This article is being written on December 10th, 2021 and exactly one year after the release of Cyberpunk 2077. For those of you who read the original Grimdark Magazine review, you’ll know we viewed the game as hopelessly bugged and unworthy of buying at this time. This was especially true with a last generation console as the game was hit and miss for being unplayable versus something that could run just fine.
Since that time, CD_Projekt Red has released multiple game patches and spent the majority of 2021 patching it in order to get it playable. Indeed, the Playstation Store took the game off the market for a time until it was operating within acceptable limits. The company’s share value took a 40% hit, it was sued by investors, and it was the subject of investigations due to the amount of false advertising done about its capacity.
So what is it like now? That is an interesting question and one that will require a bit of time to answer. I should note that I upgraded to a PS4 Pro during this time and it isn’t on a base console. Is the game now bug free? No, not even close. During my replay of the game, I would frequently have minor bugs spread throughout the game. Dialogue subtitles would get stuck on screen, animations would flicker, and characters would pop into existence in very obvious ways. Immersion was affected by this significantly.
On the other hand, I have to state a few of the gamebreaking bugs that existed before have been patched, like quests I couldn’t complete as well as the frequent crashing I had in certain parts of the story. Night City is a far emptier place than it was in 2020 and the hardware is no longer straining under the power of the game to function. The lists of bug fixes have also been in the thousands and it seems very likely this is closer to what a properly functional Cyberpunk 2077 was meant to be. It’s just buggy to a “normal” level now versus a ridiculous degree.
This is a shame because Cyberpunk 2077 is still a game and setting that I am very positively disposed to. Cyberpunk 2020 and its sequel, Cyberpunk Red, are two of my favorite tabletop RPGs of all time. I absolutely love its retrofuture vision of the 1980s and story of capitalism gone horribly wrong with a corporate run city-state as well as the hellish badlands that surrounds it. Night City is a little Blade Runner, a lot of Hardwired, and a good amount of Mad Max thrown in for good measure.
Night City is full of fascinating characters like Panam, Judy, River, Kerry Eurodyne, Johnny Silverhand, and the Arasakas. Unfortunately, even this isn’t as deep as it should be. The story feels like it is a mile long and a foot deep. Artificial tension is generated by V’s struggle to heal himself from a faulty cybernetic chip that’s killing him but we never see enough consequences from previous actions in the story to really explore what this means. The most interesting part of the game is the early Watson section where you are just a carefree mercenary with your friend, Jackie, trying to make it big in Night City.
Unfortunately, a lot of the plotlines are underdeveloped and do not feel like they reach their natural conclusion. This includes the main story. The main story is about V trying to find a cure for their condition and the endings are unsatisfying narratively, even the happier ones.
However, the side quests also feel like they needed more work. The Voodoo Boys and Netwatch show up for a major story arc but then disappear from the game. Trauma Team and Max-TAC both have big introductiuons but never really get any follow-up. Plots like the investigation of the cyberpsycho phenomenon and NightCorp’s brainwashing of politicians just sort of stop rather than reaching conclusions.
There’s not much to do in Night City either. Much of the game is based around fighting random gangs in the streets with the occassional reward from the police. Given V, themselves, is a criminal and most of their friends are criminals–it feels like a very strange dissonance to have him acting like the Punisher on behalf of the NCPD. It doesn’t help the police system isn’t very well done either as the cops will show up to try to murder you but can’t be bribed and won’t chase you.
It’s weird to have Skyrim have a better, more intricate police system. This game could have benefited from a lot more minigames like karoake, poker, darts, pool, or gambling. There’s a boxing and street racing plotline but it’s fairly minor compared to the endless number of gang fights. The combat itself is fine with the hacking system being nerfed for better game balance.
In conclusion, Cyberpunk 2077 has gone from being a broken unplayable mess to an undercooked playable mess. As a huge fan of the cyberpunk genre, the game has definitely benefited from a year of bug fixes but I feel like the result is still not great. It’s an above average game with a fantastic premise.