Anticipated doesn’t even begin to describe the sentiment gamers have experienced since 2012 when Cyberpunk 2077 was first announced to the world. Since then, every scrap of information has been over analysed, and every gameplay video has been rewatched more times than Gangnam Style.
Now finally, after three delays and countless developmental controversies, players around the world can create their cybernetic organism and take to the streets of Night City in one of the biggest titles to ever hit gaming machines.
So, is it worth the wait? Well, sort of.
Before you even reach the first menu, the opening cutscene introduces you to Night City, which is the real star of the game. It’s a massive piece of land located in Northern California that’s controlled by corporations and overrun with violent gangs looking to take one another out. Machines have taken over many everyday tasks, and humans rely on electronic enhancements to keep up with their robotic counterparts.
Night City is littered with filth no matter which way you turn, and its blemishes are enhanced by the plethora of neon lights shining a purple and yellow spotlight over the streets. Despite the reliance on technology, the setting is a living and breathing place that you can’t help but want to explore, and there’s plenty to find on your travels.
In addition to the main story, there are over 70 side missions featuring a slew of interesting characters who have their own backstory. None of these quests feel repetitive or that they only exist to fill time. They feature their own unique narrative that leaves you satisfied with how it fits into the rest of the world. Exploring the city and listening to conversations from random citizens will unlock many of them, while others require you to complete a main mission task before it’s made available to you.
Speaking of the main story, it does a fantastic job of revealing a tiny breadcrumb of information every time you successfully complete a task. You have some control of your narrative as you’ll get confronted with choices to make and can choose to approach missions in a few different ways. While there are not as many branches as some other titles, it still makes for an interesting playthrough and provides you with an opportunity to start the game over and take a different path.
Completing missions earn you ability points to upgrade your character, and there are plenty of customisation options available. They’re not superficial either. For example, you will notice your handling of heavier weapons improves when you upgrade your strength ability. When you upgrade your optics, your user display will alter and provide you with more information to make informed decisions. It means every choice you make has a purpose and will make a difference to your overall experience.
Sadly though, that’s where the positives end… for now.
While there is plenty to experience in Cyberpunk 2077 and a multitude of ways to characterise your character, you can’t help but ask yourself if all of it is necessary. Some components are absolutely essential to your experience. Like competing in boxing matches to build up your strength or taking part in street races to improve your driving. But choosing how to pair your genitals with the right pubic hair is meaningless.
In fact, the whole body creation component doesn’t seem to serve any purpose as the entire game is in a first-person view. Unless you look at yourself in the mirror, pass by a reflective surface, or look down at your junk, you won’t see your Mona Lisa during your playthrough. However, the first-person mode does help you immerse yourself in Night City and was definitely the right choice. But it makes no sense to include so many menu options around your character’s appearance.
While we’re on the topic of menus, there are a lot of them, and they don’t seem to gel well together. Unlike similar RPGs, managing your inventory, crafting new items, and upgrading your attributes all look and feel completely different from one another. They don’t gel together, and some of the basic options such as organising equipment isn’t possible at this time.
Driving around Night City isn’t as easy as it should be either, especially when there is a lot of activity happening. There are multiple instances when rival gangs attack while you’re cruising the streets, and on more than one occasion, the frame rate would slow down while you’re trying to take aim and protect yourself. Once the coast is clear, the experience would return to normal.
But perhaps the biggest problem with Cyberpunk 2077 is that the whole experience can feel overwhelming. It can seem like you’re getting spammed with messages left, right, and centre as you walk between missions. Your phone will ring from someone your character seems to know but hasn’t been introduced to you as a player yet. Then you might get text messages from other characters reminding you to do side missions or complete a task to upgrade your attributes. Missions randomly get added to your quest log just from overhearing a conversation that you might not have actually been listening to. There’s just no pacing whatsoever and it seems like everything is getting thrown at you at once, which is a shame considering how well the narrative plays out in both the main story and the side missions.
Scoring Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t an easy task. While there are many components of the game that play really well, such as the quests, there is plenty that still needs to be patched. There are still a lot of bugs that can take you out of the experience, and there are some key elements that don’t seem to quite fit as well as they could. The developers even recently commented that there are too many dildos in the game, which also makes you wonder why this is the case when the PS4 and Xbox One versions are riddled with problems.
But everything that’s wrong with the game is fixable with patches. The Witcher 3 went through a dramatic transformation when The Wild Hunt was released and changed the game for the better. So until Cyberpunk 2077 Redux is announced, it might be best to treat CD Projekt Red’s latest title like a vintage wine and let it sit on the shelf for a while until it’s ready to consume. Because when it is ready, it has the potential to be unbelievable. But right now, it’s got the potential to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Cyberpunk 2077 was reviewed on PC with a review code provided by the publisher.