Cyberpunk’s Trauma Team Has So Much Wasted Potential
Cyberpunk 2077’s biggest problem will always be the missing content. No matter how many bugs get squashed or how many systems get improved, Cyberpunk will never be the game it was originally envisioned to be. Expansions, patches, and sequels will help fill in the gaps, but the sheer number of underdeveloped and unexplored concepts, characters, factions, and locations is insurmountable. Some of the coolest factions only appear for a few moments, never to be seen or heard from again despite the fact that their very existence should have a huge impact on the world and its story. There’s no better example of wasted potential in Cyberpunk 2077 than Trauma Team.
We first meet the Trauma Team in the second story mission, right after the time jump. V and Jackie infiltrate a Scavenger hideout to rescue a woman named Sandra. After pulling her lifeless body out of a bathtub, V resuscitates her and carries her out to a nearby terrace where they’re met by a Trauma Team helicopter. The paramilitary medical team make a grand entrance, but quickly fly away with Sandra (almost) never to be seen again.
If you deign to open the lore tab and read up on Trauma Team, you can learn a lot about this fascinating organization. Part ambulance and part mercenary, Trauma Team is the furthest logical extreme of American privatized medicine. Instead of purchasing health insurance, wealthy people in Night City buy Trauma Team subscriptions that entitle them to comprehensive medical coverage, including 24/7 monitoring of their vitals, on-demand plastic surgery, and emergency patient transport. When a subscriber calls Trauma Team for help, military-trained paramedics will arrive and extract them within three minutes, killing anyone that gets in their way. Only the richest can afford this level of health care , and as such, Trauma Team is one of the largest and most powerful corporations in Night City.
You run into them again later in the game – sort of. During the mission The Heist, you can see a TT dropship arrive as you leave after Yorinobu kills his father. Trauma Team is mentioned during a few subsequent missions, but they’re never seen again for the rest of the game. Like I said – wasted potential.
It makes total sense that Trauma Team would show up in The Heist. Saburo Arasaka is one of the most powerful people in Night City, so you’d expect he would be subject to 24/7 surveillance. As soon as he flatlined, the Trauma Team showed up to rescue him. That’s exactly what you would expect such a faction to do, so why don’t they show up every time a rich person is in danger?
There are plenty of characters in Cyberpunk 2077 that would definitely utilize the services of Trauma Team. Dex is one of the most powerful Fixers in Night City, but he’s killed and his body is dumped outside the city without anyone noticing. Anders Hellman is a famous bio-engineer that invented the Relic, but when his AV gets shot down and he’s kidnapped, Trauma Team doesn’t come to save him. When it comes to the Assault in Progress missions, any number of the minor characters involved could feasibly be Trauma Team subscribers. Sometimes there’s story reasons that would prevent Trauma Team from showing up, but I can’t believe there isn’t a single shootout with them as they come to rescue a target you’re trying to assassinate.
There’s an infinite number of scenarios Trauma Team could have been part of. Imagine a mission where you need to pose as a paramedic and work with the Trauma Team to find a target, only to kill the patient as soon as you find them. Or what if you encountered a stand-off in the street between rival gangs with a Trauma Team at the center of it who are attempting to protect an undercover cop. I don’t know what CDPR had planned for Trauma Team, but it's clear they were meant to be a much more important force in Night City than what they ended up being.
Dark Horse’s Trauma Team comic book mini-series by Cullen Bunn and Miguel Valderrama is an incredible example of the kind of storyline the game could have had. The story follows Nadia, an Assistant EMT whose entire team was killed in a bloody shootout. After returning to work, her next subject for extraction is the Apex, the man that just killed her co-workers. Not only does Nadia and her new team have to rescue Apex, but they have to fight their way through a skyscraper filled with rival gang members to get to him. It’s scenarios like this would have been fascinating to discover in Cyberpunk 2077, but instead we got nothing.
I’m not the first person to notice that Trauma Team is underutilized in Cyberpunk 2077, and it's far from the only faction that doesn’t get its due. But it represents the dystopic future of runaway capitalism and technocracy better than any other aspect of Cyberpunk, and it's a shame that we hardly get to see it.
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