods page, but players would, sooner or later, do it without my help either way."
Eurogamer contacted CD Projekt Red for comment on the model swaps, but has not heard back at time of publication. Having celebrity cameos and sex scenes in the same game was probably always a recipe for trouble, and as Catmino observes, I imagine CDPR probably knew this would happen at some point. Things could get more awkward, perhaps, if modding tools improve and more celebrity likenesses can be swapped. And all this raises the question of whether the celebrities are comfortable with having their likenesses modded into NSFW scenes.
If you're looking for some slightly less scandalous mods, there are plenty to help customise your V, while Catmino has created a number of other mods including an object appearance changer to alter the look of NPCs and your car. In the meantime, I'll just be here, trying to get that image of Adam Smasher out of my head.