Cyberpunk 2077

By now, we’ve all heard about the multitude of issues that plagued the initial launch of Cyberpunk 2077. It has basically become an urban myth, a tale of caution that gets passed down through the generations at campfires, one that echoes through the hallways of game-developer offices far and wide. It is a thing of legend — a cursed legend, sure, but a legend nonetheless. 

I’ve had my own fair share of struggles while trying to enjoy Cyberpunk 2077, first on my old PS4 Pro and then later on my new PS5. And although I did still manage to get several dozens of hours of enjoyment while playing those broken and questionable versions, it was not without trepidation. I would wince at even the slightest hint the game was about to crash, or when a mission seemed like it was about to lock up and not allow me to complete it. 

I have since played Cyberpunk 2077 on a capable PC rig, and although I was mostly over the allure that the game had the very first time I played it, I was able to see how glorious the game could and should be. That being said, even when it plays and looks and feels great, Cyberpunk 2077 is still kind of a messy, low-rent, boring game. 

When I say “messy,” it’s not in the atrocious framerate dips or stutters, screen tears, and unloaded blank map spaces kind of way; I mean “messy” in that the overall HUD and general presentation can be garish and unsightly.

Cyberpunk 2077

The red-hued color scheme — in the HUD and player menus, but also seemingly the world at large — is just ugly. I mean, not that the stoic yellow emblazoned in all of the marketing material is any better, but why lean so heavily on one color for marketing, then turn around and dye everything red in the actual game?

The onscreen text — whether it be the relevant mission objectives, control inputs, or random messaging from in-game characters via your smartphone — is presented with a fever-dream design that makes it difficult to look at.

And the general lack of depth to the world — beyond just the surface level cyberpunk-isms — makes the game feel like a low-budget affair with very little substance. Being able to see the names and personal details of the random NPCs littered about the world might seem kind of neat at first, but these are NPCs you’ll see duplicated a number of times on any given city block, breaking any semblance of immersion or believability. In that context, these details seem meaningless. Who cares what Susan Walsh does for a living? I’m more concerned by the fact that five other people within eyeshot look identical to them and nobody else is alarmed.

I mean, talk about identity theft.

This all brings us to what the future might hold for Cyberpunk 2077, specifically the fabled current-gen versions. If you recall, the available console versions were dedicated to last-gen hardware, lacking the bells and whistles afforded by the beefier PS5 and Xbox Series X|S (which beat Cyberpunk 2077 to market by a month). There is, of course, a small stability bump when playing the game on a current rig, but that is negligible at best, as the performance is still hampered, presumably to bring some parity to the older-gen versions.

Cyberpunk 2077 Glitch

Even after playing the far superior PC version, the only difference between it and the last-gen console versions is that it runs optimally. It doesn’t have a wellspring of additional content or anything meaningful added to it — or rather, the console versions aren’t lacking any content that was only possible on a beefier PC. It is purely a matter of performance and perhaps the ray tracing capabilities, which, although splendid to behold, don’t make Night City any more interesting.

What I’m getting at here is that, even though the PC version is a shining beacon compared to the base PS4 or Xbox One versions, the game overall is still missing a whole lot of content. I assume this was scaled back or removed outright in order to get the game out by CD Projekt Red’s cockamany self-imposed deadlines.

Now, we are all anticipating the imminent release of the current-gen console versions, and we’ve heard tell of an overhauled relaunch of the game proper, which has been reportedly dubbed the Samurai Edition. The Samurai Edition, of course, was just a rumor that was denied by CD Projekt Red, but CDPR’s response was cagey enough that there could be at least some semblance of substance to this. 

Cyberpunk 2077

I am hoping that, whatever this new-gen update is called, it includes features that were scaled back or removed to get the game out the door in 2020. Because although I did enjoy Cyberpunk 2077 for a decent amount of hours, I feel like I have seen everything I need to — I experienced the parts that spoke to me while avoiding the content that didn’t. And even if this is a free new-gen upgrade, the allure of seeing the game run properly on my PS5 for the first time ever isn’t going to be enough to keep me engaged beyond that. And I have a feeling there are plenty of folks in the same boat. It’s a big boat.

For those of us who got our fill the first time around, all of our fun may have theoretically already been had. The world of Cyberpunk 2077 — along with all its various RPG elements — isn’t nearly as deep or engaging as one would’ve hoped. Even if CDPR managed to fill in the game’s missing features, will that be enough? I mean, having a subway system or a dedicated “NPCs-living-their-lives” system might be kind of neat, but I doubt those things would engage a player base that has effectively moved on.

That being said, a discounted price — or a Game Pass release — could go a long way toward garnering a new player base, one that was either scared off by the tidal wave of backlash for the game, or those who were simply just waiting for it to be fixed (or, for last-gen consoles, simply playable).

Cyberpunk 2077

Which brings me to the lingering question: What if the worst-case scenario turns out to be the reality for Cyberpunk 2077’s current-gen versions? What if, simply put, no one cares? That is to say, what if a supposed Samurai Edition (or its equivalent) fails to move the needle in any meaningful way? 

Considering the fact that the game has already been a financial success — perhaps not as big a success as CDPR had originally hoped, but a financial success nonetheless — it would seem that no one has much obligation to keep this ship afloat. CDPR could continue to support it with post-launch content to reward those who stuck with them at their worst, but they could also shut it down and move onto the next project. They are still working to get a current-gen version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt out the door. I’m tempted to think that could prove financially lucrative, possibly even more so than continued support for Cyberpunk 2077 (though I’m certainly no accountant and I could be wrong about this).

It’s hard to know what to expect going forward, especially after CDPR canned Cyberpunk 2077‘s online mode to take stock of how their studio output was modeled. I guess the main takeaway is that, at the end of the day, CDPR will be fine if Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t manage to capture the zeitgeist in any meaningful way, beyond the throngs of negative ink that has been spilled since it launched. I mean, the public has a short-term memory, and turning this thing around seems like an uphill battle that might not be worth the effort. 

A rat burning Cyberpunk 2077

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully that wait won’t be much longer, since CDPR seems like they are still hoping to meet a Q1 2022 window for the next-gen update. Then again, they aren’t exactly known for meeting deadlines. I wish them all the best, and would certainly love to play a better, deeper version of Cyberpunk 2077. But at the same time, I kind of feel like this is a game that’s in the rearview mirror at this point. Perhaps it’s better if it stays back there so we can move onto better things.

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