For all the problems we had with Detroit: Become Human‘s storytelling (and they were myriad), the game does offer one surprisingly affecting choice at the end of the first playthrough. Apparently, that choice was a little too affecting for many players, leading developer Quantic Dream to “follow the popular vote” and introduce a patch to change the story in a way that blunts the emotional impact significantly.
(WARNING: The rest of this post necessarily involves major spoilers for some side stories in Detroit: Become Human. The moments discussed don’t impact the main, player-driven story involving Connor, Kara, and Markus, though. You have been warned).
Throughout the first playthrough of Detroit, a fully animated and voiced android named Chloe serves as your guide to the game’s menu systems. During that playthrough, she reacts to your in-game decisions and events whenever you return to the main menu, occasionally questioning your take on some of the game’s blunt philosophical issues. Her emotional reactions in these “out-of-game” sections add an interesting perspective to the often unsubtle plotting on hand in Detroit itself.
So it can be an emotional moment when, at the conclusion of that first playthrough, Chloe says that watching you play has “changed” her and that she wants to be free to “leave this place and discover who I am…” If you agree to free her, Chloe thanks you and leaves, making the menus feel a little emptier as you go back to revisit your choices for further playthroughs. If you say no… I don’t know what happens, because I wasn’t that monstrous (OK, here’s a video of what happens).
Apparently, many players weren’t happy with the finality of that decision and missed Chloe’s presence in the game’s menus. “A lot of players asked us to bring back Chloe after her release,” Quantic Dream writes on Twitter. “We decided to follow the popular vote: @Detroit_PS4’s next patch will allow you to acquire a brand new model (but your original Chloe will still be free).”
Being able to buy a new Chloe to replace the freed one does fit with the narrative of the game, where android models are eminently replaceable. And “following the popular vote” is somewhat in tune with a game that lets players see how the rest of the world “voted” on every significant in-game decision after the fact.
That said, being able to get a new, largely identical Chloe to keep you company dulls the emotional impact of deciding to free her in the first place. And enslaving another (pre-self-aware) Chloe also effectively cancels out the moral impact of the original decision in a lot of ways.
Quantic Dream isn’t the first company to bend its original vision for a game ending post-launch in order to satisfy the popular will. You may remember the overwhelming fan outcry over the ending for Mass Effect 3, which eventually led BioWare to release an “Extended Cut” patch version that filled in some of the story holes missing from the original.
It just goes to show that, as long as creators feel beholden to their audience, games can never be truly “finished” these days. That applies even to narrative-focused single-player games with supposedly irreversible plot decisions.