After nearly a decade of waiting, Cyberpunk 2077 has finally been released
and inevitably the reviews so far are mixed. A game as ambitious as Cyberpunk 2077 is bound to have some issues, which of course are compounded by the fact that after such a long wait it was likely destined to be a victim of its own hype.
With all that said, my experience has largely been positive. I went into it expecting a more modern Witcher 3 like game, set in a dystopian cyberpunk future…and with that expectation set, I feel like CD Projekt Red delivered.
Before getting into it, I will mention I am playing on an XBOX One X and have never played the tabletop game. I believe this is important as it seems some negative reviews may be due to certain expectations stemming from the tabletop game.
For those new to the Cyberpunk 2077 hype, the game has you playing as V, a sort of urban mercenary who lives and works in a crime ridden dark future where humans modify themselves with technology and megacorps have their own armies. Early in the game you meet Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves and who is surprisingly unlikeable.
First, the bad.
The game seems to crash once every 2 or so hours of play. Luckily, the autosave feature is robust so I have never lost more than a 4-5 minutes of play. There are also some visual glitches on occasion. This is to be expected from a world this big, but still disappointing. Even on the Xbox One X, framerates during combat are less than ideal, however still very much playable. It’s clear this is a game meant for next gen consoles though. On many occasions I have found items that are hard to pick up, sometimes covered by a body or other things. The police seem to be extremely touchy….I get it…patrolling Night City with its 10 gangs (one of which harvests cyberware from unwitting victims) and 3 megacorps is a thankless job, likely to put one on edge. With that said, it’s still a bit of a surprise to start taking fire from patrol cops merely because I walked a little too close to them. On a similar topic, the driving mechanics either need to be tweaked or bystanders need to stop screaming when V goes careening down the streets at 150km/h in their shiny chrome sports car. I suppose I can’t blame them for being scared though, as the minimap is so zoomed in that you don’t see your next turn until it’s too late, and many a pedestrian has been killed at V’s hands due to poorly executed U turns.
There are a few other minor things, like the UI at time can be unintuitive, and difficulty in telling enemies levels can lead to overly hard fights. Overall though, base on CDPR’s track record with Witcher I am confident they will patch most of these things fairly quickly.
Now, let’s talk about the substantial amount of good things Cyberpunk has to offer.
Yesterday I drove my previously mentioned chrome sports car out to a point of interest on the far south side of the map, about 5km from the city center. As I reached the desert scrub I looked back at the distant city and realized there were no loading screens and no break from immersion. Just a gradual change from city to desert. As I crossed into that territory, the local “fixer” contacted me on my cell phone and told me about a few cars he was selling, and as I approached the point of interest he let me know what the task was there for me to complete. These small missions, or gigs, are littered all over the map and offer fun short missions and an easy way to earn XP and cash. Some offer excellent loot as well.
One of the biggest aspects of the game is customization.
From hair to eyes and facial structure (even creepy cyberware eyes) you can do pretty much anything. The exception to this is actually body size- if you want your V to be a large body positive bounty hunter/merc you will be disappointed. From the initial character creation screen it just gets more in depth as you level up. Want to focus on stealth and hacking? You can. Maybe you want to focus on smart guns, rifles, or melee combat. You can do that too, and there’s multiple perks you can put points in to in order to make your play style more fun. Personally, I don’t find the stealth to be particularly rewarding, so my V has a set of legendary mantis blades to cut up anyone that crosses her, and good number of points that help her hack into enemy cyberware to overheat them, make them go psychotic, power down their cyberware eyes, or any number of other equally violent, awful, and fun things. If mantis blades aren’t your thing, you can opt for the embedded projectile weapon in your arms instead, or perhaps the Gorilla implant so you can mercilessly pummel your enemies.
The missions themselves, like Witcher 3, tend to be in depth, rewarding, and full of both likeable and extremely unlikeable characters.
At one point you may find yourself at a memorial for a friend with the option of speaking about his life, while his mother and family listens on. In another, you remove a suicide victim from the bathtub while her best friend screams at the 911 operator to send someone quickly. It’s often unsettling and gritty, and just the kind of thing you would expect from a game called Cyberpunk. There’s also a fair bit of light humor in it too, as some gamer favorites such as GLADOS make a small cameo and you fulfill a bounty on a criminal who broke the Pizza Desecration Act by adding pineapple to his pie.
Combat is generally good, but it’s important to remember that this is an RPG first and shooter second. If you’re looking for a feel like 2019s Modern Warfare, you will be disappointed. That said, after a little of practice gun combat is fine, if not as satisfying as the excellent melee combat.
I have also been continually impressed by the voice acting. This isn’t a surprise if you’ve played Witcher 3, so I’ll just say that CDPR has met their high standard in that regard.
Ultimately this is a game well worth the purchase price for RPG and science fiction fans.
Walking the dark streets of Night City full of cyberware upgrades taking down criminals (or becoming one yourself) is a uniquely satisfying experience, even with a few bugs that need to be fixed.