Jackie Welles from Cyberpunk 2077 was not always intended to be such a nice guy. The developers took a change of direction during the game’s development and recreated his character to be a much more amiable companion. Cyberpunk 2077 is still most notorious for its disastrous launch, however, one of its most redeeming factors has been its engaging range of characters.
Players first meet Jackie Welles in Cyberpunk 2077’s prologue, regardless of the lifepath chosen at the very start of the game. Should players decide to start on the Nomad lifepath, they meet Jackie as V and he try to smuggle a mysterious crate into Night City. Meanwhile, in the Street Kid lifepath, Jackie and V first meet after the player tries to steal a car. Finally, in the Corporate lifepath, Jackie and V are actually already friends and long-time confidants. Following the prologue, players witness an upbeat montage, featuring Jackie Welles fully embracing the chaos of his life with V, solidifying a firm friendship between the two characters.
However, while the Jackie Welles portrayed in the released version of Cyberpunk 2077 is one of a “nice guy” this wasn’t always the intention. Rather, he used to be a “real arsehole.” During a CD Projekt Red Cyberpunk 2077 livestream on the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitch channel (via TheGamer), senior quest designer Patrick Mills revealed that “in a way older version of the story… Jackie is the reason the heist goes tits up because he is a prick. He fights you… he was a jerk.” However, Mills goes on to say that “… (Jackie) works much better as your best friend, so that’s a change we made.”
Jackie Welles meets his demise fairly near the start of Cyberpunk 2077, and the impact of his death on protagonist V is one that is felt throughout the game’s narrative. Should Jackie have remained as a bad guy, this gravitas and emotional impact would certainly have been missing from Cyberpunk 2077. Not that that means that Jackie was loved by all like he was loved by V. On the contrary. Many NPCs have been revealed to be fairly unenamored with V’s BFF, and graffiti can be found in Night City that appears to celebrate his early death in Cyberpunk 2077.
Jackie Welles’ voice actor Jason Hightower has previously expressed his interest in appearing in a Cyberpunk 2077 DLC in the future. While there is currently no word as to whether this is something that CDPR would ever consider, it could be interesting to see more of Jackie’s life before the events of Cyberpunk 2077. However, despite several updates and patches, there is still a way to go before Cyberpunk 2077 is anywhere near the game that was first promised to fans all those years ago. However, at least changing Jackie from arsehole to friend was one thing that the team definitely got right before the game’s release.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available now across on Google Stadia, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S platforms.