Stunning soundtrack that has clearly taken inspiration from Blade Runner 2049 with what sounds like a smattering of Game of Thrones and Westworld vibes. Trust me. It’s absolutely brilliant throughout.
On next-gen consoles Cyberpunk 2077 is a very pretty game, which is what we’re judging it on. On base last-gen consoles, honestly, just forget it and wait until you embrace the next-gen technology before you jump in.
Whatever your playstyle, whether it be stealth, charm, hacking, brawler or master of arms, combined with Cyberpunk’s RPG mechanics, it’s an absolute joy to play, but you might have to tweak your settings to get to that point. On foot, that is. The less said about the driving, the better.
Night City is perhaps the most incredibly city in a video game, ever. It's fantastical, it's alluring, it’s dirty, it's everything we've seen in sci-fi films for eons. Throw in some brilliant characters, a story that keeps on delivering, and you have one of the best sci-fi games around. It’s Deus Ex's ingenuity and creativity mixed with GTA's scale. It’s just a shame it's so buggy.
Solid list that will require many, many hours, but honestly, an excuse to stay longer in this world isn’t needed, but sure is welcomed.
December 15, 2020
[Editor’s Note:] Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. First things first, the current state of Cyberpunk 2077 on the Xbox One, Xbox One S and the PS4 is frankly unacceptable. With dismal visuals, a hell of a lot of bugs and an atrocious frame-rate, we can’t in good conscience recommend you play the game on those platforms until there are significant improvements. In my 15 years of doing this I have never known a release be this appalling across the board on one platform and you might say “what do you expect on a 7-year old console?” Well, we say: “If you’re selling a game on that platform, or without warnings for consumers, then you shall be held to the standards expected on those machines.” Our review is based upon us playing Cyberpunk on next-gen platforms, but in our tests, we can also report that both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro versions of the game run admirably too. From a technical perspective, of course, we’ll talk more about bugs later on. Anyway, on with the show!
Cyberpunk 2077, in many ways, is a lesson for the future. A warning for what the unfettered control of organisations could wreak if left to their own devices. A lesson in what could happen if those in power continue to vilify the media to cover up their own heinous crimes. A cautionary tale relating to constantly-evolving technology, that could one day see us staring down the barrel of a metaphorical body augmentation gun, and that greedy billionaires will do anything to live forever.
Night City: often pretty.
Cyberpunk 2077 itself also serves as a valuable lesson to perhaps not buy into the hype that publishers and studios try to drum up, not because overhyped games aren’t necessarily good – they’re usually excellent – but because seldom can anything live up to the hype. Cyberpunk 2077 was billed as the Second Coming in some circles, and I can report that’s not the case. What is certain, however, is that developer CD Projekt RED has once again proved it knows how to make an exceedingly good video game.
Night City serves as the backdrop for The Witcher 3 studio's latest open-world outing – a future dystopia where corporations wield power on-high from their skyscrapers, as the law and gangs fight down in the dirt. Night City is a mess; a glorious futuristic mess that is everything we’ve come to expect from a dark vision of the future, inspired by the work of Philip K. Dick and tech-noir movies like Blade Runner. Neon-soaked skylines obscured by smog frame Night City's grimy back alleys, insane contraptions, and human augmentation gone mad, although, alas, there are no flying cars.
Cyberpunk 2077's dense world is one that keeps on giving, demonstrating stark economic disparity at every turn, throwing you into its seedy underbelly with glorious set-pieces in memorable, detailed environments. In fact, not only is Night City one of the most immersive and frankly fascinating game worlds I’ve ever set foot in, but it’s the perfect backdrop for a sci-fi epic in which you play as V, a mercenary looking to make their way to the top by any means necessary.
While Night City is a setting that should be celebrated for its depth and detail, the story of Cyberpunk fails to match its surroundings. At times, during the opening act, it’s so stop and start that it can feel a bit disjointed. Thankfully, the world and its range of alluring characters keep you glued to the screen until it finally hits its stride in the second act. As for how it ends? Well, that’s entirely up to you. Let’s be honest, though, Cyberpunk 2077’s story isn’t going to win any awards, but it still serves as a captivating ride from start to finish.
It’s easy to imagine that Cyberpunk 2077 is nothing but bravado and glamour on the surface, but it’s actually deceptively deep, especially as an RPG. There are probably more levels to Cyberpunk than any other RPG I’ve played. You have Oblivion-style sub-levelling for specific attributes, like athletics, handguns and so on; you have an in-depth armour and weapon system with mods galore; your Cyberdeck for hacking enemies and the environment; the ability to augment the shit out of yourself; a traditional levelling system; a Street Cred ranking system; and finally, a crafting system that will come in handy for players playing on the hardest difficulties.
You could actually play through Cyberpunk 2077 in a range of different ways and have a completely different experience. For instance, my first playthrough was as an argumentative, slightly unhinged psychopath who acts first and thinks later; while my second playthrough saw my V becoming a people pleaser, trying to avoid conflict at every step. From the outset, you also choose a life path for your character, although this aspect boasts nowhere near the same depth as Dragon Age: Origins, for instance. It seems like CD Projekt added the life paths as simply another feather in its cap. Also, we recommend taking the Nomad route – you won’t regret it.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that seems to battle its identity throughout, offering an incredible amount of clothing items and fairly solid character customisation, but you barely see your character throughout, due to its first-person perspective. Then you have an incredibly huge city, one that will require the use of a vehicle, but the handling is some of the worst I’ve actually experienced in a triple-A game. Then you have a world that is enormously over-populated and a map that has hundreds of bloody icons, but the world still feels somewhat empty, like there’s nothing of real substance there. It’s a rather bizarre duality that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in a game of this ilk.
Steal this car.
Then there are the bugs. Oh boy, the bugs! To say Cyberpunk 2077 is a bugfest is a bit of an understatement. In our 50-60 hours with the game we experienced the whole gamut, from hilarious, unintentionally flying cars and immersion breaking flip-flopping corpses; to potentially game-breaking glitches, like not being able to get into Lizzie’s early on as I’d already been there before the story mission. I’d been stuck in first-person view in my car; had people disappear in front of my eyes; rock solid hangs for 10-seconds; floating cigarettes; T-poses galore; and even had a bug that made me over-encumbered, even though I was nowhere near capacity. All of these were fixed with a reboot, but it's less than ideal. This is the thing, though – the aforementioned laundry list of bugs occurred over the space of 50-something hours and none of them were actually game-breaking, only illusion-shattering. That’s not to say they’re acceptable – far from it – but if I’m being completely honest, they didn’t really affect my time with the game, which I ultimately adored.
It’s abundantly clear that Cyberpunk 2077 could have done with a little longer in the oven, but underneath all of the issues, is raw potential. At present, it’s a piece of coal that we’re sure one day will be transformed into a diamond, in the same way The Witcher 3 eventually was. The launch of CD Projekt’s epic 2015 RPG, while not as bad as Cyberpunk’s, was still rocky, and nonetheless, we have nothing but fond memories of that game. Where we are now, though, last-gen consoles aside (which are in an appalling state), is with a game that is thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable – heck, Night City is one of the most incredible worlds I’ve ever stepped foot into – it’s just such a shame about the state of the game. Still, despite all the bugs, for someone who absolutely adores sci-fi, Cyberpunk 2077 is easily one of my favourite games of all-time; it could have been so much more though for so many people.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.