It feels like such a long time ago that Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most anticipated pieces of entertainment ever.
There was such promise in those early tech demos, we coo’ed over the stunning screenshots and our minds were blown with the overall ambition of the project.
Nowadays, however, it’s become more of a meme and a valuable lesson on how not to launch a video game.
CD Projekt RED kept boxing themselves into one release date after another and finally settled on a bizarre – and as turned out ill-informed – December 2020 window.
The rest, as they say, is history, and both the game and a studio’s reputation rapidly unraveled.
Now we’re into February 2022 and what many may say, the game’s attempt at a redemption arc. Over ten patches deep, reams of notes full of fixes and finally, a launch on Xbox Series X and PS5. The platforms, most would argue, it should have targetted in the first place.
1.05 alone is said to be around 12 pages full, though personally, I’d say it’s more. I mean, seriously, just take a look at the extent of the updates and effort that’s gone into making this ‘next-gen’ update possible. And bare in mind, this is after a ridiculous amount of fixes from beforehand.
If nothing else, I think it really shows how bad the state of the game was way back in December 2020 and how rushed it all was just to hit a deadline that should never have been set. So much work has gone into rebuilding Cyberpunk 2077 and that’s after all the years it took to build in the first place.
While I question CD Projekt RED’s non-marketing coming into this reboot and the shadowdrop in the midst of a convoluted Twitch stream, in-between some of the biggest releases of the year, I have to say it’s nice to finally be able to play the game I was promised over a year ago.
Here’s the good news. Cyberpunk 2077 is so much more stable on PlayStation 5 now. It’s faster, less glitchy, and, at times, looks really quite incredible, even if some of the character models and textures still look god awful.
Environmentally, Night City is closer to the original vision CD Projekt RED set out all those years ago. With Ray-Tracing and other visual touchups, the neon lights are blinding, you’ll traipse through smoky hues, walk alongside vast cityscapes and peer out at distance, letting you see far beyond. Everything is brighter, more pronounced, and actually looks properly sci-fi as opposed to the dull, dreary world we were first introduced to.
Up-close, faces are full of expression and finite detail, from blemishes, to freckles, even cyberware appears more real. Tattoo detail is also noticeably improved, as is the way characters move and motion feels more alive and animated. And the best part, the frames don’t drop and dip every few seconds when you move into even the slightest hive of activity.
Yes, there’s still a bunch of bugs. Characters will still walk through vehicles and buildings, textures will sometimes spontaneously corrupt, and some of the button presses don’t respond first try, but unlike before, these errors don’t massively affect your play. You can deal with them, at least.
And, of course, nothing’s really different about the core game loop. Story’s the same, the characters haven’t changed, and all the main interactive elements remain intact like brain dancing and hacking.
The UI has been overhauled quite extensively, though. For instance, the map is a lot easier to read, and the general visibility of everything has been dramatically improved. It feels a lot easier to navigate and is less convoluted and confusing than when the game first launched.
Another of the cool new updates is the skip time feature now gives you a better idea of the time of day, and you can track missions and potential opportunities much easier. Crowd reactions have also been adjusted, making their behaviour more individual and unique depending on the situation. They are also more dense in the daytime, something that was probably scaled right back on last-gen due to how much processing it probably needs.
Then we get to the new expansions which have been added, introducing new ways to play, such as the opportunity to change your look whenever you want, rent apartments in Night City, buy new weapons and try out some new poses. They’re slight, subtle tweaks but they give a little added something to the main experience.
Cyberpunk 2077 just feels less of a mess now. I only decided to hop on to see how it looked visually and whether my previous issues with frame rate were gone, but then ended up spending the entire evening blazing through and actually enjoying myself.
Not just for the quality of life updates, but I love what CD Projekt RED have done with the DualSense, having cool audio effects from the game world pipe through, and making the adaptive triggers resistant during car rides and rat-ta-tat-tating during gun fights.
I’m actually invested in the world now, I want to finish it, see how the story unfolds and explore Night City in detail. The timing is awful with me currently playing Dying Light 2 and Elden Ring destined to take months of my life. It’s taken CD Projekt RED just over a year but this time, they’ve finally got me.
It’s still not perfect by any means and based on how the game has been received, we will probably never get a sequel to right the many wrongs of this launch. But for the first time CD Projekt RED can finally start thinking about the future of the game and the real support they want to give it post-launch.
If you’ve been sat on the fence about Cyberpunk 2077 due to the issues, rest assured, this is as smooth as it’s probably going to get and there really is a good game that’s been hiding under the buggy hood. There’s even a five hour free trial so you can check out how the game plays and, if convinced, it’s actually £19.99 on PS5 right now, which seems a fair price for what’s offered.
I doubt whether we’ll have a comeback story quite in the same vein as Final Fantasy XIV or No Man’s Sky – my gut says no – but for the people who’ve worked so hard behind the scenes on the game for years and years, dealt with so much shit from high ups and still kept at it just to make the game players have been asking for, thank you! I can’t imagine how difficult this process has been for all of you, how hard it must have been day in, day out, but for my part, I am grateful.
Today, you can rest a little easier knowing Cyberpunk 2077 has finally come to current gen. It’s at a good, steady level, it looks better than ever, and players will finally be able to play the game they purchased – as intended – so long ago.
This is the launch you should have had, not the one that was forced upon you, and certainly not one that was so heavily marred in controversy. Without doubt, this week has been the most positive for Cyberpunk 2077 since that Gamescom demo back in 2019 which blew press and media away.
Rebuilding reputation from this point forward, however, may be the toughest test yet, and the next move will almost certainly be the company’s most important.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox, and Stadia
Played on PS5