Cyberpunk 2077: The Kotaku Australia Review

Cyberpunk 2077: The Kotaku Australia Review
Image: CD Projekt Red
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As I watched the credits on Cyberpunk 2077, my eyes couldn’t avoid being drawn to the bottom right corner. As the hundreds, maybe thousands, of names rolled over 39 minutes and 30 seconds, a single line of dialogue remained.

A line of dialogue from almost an hour ago.

It’s both the smallest and most perfect representation of the Cyberpunk 2077 experience. As was the case over a week ago, when I first captured the essence of CD Projekt Red’s love-letter to the original Cyberpunk tabletop RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 is literally bursting with ambition.

It’s not just the case on the base PS4 and Xbox One, where the performance is so deficient that CD Projekt Red issued an apology less than a week after the game’s release. It’s also true on PC. I’ve invested over 60 hours into the game there across multiple characters, as well as a bit of time with the game’s prologue on Xbox Series X for a brief comparison. (Other colleagues on Kotaku Australia have spent time with the game’s PS4 version via the PS5’s backward compatibility mode.)

At night, with the right hardware and the right mix of NPC density, rain and neon lighting, the effect can be truly astonishing.

Over the last week, Cyberpunk’s propensity for hard crashes has subsided. The quirks that remain are both minor and cripplingly major. I’ve had NPCs attempt to charge my position, only to quite literally fall in front of me as they fail to navigate a body. Loot will be littered across a level after a fight, but some of it will remain left behind, because the game refuses to let me pick it up. I’ve had the game some determine that I’ve committed a crime despite not touching a nearby civilian, causing police to immediately spawn behind me, like they’ve just emerged from a secret closet ala DOOM. Some have been more convenient, but immersion breaking, like mini bosses and higher level enemies frozen in position or stuck to the floor.

Others were more aggravating. What’s replaced them has been no less fun: I’ve had to restart hours of gameplay because of quests that couldn’t be resolved. They were earmaked as side quests, but it wasn’t apparent until later the finale that I needed to complete those quests to unlock some of the game’s alternate endings, endings much more befitting of V, Johnny Silverhand, and the time I’d spent with the game.

Some break the game’s visual appeal. One quest saw an NPC get up from a chair, triggering a malfunction of the biochip in V’s head that causes Johnny Silverhand’s consciousness to bleed over. But occasionally, a blur effect would be applied the entirety of the screen that wouldn’t fade once the relic began operating more normally, necessitating a restart. Other quirks are more minor and funnier: NPCs floating through the air chasing a vehicle they’re supposed to be sitting in, character’s penises protruding through their clothing, models T-posting while stuck inside objects, cars occasionally launching into the air, NPCs stuck in animation loops, floating guns, collision errors, straight up teleporting, and your character stripping mid-ride. Even the credits aren’t immune from crashes.

How much it interrupts the experience depends when and where. The game’s been more stable in my experience since the day-one patch and subsequent hotfixes. But at the time of writing, every major mission or side gig I’ve played has been hit with at least one bug that’s impacted the experience. It’s either been severe enough that it’s necessitated a restart. Gameplay has sometimes been affected via UI glitches, like objects that wouldn’t let me scan them, or characters that I couldn’t speak with to move the game forward. And combat would often run into AI and collision errors, like characters freezing in place mid-fight, failing to recognising V’s presence.

Note: from this point forward, I’ll be including some light story spoilers both from the main plot and occasional side quests. Given that it’s impossible to really communicate the experience without at least mentioning the existence and importance of some characters and events, I will be mentioning a key plot point from the game’s first act. If you’d prefer to remain in the dark, please read our substantial spoiler-free impressions instead.

This is about a third of the game’s districts from a playthrough about 40 hours in. Every single exclamation mark is a separate side quest. Image: Kotaku Australia

There’s an awful lot to talk about with Cyberpunk, but it probably helps to outline what it is.

On a mechanical level, it’s easiest to think of Cyberpunk 2077 as a cross between the scale of Bethesda’s Fallout series with a heavy dose of the modern Deus Ex games. Most of your time will be spent within Night City, ferrying across from one part of the city to another, unravelling various missions, jobs and “gigs”. Similar to the latter franchise, you’ll always be given a relatively straightforward path for resolving these missions, but occasionally your choices — either through dialogue or lifepath, but most commonly through your character build — will open up multiple paths of attack.

Most of these involve clearing out an area or retrieving some kind of object, evidence or intel from a guarded location. These spaces are generally pretty large, but early on you’ll be restricted to rudimentary stealth, hacking and some fairly functional gunplay.

Your options might initially be restricted to hacking a vending machine to distract a nearby guard, letting you sneak up to thin out nearby numbers. You could also adopt a more all guns blazing-type approach, or some hybrid of the two depending on your preference.

By the end of the game, your choices ramp up significantly. There’s cyberware that vastly increases your critical damage, enables double jumps, or just allows you to brute force certain doors, unlocking different pathways that might not have been available. You’ll be able to craft (or buy) hacks that force NPCs to commit suicide, while also having enough attributes and perks to quickly refuel your RAM (your stamina-equivalent meter for hacking).

Weapons become astronomically powerful. You can scan one enemy and ping them, revealing the location of all other enemies connected to the same network. Cybernetically enhanced optics then feed that information into your weapon, enabling the ability to track and kill enemies through thick barriers of steel and concrete.

It’s hard to imagine other games giving you the freedom to headshot enemies from literally impenetrable positions. Cyberpunk 2077 does, because that’s part of the cyberpunk fantasy.

Similar to the ethos of Night City, Cyberpunk‘s skills also grow exponentially. Each major attribute comes with its own perk lines and a skill, the latter of which levels up as you perform certain actions. The Assault skill, under the Reflexes attribute, gains XP as you kill enemies with assault rifles. Breach Protocol gains experience the more you hack objects and humans. Taking out enemies from behind improves your Stealth.

All of these unlock more perks and more bonuses over time. It creates this snowball effect that results in, even on harder difficulties, missions going from challenging to a complete cakewalk, depending on your approach. There are occasional missions where quest givers will necessitate a particular resolution. But otherwise you’re free to tackle things as you see fit, and the mission areas offer enough space, cover, verticality and hackable objects to enable ranged, melee or netrunner-centric paths.

Your quest log, very quickly, becomes a mess of unorganised names only separated by a basic “danger” rating. Image: Kotaku Australia

The last-gen consoles were naturally the largest — and most deliberate — oversight in Cyberpunk 2077‘s notoriously short review window. But an equally bigger failing of the game’s review period was the disservice it did to the structure of Cyberpunk 2077‘s story, and the fabric of Night City itself.

In interviews promoting and leading up to Cyberpunk 2077‘s release, CD Projekt Red made a point of noting how V’s main story line would be shorter than The Witcher 3. Not enough people finished Geralt’s grand quest, despite it being the apex of a franchise and the story being the main — some would say only — reason to buy the game in the first place.

So the story in Cyberpunk 2077 progresses relatively quickly. It can be dispensed with in 25 hours or so, although you’ll be losing essential plot twists, and in some cases, access to the better, more faithful endings if you rush.

It’s especially detrimental in the game’s first act, where V meets up with Jackie and begins running missions for fixers around the Watson area. The game is quick to bombard you with options and side quests, and it’s easy to become immediately overwhelmed. Simply driving into a new area — as some missions dictate — prompts a call from the fixer overseeing that region, instantly filling up your phone with messages.

Your street cred level rises as you complete these gigs, unlocking further missions that are immediately added to your map, or calls from various characters demanding V’s immediate attention. Sometimes they’ll do this while you’re mid-conversation with another NPC, prompting a bizarre moment where one set of dialogue options are greyed out until you finish the call. It feels like a workaround, as if CD Projekt Red couldn’t find a way to prevent fixers and NPCs from calling you as soon as mission requirements triggered.

The missions appear in your quest log in an unorganised, haphazard fashion. There’s no way of sorting the missions by difficulty or importance whatsoever. They’re not even organised alphabetically, or distance from your current location. It’s a disaster of a UI, and a deliberate roadblock that masks some of Night City’s best characters.

The game will advise you of weaknesses when in hacking mode — although given how overpowered your V can become even in the mid-game, you can take on most firefights without ever thinking about this.

Cyberpunk‘s obtuse menus don’t just impact the story, but also your experience with some of the game’s key systems. The inventory management is completely undercooked. There’s no simple method for organising your armour by its actual armour value, for one, making for a painstakingly manual check of your items to determine what to sell or scrap.

Your weapons are a little bit easier to organise, but it’s still far below the standard for any blockbuster RPG or action game. It’s a visual design akin to the Assassin’s Creed series. But it quickly buckles under the sheer volume of junk, crafting materials, consumables and weapons Cyberpunk 2077 throws at you.

That constant feed of consumables in particular works against some of the game’s core systems. Crafting, one of the game’s main perks and skills, is rendered effectively worthless because of this. You can invest a stack of attribute points (which can’t be respec’d later on) and perk points into crafting. But when you’re constantly picking up new weapon types, better weapons, or enough items that can be sold to upgrade much faster, and more quickly, it’s hard to justify the investment.

V’s weaknesses also aren’t punished nearly enough. A natural downside of netrunner or ranged/stealth builds should be a lack of health and strength. But it’s hard to feel threatened when the game literally provides hundreds of health items that instantly repair a quarter or almost half of your health, regardless of the difficulty you’re playing on.

That lack of consequence cuts at the heart of Night City. Cyberpunk 2077 is pitched as a lethal, heartless dystopia, but like other video games, its citizens and corporations are quickly brought to heel under the weight of its ’80s power fantasy.

It’s important to mention the ’80s, because that’s where so much of Cyberpunk 2077 draws its roots from. The game is deeply steeped in the lore and ideals of the original Cyberpunk tabletop RPG, and narratively it exists within the same universe as well.

That results in a brand of cyberpunk that is openly dystopian, but also a style of dystopia that’s a bit removed from the last 5 or 10 years of what most cyberpunk games have envisioned.

Cyberpunk 2077‘s world is, in design and effect, a practical warning. The hyper-corporatisation, the sexual set dressing and the overtness is a signal. If society doesn’t get its shit together, Cyberpunk suggests, this is what you can look forward to. Everything is a commodity, especially the poor, particularly women, and definitely any and every part of your body.

The base idea extending from that is supposed to be a seething, uncontrolled rage against society and the megacorporations responsible. You’re meant to hate Night City and what it represents, not ogle at it.

But it’s in the side missions — the unorganised, chaotic mess of gigs that aren’t even arranged by alphabetical order — where the game’s soul truly resides. Apart from the alternate endings, it’s the side gigs that also unravel not just the city’s humanity, but its deeper failings that give you the emotional impetus to burn it all down.

Cyberpunk has a lot of little background details like this, a string of arcades with rolling 30 second loops of gameplay.

One particular quest, which unlocks as part of a broader narrative arc for one of the game’s romantic choices, has you searching for a lost nephew. A quick search of their things and tracking down their whereabouts quickly discovers a disturbing trail of messages and emails. It’s perhaps not on quite the same level as the Bloody Baron questline from The Witcher 3, but it was substantially better paced and written than the vast majority of the missions from the main arc.

There’s a heartfelt story about a NPC who lost their close friend, and is struggling to deal with the grief. There’s a wonderful little arc involving Johnny Silverhand’s attempts at living one last time — outside of the impacts of the biochip — that spawns a great little montage and an equally enjoyable arc of its own. I’d recommend doing everything related to Judy, the braindance editor you meet in the game’s prologue, who adds one of the more heartfelt and touching notes to Night City’s savagery.

These characters, especially the trans bartender Claire (whose background only emerges through her own side quests), the brief appearance from Grimes as Lizzy Wizzy, Rogue, Judy, Panam and River, should be essential worldbuilding for Cyberpunk 2077. The fact that they’re not — and that the game was offered under a review period that made it practically impossible for many to properly explore these stories — means players can experience V’s journey without the necessary impetus and rage that makes the cyberpunk genre tick.

It’s not the fault of the player that Cyberpunk doesn’t properly advertise what it has to offer. If anything, Night City is screaming in your ear about how many jobs there are to do. Cyberpunk 2077 is just structured in a way that you have no way of understanding the value or difference between all of them.

It’s a critical failing of the game’s UI, and hopefully it gets a substantial rework over the coming year. Night City has more to offer than the dildos, hypersexual ads and violence it constantly broadcasts.

The Photo Mode could offer a little more freedom with the radius on the drone mode, but you can get some outstanding shots regardless.

For all the occasions where the AI, level design, hacking and gunplay come together, or the moments where the story truly shines, there’s also a lot of flaws under the surface.

The game’s police presence is fundamentally broken, but Night City’s gangs also don’t seem to really carry much weight either. You’ll occasionally come across groups of enemies hanging about on the streets — occasionally, one or two might be beating a random civilian, and you have the option of stopping them or passing by. Sometimes two gangs will be caught up in a firefight, and you can join in to collect some extra credits from those killed.

But none of this seems to factor into anything. No matter how many random gangsters I put down, or gigs dispatched in a certain area, it didn’t seem to have any impact on that gang’s approach to V. Unlike other open-world games, where your decisions and performance in missions might have some impact on gang affiliation and your reputation, nothing you do appears to have any long-lasting affect. All that happens is that V continues to gain street cred — even if you apprehend or kill wanted criminals on behalf of the NCPD, which doesn’t really explain why the “street” would reward you for helping the cops — and fixers, or affiliates of fixers, offer you more jobs.

And while Cyberpunk‘s open world is constantly filled with bits of detail and life, it’s also missing a lot of critical interactivity. You can’t go and sit down at a vendor for a meal. The game talks up its sex, and makes a big deal of the customisations, but outside of narrative quests there are only two vendors who you can actually sleep with. You can steal cars, but you can’t save them. Very few NPCs in Night City will have conversations with each other, with most only having one or two basic prompts when you ask. Even just standing still on a street corner you’ll see occasional NPC double ups, and sometimes they’ll run into each other, sometimes falling over.

Why can I look at myself in a mirror, but I can’t get a haircut? What’s the benefit of swapping out optics and other physical implements if I then can’t make cosmetic tweaks on top of that? It’s certainly fitting with the in-game world — hell, Cyberpunk 2077 is constantly showing all the ways people do customise their bodies. They’re just not available to V.

It makes you wonder how much time was spent on details like genital customisations, or other parts of the worldbuilding, when other areas of Cyberpunk 2077 clearly needed more attention. That’s not just a criticism of the game’s performance either: Night City’s world is expansive, but as far something you can actually interact with, it’s deeply deficient.

Image: Kotaku Australia

The game has plenty of touches of brilliance despite this: the natural way you can interact with computers and technology, the way conversations can silently go in vastly different directions, or the way you seemingly discover new ways of resolving older missions you’ve played just through chance or a understated discovery. That’s a neat bit of cyberware, you might say, and if I get that then I can take this route instead of doing this and then… 

Navigating that contrast of Night City’s constant noise — visual and otherwise — against the silence of the city, where its heart truly lies, is probably the simplest way to describe the Cyberpunk 2077 experience.

Your appetite for that navigation, however, will vary. On a high-end PC, with the beauty of softly lit neon signs and rain bouncing off the pavement in front, the simple act of wandering can be a treat. Just getting onto a bike, or some of the higher end cars in the late game, almost feels like a Back to the Future moment. The clarity dials, the retro-future design of the dashboard, is a dream for fans of the cyberpunk genre and the original Cyberpunk tabletop games. For people with the hardware, and those with decades of nostalgia for what this brand of cyberpunk would look like, it’s hard to imagine how CD Projekt Red could have nailed the sound — especially the soundtrack, which is fantastic throughout — or aesthetic any harder.

If you’re not on a high end PC — and even to a degree on the next-gen consoles, where the visual quality is lower until an optimised patch ships next year — being drawn into the city is more difficult. It’s not helped by some woeful base HDR settings — or the menu to change them is almost purposely unhelpful. There’s also smaller blips that might spoil the ride. The aim assist on controllers, in my experience, was nowhere near as helpful as what you’d find in a Fallout, a shooter like Destiny, and most other first-person action RPGs (The Outer Worlds comes to mind). The default acceleration curve for controllers is pretty bad too, but fortunately the menu offers enough options to rectify the problem. But the fact that users have to think about fixing it at all is more of an issue: it’s not a huge issue with every other major action-RPG or first-person shooter, but in Cyberpunk, it’s just one of a long list of teething issues.

The bikes are easily one of the best parts of the game.

For my money, the bugs didn’t stop me from enjoying my time with the game. The immersion was certainly broken, almost repeatedly so, but I’ve also played a lot of other games at launch that were vastly more troubled. I had a much easier time with Cyberpunk 2077 than Fallout 76, and I certainly ran into far fewer quest-breaking bugs here.

What really harmed the experience was the world’s interactivity, the failure of the police to provide an actual meaningful presence to the in-game world, and the horrifically designed menus. They’re systematic issues that need a redesign, rather than a simple patch, and that’s applicable regardless of whatever platform you play on. If those don’t seem to be a problem, you should have no issues playing Cyberpunk 2077 today, especially on PC with decent enough hardware.

The situation on consoles is a little more dramatic. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are much better equipped to deal with how Cyberpunk 2077 stream textures in, and the performance is relatively stable on both next-gen consoles. You’re missing out on a chunk of NPC density, however, and that’s a big blow to the believability and liveliness of Night City. The game’s performance even on the mid-gen refreshes is also unreasonably choppy, and nobody could be faulted for waiting.

As a whole, Cyberpunk 2077 is a solid base. It was never pitched as an early access game, but as of today that’s functionally what it’s become. By this time next year, the game’s systems, performance, UI and handling are all likely to be substantially updated, reworked or revamped. Other oversights can be corrected simply too, like tying the character’s gender to their voice, rebalancing of the perks to make them more functional, quest-breaking quirks, a reorganisation of the quest log and as we’ve seen this past week, a redesign of the game’s braindance sequences and strobing lights. Things like enemy AI, or making the citizens of Night City walk and drive around in a more believable manner, will take much longer.

It’s clear that Cyberpunk 2077 should not have launched in December. A January or February release would have been vastly better for both the developers and the game, but what’s done is done.

The only question that matters to you is whether it’s worth waiting. I’d ask you to explore your memories with similar games that have had rocky launches. But also, you need to ask yourself what you value most in an open world, what you value most from a cyberpunk setting, and what it is that you actually want Night City to achieve.

I’ve enjoyed my 60 hours with Cyberpunk, as fraught with hiccups as it was. The game all too frequently gets in its own way, fumbles opportunities to showcase the best of its work, messes up in representation, or sometimes just straight out falls apart. But it also has some beauty, humanity, and some core technology that genuinely feels like the Cyberpunk tabletop world has been brought to life. That feeling often only lasts for a few seconds until a car goes flying, a NPC clips through a wall, or some other quirk spoils the show, but it’s there.

Cyberpunk 2077 is very much V’s story, and the stories of those pulled into V’s orbit. Night City doesn’t always know how best to tell those stories, and in some cases the design actively tries not to. But the most important part is that those stories have true heart, and some real weight. Whether you discover them today, in six months, or two years, those stories aren’t going away.

Comments

  • Im going to wait for the next gen updates in 2021. I really hope they dont waste lots of time trying to polish the base last gen console versions- they’ve clearly designed this game with newer systems in mind.

    They should hust tidy them up so they’re basically playable then start focusing on the newer systems. Everyone else can have their free upgrade when they buy new systems.

  • I skimmed over this (to avoid spoilers) and I want to know if the stealth takedowns ever evolve beyond stealth behind -> grab -> kill/knockout.
    I found this “rudimentary stealth” to be one of the more disappointing, even surprising, drawbacks. In Deus Ex you could take a person out from any direction, without having to grab onto them first.
    In one instance I had someone turn around as they were being grabbed, trigger into alerted and somehow manage to alert everyone else as he was dying.

    • I think you pretty much always have to be behind, and once an enemy is properly alerted, they’ll generally alert everyone else on their network (at least there’s a lore explanation for that). But you can do some interesting things with cyberware to give yourself a grace period or leeway. You can shut down their sight or hearing, direct them to certain locations, shock them unconscious directly, or if you time it right, wipe their memory. And the most reliable trick is always hacking a nearby object to make them go investigate it, turning their back to you in process. Those things can all help immensely with the sneaking and take-downs.

      • Yeah, while I do enjoy messing with them to get the upper hand, the fact you can’t take an unalerted enemy from the side, and that you have to do the very slow grab beforehand doesn’t sit well with me.
        Does the lore explain how they don’t alert while being grabbed?

        • None that I know. Haven’t read anything about that yet, but who knows, might be a shard out there which explains it. Currently have to assume it’s a conscious decision to trigger an alarm, which is why it’s faster to trigger when they’re already ‘alerted’ and actively searching.

    • Yeah it was very odd how you can grab an enemy from behind whike using a melee weapon and the options are to choke them out or snap their neck. Was hoping to at least being able to slit their throat with a knife or knock them out with a club.

      Could use some more love in the stealth regard in general I think. Curious to see what the monowire brings to the table.

    • There’s also a perk where you can do a takedown from above. That said I’ve not managed to get it working yet. As per the review, great game, looootta bugs.

    • The grab/take down is so last generation.
      I find the lack of a weapon context assassination is poor.

      If you have a blunt or bare hands, it should be a KO.

      If you have a blade or monoxide its a kill animation.

      A grab should really be only to move living targets, or body shielding… the lack of using an enemy as a body shield was disappointing it would been good to see different AI reactions.

      Also surprised, first Stealth game in a while that DIDNT have a cloaking/invisibility… but it was thr game I would expect to have it Ghost in the Shell style.

      • Especially considering the spider bot can use it, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen an NPC do it – but it could have been a bug…

  • Yeah I agree with this review, except I found the gameplay lacklustre. For me Deus Ex was much better at the whole augmented thing and options.

    The lack of consequences and the linearity of the stories also put me aback, there was no sense of agency, just going for a ride in a nihilistic neon cityscape.

    I think there are too many fundamental flaws and poor design choices

    • Deus ex was so much tighter. Combat felt much better in that game and the stealth system was one of the best ever. Stealth in cyberpunk is so primitive, it’s barely there at all.

  • I cant believe how much loving the game. The visuals, the characters, the systems, the story. Its one of those times I cant wait until I finish work to run home and play. Some part of me really wants to put it down until some things get ironed out, and espeically until the PS5 gets its version, and I have tried, but even in this state this game is amazing.

    That said I feel really terrible for those on base consoles, and bit disappointed for their choice to launch (like when your best friend does something really stupid and want to give them a clip to the back of the head). but I feel that is a separate conversation from a review of the game. Sadly so many on reddit cant seem to do that.

  • The lack of impact from gang kills is also something that’s stuck out to me. I initally avoided getting into too many fights in case it locked me out of gang related quests – turns out there’s nothing like that in game.

    Essentailly the gang members you come across are essentially the same as monsters you come across in Witcher 3. Kill em with no consequences (unless there’s a civ somewhere in there and you get tagged by the police), collect their gear, struggle through the UI to sell it or dismantle, repeat.

    I’m still really enjoying the game but it’s nowhere near worth the hype – at least as an RPG. I think Witcher 3 was crafted more fully, with a better realised world and more consquences. Both Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk are drawing from fairly deep literary sources, and the quests are great, but the world feels empty beyond that.

    • I’ve noticed that too. I wanted more impact from the gang kills as well. It would’ve been nice to have gangs actively patrolling in areas, seeking you out for example? For gangs to beef up security perhaps in their regions when they knew ‘V’ was around?

  • “If you’re not on a high end PC”

    Then just turn RTX off. My nephew’s running a 1070, he’s pumping out 50-60fps in this, while on high settings with RTX off. The games not visually taxing if, and only if, you don’t run RTX. It still looks damn nice mind you if it’s off, and 1920×1080 (for some reason, the textures actually look better with it off in that resolution than with it on? I don’t have a *clue* why?

    But yeh, if you’re running a low to medium pc, just do that, you’ll still run it fine and to be honest, asides some nice shiny neon lights and chrome looking surfaces, you won’t miss it.

    • On my 2080 ray tracing drops it down to 40fps but a after 30mins or so of play it’ll drop to 20fps. If I don’t worry about ray tracing it runs everything on ultra at 60fps plus. It’s fun to play around with the settings but the performance hit is brutal.

      I completely agree with this review. Really summed it up nicely. It’s a shame.

      • Yeah on my 2070 super I get around 35-40fps with it all on ultra, occasionally dips down to 25-30. Still remains playable. But with RTX off, and it all turned to ultra? The game still looks *great*, and I’m cracking on with 75fps (I have 2x 75hz monitors). I’m preferring playing it that way to be honest. The review is good, I think they’ve brought up a lot, a LOT of salient points to be considered.

        • Yeah same. I pushed on with the game and I get it now. There are parts of the story that are, just, brilliant but there’s a constant “oh ffs, srsly?” from navigating the world.

          They have a lot to do. I hope they say yes to my refund so I can try again in a yr or two for half the price with all the DLC IF they actually get this thing back on track.

          Srsly they screwed the pooch so hard on this it boggles the mind.

    • 4 year old PC, SSD, and a GTX 1080.

      No RTX, Running 1440p native resolution, one step down from ultra settings… no film grain, no lens flare, low cascading shadow setting, low city population. (Those 4 settings really hurt my system/eyes). Runs pretty good on my system.

      The only graphical issues is the palm trees seem to be running a hurricane animation… without the wind and rain it looks freaky.

  • I look forward to all of the thinkpieces from YouTubers arguing you just need a top end PC, and it’s good, actually, that the game is so unoptimised that you can barely play it on a lower end system or the base consoles that didn’t even exist when they first announced the game.

    If it’s working well for you, great! But a game that looks like this on the base consoles is beyond being designed for next gen hardware – it’s just not finished. PS3 games look and play better than that and until it’s up to scratch on those base consoles I don’t think anyone should defend it because it runs fine for them.

    • So people aren’t allowed to defend it if it runs well for them… But people who it doesn’t run well for are allowed to run around screaming bloody murder and acting like CDPR just killed a family member.

      Right.

      • ? That’s not at all what I was saying? I don’t think people should attack anyone at CDPR, but everyone should criticise a company that put a launch date ahead of releasing a finished product. Remember when they said it was coming ‘when it’s ready’? See the pre-release footage that was totally unrepresentative of what people could expect to actually play if they had less than a top of the line PC?

        Seriously, it’s not done.

        People keep standing up for a huge corporation as though they’re a personal friend, but they knowingly released a game that wasn’t finished that a majority of current players will have issues playing at an acceptable fidelity at launch. They knew, and consumers have every right to be miffed about it. They absolutely do not have the right to attack people at CDPR and obviously anyone who does so is a prick, but I don’t think that people should defend them for releasing a game that runs terribly on consoles it is being sold for. If they just said it’s next gen exclusive – maybe they have a leg to stand on, but the PS4 and XBOX One were the minimum hardware target for their game at all times during its production (I previously said they weren’t released when CP2077 was first teased, this wasn’t right at all – dumb comment from a lack of research, for whatever reason I thought 2077 was teased much earlier) and clearly they missed that mark. I don’t think they should be defended because a beefy PC can reach 60FPS, especially when even those PCs are still seeing a tonne of bugs.

        Look, I’d like to play it, I was really hoping for a meaty game like this, and while I’m pretty cautious with what looks like a take on Cyberpunk I’m not a fan of, I really want to be proven wrong. But at the moment seeing people with next gen consoles or decent PCs defend the state of the game sounds to me like someone mocking people complaining about a poor public transport system because the roads are just fine – Not everyone has access to the gear that runs 2077 well, and the state it was launched in made existing deficiencies in current hardware worse than they needed to be by whatever metric you measure them by.

  • Good and spot on review for the most part.
    Especially about how you are meant to view Night City. Even in the old tabletop game it was about how Night City was a living beast that devoured the inhabitants body and soul. Where one wrong move and you were carved up for your implants or an organ. You are meant to HATE this place

    A world where nothing is fair everyone and everything is exploited and while you wont change the world and the corps will probably always win you can still screw them over and make things a little bit better for the odd person or group

  • Thanks for the thorough review Alex. I can see you’ve put a lot of time and thought into it.

    One amendment, “You can invest a stack of attribute points (which can’t be respec’d later on)”

    There is an item you can buy called “Tabula E-Rasa” to respec for 100E

    Cheers

  • The game delivered what I expected… it didnt deliver a next generation game, its the tried and true open world game with all the gremlins I expected to see.

    Some things are really well designed, and other parts seem lacking when you think (X game did it better)… they promised a ground breaking world. But its really more of the same.

    When you compare it to Ubisoft, Bethesda, Deus Ex, GTA or Witcher itself you see a similar game… and it runs (for me on PC) the same as those games did on release. Playable, broken, fun!

    They definitely promised more than they delivered, it was the most hyped game for 3 years running… but I do get that niggling feeling that each element could be better!

    The map and gps could be better, driving could be better. A third person camera would make melee better. Better take down. Less trash looting. More world changes and lasting consequences. Better quest management with gating… in Watson it felt manageable then the whole map floods you with. I think the fixers should of gated you more. The lack of item levels of weapons is hard to figure if I am optimal.

  • I’m playing on Xbox One X. I was thinking of returning the game, however I might not as I have been enjoying it, although it’s certainly a flawed experience.

    It really doesn’t work as an open world game, but if you just keep doing the missions it’s reasonably entertaining. You just can’t go out and make your own fun in the world, there isn’t really any emergent gameplay like you would get with GTA etc.

    A few points:
    When I start the game it takes me 3 button pushes to continue my previous game, however each of these button pushes is a different button! It’s only a tiny thing, but to me it indicates a certain lack of forethought, or overall design strategy.

    More often than not the game crashes to the home screen while I’m playing. This is consistently terrible.

    Square objects. I can forgive the occasional square bottle or drinking glass, but we’re talking square fire extinguishers and square gas canisters. Yeah they look ok, but I can’t help thinking that this design choice is more about saving polygons, which doesn’t fly with a next gen game. Maybe if this was running on Nintendo 64… oh and curved roads that don’t have actual curved lines, instead they have a series of short, straight lines which approximate a curved. What year is this again?

    The mini-map and GPS. So in 2077 we have implants in our heads, but we can’t figure out a way to use this technology to help our GPS let us know where we are going without following a line on the mini-map. We couldn’t get some kind of heads-up display or indicator? Heck it’s only 2020 and my cars’ GPS can tell me when I have to turn, apparently by 2077 this technology is well outdated and GPS can no longer talk to you. Weird. And the mini-map in other similar games zooms out a bit when you’re moving faster, so you can see if you have to turn before you get to the corner. That technology is obviously no longer available in Night City.

    So far pretty much however I approach a mission ends up in a hail of bullets. Hacking and bladed weapons seem to be relatively useless so far, I don’t know, perhaps this will improve as I progress/level up. I do know I’ve been caught numerous times bringing a knife to a gun fight.

    So yeah, I want to love this game, I don’t hate it, but I just wish it was better. I’m going to keep playing through the story however I doubt there will be anything to keep me interested in playing after I’ve completed that.

    • I started as a hacking build before moving into blades.
      With high level hacking I can basically take out an entire building full of enemies in space of a few seconds with one or 2 uses of contagion not to mention system reset usually KO’s basically anyone short of a boss and even then it works.

      Contagion with the later perks is great for the thievery missions. hack a camera, hit someone with contagion, watch it spread to all the guards and KO them and then just stroll in “undetected” haha

      As for blades. You need to get your armour as high as possible. Eventually you are running around with 1800+ armour with a 1300+ damage katana that basically decapitates anyone in one slice while shrugging off bullets.

      But yes at the start using blades will just get you murdered

  • It’s such a great game, flaws and all. I just wished they put as much thought and care into the UI, AI (anyone else feel like the crowd AI is a simple placeholder for the promised “life-cycle” AI?), driving controls, interactivity, and polish as they’ve clearly put in to the architecture, narrative, acting, and world building. It’s an amazing game a year out from when it should have been released. It could have been the perfect amalgamation of GTA and Deus Ex that is clearly there, but is just sketched in at the moment.

    Still, I can’t put the game down even approaching 100 hours and still haven’t finished the main quest. There’s just so much fun and heartbreak (of the good kind) to be had here. It’s truly the Blade Runner / Ghost In the Shell world I’ve dreamt of inhabiting for most of my life.

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