Saying that Cyberpunk 2077 had a terrible launch is an understatement. Back in late 2020, when the public finally got the chance to play it after several delays and an unsustainable hype surrounding it, they found a completely broken game. Not only it was a farcry from what the developers CD Projekt Red had promissed during all the years since the game was announced, but it was filled with a myriad of technical issues. The case was particularly bad with the PS4 and Xbox One versions, to the point of Sony removing it from their digital store until it reached a “playable” state.
I was one of the persons eager to play the game back then, but all the chaos surrounding it made me forget that idea, until recently. After find the PS4 version at a very good price, I decided to give it a chance and see by myself if it was still as broken, after a few years and countless bug fixing patches.
Is this a RPG?
At a first glance, Cyberpunk 2077 may look like a futuristic Grand Theft Auto, as it was my expectation before playing it, but right from the beggining we understand that it isn’t quite the case. We play as a mercenary named “V”, that can be fully customized to our preference. The game even give us the option to choose one of three distinct backgrounds for our character. Sadly this only changes the early part of the game and a few extra dialog options. But nothing that took my enjoyment from the main plot, that opens in a fantastic way. It goes like this:
Our protagonist, V, is requested to steal an experimental biochip (that is essentially a cyberware implant) during one of their mercenary gigs. While most of the heist went relatively smooth, things turned for worse after they retrieve the chip, being ambushed by its owner’s security. While trying to escape, the chip protection case got damaged, with the only way for V to avoid its degradation being to insert it in their own body. They soon realise that the chip actually contained a soul of a deceased person ready to appropriate V’s body, erasing their own soul in the process. The person in question is Johnny Silverhand, portrayed by Keanu Reeves. From this point, the narrative focus on this mental struggle between two souls fighting over one body, with Silverhand appearing randomly in hallucinations, and in some cases taking full control for a brief moment.
I admit it was quite difficult to summarise the prologue, because there’s much more to it than this, but I don’t want to spoil everything to you. Actually, it was the density of this story and characters dialogs that made me realise that this was far from just an action game, or a shooter. At the same time, everything had a more steamlined feeling than your typical western RPG (comparing for example with any Bethesda Game Studios title). I usually get a bit overwhelmed when I have too many options to choose from, as so, for me Cyberpunk 2077 hit the right balance between linearity and freedom.
With all that said, beside the main story, there are several side quests worth exploring. Usually they are focused on specific characters or groups and span across multiple missions. Each side quest helps you to better understand the complex dynamic of Night City, the place where all this takes place. There are multiple factions fighting for their turf, corporation wars, all new kinds of addictions, and the cherry on top, a completely inefficient police department. The perfect recipe for a chaotic city full of friends, as long as your interests match theirs, and foes, ready to be decimated by a weapon of your choice.
The beauty in Night City
If there is one department where this game absolutely nails the park is the visuals. Every corner of Night City is very detailed and full of colourful neons. There is a certain joy to just wandering around the city during nighttime in a fast car, while listening some Lo-fi beats on Pacific Dreams, one of the many radio stations with music composed specifically for this game. Even the areas outside the city itself, while not so dense in buildings and population, are visually stunning as well. Speaking on density, there lies the biggest issue with this game when played on Xbox One or PS4, as it was my case.
A generational problem
Three years ago, Xbox One and PS4 were still pretty much alive, while its successors were still suffering from huge stock shortages. It made sense to release this game on both back then. Although, beside the bugs common to every platform, new and old, there was an underlying issue carved into the game core design that impeded it to perform well on those consoles. They were equipped by default with good ol’ HDD hard drives. What’s the issue with that, you ask? You see, those drives are very, very slow compared to the now standard SSDs. While navigating around the visually complex Night City, the game often freezes during a few seconds for the hard drive to catch up and load all the necessary assets to render everything visible to the eye. Of course this wasn’t an issue if the drive was fast enough to provide those assets on the fly. Luckily, there is a very obvious solution: upgrading the console’s HDD to a SSD. It makes a world of difference. With this setup, you can have a perfectly playable version of this incredible game on a system with 2013 specs. That on itself is a miracle.
There is an elephant in the room though. This old systems didn’t receive the latest 2.0 upgrade that revisioned some core game mechanics, neither the Phantom Liberty expansion, so you will miss some content just like I did if the last-gen Xbox or Playstation consoles are your only options. But I assure you that even without that, Cyberpunk 2077 is totally worth playing, now that it’s a polished product.
- Engaging and complex main story
- Side quests worth of exploring
- Night City is visually impressive
- Futuristic soundtrack fits really well in this universe
- A SSD upgrade is a “must have” to play it on last-gen consoles
All things considered, Cyberpunk 2077 is an amazing and unforgetable experience that deserves its ongoing redemption story.
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