Cyberpunk 2077 One Year Later

It has already been over a year since the release of the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077. Remembered as one of the biggest train-wrecks in the gaming world, CD Projekt Red, the game’s developers, received a ton of backlash for releasing what seemed to be an unfinished game.  I happened to be one of the suckers who preordered Cyberpunk 2077 and here is my perspective of the game’s journey from year zero to one.

Hopeful Beginnings

In 2012 there was a promise that a game was in the works that would be the definitive RPG title of the century. A first-person shooter set in a massive neon dystopian world with endless possibilities. With each new leak of information on the coming title, and CDPR’s success with the Witcher franchise, fans’ expectations skyrocketed.

Keanu Reeves was to play one of the main protagonists and a few years before the game’s release marketing for Cyberpunk appeared everywhere. The bright neon yellow banners were all over ad spaces both online and on the street. With all the hype, it was hard not to get excited about what was supposed to be the biggest game of the decade. With an initial release date of April 16, 2020, I decided to preorder it that spring.

Failing Spectacularly

The first delay pushed the release back to September. The second moved the date back to November, and finally to December. Whether this was a good or bad sign… it was a bad sign. But when you spend over seven years waiting for a game, you expect delivery on all the promises that you were given.

It was no secret that Cyberpunk would push old-gen consoles like the Ps4 and Xbox One to their limits. With the high graphics quality and jam packed open world, it would’ve been assumed that there had to be optimizations made for the game to run well on older consoles.

I finally got the game for Ps4 and it turns out that it was barely playable. Before the release of the first patch, I fought hours of nauseating graphics, horrendous FPS drops and nightmare inducing character model glitches. Why? Because I waited EIGHT YEARS. I almost convinced myself that these issues were not that bad. My PlayStation friends ridiculed me for playing an unfinished game so I would often change my status to appear offline.

I floundered through the campaign and side-missions, somehow getting through each blurry encounter with a stuttery finesse. Then the most unanticipated thing occurred when I finished the game; I actually had a really good time.

Enjoying an Unfinished Game

Cyberpunk 2077 is a part of that group of games that were pushed out before being completed . Fallout, Halo, Assassins Creed and Battlefield are all a part of the unfinished game club. There is a whole community waiting for a release of a game which has been hyped up for years, only to be let down and have their hopes crushed on release. Sure, it’s nice that you have SOMETHING but what’s the point if it’s barely playable. In the past when a game was released, that was it. There would be no promises that the game would be finished “later”. Now we are being given the outline of what we expect with a promise that later patches will complete the product that we already paid for.

That being said, I saw the vision for what this game should’ve been and I fell in love with it. The story had me constantly engaged. Each mission led me deeper and deeper into the expansive Night City where I interacted with all kinds of characters. The missions never really felt repetitive and there were an overwhelming amount of jobs and tasks to complete aside from the main storyline. Weapons and their modifications were interesting, fun to mess around with and not too complicated. Body enhancements and the openness of the world gave you a hundred different ways to approach a situation. Lastly, I’m usually the guy who skips as much dialogue as possible, but in Cyberpunk the conversations between characters was fluid and engaging while also giving players the option to choose what your character says and that having an impact on the outcome of the conversation.

Was the world wrong for judging Cyberpunk 2077 so harshly? No. It was still impossible to look past all its flaws and glitchy gameplay. Even after having enjoyed the game, once I completed the main storyline, there was no way I was going to deal with all the game breaking glitches to 100 percent it.

One Year Later…

Flash forward one year – I finally put together my PC. I’ve always been a console gamer at heart but after months of trying to buy a PlayStation 5, building a PC for three times the price that I could continually modify just made sense. And I couldn’t have done it sooner because it just so happened that Cyberpunk 2077 was on sale for the holidays. Some would say it was destiny, others would question my sanity for buying the game a second time after stupidly preordering it the first time. However, I knew that this game had potential and I had to give it a second chance.

I have a somewhat decent GTX 1650 graphics card and even then my graphics setting are turned down to basically the minimum. The game still looked great and even had noticeable improvement from what I remembered it looking like on PS4.  The drops in frame rate only really occur when there are large crowds of character models which only spawn in large numbers during missions. Compared to the PS4 version of the game (and probably also due to the numerous patches which released) the game runs smooth as butter.

One of the biggest let downs from my second playthrough, however, was choosing a different “life path”. When you begin a new story, players are given the option to choose between three life paths: Nomad – Your character was brought up in Night City’s Badlands and they were a part of a clan which they just left. Street Kid – Your character was brought up on the streets of Night City and has knowledge on the going ons of the city’s underbelly. Lastly, Corpo – your character was employed by Arosaka, the largest corporation in the city.

The game makes it sound like this is a huge decision that will greatly impact your story… but it’s all BS. The only difference is about 5 minutes of the game’s introduction and then they all converge into the prologue. There are also some dialogue choices that differ depending on your choice but they have little effect on the story.

Other than that, I’ve put nearly 60 hours into the game in the past two weeks and it’s a great time. If you really take it slow and appreciate the work that was put into the environment and the effort to make Night City as lively as possible, it’s mind blowing. Sometimes I just walk around marketplaces or my apartment complex and just live in this dynamic city like the rest of the NPCs. There are even small interactions that can turn into side quests and have results depending on if you do or do not follow up on them in time.

For example, just below your apartment, if you take the time to speak to the officers knocking on your neighbors door, you’ll stumble across a situation where an off-duty officer is dealing with the death of a loved one and doesn’t feel like he has the support he needs. Now you can try and speak to your neighbor but he wont open his door at first so you have to come back at a later time. If you do then he’ll invite you in and you can have a talk about loss and mental health. What happens to him depends on if you come back later to check up on how he’s doing.

I’m discovering that it’s small interactions like that which really keep me coming back to this game.

If you already decided on not giving Cyberpunk a shot then I urge you to reconsider and approach it with an open mind. I also recommend you play it on a medium to high-end PC or a next-gen console.

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