Review: Cyberpunk 2077 – Everything is expendable, including this review
How is the game now that CDPR has started fixing launch bugs?
Cyberpunk 2077 had been in development for almost a decade before we got a solid release date, and even then the release was delayed multiple times. In a balancing act to keep stockholders and fans happy, CDPR rushed through the last few months of development, and it shows.
While we’ve been enjoying our time in Night City, that crunch-filled, rushed development hell could have been better served by keeping the game on ice for a while longer, letting both the developers and the quality control team have more time to polish the game.
That said, CDPR has a pretty good track record for not abandoning games once they’re released, shown by The Witcher 3 getting free content and bugfixes for well over a year after launch, and that’s without noting the myriad fixes that came when the paid DLC came out. With Cyberpunk 2077 now a couple of months after release, and multiple hotfixes and other tweaks, how is the state of Night City today?
Enter Night City
The world Cyberpunk 2077 inhabits is set in Night City, a dark, crime-ridden metropolis that’s almost as towering as it is sprawled into the surrounding badlands. Originally built as a shining example where crime and poverty didn’t exist, decades of rule by first the Mob, then by the corporations, has turned it into a cesspit.
That cesspit got flattened about fifty years before the events of the game, by a tactical nuke that was dropped into Arasaka Corporation’s HQ by Johnny Silverhand, instantly cementing the rocker boy’s place in history. Who knew back then that he’d be back for an encore performance?
The world that CDPR has built is equal parts dirt, decay, shiny chrome, neon, and everything you’d expect from an RPG system that drew from the books of William Gibson as a source. From the lowest of gutter trash to the Corpo wageslaves that inhabit the glass towers, everyone is fighting for survival in the freest of free markets. Murder and blackmail are just as valid corporate tactics as are spreadsheets and stock takeovers.
Most of the launch bugs seem to have been ironed out, but I still see items clipping through surfaces, and things like cups suspended in midair once characters have let go. Admittedly, that’s a minor issue, and not as game breaking as some of the other bugs, one of which made me unable to load the game for weeks until it was patched.
I could say that the game was rushed to market, but CP2077 is far from the only AAA title launched with major issues, and it certainly won’t be the last one. Maybe temper that launch day excitement and don’t preorder, at least until you see some independent reviews.
The Corpo who saw too much
After an extensive character creation screen that lets you change almost everything (except for your pronouns), you’re dumped into the shoes of V, a merc doing everything you can to survive and claw your way to the top in Night City.
There’s a neat choice at character creation as to which background your character will have from three choices:
- Streetkid – You grew up on the streets of Night City, with intimate knowledge of the streets, the gangs, and the slang
- Nomad – You grew up in the deserts outside of Night City, and left your old clan to make a new life for yourself
- Corpo – A up-and-coming counterintelligence officer at Arasaka, you get the tables turned on you, with your corp cyberware disabled and employment terminated
That choice will give you new dialog options throughout the game, based on your knowledge, and also how the prologue of the game goes, the extended few hours at the start that eases you into the flow of Night City, and the RPG elements. Oh, who am I kidding, it throws you into the deep end, stands on your head, and dares you to swim for safety. Still, it’s nothing compared to how hectic things can get later on, so be glad for that.
It’s an interesting way to start the game, with all three Lifepaths ending up with the same result, a partnership with Jackie Welles as you rebuild your life with progressively larger jobs. I played all three, before settling on the Corpo Lifepath as the fall-from-grace story was too good to pass up.
The first act is a blistering pace, as you get to grips with the systems in the game, like fighting and hacking. Most of this section is done with Jackie in tow, and you really get a sense of the bond between these two mercs. That all changes at the end of Act 1, but I’m trying to steer away from spoilers so I won’t go into details.
If Cyberpunk 2077 had been an on-rails, FPS story for the rest of the game, I’d have been perfectly okay with that. CDPR’s writing is nuanced and engaging, even if some of the topics aren’t handled particularly sensitively. It’s not though, and the game branches out more into a traditional open-world RPG.
You might be tempted to smash the gas pedal and power through the main storyline at this point, but resist that temptation. The side quest chains are every bit as good as the main story, and you don’t want to miss them. Just like their earlier games, CDPR are masters at weaving a tapestry of intertwined stories together, with the side hustles being well worth your time.
Spend time wandering around Night City as well; you never know what might turn up. From back-alley boxing matches, bounties on Cyberpsychos that are possibly the only thing more dangerous than you, and the minutiae of the dystopian future, you’d miss out if you drove everywhere.
Skills to pay the bills
While CP2077 is in first-person most of the time, it plays more like games like The Division. Expect enemies with large health bars, and most of the time your weapons will take multiple shots to dispatch them.
I’ve also noticed that I really haven’t had to buy much, except cyberware. The game continually throws weapons and equipment at you, so much so that you’ll find yourself disassembling things multiple times a mission.
The last thing really to note is that whatever skills and perks you take from the many, many skill trees; it doesn’t appear to make much of a difference to how you play the game. My advice? Pick the skills that fit your playstyle, and there’s no rush to skill up in the beginning so hoard those points until you decide what path to take. With it taking 100,000 in-game currency to redistribute points, you don’t want to get stuck with things in a tree you don’t use anymore.
Should you throw down some scratch for Cyberpunk 2077?
Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t have the best launch, but now that major bugs have been addressed, it’s a fun jaunt through a flawed city. If I wanted to get really meta here, I could point out that the game’s flaws are a microcosm of the flawed society put together in Cyberpunk lore, but then the comment section would eat me alive.
CD Projekt Red have a knack for creating sprawling open-world adventures with almost too much to do in them, and Cyberpunk 2077 is no exception. Go in with your eyes wide open and stay for the ride, it’s a neon-festooned, high-octane thrill all the way through.
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