It’s time for Ask Kotaku, the weekly feature in which Kotaku-ites deliberate on a single burning question. Then, we ask your take.
This week we Ask Kotaku: Are you going to play Cyberpunk 2077?
The Witcher 3 is one of the best games of this generation and one of my all-time favourites, so it goes without saying that I will be giving Cyberpunk 2077 a try. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it though. In fact, there’s a not-insignificant part of me that’s dreading loading up CD Projekt RED’s futuristic open world only to find it’s a crass amalgamation of ‘80s sci-fi tropes and adolescent nihilism.
In part that’s because I’m a very different person now than I was eight years ago, when Cyberpunk was first announced. But it’s also because of the edgy marketing campaign that’s attempted to crank the game’s hype metre up to 11 by pitching it as a hedonistic fever dream about raging against corporate overlords and normie squares alike. I hope the game turns out to be nothing like its trailers and gameplay demos. The extended look I got at E3 2018 reminded me that as a first-person shooter it’s ill-suited to build up a quiet and solemn world the way the Witcher 3 did. I’ll find out the truth soon enough.
Confession: I wasn’t a big fan of The Witcher 3! (I’m a weirdo, you see.) But yes, I will be playing Cyberpunk 2077. Some of the game looks very interesting, while other parts seem either misguided or even unfortunate. The video game pyrotechnics certainly do have my attention, and the game has certainly been built up to being An Event. But boiling it down to its essence, the idea of exploring a sprawling cyber fantasy future seems appealing. And it’s also got Keanu, and really, who doesn’t like Keanu?
Mostly likely. But not for a while because I’m just starting a new PC build (have you tried finding CPUs and GPUs lately?) and am in no rush to play it ASAP. I don’t get too hung up on release dates, and prefer to play a nicely patched game over a raw and buggy one.
As for Cyberpunk itself, it’s not often that a new game looks ambitious enough to really get me excited by the possibilities, yet early on in its painfully long hype cycle Cyberpunk 2077 felt like the rare AAA moonshot that might stir my imagination. It’s a pity, then, that the last several years of that cycle were dominated by a series of unforced political and cultural errors by CD Projekt RED, to the point that just engaging with this video game it’s created has come to feel kinda gross in ways I’d rather not associate with my favourite leisure activity.
The developer’s shitty political signalling hasn’t yet eclipsed my strong desire to get lost in a technologically advanced, meticulously rendered, role-play-friendly open world — if anything is my shit, it’s that — but I’ll never be able to forget that I’m engaging with a piece of work connected to folks who appear to think Gamergate had a point and that trans people are a punchline. Fuck them for shitting up a game I was genuinely excited for. This is why we can’t have nice things, etc.
I’m sick of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s a hype train long gone off the wheels and it’s bringing out the worst in the gamer fandom. Between the transphobia being seen in some of the game’s design choices, the bonkers-arse messaging around are they or are they not crunching, and fans twisting themselves into logic knots trying to justify development crunch, I’m just so exceedingly tired of it all. But, *begrudging sigh* I’m probably going to play it — and there’s a good chance I might end up liking it because that’s what happened to me and The Witcher 3. Didn’t care for that game at all, despite everyone I respected telling me how good it was, until I picked it up just this year and found it was a solid if sprawling game. So yeah, I’m going to play Cyberpunk 2077, but if my current trend of ignoring CD Projekt RED games until the very last minute continues, it won’t be until 2077.
Just like my relationship with coffee ice cream, this question is complicated.
I’ve been very interested in playing Cyberpunk 2077 for years at this point. I’m not a huge fan of CD Projekt RED’s work on the Witcher series — I always end up quitting just a couple of hours in — but I’ve always had a thing for the cyberpunk aesthetic. And after playing Cyberpunk 2077 for a few hours earlier this year, I was all in. It felt like a fun immersive sim in the vein of System Shock or Deus Ex, and I was ready to spend dozens of hours in Night City modifying my body and hacking shit.
But all the while, the controversies continued to pile up. While I was willing to write off CD Projekt RED’s now blatantly obvious issues with trans people as cultural faux pas, the Polish studio couldn’t help but make the same mistakes over and over again. So much so that I’m no longer convinced those choices are even mistakes, but rather a deliberate ignorance that its leaders have no interest in fixing.
I could go on. I could bring up Cyberpunk 2077’s nagging issues with crunch. I could talk about the surrounding discourse being muddied by journalists and influencers who are more than happy to carry CD Projekt RED’s water for the price of a chair and an in-game cameo. Everything surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 has been so toxic before release that waiting for it has been like watching the slow progression of a meteor hurtling towards Earth and bracing for its catastrophic and unavoidable impact.
I’m still not sure if I’m going to play Cyberpunk 2077, either casually or for purposes of coverage. I’ll admit to still being excited for it on some level, but any respect I had for CD Projekt RED has taken a nosedive. I’m still wrestling with what it would say for me to put all of that aside just to play a video game. And honestly, it might be healthier to just remove myself from the impending Discourse entirely.
Right now, my plate is full of games that I need to spend more time in. So I’m going to hold off on playing Cyberpunk 2077 and play all the other games I’ve been meaning to finally finish or start. I’m also expecting it to be buggy and not quite polished enough, like The Witcher 3 at launch, so waiting a few months or more might be the best move.
The other big reason I’m skipping Cyberpunk for now is because I have two brand-new consoles and I want to play Cyberpunk 2077 on one of them. Yes, it is fully backward compatible, but I want fancier visuals, higher frame rates, and all that stuff. My PC can’t handle it and I’m not looking to upgrade my rig right now, so I’ll be waiting for the next-gen upgrades and playing other stuff.
How About You?
Kotaku’s weighed in, but what’s your take? Are you dying to jump into Night City, going to take your time, or perhaps not going to visit at all? How come? Have your say! We’ll be back next week to deliberate and debate on another nerdy issue. See you in the comments!