I picked this up on one of those crazy sales a few weeks ago, figured I should take a look at what the hubbub was about. This is a good example of a game where the vision is out of the reach of the developers.
You know how we’ve had to deal with the dark ages of Star Wars games since EA took over? As much as the games themselves were really quite horrible, there was the added tax of managing expectations. Cyberpunk 2077 has a similar battle, where the setting itself is both widely exploited yet has some dark corners to explore. Whatever you imagine Cyberpunk to be, well, it’s here. People with technology modded to their bodies. Gangs. Corporations running everything. The game never goes beyond expectations here, and feels bound by its familiar trappings. The biggest missed opportunity is that the city itself never becomes a character.
I won’t harp on it too much, but there are still plenty of bugs in this game. People randomly pop in, they go through walls, and enemies/cops have horrendous AI.
The “game” parts are ok I guess. The hacking game really stands out as being painfully boring. Driving feels like someone forgot how car physics works. Melee combat “floats”. The shooting part feels ok, at least in terms of recoil/spread, though the amount of clips/reloads required to get through anything does not scale appropriately. The start takes too long, then it cruises in the middle, then the end has massive bullet sponges. I do enjoy the BrainDance section, where you move around in a video recording experiencing other’s memories. Stealth also feels good, with quite a few missions offering good options in that regard. The less said about the character progression or crafting, the better. It’s meaningful in a P&P session, but doesn’t work here.
The highlight here would be the quest writing and voice acting. Appropriate to the setting, there are only a few “good” and “bad” choices, with nearly everything else fitting in the grey zone. The main quest itself is incredibly short (but awesome), in hindsight, with an expectation that you take on the various side jobs along the way. That quality is less strong… for every River crime investigation you get 6 Delamain rogue taxi cab quests. It feels like there’s missing half a game here in terms of opportunities.
The major complaint is with regards to gigs, smaller side quests that require about 5 minutes of time. Either you take out a bad guy, or unlock a door, or find one item. Complain about Fallout 4 if you like, but it has 10x more meaningful content than this game.
It’s hard to imagine that this game came from the same folks who made the Witcher series. Or rather, it’s hard to imagine that they actually launched this. It would be a great game if it was made by someone else, again to that point of managing expectations. It’s worth $30, but at that price point, nearly any game is worth it. Alternatives in this setting: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Shadowrun, The Ascent, Ghostrunner, or CloudPunk.
While nowhere near to the same degree, The Witcher 3 launched in a pretty rough state too. Plenty of CTDs and broken quests. I ended up putting it aside for almost a year before jumping back to it — but then loved it to the point of it becoming (probably) my favourite CRPG of all time. I don’t think, whenever I do get around to revisiting CP2077, it’ll rise quite to that level. It just had too much to overcome from its starting point.
I may be at the point where the concept of a AAA game simply will not work for me anymore. There was a time where AAA was a practical guarantee of something decent. Now, I’m better off spending $30 on an indie that had great word of mouth and waiting a year for that AAA to get patched and go on sale.
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