After eight years of waiting and delays, Cyberpunk 2077 released on December 10, breaking countless records in the process. With the game being one of the most anticipated games of all time, CD Projekt Red had everyone screaming for the game to release, and for a good reason, Cyberpunk looked like a breakthrough for gaming. Everyone had unshakable faith in the studio’s next project, but unfortunately, come launch day, it turned into utter disappointment.
Night City is “breathtaking” – a post-apocalyptic world offering a look into a dark futuristic megalopolis. No open-world game has ever been this captivating. As you walk down the streets, Night City will pull you in with its exquisite design and neon lighting. There are countless alleyways and backstreets, allowing you to take different routes to your destination, and it completely captures the verticality noticeable in modern cities like Japan.
“You can customize male genitals, which is… interesting.”
The sheer scale of the city is incredible, and if that is not enough to convince you, the open-world continues into the dry badlands. Not as captivating as the city, but still feels fresh when you have to travel to the outskirts of town for the main storyline.
This is where Cyberpunk 2077 thrives. Following an economic collapse during the early 21st century, the United States places its survival in the hands of massive corporations. However, these corporations operate above the law and deal in weapons, robotics, cybernetics, pharmaceuticals, and more.
You play as V – A hired gun who, more than anything, wants to create a legacy for himself in Night City. V can be either gender, and customization seems a little barren compared to other games in the same genre. You can, however, customize male genitals, which is… interesting.
Along with his partner, Jackie Welles, V is contracted to steal “the chip of immortality” from the ominous Arasaka Corporation. Together the duo manages to steal the device, but things go horribly wrong. V inserts the chip in his head to preserve its integrity, and upon meeting with the fixer who initially gave him the contract, he is shot dead. Luckily, due to “the chip of immortality” in his head, V survives, but not without complications. Johnny Silverhead or, as you might know him, Keanu Reeves, merges with V’s subconscious.
“Labeled as a game that every decision is important when, in reality, no decision has any consequences.”
Johnny Silverhand is an intriguing character, designed to question your values every step of the way. His interactions in gameplay situations are a nice touch, and his comments in some side quests can be humorous. Except, going in with the impression of him sharing your subconscious with you, he doesn’t have as big of an influence as he should. He will offer his insight into particular risky situations, but it doesn’t feel like it will change anything.
This seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout Cyberpunk 2077. When beginning a new game, you must select one of the three Life Paths: Nomad, Street Kid, and Corpo. These Life Paths offer you a different start to the game and only that. After the first 30 minutes, the game straightens up, and your Life Path is irrelevant, besides the occasional inconsequential dialogue choice in the storyline.
Cyberpunk 2077’s storyline feels more linear due to its lack of RPG elements. But that doesn’t stop it from being incredibly well written. Throughout the main story, I wondered what was on the horizon, and I was hooked right until the end. The dialogue and character development for some of the more prominent characters were marvelous. I felt the bond between the characters more than some new movies on Netflix. Unfortunately, this is where the superlatives end.
“Cyberpunk 2077’s Bounty System is utterly ridiculous.“
Side quests in Cyberpunk 2077 are everywhere. To the point where you will run into quests on top of other quests. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this, the quests are incredibly repetitive. You are almost always tasked with a search and rescue, where you will fight the same bad guys you fight everywhere else.
Each time you sneak up on someone, you have the option for a lethal and non-lethal takedown. Even though you are asked politely to complete the mission quietly, there is almost no difference. The only difference is a money bonus or a dialogue change. Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t force you to complete quests silently, but there must be repercussions for failing.
Like Grand Theft Auto, Cyberpunk 2077 has a wanted system, but it can’t pass as a system because it doesn’t work. If you perform a crime, the cops will be alerted and spawn right behind you. You could be in the middle of the desert, not a soul in sight, and the cops somehow manage to be there.
“Different types of weaponry add an exciting element to the gameplay.”
To lower your bounty rating, you have to evade them, which can be quite tricky if you commit a crime and then jump on an elevator. But if you thought you were going to have a high-speed chase with cops, you might need to play a different game. Cops can not drive cars. So to elude them, you can jump in a car and drive around the block. Hopefully, this transforms into a functioning system in the future, but currently, it is ridiculous.
Cyberpunk 2077‘s combat is of the typical first-person shooter variety, supporting both firearms and melee weapons. There is an abundance of weapons to find, but a lot of them are forgettable. There are certain types of weapons, except they don’t deviate much. At least if I pick up a sniper rifle, I can guarantee I can use it straight away because it will be the same as the one I am replacing.
There are three different types of guns: Power, Tech, and Smart. These add an exciting element to the gameplay, one that I always looked towards when choosing weapons. Power guns fire projectiles that have a chance of rebounding off of hard surfaces. Tech weapons can penetrate hard surfaces, similar to that of FMJ in the Call of Duty series, and Smart weaponry uses a homing system to ensure all bullets will hit the target. The Tech guns do need compatible cyberware to function, but you receive this through storyline rewards. If you can’t find a good weapon from looting in Cyberpunk 2077, you can always craft it.
“Cyberpunk 2077 is a game built on immersion.”
The crafting system is straightforward and easy to use in Cyberpunk 2077, so you shouldn’t have any issues. However, you will find that all of the weapon blueprints you have available are worse than the guns you already have equipped. This made it almost pointless to craft weapons when I could easily upgrade my current weapons.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a game built on immersion, filled with countless bugs and performance issues to pull you right back out. Throughout my experience with the game, I crashed over ten times on the PS5, forcing me to return to my latest save and losing my progress. It seemed whenever I would change my Cyberware and run too quickly afterward, or I was in an area with a high volume of people, the game would spit the dummy. It even got to a point where every 1.5-2 hours, I would expect it to crash, and I was in utter disbelief if it didn’t. This isn’t how a game should be played.
Luckily, I am not on the receiving end of the terrible graphical performance issues plaguing the previous generation of consoles. The graphics throughout my experience were nothing short of spectacular. However, I did receive my fair share of glitches.
Minor glitches where NPC’s don’t have guns or are randomly sitting in the air are a slight inconvenience, but many also hinder the gameplay. I even failed a mission because the NPC refused to get in my car or acknowledge my existence, and when I drove away, he was classified dead even though he was casually walking down the street when I returned to the area.
At its best, Cyberpunk 2077 is a truly immersive experience, refusing to release its grip even when you’re not playing it. The breadth and ambition are clear to see, but right now, the immersion-breaking bugs and performance issues ruin any fluent gameplay. CD Projekt Red has laid the foundation for serious potential but possibly should have waited until 2077 to release the game.