Cyberpunk 2077 is the latest title from Polish game studio CD Project Red, the same company that brought us the hit Witcher series. First announced in 2012, Cyberpunk 2077 went through multiple delays before finally launching on December 10 on Windows, PS4, Xbox One, and Stadia.
It would be an understatement to say that Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most hyped game releases of recent times. While the initial announcement occurred in 2012, it wasn’t until the developers showcased the game at E3 2018 that it suddenly exploded in popularity. Then last year, the studio announced that Keanu Reeves would be part of the game. Reeves appeared on stage during the Xbox E3 2019 event and ended up giving us one of the best memes of 2019. The game also finally got a release date: April 16, 2020.
Since then, the hype train had raced until it hit its first big problem in January of this year when CDPR announced that they will not meet the April deadline and will instead release the game on September 17. The set was complete but needed more time to polish it. Then in June, the release date was pushed back even further, this time to November 19. Again, the study cited the same reason for the delay, saying they need more time to troubleshoot and correct errors.
The final problem came in October, when the studio again used Twitter to post what is now its infamous yellow text image to say the game will be delayed again to December 10. The delay was to further polish the game and work on the changes to be made in the day 0 patch.
The hype train, still going strong at this point despite all those setbacks, ended up derailing on launch day. Turns out, the game wasn’t finished, it wasn’t polished, and the bugs certainly weren’t fixed. While the PC and Stadia versions were still playable despite the bugs, the PS4 and Xbox One consoles were also affected by serious performance issues that made them largely unplayable unless you had the next version. generation of those consoles or particularly low standards.
The reason for this preamble is that Cyberpunk 2077 is not your average game to review. Few games have received so much attention, curiosity and interest before launch and managed to lose all of that in such a spectacular way immediately after launch. In addition to death threats, refunds, and negative reviews, the studio has also had to deal with Sony removing the game from its PlayStation store indefinitely along with multiple lawsuits.
But underneath all the drama there is still a game to review, which the developers had been working on for so many years and which they wanted you to play on. After 65 hours on the PC version, there is certainly a lot to talk about because, underneath all its problems, Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that could be worth your time and your patience after all.
History and setting
Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in a fictional place called Night City in California. The world in 2077 is devastated almost beyond repair by multiple wars and climate change. Fresh food and water are in short supply, most wildlife is extinct, and humanity has undergone extreme body modifications to survive and adapt to increasing local and cyber attacks.
Night City is divided into multiple areas, each with a different look and identity. There are parts like Westbrook and City Center where the rich and famous live and spend their money. The less fortunate live in Watson and Heywood, places that still have big-city charm, but where the streets aren’t so bright and the cars aren’t that expensive. Those who are truly unlucky inhabit the streets of Santo Domingo or Pacifica, while the deserts of the Badlands have mostly been occupied by nomadic clans.
Night City is home to all manner of people, from billionaire CEOs of mega-corporations that essentially run the city to celebrities, violent criminals, skilled hackers known as netrunners, mercenaries, sex workers, drug dealers, and the homeless. The city is also home to various gangs, many of which have claimed a part of the city as their own and are not kind to outsiders.
You play as V, a mercenary for hire. Whenever someone needs something delivered, taken from them, or just made to disappear, they call it. Depending on the life path you choose in the game, V is either a disgraced corporate employee trying to get back to the top (Corpo), someone who was raised on the streets of Night City and trying to get up (Street Kid), or someone who once belonged to a gang of nomads but who left wanting to become a big-city bigwig (Nomad). Regardless of how you start, your goal is the same, to become a legend in Night City.
Since this is a non-spoiler review, I will not go into the events that happen in the game. All I’ll say is that things don’t go according to plan for V, which puts them on the path to fixing things and thus we have a game on our hands.
I really enjoyed the main story of Cyberpunk 2077. Although parts of it are influenced by the choices you make, the overall story remains largely the same and is entertaining regardless of how you choose to play it. It has its usual twists and turns, but it also has a bit of emotional depth and ends on a surprisingly poignant note that I wasn’t expecting. It’s something that stays with you long after you’ve finished the game.
To my surprise, the main story isn’t really very long and if you just focus on completing it, you’ll get to one of the game’s multiple endings in roughly 20 hours. However, this is not really the best way to play the game and you will miss out on a lot of what the story has to offer, which really grows as you take on more side missions and more side characters get involved in your adventure. These people later on will also influence the endings, so be sure to take it easy, help others, and don’t rush through the story.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world first-person action-adventure RPG. Features first-person shootouts and melee combat, first- or third-person driving, and story progress primarily by having conversations with the characters using a dialogue tree structure, which also changes the outcome of the story and its ending. according to your choices.
The combat in Cyberpunk 2077 is varied and elaborate and you can do things in a number of ways. If shooting weapons is your thing, Cyberpunk 2077 has a wide variety of weapons, from standard ammunition like pistols, shotguns, rifles and machine guns to more sophisticated and advanced ‘smart’ weapons that can fire tracking bullets that follow your target. and shoot from cover. Weapons do not need a specific type of ammunition and a weapon that belongs to a particular type, for example a rifle, will use the same ammunition as other rifles. You can customize and upgrade your weapons and carry multiple of them at once based on their carrying capacity, but only three can be enabled at any one time.
Weapons and crafts
If you like hand-to-hand combat more, you can go bare-knuckled or use one of the many swords and knives in this game. You have to be really good at this as most of the enemies in the game have weapons and you would literally show up with a knife in a shootout. But it is an option if you want.
The game also uses hacking as an offensive move. Since all human and non-human enemies have some electrical components, you can hack them and disable various functions, such as making them deaf or blind, burning their insides, or simply disabling their entire body. Alternatively, you can also hack other objects around your target. You can hack cameras to avoid being seen or hack a TV to distract your enemies.
Hack an enemy. More options may be available depending on your Cyberware.
Hacking is a useful tool if you plan to be stealthy. Stealth is often the most pragmatic option in Cyberpunk 2077 and often the other characters next to you will tell you to do it quietly, and violence is often the last resort. Stealth is also often the easiest option; Cleaning up a room full of enemies can be tedious at times, especially early in the game where weapons aren’t as powerful and enemies behave like bullet sponges. Later, you get weapons that can single-shot kill most enemies, so you can choose to forgo stealth and shoot your way if you want.
Cyberpunk 2077 is only a moderately difficult game. I played on the Normal difficulty level and aside from the first few missions where the weapons felt very underpowered, it was generally pretty easy to beat them even at the end. The Normal difficulty setting seems more skewed towards narrative-based play than skill-based play, but if you prefer a higher challenge, I recommend increasing the difficulty setting.
Weapons and ammunition are extremely common in Night City, and most of the dead enemies give up some type of weapon and / or ammo. It’s all over the place too, so you’ll rarely be without it. You actually need to be careful with your inventory as you will generally have too many weapons to carry and then you will have to get rid of some of them either by dismantling or selling them. If you have too much stuff, your character slows down considerably and can barely move.
Helping the combat is cyberware. You can upgrade almost every relevant part of your body to aid you in combat. Optical mods make you better at hacking and detecting objects, leg mods make you double jump, or you can modify your arms to fire weapons or have swords on them. Body mods can be pricey and you have to visit one of the game’s ‘ripperdocs’ to get them, but they are often worth their price.
Moving around the city can be done in two ways. One of them is driving. You get a free vehicle early in the game and if you do more side missions you get even more free vehicles. Apart from those, you can also buy vehicles; You will get offers in your inbox to buy them and sometimes you can see a nice car parked on the side of the road that you can buy. Or you can just steal someone else’s car and drive away. The cars you own can be summoned to your location at any time.
While I do enjoy driving in open world games, the driving mechanics in Cyberpunk 2077 leave a lot to be desired. Vehicle physics can be comically bad, especially on motorcycles. You can have a head-on collision with a car and send that because in lower orbit while your bike barely shakes, but a two-inch curb could send you flying to your destination.
By far the worst is the navigation system and especially the minimap. The minimap shows the route to your destination, but it’s so zoomed in all the time that you won’t see a turn while driving until you’ve passed it. You have to brake before every turn or just drive very slowly so you don’t lose your turn and have to turn back or change your route. It’s a weirdly frustrating system that every other driving game has managed to get right.
Also, since we’re on the subject of cars, all of the vehicles in this game seem to use an internal combustion engine, which feels very strange for a game set in 2077. They all have radios too, which is hilarious.
The other way you can get around the game is by using fast travel points. These are everywhere in the game and usually outside of important areas, but you must have visited the location once to unlock them. Once unlocked, you can instantly teleport to another location in the city.
The final piece of the game’s puzzle is the design of the dialogue or conversation tree. As with other role-playing games, you interact with the characters and are presented with options for your dialogue. Dialog options are often just different things that you would like to know. Sometimes they are a specific question that could lead the conversation in a particular direction. It is often a statement with different emotions, such as sympathy, optimism, or antagonism.
Characters will react based on your choices, presenting more options. Usually the options you choose will lead to the same basic result, but other times they can change the direction of the story. Some of them have more serious implications, like choosing how the story ends. The game does not differentiate between these, so you just have to trust your instincts and choose what seems to be the best option in that situation.
Of course, there will usually be some regret, which is probably where the save system comes into play. Cyberpunk 2077 allows you to manually save any time other than outside of active combat. It will also auto-save quite often on its own. However, while manual save slots appear to be limitless, autosaves have limited slots and are overwritten with new ones as they come in, so you don’t have to rely on them and save manually when you think it is necessary. Also, as I’ll explain later, the game is buggy right now, so the more save points you have, the better.
Coming back to the conversations, it is partly affected by the life path you choose. Aside from changing the first mission in the game, the only impact your life path has is the introduction of some additional relevant conversation options based on context. For example, if you choose Nomad as your life path, you will get some Nomadic life path specific conversation options from time to time, which will not be available if you were a Corpo or Street Kid. From what I can tell, these generally don’t affect the outcome of the conversation much more than giving you additional information that may or may not be helpful.
The thing that has the biggest impact on conversations and the game as a whole is your character’s skill tree. You have attributes like body, reflexes, technical ability, intelligence and genius. Each of these attributes can be upgraded in its entirety, but you can also drill down into each one individually and find additional benefits within each to upgrade. Attributes and Perks have their own separate points, which can be used to upgrade them.
Attributes • Benefits
I found it more impressive to update the attributes as a whole than the individual benefits. If you have attributes beyond a certain level, you get additional conversation options to choose from, which could lead to more information about the mission. You can also do things like hack items that you couldn’t otherwise do with a lower skill rating. If you come across a closed door but have enough Body attribute level, you can choose to rip the door off through its hinges. Or if it is an electronic door that is locked, then a high enough technical skill attribute will allow you to open it.
To get these points or even the money to buy cyberimplants or vehicles, it is necessary to carry out missions. The missions in Cyberpunk 2077 are divided into three types, story missions that directly advance the story, side missions that may or may not have an impact on the main story, and concerts, which are purely cash jobs.
While the story missions are obviously the end goal, it’s the side missions that offer some of the most rewarding moments in the game. It is where you will meet new people or continue adventures with people you met on story missions. The game allows you to have smaller story arcs with multiple different characters in the game through the side missions. These arcs and the characters in them can often have a huge impact on the main story at a later time, even influence the ending.
The side missions are also where you will find the romantic options in the game. Based on your chosen appearance and voice (yes, both are important), you can have an affair with at least one of the characters in the side quests. This is pretty much the only impact your character’s appearance has on the game. The rest is just for aesthetics, which matters even less in a first-person game.
Side missions based on the game’s story can appear as a phone call or message from key characters in the game depending on where you are in the main story. However, random side quests usually appear based on their location on the map. The game will have characters calling you with a job offer based on your current location, as they are usually close to your position. As you drive, more job offers will appear in your journal and on the map. The game doesn’t really differentiate between these in terms of importance or relevance to the story, so unless you’re a completer, you might miss out on some great missions simply because their basic description doesn’t seem interesting.
One aspect of the Cyberpunk 2077 game that felt under-explored was Braindance. Braindance (or BD) are first-person memories of someone transferred to a chip that you can then replay in your head and experience as if you were seeing it for yourself. An exciting premise and one that has been explored before in science fiction, but Cyberpunk 2077 only uses it sparingly. The only time you get a BD is when you have to analyze it for a story mission. You can play it in first or third person and then have to scan it for clues, which will lead you to whatever it is you are looking for.
Outside of those artificial settings, you cannot use the BD yourself. There are places in the game where you can buy BDs, but they are instantly added to your junk pile. That’s because there is no way to access or play a BD on your own outside of those select few in history missions. It’s a shame because the game promotes BD as this revolutionary experience for the people of Night City that has changed the way they experience all kinds of things.
Another disappointing aspect of the game is the AI. Random people walking down the street have nothing to add to the game except visual clutter. You can’t really talk to them as all they have is a line or two that they will keep repeating. People on the street often just walk around and generally go nowhere. If you shoot a gun or attack someone, everyone just crouches or runs in circles like a headless chicken. You will also hear NPC say the same few lines of dialogue wherever you go. There are a couple of cops under the apartment where V lives who always say the same lines every time you pass them, no matter how many hours you put into the game.
Enemy AI is no better. They do not take cover effectively and often simply stay out in the open. Also, alerting one suddenly alerts everyone instantly, but if you go to a different room, everyone is forgotten. You can also usually sneak right in front of them without them noticing and other times they will suddenly see you from miles away. During a boss fight, the boss decided to stay in one place and I was able to unload on him from a distance using a sniper rifle. It’s super inconsistent and breaks the dive.
The law enforcement aspect of the game is also disappointing. Night City has cops everywhere and the game also has random side missions that appear while driving down the street, where a crime could be happening and you need to help the police to get a reward. But other than that, the law enforcement aspect never really plays into the game. Sure, the cops get momentarily annoyed if you run over someone right in front of them or even run over one of the cops, but as soon as you drive or turn a corner, they forget and there are no consequences for your actions.
Only if you decide that you are going to start hunting the police for sport does the game suddenly go into Blue Lives Matter mode and mark you as a wanted fugitive and send the Max-Tac cops after you. Max-Tac is a special division within the Night City police that is armed to the teeth and largely invincible. If they chase you, you’re dead. But that’s the only time the police died in the game. Otherwise, I hardly had any contact with them.
Another poorly designed feature is being in a car driven by an AI character. Many times, during game missions, you will be given the option to drive to a location alone or with another character. Other times, you have no choice but to let yourself be carried away by the character. All the characters in the game drive incredibly slow and obviously the vehicle is moving on a rail with their stiff movements. It’s like being driven by your grandmother and it gets frustrating really fast. Fortunately, the game allows you to skip the trip if there are no more conversations during the trip.
Cyberpunk 2077 also hasn’t adequately solved the problem of walking alongside a character and matching their speed. The game matches your speed to that of other characters as long as you walk exactly behind them and signal them. If you zoom out or point elsewhere, you start walking at your normal pace, which is much higher than the AI characters. Also, the rhythm match is broken for some reason on the stairs and you speed-walk there. You can start running if you know where to go and that causes the AI characters to run after you too, but often you don’t know where to go so you have no choice but to slowly follow them.
To sum up the gaming section, Cyberpunk 2077 has its problems currently. Driving feels clunky with a clunky navigation system, the AI is underdeveloped, the police not long ago, being driven is a hassle, and the BD function feels wasted. However, I still had a lot of fun playing all the missions in the game. It wasn’t too big on hacking and melee combat, but the gunfight can be very satisfying, thanks in large part to the first-person perspective.
I also liked how various missions in the game just open a can of worms and take you on several more missions related to the first one that you can’t help but see because they are so interesting (you always have the option to withdraw). Conversations never get boring either, and while writing here isn’t as fun as it is in Rockstar games, it’s still entertaining enough.
Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 has really solid base gameplay that doesn’t reach its full potential or does anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s still entertaining.
Pictures and sound
By far the most amazing aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 is its visual design. Aesthetically, it’s one of the most impressive games I’ve ever seen and definitely the most engaging open-world game we’ve had so far.
The game’s vision of a cyberpunk future set in 2077 is equal parts utopia and dystopia. Areas such as City Center and Watson have astonishing architectural design and complexity. Buildings as tall as your camera shake will allow, with intricate connections connecting them. The streets are lined with shops with bright neon signs and beautiful cars cruising the bright, well-kept streets.
Get out of the fancy areas and you will see the real night city. The architecture still impresses, but everything is more worn and less immaculate. The streets are not that clean or well maintained. The stores are simpler and many are closed. Cars are not that pretty. Then when you go out into the deserts, you see an old dilapidated business and what was once a windmill farm, now in ruins and more like a graveyard.
Most of all, I enjoyed walking the streets of Night City and feeling like I was a tourist in a different country. This year has been difficult to travel, but visiting Night City gave me the feeling of exploring a new place for the first time that I have missed all year. That just for me was the price of admission. So what if a homeless person poses on T somewhere and cars randomly fall from buildings? Every place has its flaws.
But as much as I enjoyed it, I would advise others to wait until the game has finished developing. This is still a work in progress, especially if you own a console. A year from now, hopefully the game will be what it should have been at launch and then you will be able to experience it the way the developers would have wanted you to. Because there is a lot of hard work here that was done by people who wanted you to have a good time. But they are not done yet.
I plan to revisit the game when it is complete. But I also plan to visit him as soon as I finish writing this. This city is not going to burn itself.