Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk: A late review (long post, no spoilers)

After playing this game for a while now, I think I am finally ready to give an educated guess on how much I like it. I currently have 218 hours on it parted on three saves. Two actually played, one for climbing around and using the Photomode. I spent a good 45 hours climbing all over the place and taking pictures of it alone. I will take a small detour for the Introduction, so please bear with me.

I am consciously playing games for 15 years now (playing a game and then thinking about it after I'm done with it). So I dare say that I understand a bit about what makes a game good and what makes it bad for me personally. Surely, certain points matter more to some while the same points don't matter at all to others and I know there will be people who disagree with me.

A very important thing on how you subjectively rate a game is expectation. My expectation was set pretty high, but not higher compared to other games I was hyped for in the past. To name a few: Halo 3, Uncharted 2/3/4, Sekiro, Deus Ex Mankind Devided, Skyrim, Fallout 4, etc.

Anyways I expected something between Open World RPG (Likes of Witcher 3, Skyrim) and Immersive Sim (Dishonored, Deus Ex, Prey). And that is basically what this game boils down to.Cyberpunk does have a Skyrim like Progression System with Levels and Perks while also having game mechanics out of Immersive Sim, like the "cheesability" of the World and the by deafault more Stealthy approch of mission targets.Imersive Sims, often have an AI that people would describe as "stupid" and usually end with the player character being hopelessly overpowered.

Genre and Gameplay:

From a basic gameplay point of view, the game feels great to play. The movements are fluid and the gunplay is really good for the fact that CDPR has never made a shooter. I treid both the PC and PS4 (pro) verson. The gunplay on Console is tougher as I am not that good with controller aim and also not used to lower than 60 stable FPS but on PC it felt better than Fallout 4.

If you approach Cyberpunk like a regular everyday shooter, the game has a tremedously stupid AI, they stand around like range targets waiting to be shot and only take cover from direct line of sight turning the game into a cover shooter. There is no effort by them to flank or push you if you play stationary (Like for example the enemies in Halo Reach or the Last of us 2). But if you approach the game like it is an Immersive sim the AI starts to sort of "behaves in line with genre".If you are a Netrunner, Melee player or Sniper they AI actually holds up pretty well.

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If you hack them from afar, there is not much they can do before locating you, they will try to enact countermeasures, as a melee player they will just try to shoot you while you sprint at them and as a sniper, they cant do an awful lot besides stay put in cover and return fire. There it is an issue of balancing that people encounter.You can basically clear an entire area within mere seconds as a netrunner, will one hit everyone as a melee or will snipe people through a 30 feet thick concrete wall once you have reached endgame levels and equipment.

Atmosphere and Leveldesign:

The city is quite large, comparable to a GTA V Los Santos although the rest of the Map is not as extensive as GTA V is but that is not a bad thing, bigger isn't always better (I'm talking to you Just cause 3 and 4). The city is well designed and you will find your way around it, I recommend disabling the minimap. It forces you to understand how the game works and to actually recon areas instead of just checking the minimap and following a yellow line. You are playing the game and not the minimap after all.

The mission areas are mostly interesting locations with less interesting content. The "Street gigs" are tiny side missions that mostly require you to break into somewhere and do something (kill someone, steal something, hack something, rescue someone) with usually an angle about them (Stay undetected, find out why X did Y).

The atmosphere is great, the lights are beautiful and make the game really feel in place, it pulled me in straight from the start although the sound design is sometimes weirdly mixed (the radio music is way too quiet) and the Ads are starting to get obnoxiously annyoing with time. (OOOOOOOHHHHHHRRRRRIGATIC)

Story(telling) and (the Illusion of) Choices:

The story is not the best I have played but it is a lot better than 90% of the stories I have played in the past 10 years. Most of the main and side characters are greatly written and really well acted (English). Here and there are weaknesses. (Male V is a bit more cheesy and has more flaws imho).

I liked every single one of the stories in side missions and main misisons and the main story with its wildly different endings and interactions depending on your origin story add to the value of replayability. The software they used for facial animation and body language animation is outrageously good. There are situations where you talk to a person and see a micro expression that hints they are lying and tens of hours later you actually get the confirmation that the person was indeed lying, to just name one example.

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Choices seem to matter to a lot of people, but rarely a game gives you a proper choice. Mostly it is the illusion of choice that is given, this is true for almost every single game that has ever been advertised with "you have the choice".Not many games give you that many choices and really act upon them to change the primary ending. Contrary to the misinformation often spreaded here or on twitter or elsewhere, there actually is choice in this game. Wether or not it matters to you personally is another story.This game will absolutely destroy you if you choose poorly (which usually equals with not choosing at all). There are hidden timers on Quests and different choices throughout the game that directly and indirectly matter towards the end of the game. Also the order of when you do something before something else can influence the outcome of other missions that seem unrelated.

Since this is a story driven game and you can only write so man endings that make sense, most of your choices will have no immediate effect on you or the ending, but will be displayed at the end or will keep information from you if you chose wrong. Contrary to for example Fallout 4, you can actually say "No" and potentially ruin the relationship to a character or even have them die if you come too late to aid them.

Bugs, performance and shortcomings:

They cut the game by quite a substantial margin and there are features that are incomplete and simplified. Namely the police. Other things are missing entirely. While climbing around I found a few places that were supposed to be done, but aren't so they were hidden off after a space wall or 30 meters above ground. The train system was never really announced but i was disappointed that it was missing. The promised verticality of the city is not real. A lot of times you go up, but never in a scale where I would dare to speak of "verticality". The megabuildings are hugely wasted potential with just three of them having more interaction just purely "existing" with a closed off elevator.

As a passionate stealth gamer I was very disappointed by how poorly stealth is handled. The game often entices you to not be detected, but then indirectly punishes you for being stealthy be not giving you replacement XP for being stealthy. If you go through the levels stealthy be the craziest ghost ninja run, in out, no one noticed you, you will get only the mission reward and maybe a handful "stealth" XP.If you however do the "messy stealth run" where you kill/incapacitate everyone without being seen, you get tons of XP.

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The bugs are present but let me tell you, they are not as bad as people try to make you thiunk they are. I have seen worse, wildly worse. Those bug compilation videos are the collective bugs of a lot of people. I personally have seen four (4) dramatically bad bugs (those that require a game restart) in 218 hours and all of them have been fixed with 1.1 or 1.2.

Performance wise the game is a pain for consoles and less potent PCs. I run it on a 5600X with 32GB of RAM and a 3060Ti and get 90 FPS without DLSS on all setting ultra (1440p) without RTX and 40 FPS with the same settings and all RTX features on Ultra. Sometimes (mostly in photomode) I get weird graphical issues when using RTX (flashy pxiels spreading) that disapprear when I turn away and back.

Conclusion:

I had a really great time with it and I still occasionally play it for the photomode.

If you enjoy the dystopian future setting like open world RPGs, story driven games and immersive Sims, definetely give it a chance. If you don't care for the setting, enjoy FPS games more and don't really care about the story or variations of endings, don't bother.

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