There was a surprise update to my Amazon order only a couple of days ago and before I expected it I found that my own copy of Cyberpunk 2077 was delivered and I was on my way to installing it on my Series X. Seeing as I was in a situation similar to a lot of other fans, the process to install was taking a lot longer than planned thanks to that gargantuan day one patch (40+GB!) but once past that I was ready to dive in. I really like the effort CD Projekt Red (CDPR) have put into the packaging side of the game’s physical release – in an age when you’re lucky to get more than a leaflet tucked into a box with the game disc here there’s a nice number of goodies (map, cards, etc) to help you settle into the world you’re about to inhabit. It’s a very old school approach that they also adopted for The Witcher 3 and I really appreciate it.
When you first start the game you’re offered one of three paths to follow that determine your initial persona (nomad, streetkid and corpo) and having chosen streetkid the impression I get is that most of the early previews were from this choice. In the very least your persona will impact conversations which adds some variety in replay but I’m a long way from testing that part out further. The previews only scratched the surface of what you experience and more importantly it’s mainly been from the prologue (!) which means there is a lot more to come during the course of play. It does really well in laying out the groundwork too for what you need to do once you get into the main game.
What kind of game is it? After a few hours of play so far the biggest impression I get is that this game does feel like a massive extension of what was accomplished in The Witcher 3. It may be in first person perspective now but the interactions with NPCs, inventory management and travelling do share a lot of that game’s DNA. Your car even becomes the new Roach… you’ll see that once you start playing! You might think at first it’s taking cues from GTA and even The Division due to the city location and numbers heavy combat but in play it’s still a CDPR role playing game through and through. Night City feels like taking one of the large city locations from The Witcher 3 and then tripling the building and crowd density… there’s a lot going on around you and no wonder the game is bursting at the seams at times. That you are standing in the middle of this is an impressive achievement.
Thoughts so far…
I think the game looks really good – I’m playing on a Series X which according to Digital Foundry is probably the best console to play it on right now and I’ve been happy with it so far. Each new location I visit comes across as being entirely unique and it’s made it a fun place to explore in a car or on foot. I know PlayStation 4 and Xbox One users have different ideas about the visuals right now but I can’t really say anything from that perspective yet. And next gen console patches are still some time away so there are more improvements coming in 2021.
Keanu Reeves presence in the game is still a big surprise to me. Even with the advertising I wasn’t sure how much he’d actually be appearing but there’s more than I expected so far. His character Johnny Silverhand is an interesting dude to say the least – if someone went near his dog he’d LITERALLY take the nuclear option (just sayin’). The introduction to who he is was very well managed and hints at parts of the wider world too while apparently tying in nicely with the original source material from Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk RPG.
The bugs. Yes, the game has a lot of issues but nothing calamitous from my time playing it. NPCs getting stuck in geometry, UI getting stuck and major frame rate hitches have been the bulk of my problems and CDPR have committed to updating the games as quickly as possible to resolve these. Admittedly it doesn’t create a great first impression in terms of QA but I’ve seen worse already on my Series X and there’s been plenty of games over the years that have faced worse launches too. I’d certainly understand if people want to wait a little while longer as more patches roll out.
The density of the world is both a blessing and a curse. It’s quite incredible to be able to walk around while stuff is going on everywhere. Crimes occur everywhere, plenty of shops to visit and NPCs to interact with. It goes a long way to creating that feeling of a clockwork city when so much is in your face. However with that it also exposes the things you can’t do when doors won’t open, NPCs give canned responses and you find terminals you can’t access. It’s certainly not unique to Cyberpunk 2077 but came to my mind faster here simply because I wanted to interact with EVERYTHING. It’s easy to see though how DLC could be integrated by opening a few more doors for you…
The negativity surrounding the game both pre and post launch has really tarnished the reputation of the game but in my time playing Cyberpunk 2077 so far it’s been great and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story takes me. Following up from what is often considered the best role playing game of the last console generation would not have been easy but CDPR gave it a red hot go and my impressions so far is that they’ve delivered another amazing game. Time (and lots of patches!) will hopefully let all players see it in the best possible light and then figure out how well it ultimately measures up but with my experience so far I’m feeling confident it will eventually succeed in meeting everyone’s lofty expectations.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for PC and Xbox/PlayStation platforms.