Cyberpunk 2077 is the long-awaited futuristic RPG shooter from developer CD Projekt Red, famed developers of The Witcher series. Riding on the high of The Witcher 3, CPR found a lovely nest within the spot of “Best Dev” by the gaming populace. Though with 3 delays, an uncertain development cycle, and unfulfilled promises, Cyberpunk 2077 may have seen to quite the downfall on gaming’s last bastion of hope.
Cyberpunk 2077 starts off with a very brief customisation menu for your character, V. When compared to some other RPGs I have played, or even MMOs for that matter, the options available to you are quite lacklustre. From a lack of hair length or multi-colours to the shortlist of facial hair and not being able to choose where piercings are placed. You can customise your genitalia, but that was done years ago with Saints Row, and is more of a comedic factor, as you won’t really see it in-game all that much, aside from when they glitch through your clothes.
After making your V, you jump straight into a short 30-minute life path beginning, like an underplayed Origin story of Dragon Age: Origins. In each beginning, you’ll meet Jackie, your partner for a short time in-game, as well as a close friend we will cherish forever. Starting off our life as a mercenary for hire, we work for Fixers in Night City, killing people, kidnapping, rescuing, thievery, all in the name of fame and of course money.
Your choice of life path unlocks plenty of dialogue options down the road, but 9/10 times they will just be 1 line of dialogue with a short reply, 1/10 times you may get more pay or open up a new route in a mission. The Life Path system feels very underdeveloped, it doesn’t affect stats at all and the amount it actually affects the game feels negligible and more of a nod than holding any real importance.
Once the beginning scenes are all done, you’re set onto a huge heist, with a little prep-work. This all leads to the second main character of the game, Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves. With an ever-watchful eye, and voice in your head, the story barrels down into a life-or-death scenario with a ticking clock, though the clock is metaphorical and is only tied to the main story so feel free to spend 2 in-game months doing side content.
The main aim of the game is to remove the biochip that houses Johnny from your head, taking around 15-20 hours to do so. Reported at over 170 hours of gameplay, you can complete all of Cyberpunk 2077’s side-content and main story in around 100-150 hours, depending on playstyle. I had done a vast majority of it aside from buying up the vehicles and landed at 70 hours. Cyberpunk 2077 is set up to contain plenty of distractions, side-missions, lore delving and choice-making, which is why the time can get bloated. A repeat playthrough isn’t really the best from my experience, with a lack of NG+ you’re either going to be under levelled in the main story or be forced to do a lot of side-missions again. Through a 2nd playthrough I realised how little your choices matter in-game, with timed responses either forcing the top option on you, or just outright killing you. Dialogue almost always ends the same way, though I did find at least 2 missions I could skip if I said no.
Gameplay in Cyberpunk 2077 is your run-of-the-mill shooter with some RPG overtones applied to its mechanics. If you’ve played Titanfall you’ll see quite a few similarities, especially with the smart lock-on weapons. As you gun down your foes you’ll gain experience and skill progression, the first granting you levels and the chance at increasing your attribute points, the second allowing you to increase your effectiveness with particular weapons and gear. A lot of the progression is displayed and felt in simple increases, +10% damage, critical chance, critical damage, health, armour, etc. You don’t unlock new moves or attacks, instead, you just get better. You can however unlock the ability to craft higher tier equipment.
Weapons within Cyberpunk 2077 come in 3 types, Power, tech, and smart, the first allowing for ricochet shots the second for charging up a single attack and the last for lock-on shots. You’ll have an array on hand including Sniper Rifles, Precision Rifles, Heavy Machine Guns, Light Machine Guns, Assault Rifles, Submachine Guns, Shotguns, Pistols, and Revolvers. From gathering to crafting, a lot of your arsenal will see several changes and swap-outs as the weapons all have hidden levels behind them, dictating their overall power. You can also upgrade your gear through using components, though these get increasingly more expensive.
Moving about the streets of Night City you’ll come across several pieces of side content, designed to complement the main story as well as to stay completely separate from it. You can help with fights breaking out in the city, or hunt down wanted criminals, take on side gigs to steal items, take care of a hostile NPC, or get an ally out of hot water. The gigs play the main stage of the side content, with much more love put into their storylines, whereas the NCPD requests feel more like radiant quests to fill time and to grind.
As you complete missions and take down wanted criminals your street cred will increase, unlocking more gigs for you to undertake and even unlocking better gear for purchase at shops. Sadly the street cred isn’t more in-depth, you get a fancy level up sound and animation and then it is thrown to the wayside to never be brought up again. Set scripts will still say you’re either wet behind the ears or the best merc around regardless of your street cred.
While you can purchase plenty of vehicles around night city, the driving of Cyberpunk 2077 feels quite archaic and unresponsive. Many of the rides are unforgiving with their turning, others often quite slow considering the game is set in the future. With customization previously promised, and then later retracted as an option, the cars of Night City aren’t a big attraction, leading into ample use of the fast travel system that has since replaced the previous taxi system in place.
The soundtrack of Cyberpunk 2077 is quite varied, whilst still sticking to the futuristic setting and themes at play. Due to the game being open-world, it features quite the breadth of radios to change between, to listen to tracks made specifically for the game and music that would otherwise give you a copyright strike if you were to stream it, being from major well-known artists. Sadly there were times where the music would bug out and stop playing for a good portion of the game, even during action sequences where the music was pre-set to occur.
With the free roam options at hand, as well as the directions that missions send you, the difficulty of Cyberpunk 2077 can be quite the rollercoaster. Taking a few too many steps to the east or south will land you in areas well above your level, with enemies killing you in one shot, and taking hundreds themselves to die. These difficult areas can be ignored, or overcome via ample use of the crafting system to create mods for your armour, boosting yourself to way above 3000 armour from a meagre 500, and mods for weapons to fire fasters and deal more damage.
A big dissonance within the design of Cyberpunk 2077 is with the endings for its quest lines, for both the important NPCs and longer storylines at play. Many of the longer quests simply end with a quick payment to your bank account and a “thank you”, killing off a lot of investment into the stories at play as well as the characters you were meant to grow attached to. One such storyline is following the character Claire, who has you as her race driver for 4 races. Near the end you’ll have a sort of climax of her story, only to return to her shop, get paid, get a vehicle, and she walks off to be forgotten by the game aside from 1 or 2 text messages, she doesn’t even have a dialogue for the end of the game. With a deep background, several conversations, and a fuel-filled adventure, her ending was lacklustre and left me disappointed. This effect bleeds into too many quests, ending with payments and maybe a new piece of gear.
A good part of the game is that of its dungeon designs, including buildings, underground labs, parking lots, etc. Used as areas for your missions, you can approach these in pretty much 2 ways, guns blazing or stealthy. Each mission has about 1 or 2 ways to approach via stealth, with the roof allowing for skylight entrances or even backdoors to use. I loved some of the buildings I had to infiltrate, requiring plenty of planning, scouting, and ample use of my hacking abilities to look ahead with cameras or open up new rooms.
Now, onto the point I’ve touched on a bit, but maybe the largest part, the bugs and glitches of Cyberpunk 2077 and how they rule over this game, fitting the in-game purposeful glitches of screens and eyewear. Cyberpunk 2077 cannot go 10 minutes without showing off a new or reoccurring bug, from graphical glitches like NPCs being naked, holding their clothes, smoking pistols, putting cones of chips into their head, models not loading, textures not loading and duplicates of objects appearing in mid-air to gameplay affecting bugs like NPCs phasing through the terrain which can break quests, weapons not equipping properly, the middle-mouse button breaking, not being able to take off gear, your scanning mode being stuck in active mode, the camera getting stuck in first-person, amongst many more. I had a glitch with my newer headset having static in the audio, which can be found with many other surround-sound systems. It’s not an overstatement to say this game is buggy, with my own list of them reaching over 50 unique ones. The constant affair with glitchy gameplay really brings you out of the immersion as well as just breaking quests, requiring you load an earlier save. Some newer bugs have been found that can even break your game, with having a bloated save file leading to corrupted saves.
Cyberpunk 2077 really feels like it should have been announced later, and released at least 6 months later than it actually did, maybe even 1 year later to put in all the content they had spoken about before release, which led to a Peter Molyneux effect. With crunch behind felt by the developers, as well as their publishing and marketing portions having little to no communication on lead up to release, the handling of Cyberpunk 2077 could have gone through much smoother than it did.
Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 gets a 7/10. Being anticipated for so long, it seems like the pressure got to the company, along with the death threats they were receiving for not releasing the game. With a government investment behind them, their investors calling for a release, the game was released unfinished and poorly tested. With the tagline of releasing “when it’s ready”, the released product nowhere near meets that promise. There is a fun game beneath all the grunge, with dungeon and quest design being top-notch in many areas, but you will have to put on blinders to ignore the constant bugs and dumbed-down content in comparison to what was once promised.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, don’t have a PC, DO NOT BUY this on PS4 or Xbox One. Purchase this game for Xbox One X, PS4 Pro, Xbox Series X|S or PS5.
You can purchase Cyberpunk 2077 here on steam for £49.99.
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