Cyberpunk 2077 has many bugs, to be sure. People fall through the world after you kill them, weapons randomly won’t fire or be entirely removed from your inventory, and — at least on last-gen consoles — the game could crash at any moment, especially if you go into a marketplace.
Yet, despite having to quicksave every thirty seconds for fear the game will crash or having to reload that save when a vital NPC I need to kill falls through the world, I’ve had a blast playing Cyberpunk 2077 on my X-Box One. In fact, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite games.
The story and voice acting is on point
Cyberpunk is a dark genre. Cyberpunk 2077 has a dark story. There should be no surprises there.
CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio that developed Cyberpunk 2077, spared no expense in recruiting vocal and storytelling talents for their game. No spoilers, but the moment you meet these characters — like Judy or Dex — they visually come across as interesting (even with last-gen graphics), and then you’re blown away by their dialogue and voice acting.
The story is split up into a narrative act structure that feels short for such a massive game world, but it works and leaves room for much DLC in the future. There are several endings, and the way the story is structured, you can see all of them in one playthrough, I’m told.
I decided to see one of the endings and then select the option to create a new character instead of going back to see another ending. I’d rather tell the story of my V without dropping out of the immersion to see another way it could have ended. I’ll save that for the ending of a different V.
Cyberpunk 2077 brings to life an old 1980’s tabletop roleplaying game called Cyberpunk 2020. Interestingly, they approached character creation in the same way that many tabletop RPGs do — with limitations.
“Theory-crafting” is a term used by Dungeons & Dragons players for planning out a character before you play them. The practice is sometimes looked on derisively by those who would prefer to play through the story to see what happens, adapting your character to those events. For others, however, like myself, theory-crafting isn’t just part of the fun; it is the fun.
The internet wasted no time helping this theory-crafting along by creating a pretty in-depth character planner.
Why is theory-crafting relevant in Cyberpunk 2077?
While the game doesn’t have classes — like fighter, rogue, or wizard — it does have an attribute cap of 71 if you level your character to the max level of 50. With five attributes that can each have a maximum score of 20, you would need 100 attribute points to play a completely maxed out V.
This is a feature, not a flaw.
Unlike Red Dead Redemption 2, where your character’s attributes are pools of resources like health or stamina, and you can experience everything the game has to offer during a single playthrough, Cyberpunk 2077 requires multiple playthroughs to try the different versions of V.
On my first playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077, I played a street samurai, a kid from the streets who learned to cut things in twine! During that playthrough, I saw all kinds of cool guns and hacking opportunities that I wanted to try out. So my next playthrough saw me going the route of a stealthy hacker assassin. Both were a complete blast.
It plays like a solid first-person shooter
Okay, ‘solid’ may not be the right word as of this writing. It’s the best early-access game I’ve ever paid for, and that’s exactly how it feels: “early.” The game needs a lot of work for stability and bug squashing.
Again, despite all of that, it’s a joy to play.
When it works, it works wonders. From the punchiness of gunplay to the time-dilation of some cyberware mods that make you feel like Neo from The Matrix, combat in the game is a ton of fun that feels like some of the more dedicated first-person shooters.
And if you are not into FPS-style gameplay, you can pick up a smart weapon pretty early on, which locks onto targets with homing bullets. Take cover and point in a bad guy’s general direction! It’s a lot of fun that, for me, is unique to Cyberpunk 2077 (I haven’t seen another game where homing weapons can be your staple firearm, though I may be living under a rock here).
Where the critics have it right
I’ve gone over how Cyberpunk 2077 is a great game, but nothing is perfect, and some of its criticism is well-deserved.
Here’s a shortlist of some of the criticism I’ve seen about the game that is true yet fixable by a dedicated dev team.
- Broken mechanics and tooltips: do crit mods on armor stack? Does the Merciless perk work? I can’t tell. There is dreadfully little information to go on, and what can be found in the in-game databank is obviously from previous builds of the game. Bugs can be fixed, though, so this will be less of an issue in the future.
- Your choices don’t ultimately matter: if you’ve played Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ve seen how the world reacts to choices you make. Cyberpunk 2077 forces you into a linear story, and the world doesn’t care what you did twenty minutes ago. It makes you feel like you are not an essential agent of change in the world, even though that’s supposed to be the purpose of V’s story.
- V always looks like a toddler who dressed themselves: the only way to look fashionable is to gimp yourself by not wearing your best gear. Just have a look at some of the YouTube videos where people show off their builds. I made some cosmetic decisions that affected my combat effectiveness, but it was important for my immersion that my corpo V didn’t look like she just walked out of a rave.
- The game is short: there’s plenty to do, but again, none of it matters to the relatively short story, which you can complete in two or three days if your sessions are long. I keep going back to Red Dead Redemption 2 — it’s quite possibly the best open-world game ever developed — but even the side elements that were completely optional were relevant to the honor system and the shaping of your place in the world. In Cyberpunk 2077, the only reason to go off on a side mission is to level up your character or see the mission's mini-story, which are often more compelling than the linear main story. At least your decisions matter in the side missions.
Downloadable content can fix a lot of these issues, especially the broken mechanics and incomplete tooltips. A lot of people wanted this game to be perfect when it was released, and CDPR definitely dropped the ball on an eight-year project‘s release, but there’s a lot to enjoy about the game, even on a last-gen console.
Is Cyberpunk 2077 the best game I’ve ever played? Not currently. It has the potential to become that, and coming from the MMO generation of gamers who are used to growing with a game, I look forward to that potential being realized. At any rate, it’s a game that I recommend trying out, even if you have a last-gen console.
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