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Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077

PC | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Genre: Role Playing
Developer: CD Projekt RED Official Site: http://www.cyberpunk.net/
Publisher: CD Projekt Classification: TBC
Cyberpunk 2077 Review
Review By @ 05:26pm 22/12/20
PC

This review covers the PC version of Cyberpunk 2077

That little note above is not there to merely add context to this review, but to highlight how an experience can change based on the platform on which it is experienced. In the case of CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, you could say that our review setup is something of a best-case scenario - the latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX hardware, a vibrant 4K LG OLED display, immersive sound in the form of studio-grade speakers, and a brand-new controller.

This is not to say you need the above to get the most out of Cyberpunk 2077 on PC -- it scales well across a wide range of hardware configuration -- it’s simply, again, context. As per our review in progress we noted that stepping onto the streets of Night City for the first time can be overwhelming due to the sheer level of detail on display. On a high-end rig it is… breathtaking.


It's a feeling akin to visiting a new sprawling city for the first time. Where your eyes and brain activate their own organic form of CyberWare™ in order to process the sights, sounds, signage, vehicles, people and fashion. The bustle. Night City is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen, with detail and a sense of scale that is truly awe-inspiring.

A sensory feast of towering buildings, people, animated billboards, vehicles, shops, back alleys, and more. The auditory mind isn’t entirely equipped, honestly, in our modern mindset to understand it. But, damn it’s rad. Night City and its districts present a futuristic megalopolis that stands as one of the greatest achievements in videogame history -- where art, interactivity and technology come together in such a way as to make the impossible, well, possible.

After 60-hours of walking the streets, driving through the Badlands, and diving through the wreckage of a now underwater part of Pacifica, that sense of awe, scale, and detail never really went away. That said there were more than a few momentary stutters, Relic Malfunctions, whenever a character did something glitchy or the AI behaved in such a way as to remove all pretense of that title. Artificial? Yes. Intelligent? Nope.


Stepping onto the streets of Night City for the first time can be overwhelming due to the sheer level of detail on display. On a high-end rig it is… breathtaking.



Technical issues aside, Night City is more than a series of impressively ray-traced future-buildings and highly detailed character models -- it’s a city that has its own identity, it sets the tone for a futuristic world where humanity’s worst impulses has seen technology catch up and take each and every one of those to a new level.

Built using developer CD Projekt RED’s own Red Engine, the Night City we get to see and explore is one of those rare experiences where it feels like you’re witnessing some of the most evocative concept art come to life. Based on the pen-and-paper roleplaying game from the 1980s, created by Mike Pondsmith, the art direction is what you might call “retro-cool”; hardware and structures that feel lived-in; neon and chunky, like. Cyberpunk’s version of what we know of as the internet captures this spirit by presenting pages on a lo-fi browser but on the sort of transparent display you might envision existing decades from now.

Night City is such that it can change the way you play and move about. For instance, heading to a meeting across town might mean walking that kilometre or so, while stopping at each intersection only to cross when it’s safe, casually taking note of all those passing by, and momentarily basking in the lights and sounds emanating from street vendors, hotels, and storefronts. In a sense, Cyberpunk 2077 can quite easily turn you into a digital tourist, even though protagonist V is anything but.

The above, written after roughly 15-hours or so of playtime highlights the strongest impression you get from Cyberpunk 2077 -- the setting of Night City. Even after credits roll, strolling through its densely packed streets and suburban outskirts is wonderful, even if it’s mostly surface level. That is, from a ‘game’ perspective. If Cyberpunk -- as it stands right now -- was issue-free (CDPR are rapidly addressing bugs and glitches), the biggest oversight would be interactivity that can rise to the level of its visual immersion. The disconnect between what you see versus what you do, Night City is mostly made-up of volumetric fog (smoke) and reflective surfaces (mirrors).


Even after credits roll, strolling through its densely packed streets and suburban outskirts is wonderful, even if it’s mostly surface level.



There’s no place to change your hairstyle or physical appearance, clothing stores don’t let you preview outfits, eateries and bars don’t sell regional dishes or drinks (even though they talk about them), and most activities are static icons on a map you can clear. That in particular is a strange one. An open-world where bouts of criminal or gang activity within each region is ‘x of a specific number of violent outbursts’ to quell, versus emergent or even player-created. Adding it all up you wouldn’t be at fault for calling Cyberpunk 2077 unfinished. Or at the very least, overly ambitious.


One side of Cyberpunk 2077 that deserves praise though is the near instant loading on PC, and the fact that the transition from highly detailed indoor locations to outdoor settings is seamless. Now, that may not sound all that special but starting in V’s apartment looking out of his or her window to see Night City and then walking outside to find a huge apartment building bustling with activity to then walking into an elevator to see glimpses of the outside world as it finally lowers so you can then walk out onto a busy intersection of vehicles, people, neon lights, strange sights, sounds, and funky fashion. Yeah, that moment alone was the most next-gen thing we’ve experienced this year.

And it’s a feeling that persists as you move through Night City and work through the main story.

Emergent sandbox-style gameplay though, is as non-existent as traffic AI. A Far Cry from what we’ve seen from the likes of Rockstar and others. Even something like being wanted for criminal behaviour ala GTA can be circumvented when the Night City PD stops any and all pursuit after a single-block in pursuit. This leaves a large chunk of exploration as a bridge between Street Stories. This is important to highlight because Cyberpunk 2077 presents a choice-driven narrative with deep RPG systems serving as the foundation for both character development, the narrative, and combat.


Cyberpunk 2077’s combat is fast, but it still falls firmly into the realm of the RPG -- especially when played on the higher difficulty settings. There’s that traditional ‘holy moly these skill trees and CyberWare options are insane’ sense of overwhelming, but it's befitting of the world in which it’s set. Here the base stat of ‘Cool’ opens up stealth upgrades and the chance to land a critical hit. ‘Tech’ informs crafting and being able to bypass security doors without a fuss.

It’s understanding the world that informs the brisk and engaging combat, pure FPS skills don’t make sense here on the account of there being an augment that will boost speed and reaction times to turn V into a self-guided™ esports MVP. The fact that you can wield a rare pistol that features smart auto-tracking bullets that set people on fire feels almost superhero-like in nature. Or, more specifically, supervillain-like. Then there’s tech that lets you breach and cause someone’s augmentations to overheat and catch fire. You can also hack someone’s optics to switch them off, allowing V to pass unseen. No fire, but there’s probably a Ripperdoc in Night City that sells some sort of eye combustion tech.

This side of the experience needs work too, mostly from a balancing perspective. With gunplay and straight up action feeling a lot more powerful than going melee, hack-happy Netrunner, or stealth neon-assassin -- CDPR has simply made the cover-based shooting and the weapons themselves (revolvers and other Tech and Power weapons are just plain awesome to use) too good to pass up. So much so that as cool as hacking or stealth can be, it never feels necessary or rewarding. We’d love to be able to not only disable cameras but infect and cause enough mayhem that an entire room could be cleared without having to even walk through the door.

And then have that choice affect the world.


With gunplay and straight up action feeling a lot more powerful than going melee, hack-happy Netrunner, or stealth neon-assassin -- CDPR has simply made the cover-based shooting and the weapons themselves (revolvers and other Tech and Power weapons are just plain awesome to use) too good to pass up.



In the end the best way to sum up Cyberpunk 2077 is to say that it has as much in common with the Mafia series as it does Grand Theft Auto, Bethesda’s Fallout, or CDPR’s own The Witcher III. As the excellent Mafia remake proved, set dressing and high-quality production values can lead to some impressively cinematic immersion. And in terms of cinematic immersion, Cyberpunk 2077 is remarkable. It feels next-gen. But, there’s a downside -- those looking to live in Night City, well, there’s not much in the way of life outside of the characters you meet during V’s journey.


As per CDPR’s masterpiece that is The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Cyberpunk 2077 shines brightest when the focus is squarely on its excellent storytelling. The various people you meet, and the Street Stories you discover, serve as that interaction point lacking elsewhere - adding context, history, and presence to the wider Night City. From investigating political corruption that then leads into a surprising and deeply confronting exploration into the life and memory of a serial killer, to putting on one last show for a bunch of aging rockers as the setting for a tale about letting go.

A lot of this side of Cyberpunk 2077 carries the feeling of playing something that will stick with you for years -- it has that quality. Each major story adds to the world, the setting, the mystery. Throw in PC visuals that are easily some of the most impressive you’re likely to see this year or next, it’s the one part of the experience that lives up to the futuristic setting and promise seen in the many pre-release gameplay slices and trailers.

But again, there’s a disconnect that creeps up every now and then. Immersion that breaks whenever you come across a bug or you can see the seams due to missing AI or missing features. No doubt Cyberpunk 2077 will be a better game on all platforms in three months time, and then three months after that. For now, it’s breathtaking on PC - for all the right, and wrong, reasons.
What we liked
  • Night City is incredibly detailed, immersive, and stunning to simply walk around.
  • Great storytelling with memorable characters and surprising moments.
  • Combat is fast and guns are great to use.
  • Skill trees are varied and support different play-styles.
What we didn't like
  • Most of the scenery is for show and there's a disconnect between what you see versus what you can do.
  • Stealth and hacking (breaching) feel under-cooked compared to the gun-play.
  • Consistent bugs break immersion.
  • Traffic AI, Wanted system, character customisation, and several more seemingly missing features.
  • Time-sensitive (in terms of stakes) main campaign detracts from exploration/side quests when it's so "life or death".
  • Radio stations lack personality.
More
We gave it:
8.0
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
infi
Posted 07:50pm 25/12/20
I finished the main story and was very satisfied with the plot. The enemies could be a bit more diverse and varied. It would also have been better I think to include some of the side missions which have relevant (really, essential) plots information included as part of the main mission requirements, instead of getting more info about V or Johnny after the main story is finished. This would also help your character level up, explore crafting etc and unlock perks prior to the final battles.

It would have been great to have a crafting tutorial for noobs who have never played an RPG before.

The side stories are just as interesting as the main story. The crucifixion one is awesome!
Yeti
Posted 05:52am 26/12/20
I have played 150 hours so far in the AMAZING Cyberpunk 2077 world.
The game runs perfectly in Ultra on my old i7-8700 with GTX-1070 (although with 'film' turned off - that makes it grainy for some reason).
The Devs have done an incredible job. The engine is simply stunning - so many people on the street, cars, aerial vehicles, garbage blowing in the wind, destroyable barriers and so much more.
I'm playing on Hard for this my first play through - I'm about half way through the main story (by choice). I'm a "completionist", I'm doing all the gigs, side quests and random events - still got a lot to do.
The combat is typical RPG - it's not Doom E. Wait for the reload animation to complete, run the health repair animation, stick head out from cover, aim carefully, fire, back into cover, let the game guide the smart sniper projectile to target, watch them fall (through cover and walls), rinse, repeat. But the AI is remarkably good. They use cover very well, they flank, they get behind you. Often missions involving stealth components are very complex and will require trying various approaches till a successful attack is found. Sure, street punks will just open up in a group of automatic fire, and with high level armour you can just dodge a little in plain view and kill them one by one, but a few easy kills are a relief and fun after hard gigs.
Everything scales up as you gain levels. I'm level 43, max street cred of 50 (long ago), 3000 mostly legendary armour, every class of legendary weapon (I carry ten). But a lot of enemies are huge bullet sponges. One particular enemy ate 200 sniper rounds and 400 rifle bullets to kill. The game assesses the risk for you on the map - Moderate is a challenge, Very hard is mostly suicide, Very Low you still have to think.
I admit there are bugs, and some poor design choices. For example, legendary armour and upgrades (Mantis blades, Wire) are hidden in set locations. Read the many wikis and, Yes, you will get a boost early (but maybe only 20% over what you will find by playing the game). I just wish they had random locations for the ultimate finds.
The whole thing is a visual masterpiece, a great experience. I could go on and on ....
fpot
Posted 02:22pm 26/12/20
I agree with just about everything you've said there, except that you've got it running perfect on ultra with those specs :P

The game does have huge glaring flaws, though. This justifies the rather lukewarm score of 8/10. Visual glitches are rampant, and game halting bugs are common. I've teleported through steel bars when clicking on an item and become stuck because I'm unable to meet the skill check of the door in the room. I've also encountered infinite loading screens and sequences where the dialogue becomes stuck and gameplay halts. This is pretty bad, but like I said, I agree with Yeti's post about the fantastic gameplay. I also think the AI (bystanders excluded) feels natural and creates great options for stealth and guns blazing. I'm going to go full body and reflex next play through and see if it's indeed possible to play the game like Doom:E.

My biggest criticism of the game and something that's unable to be fixed is how the main story rushes you. There is no hard time limit so it can be ignored but it seems kind of counter to the games ethos. You're a merc who has been given an entire city of gigs and missions to complete but you better hurry up or else. Of course I'm ignoring that and going for 100% completion but it annoys me a little.
samatt
Posted 01:11pm 30/12/20
Cheers Kosta, gonna have a crack at this in 6 months or so, ie. once it's finished properly.
fpot
Posted 01:13pm 30/12/20
Check back again in February after the second 'big patch' comes out.
trillion
Posted 08:29pm 01/1/21
jeez fpot what do you need 60fps ?

it runs perfect at 20fps if you don’t move the mouse
fpot
Posted 06:46pm 05/1/21
Finished the story. Took my time completing all Gigs and many random encounters. Playthrough was about 95 hours. Pretty sure I got a bad ending.

ENDGAME SPOILERS Spoiler:
Went full Corpo for my first run. Went with the Arasaka deal at the end. Became a lab rat and when informed I had cyber cancer went with the upload my soul to the cloud option.


The ending had some decent punch to it. Made me consider my actions and choices throughout the game which is what a good ending should do. Played as a straight hacker and felt it was very overpowered but I was only on normal difficulty. Now playing a storm the front door guns blazin' Nomad.

Unique items spoiler - Spoiler:
looks like all the best iconic weaponry needs to be crafted, and plenty of doors need high Technical Ability. I'd say that's the most important skill but Engineering seems kind of useless
. I really love the skill system. Some skills are more or less useless but plenty have good synergy with other skills and really change the way you play.
Hogfather
Posted 12:16pm 08/1/21
The game does have huge glaring flaws, though. This justifies the rather lukewarm score of 8/10. Visual glitches are rampant, and game halting bugs are common. I've teleported through steel bars when clicking on an item and become stuck because I'm unable to meet the skill check of the door in the room. I've also encountered infinite loading screens and sequences where the dialogue becomes stuck and gameplay halts.

Glad I waited, sounds like it will be great to pick it up once its had a little more time in the oven.
Murf
Posted 10:46pm 09/1/21
As a fan of CDPRs previous games I got mostly what I was expecting here. That is to say; interesting and memorable characters and story, beautifully crafted world, clunky UI/menus, okay engaging enough combat, a fantastic soundtrack. What I was expecting, and never got; no cool minigame to the same quality of Gwent? or even W2s dice poker? Cant preview my outfits before I buy them? No dedicated walk key? a police system that isn't just *spawn behind you*?

Clearly it was released before it was fully finished. Which is a shame. With further patches and expansions that hopefully get released once they are polished (more Jackie and Panam content please) I will definitely be jumping straight back into this again.
fpot
Posted 09:08pm 09/1/21
I like how the police have such minimal impact in the game, but they do need to be fixed so they behave more realistically. But yeah, the lack of minigame didn't even click for me damn you for mentioning it! Maybe they'll make all those arcade machines functional in a future patch or something.
trog
Posted 12:05pm 10/1/21
Clearly it was released before it was fully finished. Which is a shame. With further patches and expansions that hopefully get released once they are polished (more Jackie and Panam content please) I will definitely be jumping straight back into this again.
I think games have been being released before they were finished almost since the day that Internet was widespread enough to allow for post-release patches :D

I don't play many single player games (and haven't since Doom came out and changed my life) but when I do it's almost always over a year after release now. (I think the only exception to this in the last 10 years has been GTA5 but even then I waited til prolly a month or two after the PC version dropped).

I still remember the enthusiasm I had for getting a new game that I'd been waiting for for ages and wanting to get right into it but now I think the experience is often soooo much better if you wait a little bit that it's worth doing (... not to mention the fact that it's often way cheaper).

All that said, as soon as I do my next upgrade this game is very high on my list of things to check out.
Hogfather
Posted 01:06pm 10/1/21
Agreed trog, the only games I preorder or jump on straight away are cheapie indies I want to support or warcraft collector's editions because I'm an idiot.
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