Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most anticipated video games in the history of this industry. CD Projekt Red has been regarded as one of the most trusted studios of modern gaming, but I’m not sure that reputation will persist after the disappointing launch of Cyberpunk 2077. For a game that is so detailed, ambitious, and expansive – the sheer volume of bugs and glitches have dampened the excitement around that. If you’re playing on console, especially on the previous generation, you’re in for even more technical issues that are downright unacceptable.
For the past month or so, gaming fans have had the opportunity to revel in the excitement of next generation consoles, along with the software to accompany them. We’ve had fantastic titles at launch already, but Cyberpunk was seemingly the most ambitious, ground-breaking title in the launch window. I’m sure it is a really great game beyond the technical issues, however, my console experience has been a disaster with bugs that halt my progression and crashes that drop me out of the experience entirely. I’m not one to complain about this normally, but the visual downgrade from marketing was also quite obvious. For a game that relies so heavily on immersion, it’s hard to believe that any studio would pass this as admissible, but it’s clear that they were aware, as made evident by the embargo restrictions on pre-release reviews. Reviewers weren’t given console copies, and even those on high end PCs were restricted to using gameplay footage specifically supplied by CDPR. Not only was this incredibly shady, but it was obviously hiding the inevitable mess of a game running on consoles that it probably should have never been developed for.
I’m playing the PS4 version of this game on a PS5, and I can’t imagine the ruined experience players are having on PS4 and Xbox One. Moreover, most of the players are on last generation consoles given the shortages of PS5 and Xbox Series X stock. Digital Foundry (the tech analysis experts at Eurogamer) recently posted about their tests on PS4 and PS4 Pro. Their video is great and informative, but the product they were testing was awful. Frame rates were dipping far below 20 fps in busy areas, crashes were frequent, and the density of the world was dramatically reduced. In a sandbox game with interlocking systems and and an environment you can play with, how could you enjoy yourself knowing the next inescapable crash will interrupt your fun? There are open world RPGs on last generation of consoles that, while slightly less ambitious, will give you an immeasurably better experience that is actually worth playing; one of which was developed by this very studio – The Witcher 3. Even that game was buggy at launch, and didn’t perform the best on consoles, but it wasn’t egregious enough to ruin the experience for the millions of players who claim it to be one of the best RPGs of the generation.
What’s most disappointing about this is that Cyberpunk 2077 has so much potential. The game is beautiful despite the downgrade, and the world is rich, and detailed, and full of life. The animations are impressively fluid and realistic when they work, and the immersion is fantastic until it’s interrupted. I’ve only played a few frustrating hours, but what I played was merely the groundwork of a truly remarkable game that just isn’t quite ready yet. It feels like a beta. In true CDPR fashion, I’m sure they’ll roll out updates and patches to meet the standard of quality that fans expect. The promise of a next generation update give me hope, but it begs the question of why CDPR wouldn’t just wait to make this a true next generation experience in the first place, when it’s clear that the product is half-baked in its current form. With a player base over 100 million on PS4, I think the an$wer is obviou$. Though, I’m not sure it’s healthy for their reputation moving forward; I know I will be cautious heading into their next release.
I want to give CDPR the benefit of the doubt, because I know that COVID-19 has impacted the development cycle on most games, and they’ve proven themselves to be more than capable in the past. I just feel like another delay would have been the better call, because first impressions last the longest. After all, they have promised single player DLC and a multiplayer mode in their road map, so they seemingly want this to be a living game with a growing audience. Here’s to hoping for a massive patch to extinguish the flames, and ongoing support to smother the embers.
SideQuesting’s Hot Takes are opinion pieces, sometimes mini-reviews and sometimes train of thought, about a specific game or subject.