A lot of you will finally be playing Cyberpunk 2077 from tomorrow. It’s a big game and there’s a ton to do. But for those playing on PC specifically, I have one big piece of advice, and it’s genuinely not for the reasons you might think.
I’ve been playing the game for the last week primarily on PC — console codes have just landed, so hurrah for that — and I’ve been doing so on a pretty beefy rig. But even with that, Cyberpunk 2077 is one hell of a brutal game. If you didn’t upgrade your PC this year, you’re definitely going to want to sacrifice every setting you can. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.
However. For everyone who went big on the new AMD Ryzen chips, or the RTX 3080/3090 earlier this year, I have some very strong advice for you. And let me start by showing you a couple of screenshots.
For the majority of the first chunk of my Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay, I was rocking out at 1440p with pretty much everything maxed out. The only area where I differed was ray tracing.
The reason was pretty straightforward: the initial review version of the game wasn’t fully optimised, and so I made the call that made the most sense for me. That involved 1440p, DLSS enabled, and no ray tracing effects whatsoever.
Except, I haven’t been fully truthful with you here. Because that shot above? Well, that’s actually with ray tracing enabled. All of it. Shadows, lighting, reflections up to ultra.
This is what it actually looks like with ray tracing turned off:
For a lot of people, they will — understandably — think the ray tracing disabled shot looks better. The neon lights are more prominent, even though you’re missing out on the reflections and their accuracy. The floor’s the biggest one for me though: while that grain looks a bit weird, I know for many it will look “nicer” than the more physically realistic sheen in the actual ray-traced reflections at the top.
But, again, this is at 1440p. And that was the most sensible resolution for me to play in given the game’s performance. But as the week went on, the game was patched further, and a prerelease version of the Nvidia Game Ready drivers bumped performance up even more.
When those dropped, playing at 4K (courtesy of DLSS) became a practical and reasonable option. So I had a choice: should I play on the lower resolution and go for the higher FPS for the fidelity, or add ray tracing, or should I go for the higher resolution?
Well, see for yourself. Here’s a shot just outside of the Kabuki area — with a police presence for fun — at 4K. (Right click or use your finger to hold down and then open the image in a new tab to see it at full resolution.)
It’s … it’s damn fine. No two bones about it. And this is with DLSS set to performance, so it’s upscaling the image from 1080p to 4K.
No complaints there.
Now here’s the same image at 1440p, and for balance, I’ve set DLSS to Quality for more fairness. Again, load the image up in a second tab if you want to blow it up full-size. (Don’t blame me – I just write for the website, I didn’t build it.)
The image things I notice in motion is a lot more softness across the image, particularly in images not in the immediate centre. Stuff like the tiles on the ground — and this might not be coming through completely in the compression that happens when JPGs go around the internet — are a bit grittier, a bit grainer. Text in the background is much clearer at 4K as well, even though you’d think there wouldn’t be a huge difference.
But even with full ray tracing enabled at 1440p, I still don’t think the overall image quality is as good as the higher resolution. Take a peek:
With the way a lot of textures and objects shimmer as they get loaded in, I’d strongly recommend playing at 4K. And when I say that, I mean — lower whatever you have to so you can play at 4K. Obviously, if your PC isn’t capable of doing so, then it’s not capable. I can’t help you out much there.
But for those playing on rigs that can hit 4K, seriously consider it. The sharpness in image quality adds much, much more to the visual presentation of Cyberpunk 2077 than extra fidelity, and even ray tracing. The visual effects, particularly anything with cyberisation, jacking into the Matrix and the general UI, get a genuine bump from the higher resolution.
That’s all! We’ll have more coverage, obviously, but otherwise just have fun. It’s been a long year for everyone, and a big giant sci-fi game is probably what a lot of people need to close off a shitty, shitty 12 months.