The Blackwall is a core part of Cyberpunk 2077’s world, separating The Net into two distinct parts. The old web, which is almost impossible to reach for even the best Netrunners, is now home to rogue AIs and a wealth of haunted, lost-to-the-ages data. The new web, meanwhile, is where Night City’s Netrunners pull off most of their virtual stunts.
“What happened in the old stories is this event called the data crash, which basically ruined the old web,” quest director Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz told TheGamer in an exclusive Cyberpunk 2077 interview. “There was the legendary hacker who released Demons — they are basically like malware.”
For those unacquainted with the wider world of Cyberpunk, this legendary hacker is known as Rache Bartmoss. Currently, he’s rotting away in cryostasis, having been imprisoned as a result of his impressive but erratic tampering with The Net. His Demons, as they are known in the world of Cyberpunk, are individual programs capable of running multiple programs at once — according to Tomaszkiewicz, they basically immobilized the web for corporations and average Net users.
Cyberpunk 2077 — What Is The Blackwall?
In order to undo the havoc wreaked by Bartmoss’ Demons, the UN devised NetWatch, an organization tasked with policing the Net in order to protect it from rogue AIs and dissident Netrunners. The Blackwall was NetWatch’s solution for dividing The Net into two parts, blocking the more dangerous one behind a near impassable virtual wall.
“The idea was basically to contain the old web, to separate it out, and to create a new network for users that would be safe,” says Tomaszkiewicz. “It would be slower and it won’t be as huge as the old thing was, but they were unable to actually shut down the old web — there were too many servers across the world.”
However, there’s one gang whose mission statement is to uncover the mysteries of the old web: The Voodoo Boys.
Cyberpunk 2077 — The Voodoo Boys
The Voodoo Boys are a gang based in the Pacifica district. Although they are deemed as a low threat in official Cyberpunk literature, they are viewed as extremely dangerous when it comes to The Net, being known all over Night City as some of the most talented and fearless Netrunners in the world.
“I would say [the Voodoo Boys] are one of the most sophisticated [gangs], for sure,” Tomaszkiewicz says. “They are very elusive. Other gangs will mostly use brutish power and weaponry and cyberware to fight over territory. They will delve into drug trafficking and other illegal activities.”
“The Voodoo Boys are more elusive because they care mostly about the net and the Black Wall,” Tomaszkiewicz adds. “So, they will do operations in the city using their hacking abilities, but they don’t really fight over territory that much.”
Tomaszkiewicz notes that the way in which The Voodoo Boys interact with The Net was shown in a previous Cyberpunk 2077 demo. As opposed to using a normal interface like a computer terminal, The Voodoo Boys connect themselves to The Net via cyberware, allowing them to perceive it in a similar way to how The Matrix is rendered. This makes it possible to react to threats in real time, while also enabling you to perceive data in a sensory way — objects take visual form, and it becomes possible to interact with them.
“Actually, every person that goes there sees it a little bit differently because it’s based on their own background, the symbols they know of, and so on,” Tomaszkiewicz says. “You can definitely fry your brain if you’re not careful. A lot of Netrunners die when they try to do this. Going to the Black Wall is like suicide. Nobody does this… almost. That’s why the Voodoo Boys are so respected in Night City – they are some of the most skilled and brave Netrunners.”
“The Voodoo Boys aim to see what’s on the other side, because there is a lot of data there,” Tomaszkiewicz adds. “There are also artifacts in terms of old programs and stuff like that. And there are also a lot of wild AIs — AIs that NetWatch is not able to control or contain.”
The Voodoo Boys believe that these AIs, dangerous as they may be, can be enlisted to help humanity progress. But precious little information is available on these AIs because of the Blackwall.
Cyberpunk 2077 — The Blackwall And AIs
These AIs are incredibly mysterious. In fact, NetWatch’s Blackwall is as much designed to keep the AIs out as it is to keep the citizens of Night City in. Due to the fact that nobody really knows how powerful these AIs are — and, in some cases, whether or not some of them even exist — some people believe that the only reason NetWatch succeeded in creating the Blackwall was because the AIs let them.
“Nobody really knows how advanced they are because they were operating there without any checks or controls for many, many years,” Tomaszkiewicz tells TheGamer. “So it’s this weird dark side of the web that nobody really knows a lot about because nobody really returns from there — no Netrunner who tried to breach the Black Wall ever returned to tell what they saw.”
In the wider world of Cyberpunk, there are several different kinds of AIs, the most powerful of which are the apocryphal Transcendental Sentience AIs, also known as TS AIs. Technically speaking, nobody even knows whether or not they exist — they weren’t consciously created by anyone, and came into existence as an emergent entity from The Net itself. Most humans are incapable of communicating with them.
However, Rache Bartmoss — creator of the Demons that led to the Blackwall in the first place — claims to have met several of these AIs. He described Akira, who presides over the Tokyo/Chiba section of The Net, as simply “nice,” while noting that the European TS AI, Europa, reckons chess is easy. Europa hasn’t communicated with anyone or anything in at least two years, and Bartmoss thinks it’s because it’s either attempting to escape the digital confines of the old web, or trying to chat to aliens. Bartmoss also reckons the Orbitsville part of The Net is actually run by aliens, so it’s important to take his conclusions with a pinch of salt — he’s a legendary Netrunner, but he never actually proved that he had met with these AIs.
So, the Blackwall separates the old web from the new Net. It keeps most people in check, while ensuring that potentially dangerous and omnipotent AIs can’t make their way into the modern world. However, thanks to Netrunners like The Voodoo Boys and Rache Bartmoss, it’s become possible to breach the Blackwall — as of 2077, the consequences of this action are still unknown.
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