Cyberpunk 2077 is out now, and before starting, I have to state that this review comes as a result of playing the game on my Xbox One X, and it is installed on the internal storage, not my external Western Digital drive. There are currently known bugs and performance issues, even after Hotfix 1.06 with this game, especially, on the base Xbox One and PS4 consoles. Please remember this if you are considering buying this game before CD Projekt Red have rolled out more fixes/patches, which are scheduled for January/February 2021 and possibly beyond.
This release from CD Projekt Red is finally here after the awesome Witcher trilogy. I remember when this was announced back in 2012, and have been waiting patiently since then to get my hands on it. Yeah, I have played through the awesome original Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (lets forget about Deux Ex: Mankind Divided) a few times since then, and even older titles like Anachronox ever-waiting for Cyberpunk to arrive.
Cyberpunk 2077, much like Shadow Run, is based on a table-top pen and paper RPG. Played with character sheets, multiple dice, a game guide or dungeon master who narrates the story/mission, and of course a group of friends to play. These types of games aren’t usually played with boards or figures like Warhammer or other table top based games. You decide what you will do in each given situation, and see how things pan out with the other players and what you go up against. Takes me back to my University days playing Shadow Run and Earthdawn!
You play as V who is, essentially, a mercenary/gun for hire. The character can be customised to be either male or female, and every aspect can be tweaked (right down to genitals, and whether you want underwear or not – why?!) to get the character looking exactly how you want them to be. In addition, you will choose a background in either Street Kid, Corporate or Nomad. This option will change the way you meet Jackie Welles, and give you different conversation options in certain scenes. After this, you head into the Cyberpunk 2077 Night City prologue.
Much like the prologues in the Elder Scrolls games, Cyberpunk takes you through the basics of hacking, gunfights, stealth and so on. This is done via story-based missions and also a VR section which is tied into an early mission. The prologue, itself, isn’t a quick 30 minutes though, like the Elder Scrolls games. Cyberpunk 2077 REALLY sets the scene over 6-8 hours with main missions and a good chunk of the open-world Night City, with Police missions and various other events dotted all over the map – some of which you won’t be a high enough level to survive just yet.
The early missions see you teamed up with Jackie, who will be your right-hand man throughout the prologue. Both you and Jackie are wanting to make it into the big leagues and you will be doing missions for a few different folk. This leads up to a mission where you have to retrieve a chip from a Japanese Corporation. To do this one, you have to look at security footage and find the numerous items and clues etc jacked into cyberspace, before following through with the plans and guidance from an off-site member of the team.
The whole opening section of the game, regardless of the ongoing issues and bugs, sets the scene perfectly and draws you in. It gets under your skin and you just cannot put it down.
The gameplay isn’t a straight-up first-person-shooter. Cyberpunk 2077 has deeply-rooted RPG systems, so upgrading and changing weapons and gear is a must from the off, and picking and choosing the various skills available on the trees to help you with firearms, health, stealth, plus way too many more to be listing! On top of your stats and weapons, you’ll be visiting RipperDocs to upgrade your cyberware. Here, you’ll add and upgrade various parts of your body from zoom levels on your eyes, to upgrading your legs so you take less fall damage, or even adding the arm blades you seen on the early trailer.
All the enhancements across the different aspects of your character mean you can set up perfectly for how you want to play. Personally, Ihave put points into the stealth tree and firearms, so I can sneak about, but go loud if I get found sneaking about. If you so wanted, though, you could put loads of points into hacking to be able to short-out enemy cyberware, or be able to alter something in the environment to distract an enemy. It is literally up to you how you want to flesh out V.
Missions see you heading to an area and then killing someone or finding something, usually. Each area of Night City looks different, much like modern cities worldwide. The way things pan out is much like the Borderlands series, in which you will work your way into an area towards an objective, and then once completed, either head out the way you came with little to no resistance, or will be fighting your way out via a different route. Gunplay, again, is kind of similar to Borderlands, with Cyberpunk 2077 being an RPG. All guns have stats and do certain types of damage with various modifiers, so using a below-level gun in a firefight will take more shots to kill an enemy. You really have to keep an eye on your gear and keep it upgraded or swapped out for something better.
There are so many other activities to do in Night City, from Hunting CyberPsychos who have become more machine than person and completely gone off the rails. There are loads of collectibles, fist-fighting in different areas, sudden breakout of a firefight between the Police and gangs, and plenty other things to do if you fancy taking a break from the story. The city, itself, is a bustling Metropolis with folk going about their daily business.
One major gripe I have is when you go to the stores for new gear. For some bizarre reason, there is no preview at all of what you character looks like with the new clothing. This is something that has been done in third-person games for many years now. With Cyberpunk 2077, you literally get thumbnails with stats, and have to just buy what you think you want, and then try it after the purchase. Another thing I don’t like, is that you cannot hide anything you wear on your head, such as hats or masks etc, unlike the Assassins Creed series, as an example. So if you want to see your character’s face, you will have to miss out on a few armour points.
I am quite thankful that I haven’t experienced any major issues with my time playing this game on my Xbox One X. A few minor bugs, but that’s been it. To list the stuff I have noticed, I will start with occasional micro-stuttering like when a character vaulted over a bar during a gunfight, and you could tell it was stuttering, but it was over so fast it didn’t slow the action down. A cut-scene in a coffee shop with Takemura – an NPC – floated in an inch or so, gliding across the floor without his legs moving, and went to the bar and picked something up and floated back out! Next, a chase scene where you are in the car with Takemura after the prologue, you are handed a gun to deal with the bikers and the gun in your hand is invisible while you cock it… but thankfully appears when you first aim with it. Almost finally, a bare fist-fight with the two clones I was beaten first time, and then when I retried one clone stood still the entire fight doing nothing at all so the second one just took his licks and I finished that leg of the mission.
Finally, after the 1.06 Hotfix which arrived just before Christmas, the driving seems to have become a bit choppy with the frame-rate. Additionally, when I parked a bike up on the edge of a path, heading to an objective, an NPC which was on the path cowered the way they do, before disappearing and then reappearing on the road to the side of the bike! Like I said, nothing game-breaking at all, thankfully, and most the time, the framerate is around a steady 30fps. I have watched the Digital Foundry video on the XB1X and PS4 Pro performance, and both versions are running at just above 1080p, so maybe CD Projekt Red should lock the resolution down to 1080p which will give a small bit of a performance boost, amongst whatever else they are doing to fix things.
Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 for me has delivered and the game is a masterclass in world design and story. Thankfully, the bugs I encountered haven’t been game-breaking for me and I have loved every minute I have spent in Night City, but like I said at the very start, your mileage may vary. With regards to the bugs, CD Projekt Red are working on fixing this and hopefully swill get the performance sorted as well. I remember when The Witcher III: Wild Hunt launched, there were issues with certain towns and cities, and the framerate bottoming out. All the issues were fixed over the course of a few months, and it is now one of the most cherished games in many people’s collections. I am sure Cyberpunk 2077 will be the same.
I cannot comment on the base console versions, but if you have an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, then you are pretty much safe to pick this up and enjoy it, or if you have a PC which has enough grunt to run this maxxed out, then go for that, as the PC version is working great from what I have read.
The scores I am assigning to this are based on the current build and issues, but will happily upgrade them to a 9.5 or so once Cyberpunk 2077 can be played without issues.
Thanks to our friends at CD Projekt Red for the review code for Xbox One X.
- Developer: CD Projekt Red
- Publisher: CD Projekt Red
- Players: Single-player
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!