Community Review: Cyberpunk 2077

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Community Review: Cyberpunk 2077
Image: Twitter

Where do you even start with something as enormous, and something so enormously botched in so many ways, as Cyberpunk 2077? 

For a game that revolves around a dystopian universe controlled by megacorporations and the excesses of money, there’s something uniquely grim about the state of Cyberpunk 2077 right now. For those who spent the money on an enormous PC rig, or were fortunate enough/privileged enough to acquire the hardware when seemingly nobody else couldCyberpunk is offering the closest thing possible to a next-gen visual experience.

There is nothing that provides quite the same window into a fully ray traced world. There’s other games with similar scale and scope, but nowhere near the same level of fidelity. It’s a have or have-not situation, something that uncannily mirrors much of the situation within Night City itself.

Of course, there are plenty of other games where the NPCs are more lifelike, more perfect character models, and certainly big-budget productions that are more polished. And gamers have displayed an appetite to appreciate worlds regardless of their visual fidelity, as long as all the pieces fall in the right places.

So, does Cyberpunk 2077 accomplish that?

Image: Kotaku Australia

I’ll have a lot more to say in my full review, which hopefully should be up later this afternoon. But I want to hear what your experiences are like. It’s been a rollercoaster for me, and I’ve dealt with the game arguably at its absolute best (or close thereto).

I want to know what your experiences and journeys have been like. Playing the game in the compressed environment of a review period, particularly one as short as what was offered, was absolutely a detriment to the experience. It certainly wasn’t to the city’s credit, and certainly not to the story. And that’s before you get to the parts where the game falls over itself, with police instantly spawning behind you the second you accidentally so much as breathe on a civilian.

So what has it been like for those playing on consoles? What has it been like over the last week for those playing on PCs closer to the original recommended spec? Have you refunded the game? Are you considering it? And for those who preordered, has the ensuing drama affected how you think about preorders — or are you happy with your purchase?

Comments

  • “and something so enormously botched in so many ways,”

    This was said about the Witcher 3 as well when it first came out, I’d just like to add. The PS4 and XbO version of Cyberpunk may not be great, but honestly, the PC version of it so far, is exquisite for me. A couple of glitches here and there but nothing gamebreaking? In a few patches time, I’m absolutely, 100% certain this is going to be looked upon as favorably as Witcher 3 is. After all, a little googling immediately shows up that people back in 2015 were calling Witcher 3 a disaster, saying it was terrible, questioning why it was released at all etc, that CDPR had ‘botched it’ etc etc… if anything, they’re not a company that rests on their laurels.

    • It’ll be looked back on with awe after its patched up… What they’ve accomplished with building the city alone is already jaw dropping at points.

      • Pretty much. I’m *not* oblivious to the obvious issues it has at launch. I’m also not oblivious to the uproar CDPR received to holding the game back repeatedly to patch it and patch it and patch it, which shows they were trying to do the right thing. Now it’s out there, they can actively *get* a wider range of realtime feedback and patch the shit out of it, they even commented with Witcher 3 they were able to get better feedback once players had their mittens on it.

    • Agreed.

      25 hours in (at my pace, so still very early in the game) and I’ve only noticed two glitches:
      – my bike spawned under a truck, destroying it (the truck – my bike was fine)
      – occasionally when creeping around I suddenly sprint, breaking my cover and dumping me in at the deep end.

      Otherwise, super smooth, super enjoyable experience.

      I’m only playing at 1080p, since my 3080 hasn’t been made yet, but Night City looks amazing. The game is running smoothly, textures are sharp and clear, colours are mind numbing and the city is alive.

      • Very early in as well; perhaps 13hrs. Playing on the Xbox Series X.

        Overall it’s truly “breathtaking”. The scope and magnitude of the city. I love the atmosphere, ambient soundscapes and the radio stations in the vehicles. Enjoy the firearms combat as well. Looks great, mostly, on the Series X.

        I haven’t experienced any game breaking bugs or major immersion breaking incidents. Just lots of little things….

        1. My car hovering a few feet above the ground when I return to it after a fire fight.
        2. An NPC who’s meant to be sitting on a chair hovering a meter above ‘nothing’.
        3. NPC’s walking towards me and simply vanishing.
        4.Not being able to pick items up proper because they’re stuck in the environment.
        5. Loading a saved game and when it bumps in the environment behind the character I was talking to is missing and the NPC is standing when they were meant to be sitting and then it all loads and they’re then sitting and everything is fine.
        6. Probably the most frequent thing (nearly every occurrence) I’ve seen is this: I’m working my way through a random police incident job (clearing out a gang hideout or some form of criminal activity in the city etc.), there will be at least one of the enemies who gets stuck in the environment and simply won’t die. They just lie there, half stuck in a car bonnet or slumped half through a garbage bag and they keep repeating the same line over and over e.g. ‘FINALLY, SOMEONE TO REALLY FIGHT!’ or the like and won’t die.

        Anyway, can’t wait to jump back in sometime today!

    • It wasn’t just 3, every one of the Witcher games was buggy on release. And I wouldn’t call Cyberpunk “enormously botched in so many ways”. It had a botched console release period. And yes they should most definitely be called out for grossly under reporting that, but the media seem to treat the last gen release as the only release at the moment. Everything else about the game is just fine, and Steam reviews are positive to show that, in stark contrast to media reporting. The bugs come down to visual glitches for the most part, and if you are running the game on an SSD (like the minimum specs suggest) a lot of even those are eliminated. I come across something more major than a visual glitch every couple of hours. Which are generally easily solved with a short reload, if they need a fix at all. I have seen far buggier games than Cyberpunk. It is just that unfortunately for cyberpunk so many of its bugs are visual in nature and therefore more readily apparent to a player. It had a massively botched last gen release but that is it. I wish media would stop trying to report otherwise.

  • Watching my husband run through it on PS5 at the moment and while he’s had the occasional graphical oddity and a couple of crashes, he’s gotten off fairly scot-free on the bug side of things. It’s not perfect, but it was never going to be; hype can be a crazy dangerous thing sometimes. It reminds me a lot of Dragon Age Inquisition when it launched: I remember playing it on PS3 and the console going through absolute hell trying to run it with any sort of stability, but I adored it nonetheless.

  • Playing on PC and thoroughly enjoying it, though it took me a few hours to get my head around everything. I don’t usually enjoy just wandering and exploring in games, but I’ve wasted a good few hours doing just that, so I guess they’ve done something right.

    I’m playing a stealth build as I usually do and it’s fun but extremely overpowered. Enemies are a bit too bullet-spongey for me to want to play any other way, but that might be because I put the difficulty on Hard. I’m going to try dropping it to Normal tonight and see if it feels any better.

    Performance is mostly good; running on an 8600k with 32GB RAM and an RTX 3070 and getting 50-60 fps on ultra (including RTX) @ 1440p in *most* places. For some reason simply getting into a car shaves off 20 fps, though it was a lot worse (dropping by 30-40 fps) before the 1.5gb patch on Sunday.

    As far as bugs go, nothing major so far. Just a few cars that have stayed perfectly horizontal when driving down/up hills and NPCs “using” objects which are floating in the air in front of them … and Jackie warping through things with hilarious results.

  • So far (having completed Act 1 with minimal side content) I’m loving it.

    The characters are brilliant. 10 hours in, everyone I’ve met is interesting and complex and I want to spend more time with them. All of the depth and interest of W3’s characterisation and quest lines are definitely still there. The thing that’s really impressing me is how well it handles choices that have story impacts – specifically, how invisible they often are. Really resonated with me, reading that conversation Kotaku published earlier about the early mission that went a different way for everyone, but nobody realised it *could* have gone differently. There are no “THIS CHOICE WILL BE IMPORTANT” banners, just the consequences of your actions. It’s subtle and wonderful and it makes every choice feel meaningful.

    So far, it’s running well. Sure, you need a 3080 or something to crank up the ray tracing settings, but at Medium it still looks great (the non-RT lighting engine is incredibly impressive) and runs smoothly on my 1070Ti. I’ve had a couple of graphics bugs and one mission trigger fail to proc that cost me maybe 2 minutes since my last autosave, but nothing I wouldn’t consider par for the course for open-world games these days. Certainly well below Bethesda-standard jank. I do feel for the PS4/XBO players; it probably would’ve been better if CDPR had just said “this is a next-gen exclusive” instead.

    I agree that there are some issues unfortunately left on the table – the rigid binary approach to gender is disappointing and at odds with the otherwise anarchic approach to bodies in the world, and I’m hoping some of the bigger themes open up in the later acts (for anyone wondering, everything from the previews is done by the end of Act 1 – I have NO idea where the story’s going to from here), but for now I’m happy with what I have and looking forward to more.

    • It’s subtle and wonderful and it makes every choice feel meaningful.
      “Dex will remember this. 40% ED bonus to future gigs!”

      I noticed this when I was being very careful about how to infiltrate the hotel for the heist. No wrong moves, no fuckups. Perfect dialogue options. In that moment, it all FELT important. Every single choice.

  • I’m legit loving it so far. Could be a touched biased running it on a high end rig with a 3080, but it is absolutely beautiful. Biggest dissapointment for me has been being unable to play the multitude of arcade games scattered around the place, and no car customisation.

  • Enjoying it immensely. Finished one playthrough of the main story.

    And while I’m here I also just want to point out that for ‘reasons’ some side missions not connected to the main story can actually have ‘additional content’ I suppose is the best way to put, it if you’re doing them AFTER you finish Act 1.

    It’s fairly minor, but yeah, still something I thought was quite neat after blitzing Act 1 on a second character before touching side content.

    • oooh, I really need to do this. As I was completing every side-job in locked-down Watson, I kept wondering, “What would JS have to say about this?”

  • My experience has so far mirrored others;
    Playing on PS5 (with DoF & film grain off) looks good enough and I find myself stopping and staring at the cityscape or some dank alley. I restarted about 2hrs in as the male V voice wasn’t doing it for me (all I could hear was a NY City “hey! I’m walkin ere!” accent) 2hr progress loss was worth it for me.

    So far I’m loving the story and misfits I speak with, running a pistol/fist/blade build and had a blast slicing my way out of a club with a katana, high-nooning a street full of goons with a revolver or schooling some punks with my fists and stealing their motorbikes.

    Glitches? Yeah sure, mine so far have been display based, subtitles remaining on screen despite turning them off, equipment pick up notification remaining on screen and a persistent map marker. All of which were resolved by re loading. Frustratingly last night I noticed all of my settings reverted to default settings.

    Crashes, I average one crash for every 3-4hr session so far, one mission based crash was at the end of the ‘seizure scene’. Apart from that I crash as I’m walking around out of mission. No massive deal so far.

    I’m excited to see how things roll out, I’m sick and tired of listening to the negativity people spew out, outside of the actual criticism of crunch. I do admit to eying the fidelity of playing on a PC and pining for the current gen update but I’m having fun, and really that’s all that matters.

  • Playing on launch PS4. Honestly my main gripes are actually with stuff like the inventory management system and really small item text rather than experiencing any massive game breaking glitches.

    Once I’d fiddled with the control and graphics settings and got to version 1.04 the game has quit to the dashboard once and I’ve fallen through the world once in about twenty hours of play.

    Other than some texture pop and stuff like that it’s been fine and I’m really started to get invested in the world and storyline and keen to see where they take it.

    • inventory management… now thats something. every item seems to have some inbuilt level, since you are blocked from using certain items and it will tell you at which level it becomes available. yet once the item is available the level is never seen again. whilst the primary metrics are the dps for weapons or the armour for clothing, id still like to be able to see the items actual level, especially when it comes to items you have upgraded numerous times. if my item i have upgraded 5 times is the same dps/armour as another item that has not been upgraded at all, id like to know, since that means the non upgraded item is the better choice as it has far less component requirements to upgrade it.

  • “Fallout 4 with cyborgs, remote hacking and a colour pallette”

    Everything feels like Fallout 4, its uncanny, look ever bit of junk break it down… and that’s disappointing a bit cause that obsessive looting slows the action.

    … I did find the side quests far more enjoyable than in other open world games.

    Had a few quirky bugs on PC, but nothing game breaking but it does feel very Bethesda like, but enjoying it. 30 hours played.

  • It’s everything I wanted and more. Some of that ‘more’ includes crash-out bugs and one progress-blocking mission bug (that can be resolved by ‘going loud’ against my wishes), but beyond that… God it’s just dripping in atmosphere and detail and choice.

    When I did the mission ‘Heroes’ I had real tears in my eyes.

    The best way to play it is undoubtedly slow. There’s a lot to drink in. And by utterly immersing myself in Night City before the roller-coaster of The Heist, the weight of everything that was revealed was felt so much more keenly. I’ve banged on about this elsewhere, but when important figures turn up, you already know who they are so it MEANS something that they’re there.

    If you haven’t been reading, listening, soaking in all that lore, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just your first time being introduced, and I can only assume it would fall flat – like in horror movies, when they kill off someone you’ve only seen on screen for five minutes, why the fuck would you care? Same deal here. You meet a living legend in the flesh, and all you know at that point is that they’re a bit of an outlandish character? What a waste…

    Something else that started to emerge in game conversations was the game’s self-awareness of the fact that the Cyberpunk 2077 setting is embracing the ‘punk‘ part of Cyberpunk, not the futurology. I’ve seen plenty of hand-wringing about messaging and what Cyberpunk has to say, but it seems like some desires for something positive or constructive or enlightened is… well. Missing the point of what ‘punk’ is. Punk–the original 70s+ punk, what Cyberpunk of the 90s was drawing from and propelling into a dystopian future–is diverse in its subcultures but ultimately, primarily, it’s about rage against the machine. Nihilistic, anti-establishment, self-destructive anarchy. There’s no, “You hate the machine of the oligarchy, of capitalism and globalism, but what do you want to replace it with? What are your solutions? Where is the place for the disenfranchised in your new world, how do we treat each other better do better or be better? Is there a merit to your rage, is it moral? Where are you turning to for meaning in a world that has worsened?”

    These questions miss the point. Punk doesn’t give a fuck. Punk is raw rage. Punk just wants to smash the machine, not build new systems. ‘This is what we hate and this is why we hate it.’ World’s fucked. Do whatever you want, so long as you do something. It’s the righteous, indignant fury of the moment in youth that has seen through the world’s big lies (justice, karma, reason, order) for the first time and aren’t making peace with it, but are taking all the boundless evidence for nihilism – all the desperate people of the world struggling to stay afloat in an utterly indifferent and remorseless flow of time, with the strong exploiting the weak – and shoving it in your face. It’s not constructive, it’s destructive. Externally and internally.

    It is an expression of something very human. People who celebrate punk don’t necessarily embody it wholly and exclusively; no one thing, no one theme of expression, is the entirety of who a person is. But what they put into the vessel they choose for that expression can be. Whether it’s a performance, fashion, an album, or a video game. That’s the point of expression, after all. It’s why we have punk music singing about smashing the state instead of just anarchist crime. This is also worth noting for those who point out the irony of a piece of work that expresses ‘punk’ being produced by a publicly-traded multi-million-dollar, corporation through a mass-marketed consumer product. That irony is inherent to the expression.

    [Spoiler-character] who believes in corporate order straight-up accuses you of this pointless philosophy, echoing the calls I’ve heard asking what should replace the status quo, should it be dismantled. Your counters are variations on that there is still suffering under all options, but at least yours include some freedom in that suffering. Some slight semblance of control. The closest it gets to something noble in its morality is that while there is no such thing as fairness or justice, there is something vile about systems and structures built to harness suffering on a mass scale for the benefit of a select few.

    And when you view the entire game, what it wants to show and say, through that lens of cyberpunk with an emphasis on the punk part, it makes a lot more sense. At first I was sad that they took our wholesome Keanu and used him to portray a very ‘problematic’ (ie: straight-up asshole) Johnny Silverhand, but you’re not meant to like him. Your experience of him, what he represents is a link back to that chaotic expression of indignant anger. Johnny hates the world, and the game literally in nearly those exact words tells you that, and isn’t shy about showing you why he hates it. Hell, even the trailer told us very clearly: “Wake up, Samurai. We have a city to burn.” Not a collective progressive action-based movement to found with a focus on compassion and championing the vulnerable… a city to burn. Just burn.

    Beyond all that stuff, it’s gorgeous and engaging and I want to see everyone’s story within it. I’m going to have to ease back after the next few weeks to be a more balanced human being, but I expect I’ll be returning to the game regularly, for a long time.

    • Well put. Yeah I think they have got the tone right. I do appreciate that they committed to the 1980s retrofuture instead of projecting from our actual 2020.

      There is also a certain amount of deliberate earnest corniness/camp in the source material that comes through here especially in the Silverhand persona. It’s at its height in the ‘Never Fade Away’ mission, which is pretty faithfully adapted from the original tabletop module/short story. The artificial party collection of character classes you expect from a tabletop RPG comes through so clearly there and it was pure fun. It’s quite a different tone from the darker Sprawl-era William Gibson cyberpunk.

  • Just finished a play through with 45 odd hours. Played on PC with 3080. game looks great at 4k HDR with raytracing. Lets just say thank god for DLSS haha.

    No game breaking bugs or crashes, just your typical open world RPG bugs and glitches along the way, mainly in cutscenes but for 98% of the game its flawless and its very impressive for a game of this scale. I had to write something here because im sick of hearing all the bitching about the game and no one giving it the credit it deserves. I understand the last gen versions are a bit behind but honestly if i couldn’t play this game on next gen hardware (pc or console) then i would have waited until i could. Haven’t had a game suck me in like this since probably Fallout 3 or new vegas! Loved every minute of it and didn’t want it to end.

    The mission system is a bit unorganised and annoying to understand which side missions are story driven or just rinse and repeat ones.. got near to the end and started doing some to get given motorbikes and cars and items etc that would have come in handy 15 hours earlier if i had of known lol.

    Highly recommend!

  • I am hugely enjoying the game for what it is. The storyline is very well done, and the open world makes a good set for that – even if the illusion falls apart when you go off track start poking things.

    I would have loved a deeper world with more exploration, and would prefer they prioritised AI and gameplay over graphics, especially since the graphical beauty is so compromised by performance. (I’m playing on PS4 Pro and finding it absolutely playable though.) I actually played the tabletop game quite a bit in the 1990s, have read most of the genre canon, and was excited to be let loose in the world.

    With RDR2, Rockstar set the bar in terms of balancing story and truly open, real-feeling world. Whereas The Last of Us 2 mastered story, atmosphere, and tense, fun gameplay by not trying for open world. I feel like Cyberpunk falls a bit uncomfortably between those paths.

  • I’ve been waiting 30 years for the game, since 1990 when I was playing the 2020 tabletop game and wanted it as a game.

    So seeing it with those eyes.. WOW. Meeting Johnny, Rogue. Seeing Spider Murphy and walking around THE Afterlife is an incredible experience for me.

    Glitch and bug wise on PC I keep getting UI elements left on screen which is annoying, the odd moments of texture pop in and the very occasional T posing for a second or two.

    As for the world of Cyberpunk and what it’s trying to say. It’s a dystopia that is frankly vile where everything is a commodity from sex to body augmentation to the most vile snuff braindances where someone could murder you and someone could pay to both see what you saw, heard, smelt, tasted and felt both physically and emotionally as you died or if that’s not your kink.. maybe purchase the one from the killers perspective.

    Johnny represents the Edgerunners of the 2020 the bleeding edge of the revolution to fight the system and burn the whole fucking thing to the ground and in game you get to see everything 50 years later where even detonating a nuke did shit. They just rebuilt on the spot, where destroying the entire net just ended up creating a smaller almost completely controlled new one.

    In the end it’s about fighting the corps, trying to make things a little bit better day to day for the odd person you meet, and in the end going out in a spectacular way that makes you a legend and a well dressed one at that

  • currently still on my first playthrough with 68hrs playerd according to GOG. Playing with everything max with RTX set to ultra and DLSS set to Quality, enjoying smooth 60fps at 4k.

    Loving the hell out of the game, and ive just found what i think is the Bloody Baron questline for Cyberpunk…The Hunt. dear god that quest left me speechless.

    Bug wise, it just been typical open world bugs, though ive had some crashes, but they only happen after ive been playing nonstop for good couple of hours (like 5+ hrs) or on exiting the game.
    There are issues that need to be addressed however and that is the way the police just spawn in behind you the moment you kill an npc, they will spawn in behind you when you are in an elevator for instance. the noticeable lack of Ai for civillans walking around and the lack of Ai for vehicles ( they all just follow a set path and vanish once you get far enough away)

  • I am really torn my household has it on both PC and PS5. These days I just hate playing on PC, dont ask me why its just something rally dislike doing. Now I am loving playing the game itself (ignoring all the bad PR and bugs) I am about 25 hours in on PS5 and I am totally in the mindset of this game, I am loving what it is and all i want to do is play.

    Yet everytime I go for a drive on PS5 my heart sinks, it goes from looking good to looking like a PS3 game, while on PC it is simple to die for for. Yet in missions and in gun fights, it looks really great (all things considered).Trying to decide whether to just cut my losses and play it on PC, knowing full well the full PS5 version isnt coming for months. Yet at the same time its the type of thing I know I want to play to 100% on PS5, so not sure how I feel about playing it once on PC now, but know I am aiming to do it a 100% on there.

    • Get a long enough HDMI cable and a Controller for your PC (hell, the PS5 controller works, I think) – best of both worlds.

      • yes, plug the pc into the tv, that part is easy enough (assuming the tv doesnt introduce 350ms of lag). but playing a first person game with a controller? hahaha thats definitely not “best of both worlds” thats just torture. theres dedicated products for it, but any flat portable surface will suffice for putting a keyboard and mouse on so you dont have to ruin the experience with a controller.

        • Haha, spoken like a true PC elitist XD

          There are games that are really suited to keyboard/mouse for sure, especially fast paced MP – but modern controllers work perfectly fine for a single player FPS – especially one that has so much to do with RPG mechanics in the background. If you’re aiming for a more relaxed ‘couch game’ experience, it’s a controller every time for me.

        • I’m on keyboard and mouse for the most part, but as soon as I jump onto my bike or into a car I pick up the controller.

          I urge you to do the same.

  • I love this game, I am playing it a bit less than I normally play.
    around 15 hours so far
    (btw this is to do with the Witcher 3, I played around 100 hours in about a week and it burnt me out, I think I only play a hour of the DLC’s since then)

    what really surprised me what the fact that I am playing it in less than 60 fps and I don’t care (if other games did that, it would drive me nuts)

  • I want to love the game so much more than I do. There’s so much cool shit in it, and they absolutely nail that futurepunk aesthetic so well. I love cruising around Night City in a car, or on my Akira bike, it feels fantastic.

    But the moment you try to scratch below that mirrorshaded surface, it collapses. It is, to quote the greatest Welsh band ever, all surface, no feeling. There’s the look of cyberpunk, but not the feel of cyberpunk. It has all the parts, like the neoliberalist hypercapitalist end-state future, the hypersexualisation, the chrome, the vehicles, but it’s… well, it’s what William Gibson predicted it was two years ago: GTA dressed in a 1980s retro-future skin.

    The main plot is unengaging and dull (so far, I’m only in Act 2 so it might get better), and all the good stuff is buried in sidequests for some reason. Mechanically, it’s fine, I don’t mind the shooting (I’m playing a… “loud” build because I have no patience for stealth bullshit at the best of times) and the driving physics are the best in any open world game not named Forza Horizon, so there’s that.

    Maybe the main problem stems from the source material, which was, itself, the theme park version of cyberpunk. I’ve read through (and played) the original RPG and it’s… actually really bad. It’s written by people who were told about Neuromancer by someone who’d read Neuromancer but didn’t understand what it was about at all. The game itself takes out the worst mechanical excesses of the original books (so you don’t have have to do all that absolutely tedious stat shit that the original books make you do) and makes it at least fun to play, which is quite a feat, to be honest.

    Overall I guess my experience with Cyberpunk can be summed up in one way. Early on there’s a quest you get from a character you had a huge fight with previously. You go to the character and then, immediately and without warning, the two of you fuck in that grotesque uncanny valley way that only video game fucking can be. It’s a hatefuck, and that’s how I feel about the game.

    tl;dr: Cyberpunk is the best hatefuck you’ll ever play.

    • You made this accusation about a lack of depth earlier, and I contest that the depth is there but you haven’t dived into it.

      What is your criteria for depth? What other game has displayed it? Because I fully expect that any example you can provide for what ‘depth’ looks like in a video game can be found in Cyberpunk.

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