Is Cyberpunk 2077 worth buying in 2021? Does Cyberpunk 2077 work now? Is it safe to make a digital purchase of Cyberpunk 2077? All those and some more are questions that I googled before buying the game. CD Projekt Red just got hacked, but the press on the Cyberpunk 2077 release was everything but positive even before that happened.
Publications and gamers on social media reported all sorts of bugs and issues. Some minor and some seemingly not so small. While a graphics or NPC glitch here and there is acceptable just after a game is released, reading about corrupted savegame files is certainly a more critical risk. Of course, you were entertained playing the game, but still, a lost savegame in an RPG is a bit like losing some time of your life.
When I heard that Sony Interactive Entertainment is pulling the title entirely from their store, this was the moment when it was a serious red flag to me. I didn’t pre-order the game. I wanted to wait for a little and first let the developers release a couple of patches before I risk devaluing my Cyberpunk experience with bugs and issues. At that moment, I found that logical.
Optimized for what?
I’m fortunate enough to be able to play on an Xbox Series X console, so at least I considered myself safe from issues being reported about the game’s performance running on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, when I then purchased the title, I saw that the game tile does not have the distinct “X|S” logo in the corner, which would usually indicate a game that has been optimized for next-gen consoles.
So the message here is, the game runs on next-gen hardware, but it is not optimized to run on them. Considering how long they worked on the title, I can understand that as well, that the title’s development didn’t start with next-gen in mind. Yet, it never got optimized even right before the release. To me, that means that it’s not optimized for next-gen and simply doesn’t properly run on prev-gen hardware.
All the things to love and hate
Based on my research, it wasn’t clear that the title would run well. But what can I do? I’m a gamer, and I was hyped for a really long time. Sitting it out for a couple of weeks was the best I could do, and I bought the game’s digital edition. Now what? Does it work? Is it worth the money? Is it full of issues and kills your savegames?
It’s fine. I had a great time with Cyberpunk 2077. It’s not perfect in many, many ways. But it’s also good fun in many other ways. It’s worth the money. I put in about 70 hours of gameplay before I wrote this review article to be sure I am not missing out on any aspect. I also finished the story, but I haven’t finished 100% of the side activity yet. I am not going to add any spoilers with details on what’s happening in the plot, but it’s definitely entertaining.
The visuals of the game are truly cyberpunk-esque. It gives a great vibe of a retro-future dystopian city, and it’s a great example of all the things that could go wrong with humanity and technology. There’s a strong Blade Runner vibe throughout the game, and it’s really a great experience. All that you experience, you can of course also share by making use of the photo mode and you can then share the refined shots with your friends.
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Though, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not perfect. It underperforms in many ways. The open-world feels too small. It feels too empty. It feels too sterile. There is not enough content as in quests or sidequests. Why is this a problem? Because this isn’t Red Dead Redemption or GTA. Once the main story is over, you can’t just proceed in the game and enjoy just riding around in your favorite vehicle and grind for that legendary weapon or piece of gear that you always wanted. There’s not even a “new game+” that would let you take some of the progress into a new game.
It’s overall a very mixed experience to play Cyberpunk 2077. With everything amazing that you love also comes something else, you dislike shortly after. I feel like the cyborg, and body-modification options are far too limited. I am also absolutely puzzled how, in a world of back-alley biotech operations, it is not possible to change any aspect of your character’s appearance. You can’t even change your haircut or the color of your fingernail paint. How did it become a decision that the player shouldn’t be able to change their cosmetics? Just a heads up when you’re thinking about how to create your character, take your time because it’s going to stay that way.
I am in love with the armor and clothes in the game. But I would even love it more if I had the chance to actually see myself in my cool outfit because it’s not visible at all in this first-person RPG. I really enjoyed how The Witcher games, earlier works of CD Projekt Red, felt right being playable in third-person view. While I welcome the option to switch between both first-person and third-person camera, if I had to decide on only one, I guess I’d have preferred a third-person view. It’s true that you can have a better immersion in the first-person perspective, but seeing your styled up character in action would be even more rewarding. With some luck, they might change that going forward.
When creating a new character at the start of the game, you can choose between three lifepaths of your character. I expected the overall game experience to depend on this decision strongly, but it isn’t. The choice of your lifepath has an impact on the tutorial you’re playing, meaning the first 30 to 60 minutes perhaps, and there are no other game elements later into the playthrough that would differentiate based on your life path. In dialogs, you would sometimes get an option to leverage your background, but that’s about all it’s good for. Again, a lot of potential for more playthroughs of the game has been limited by not relying more on the life path.
There are some other aspects that aren’t that well designed, such as the apartment of your character, which doesn’t really let you do anything. Once you learned that your vehicle, which can be spawned any place and any time, lets you store an unlimited amount of items, so your character has more space to gather new loot, there is absolutely no reason ever again to return to this apartment. I think it would have been nice to have some reason to go back, improve the apartment, or be able to buy new places in other parts of the map. Even if you get very friendly with some faction, you have no option to move in there, even though they might ask you to.
I want to close with a positive note, though. I was impressed by how well you can tackle quests from different angles depending on your own playstyle and character specializations. If you want to go stealth, go stealth if you want to be a battle hacker, you can crack down on tech, if you want to use a katana to slice and dice your foes, that’s all great, and of course, you can run and gun like in an action RPG if you want to.
Is it worth getting and playing?
Yes. It’s not all the hype, the trailers, and marketing material suggested, it’s not perfect, but it’s a fine game. It’s absolutely worth playing, and even if it’s not optimal, I accept it with all its flaws and missed chances. CD Projekt Red definitely has some work to do on technical fixes and maybe getting some more content to the gamers, but it indeed should not be shunned.
When I think about Cyberpunk 2077, the dominant thought is about an amazing trip through a retro-future city. The thought directly after that is how many opportunities the game had and did not deliver. There is hope for more content to be put into the game as part of free or paid DLCs though. We know some things are planned, but I hope they turn some of these opportunities around. It would simply do the lore and the setting justice.
If you’re still not convinced, have a look at my gameplay footage below. This contains the character creator (yep, full-on nudeness made it age-restricted on YouTube), the life path intro of the Corpo, the tutorial, and some gameplay without indulging too much on story missions to avoid any spoilers.
YouTube: Let’s Play – Cyberpunk 2077 [Gameplay, No Commentary]
Photo credit: All shown images and screenshots have been prepared by CD Projekt Red and were made available for press usage.
Source: Mike Minotti (VentureBeat) / BBC / Matthew Liebl (Fansided)
Editorial notice: The author spent more than 70 hours in the game and completing the storyline before writing this review.