I think it’s time we talked.
First off, happy February! Secondly, I think it’s time we talked about one of the most disastrous launches in gaming history: Cyberpunk 2077.
A little over a year ago, CD Projekt Red launched their most ambitious project to date: Cyberpunk 2077. The game had an enormous amount of pressure to deliver as it was hailed to be an innovation for gaming and usher in what would be the next generation of gaming.
Unless you were completely oblivious, Cyberpunk stunk it up and the stench was smelled around the world. The game was blasted on launch due to its abysmal performance on previous generation consoles, numerous bugs and glitches, reports of crunch and a weird review condition where creators only received PC codes almost as a form of hiding the poor performance of the title on previous gen consoles. It got to the point where Sony took it down from the PlayStation store (something pretty much unheard of), and CD PR faced lawsuits due to the condition of the game upon release. I wrote up a detailed State of the Union for it last year, and it wasn’t looking good. I’d say check that out for a refresher or to give you an idea of what the final product looked like at launch.
Fast forward to 2022. CD PR has spent all of the past 15 months working on the game, implementing numerous fixes and changes to the title they let ship out so miserably. Black Friday sales have come and gone, and Cyberpunk 2077’s Steam rating has gone from the “Mostly Positive” rating it carried since launch to “Very Positive”. So something is happening. Target was selling it for $10, and I took advantage.
Today, we’re talking about Cyberpunk 2077 specifically the console version (the version that got ripped to smithereens). To give you some background, I bought it when it launched for PC, had a miserable time trying to run it and refunded it. My expectations going in weren’t high but, no matter what experience I had, $10 is $10 so I couldn’t be too mad right?
That being said, I did play the PS4 version on the PS5 via backwards compatibility this time around. A next generation update is scheduled sometime in 2022 with reports pointing to Q1 but who knows. Also, this might sound snarky and rude so forgive me, but I did not like The Witcher 3 at all. I thought it was boring and, no matter how many times I tried it, I couldn’t stomach it. I feel like I had to get that off my chest to set up that I was completely putting my faith in CDPR after what was a horrendous year for them.
This is going be a longer post because I really want to dive into everything this game has to offer, my takeaways and what my experience was like. That being said, if you don’t want to read the whole post, I will give you a TL;DR: Cyberpunk 2077 blew my mind and gave me an experience I’ll never forget in a good way. The world of Night City is so engaging (albeit some minor issues that I will mention), and the cast of characters are some of the best I’ve ever met. I’ve been hooked from the moment I started playing, and I don’t remember the last time a game has had me so hooked on it like Cyberpunk has. I will say I don’t think this game is the next evolution for gaming as everyone thought it would be, but it is a very good game. It’s just a shame it was dragged down for such a shitty launch when it could’ve avoided that by, and this is just my opinion, spending more time being ironed out instead of rushed out the door.
Now, if you want to read what brought me to the above conclusion, read on gamers.
Here is Cyberpunk 2077 one year later.
What is this about?
Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in a futuristic dystopian (I had to look up what this meant) metropolis called Night City. Night City is as beautiful as it is lawless: corporations run the city and gangs are constantly competing for territory. You assume the role of V who conveniently decides to start a new life in Night City, but ends up discovering that Night City might be hiding some sinister secrets.
As you start your playthrough, you customize your character (genitalia included), and you choose one of three life paths (Nomad, Corpo or Street Kid) for said character. Each life path gives your character a unique upbringing, changes the beginning of the game and gives you unique dialogue options throughout the story.
Night City and its visuals
Going into this game, I don’t know what I was going to receive. On one hand, I believe I heard/read the PS4 version of the game looked decent when played on a PS5 via backwards compatibility (which is what I was going to do), but I also watched tons of videos showing how graphically bad it looked with YongYea’s recap of it being the most memorable of showcases. I was nervous, but I booted it up and was shocked to see how my fears were misguided.
Night City, its neighborhoods, its surrounding areas outside of city limits are beautiful. CD PR absolutely nailed the world design and created a visually appealing world that made me feel immersed with the lighting being a top contributor to the graphic. Buildings tower over you, vehicles fly above you, bright neon lights flash in the distance: everything just looks so good. My favorite parts of Night City had to be the areas inspired by Chinese/Japanese architecture at night, and the “Badlands” during the day time when the sun shined brightest. It was mind-blowing, and there is a photo mode to help conveniently capture these moments.
Enough scenic views, let’s look at some character models.
I have so many more photos to share (which will be at the bottom), but I was mind blown at how good these characters looked. As you look and interact with Night City’s denizens, you can see how they’ve been changed by robotics, you can easily identify members of different gangs from said augmentations, and more. It’s incredible how good they look.
So to recap; Night City is beautiful, and it’s characters/cast of misfits are so good looking.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
On a serious note, I was stunned to see just how good this game looks. Kudos to CD PR for the work they put in to make this world and nail the futuristic setting. Also, I’m no expert at the photo mode so all the photos you see are just me turning on photo mode and clicking the shutter button no filters or adjustments. That’s my secret.
Gameplay in the year 2077
So Night City looks good, but does it play good?
Yes but not to the extent it was being labeled as up to its launch.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a first person experience that grabs elements from role playing games, first person shooter games, adventure games like Grand Theft Auto, blends it all together and makes a nice little package. V can shoot, loot, punch, silver tongue, sneak and hack their way through any situation.
From a combat standpoint, it works. V is very proficient with a gun, any type of blunt or sharp weapon, and at sneaking around like a little sneaky snake. You’ll find different types of weapons such as tech weapons that can pierce through walls, power weapons that can ricochet bullets and smart weapons that can track their foes. You can mod the weapons with mods such as nonlethal rounds, sights, suppressors and much more. You can equip up to three weapons at a time, and there is a lean around cover feature. It’s your standard affair that I think the futuristic arsenal carries this pillar of the gameplay. It doesn’t help the AI are kind of lame brained so every combat scenarios just turns into you pumping lead into them or sneak and choke out.
Now from an RPG standpoint, this is where the game gets better. If you’ve ever played Deus Ex: Human Revolution or The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, I would say Cyberpunk 2077 borrows heavily from those titles. There are five different main attributes V can improve on each coming with their own smaller skill trees and perks. Focus on your “Body” category if you want V to be a walking tank with high HP and stamina or focus on your “Technical Ability” if you want to use your brain to do cool shit or help with your hacking. Within each of those main attributes is a skill tree. The “Technical Ability” has a skill tree that you can invest in to improve your crafting of weapons and materials while your “Body” category can focus on better handling of shotguns and blunt weapon combat.
There’s a lot of stuff here that I liked. The attributes do have impactful gameplay so for example, if your “Body” is high you can force open closed doors for shortcuts or if your “Cool” is high you have options to different dialogue choices. As you use your abilities, you level them up to receive points you can spend on new perks and attribute points to improve your overall stats. Your abilities are also augmented by cyberware: different programs and enhancements you can apply to V in order to gain the upper hand in the city. Install the “Titanium Bones” skeleton enhancement to increase your carrying capacity or install the “Mantis Blades” to have blades come out of your arms so you can slice and dice. Fair warning, these cyberware are not cheap!
Outside of shooting and leveling up, there is a ton of hacking since nobodies’ privacy is safe in the future. Hacking plays an important role in the game as you can hack objects and upload “daemons” in them to get money, take control or make allies of machinery, hack objects to distract enemies, or even hack enemies’ cyberware to make them malfunction. The enemy hacks range from blinding them for a few seconds, to pinging all the enemies in an area to even poisoning them.
There are plenty of side quests and activities to keep you entertained. CDPR takes a very unique approach to side content by presenting you with a cellphone. Your phone will ring throughout the day with people reaching out to your character with potential contracts or activities to participate in. You can even call your homies to check in on them and vice versa. There’s a lot of stuff to do so expect your phone to be constantly ringing. Also, check in on the homies. I’m sure they’d appreciate that.
At its core, I think Cyberpunk 2077 has very solid gameplay mechanics. The combat, to me, is simple but somewhat addicting. I enjoyed using the futuristic array of weapons to beat on punks, I enjoyed leveling up my version of V to match what type of play style I wanted which was a sort of jack of all trades. By the end, I was kind of broken in a good way. I enjoyed partaking in the many side quests since some of them were very memorable (more on this later), and I loved the manner they are presented through your cell phone. For a world full of activities you’d see in many similar open world games (bounties, collecting items, go here go there), something about Night City kept me hooked for hours at a time wanting to explore and do those quests. I honestly don’t remember the last time I had the desire to just sit and do side content, and that’s saying something.
Some of my highlights include missions like “Rider on the Storm” and “Play it Safe” (pictures taken from “Play it Safe” are right below this paragraph and picture number four from the character models section above) as they really highlight when all of the gameplay comes together in perfect harmony.
That being said, there are a couple of gameplay detractors I have to address.
- Driving isn’t good. It works, but if you make the slightest adjustment, you spin out of control and do a doughnut (did you know “donut” is the wrong spelling?). I can only imagine how tough it is to drive on PC.
- This game received a hefty label of being the next evolution in the RPG genre. While I liked what was there, the game runs a looter shooter system of loot discovery similar to Borderlands or Destiny. It’s a very simplistic system compared to what it was being hyped to be and made crafting pointless, at least in my opinion.
- There is a lot of hacking, but it’s kind of basic. I didn’t it anywhere near Watch Dogs level of sophistication (puzzle solving or using it for platforming), and that’s saying something.
- The world is full of activities and unique interactions, but sometimes it feels empty. This one’s hard to explain, but I would find myself driving through the city, and there would be no cars or anybody nearby. When you’re near people, they feel like zombies completely unfazed by your actions. I would say best I can describe it is play Red Dead Redemption/Grand Theft Auto and mess around with the crowds then play this game. Two completely different experiences.
Main story, side stories, and characters
There are two different versions of the first part of this section: one without story spoilers and one with spoilers.
Without spoilers, the main story of Cyberpunk 2077 is okay. It has some good moments particularly when you learn about Johnny’s past and some other missions are solid. However, the way it ended for me was just “blah” and didn’t provide the satisfaction I thought it would. I won’t spoil my ending here (I will below down below), but there are 5 different endings for this game. I think I got the “best ending” but, even then, I wasn’t super pleased with how my story culminated.
SPOILERS START HERE
As I mentioned earlier, there are three different life paths which significant starting point changes for your character. I chose the Nomad path, and my story started in the dessert as I looked to get into Night City. I am set up with a job that brings me to Jackie Welles who aids me in my quest to get in Night City, we become best friends with dreams of making it big in Night City.
Nah I’m just kidding.
After spending time establishing themselves through merc work, V and Jackie accept a big time job that sees them stealing a bio-chip from one of the premier shady corporations in Night City. Shit hits the fan during the job as they witness a crime they shouldn’t have seen, the chip they stole finds its way inside of V’s head, and they are double crossed by the person who hired them for the job. Not to mention, Jackie dies.
Jackie fucking dies.
I should’ve uninstalled right there.
V is then introduced to Johnny Silverhand who’s played by our hero Keanu Reeves. Johnny was pretty popular in Night City 50 years prior to the events of 2077 as he was a rocker turn terrorist who blew up half the city. The “beauty” of the situation is Johnny is a program from the chip installed in V’s head so only V can see Johnny. The Relic gets damaged, and it slowly starts to kill V. Your goal then becomes to remove the chip and save yourself before Night City claims another soul: yours.
As you progress through the main story, you learn about Johnny, his actions prior to the game and uncover a much more sinister plot that’s been brewing for a large part of Night City’s history. It’s very sci-fi like.
I recommend you do all the important side quests in order to get the maximum benefits heading into the ending.
I did beat the game, and I did take my above advice. That being said, the ending of my playthrough left me happy but disappointed at the same time. From the moment you find out how to extract Johnny to the time the credits rolled, the game goes completely against what it tried setting up. The whole point was for you to remove the chip and save your life, and while you resolve the chip problem, you don’t permanently save your life. The damage done to your body was irreparable and come the end, you find out you only have an unknown amount of time left to live… like okay? It just seemed to go against itself, and while the other endings are different, some of the seem to borrow that same core element of the “unknown amount of time to live”. Some endings let you give your body to Johnny, but you lose yourself in the cyberspace not solving any of your problems.
I get it, I probably sound like a complex complainer, and maybe a tad selfish. I just didn’t like how the story ends so far left than how it was being built up to be. You don’t save yourself for good; it’s only a temporary fix. Like damn I should’ve just given up in the beginning of the game.
SPOILERS ARE DONE
Story pains aside, I think what will hook a lot of players will be the memorable cast of characters you encounter. First character I met was Jackie so the bar was set pretty damn high.
“Okay enough about Jackie, There’s got to be other characters right?”
Yes my friends, there are more characters that you meet who I grew fond of due to their story arcs and development. Early on, you meet Judy Alvarez as she helps you prepare for the job to steal that damn chip. What follows for her is a path of pain and revenge that I tried my best to help her through. Goro Takemura, an acquaintance you make after the heist, firmly believes in honor but is robbed of his honor after he is betrayed by the same people he was meant to protect. Panam Palmer is the love of my life, I mean my V’s life, as she looks to find her way out of Night City, find a home with her clan, and eventually a home with V should you choose to romance her. Hell, even Johnny Silverhand himself had some good side quests which helped soften up our very tense relationship.
This is where the game is at its absolute peak: going through, meeting and aiding these characters. The game also does a good job of making them feel important by making them multi layered quests or time related. Judy will give you a quest, you meet up with her, and then she’ll tell you to wait for her phone call in a couple of days that will then progress that quest. On the flip side, you can miss entire quest lines based off of your conversations with characters or by taking too long to help them. These missions and relations you build are what directly impact your ending in the game so if you’re aiming for a specific ending, make sure you do everything you can.
I loved all of the characters, but most importantly and shockingly, I really liked V. I want to shoutout V’s actors, Gavin Drea and Chermia Leigh, because I feel like they both did a phenomenal job voicing V and making them feel real. I think going into this I expected a half assed, generic performance given the scope of the game but was pleasantly surprised at their performances.
You absolutely love to see it folks.
Gripe time. This is a story game with your actions having consequences. What I encountered is that a few side quests build up this huge moment of choices and consequences, but then you find out it doesn’t matter what you do. Nothing changes. I don’t think it happened often, but when it does happen, it’s weird you know? It’s hard to explain without giving spoilers, but what I would recommend is if you find yourself in a situation, make a choice and look up what would’ve happened if you went with the other choice. What I’m assuming is that these choices will make their presence felt in future expansions, but there is the possibility that your choices will never be addressed again.
It’s been a year, and CDPR has managed to put in a ton of work fixing a majority of the bugs and issues. That being said, I still experienced a few issues on my end that were jarring at times.
- Texture pop ins. This was the most popular issue I had, and it happened a lot to my character, NPCs and the world. For example, when I got on a motorcycle or opened up photo mode, I’d be completely headless and then my head would load, parts of the city would take a few seconds for the textures to load in so you’d be walking in a sea of unfinished textures or characters would look like PS1 models until 20 seconds passes.
- Moments were I couldn’t pick up objects that were marked for pickup.
- Missing audio. This happened mostly during driving and was pretty weird.
- Really long pauses in conversations. This one seems like nitpicking, but I’d have a conversation with a character, and after a dialogue choice, we’d sit in silence for like 5-10 seconds. I couldn’t tell if it was a bug or just came out like that.
- Crashes. I did have one crash, and it wouldn’t have been a problem because crashes happen. However, the crash bugged a side quest I received before the crash. When I reloaded my playthrough, the side quest completely disappeared and would not reactivate. The only way to get it back was to sleep in V’s bed a couple of times, and then I received the quest. Not that big of a deal, but it could’ve been worse if I didn’t Google how to solve it.
- Random times where I would somehow enter combat when there are no enemies in sight.
I “conveniently” couldn’t get any pics of the texture pop ins because they’d load by the time I hit screenshot, but it was rough.
The future of Cyberpunk 2077 is going to see a lot of work done to it on a technical and gameplay level. Obviously, the devs have been hard at work on a lot of the technical problems, but there’s still quite a few issues to solve a year later.
Outside of performance, there have been rumblings of what might be coming gameplay wise. Here is a full list of rumored additions we could be seeing with the below points being a few of the notable ones:
- They are working on DLC expansions.
- A major patch update and a next generation update that is slated for sometime this year. Supposedly this would launch alongside a soft relaunch of the game named Cyberpunk 2077: Samurai Edition. Rumors have been pointing to a rerelease sometime in February or March.
- There is word of a New Game Plus feature (please be real) coming but no target date for it as of yet.
- A ton of features such as a transmog system, UI overhaul, rebalancing loot system, apartment customizing, AI balancing, Gwent like mini game and more.
Now a little bit after the article above came out, a dev responded saying it was false…
I mean it could all be false, but a lot of these rumors are are based off of in game files so there has to be some truth to them. Also, a lot of this stuff looks really good so please don’t be fake.
Edit: Leakers and rumors are running rampant with the word on the street. To be fair the cover is pretty fire and gives credit to the rumor of a “relaunch of the game”.
I know this was a long post: probably my longest to date. If you read the whole thing, I want to apologize to you for taking so much of your time, and also thank you for sticking with it.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I think Cyberpunk 2077 is a great game. Night City is an incredible world full of interesting story lines, very well done characters and interesting vistas. The cast of characters are some of the best I’ve ever met in a game, and while it excels in all of those areas, the core gameplay is quite simple: a lot more simple than I thought it was going to be. Not exactly the evolution is hyped up to be, but outside of that expectation, it works. Not to mention its technical state is sus.
If any of the rumors are true, which they seem to be pointing to be true, I really hope the update is massive and fixes a lot of the game’s technical problems. I personally can’t wait to see how the game runs on PS5 with everything ironed out, and while my experience was good, there are people who still struggle to play it because of next gen console shortages.
Moment of truth; this post took me about two months to write because I was trying to find the words to describe this game and the experience I had. By now, I’m pretty sure you have already formed your opinion on this game. I bought it for $10 so I had nothing to lose, and if you’re unsure, wait for a sale or for the rumored relaunch. Safe to say it was a well spent $10, and I honestly can’t wait to see what the future/CDPR bring to Cyberpunk 2077.
Below is going to be a photo dump of all the remaining screenshots I have stored.