2020 was a right mess of a year let’s be honest, and sadly it mirrored one of the most anticipated games of the year in a lot of ways. The long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 from The Witcher developers CD Projekt finally hit…. and was an epic miss. The game launched in no real fit state on half of the platforms it is playable on, with only the PC and Xbox Series X versions really holding things together. It was so bad, it got to the point the firm said that anyone who wants a refund for the game can have one (an almost unheard of move). Plus following the game’s launch more than a few skeletons were found about the development – like not showing the game running on the base model Xbox One or PS4, as well as CD Projekt Red had promised both Sony and Microsoft it would have the game up to scratch before it launched, but… well history shows the answer to that, check YouTube. That was then though, and we are now two years on and well… the world is still a mess, but Cyberpunk 2077 is in a much better place thanks to the 1.5 patch and next-gen update, which has totally changed the game in the best ways.
Now hats off to CD Projekt Red for having the guts to pull the plug on the game’s development until it was working right, and though it took time Cyberpunk 2077 looks to be back on track. Is this too late to attract back the countless players that where truly burned the first time out? A brief overview of the game before we get on to what’s actually changed in this new patch, as the game takes a good 4 to 5 hours to kick in and that really sets the scene. You learn the ropes, as well as what Night City is like – made up of different themed areas, each ruled by a different gang, which helps to add character and flavour to this neon soaked world. Things really kick off when superstar Keanu Reeves (aka Johnny Silverhand) comes on the scene, though at this point things move up the gears and you feel like you’re racing the clock, as the main tale pulls you through it at break neck speed over some 20+ hours. It can be a bit jarring though, as the game is packed with side missions and things to do, but you feel you have to focus on the main story all the time instead of exploring the city.
Combat is an FPS affair and is ok, but somewhat of a numbers game. This is an RPG after all, so when it comes to guns and weapons the highest number wins, though there is a good selection of firepower to play with and find. Cyberpunk 2077 has hours and hours of content to be found and tonnes of tales to be told, though it does fall into a bit of a cookie cutter mould after you blast the 74th gang of thugs and retrieve a box of stuff from them, but when it’s all working you’ll easily lose hours in its world. It’s also where CD Projekt Red shows their skills in building a multi-layered world that is living and breathing beyond the actions of yourself, as there is a lot of lore to be learned. So with that out the way what’s new? Well, a year’s worth of updates have ironed out a lot, but not all, of the issues and on the whole it’s a much better game for it.
Having completed Cyberpunk 2077 100% at launch, I know well the issues that haunted the game – from random crashes to odd loading spikes – thankfully that’s all gone, but that’s not to say there are no issues, as frame rates do drop and NPC’s do a bit of T posing as well. But it’s safe to say it’s now in line with what you would expect from an open world game. Let’s say it’s a solid base with a few rough edges. There are also two new visual modes: one is the Performance mode that runs the game at 60 FPS on both PS5 and Xbox Series X, though there is no 60 FPS mode on the Xbox Series S. The second is the Ray-Tracing mode and this runs the game at 4K and 30 FPS on PS5 and Xbox Series X (while on the Xbox Series S, the game will run at 1440p with no local shadows). Gameplay has also been tweaked with the driving now being a lot tighter and less like jelly bouncing around in an earthquake. Also AI has been beefed up and doesn’t just stand there getting filled with bullets. It’s a lot of small and easily overlooked tweaks, but they add to the game and make it a much richer world.
Now the killer question – is Cyberpunk 2077 a “good” game? Well it’s a better game that is closer to the vision we were sold on, but still falls a bit short. Night City is the star of the show in a lot of ways, but it’s very much a look don’t touch affair, as it’s really just pretty set dressing. Also the RPG side of things never really feels like it plays a huge part in the game, as it does in the likes of The Witcher. If you never played it at launch or are willing to bury the hatchet there is a fun time to be had here now that is in a stable state, but it may (and likely will) take years to get to the promised final product.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now on PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, PS4 and PS5, and last gen versions get a free upgrade to the next gen edition.
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