After eight years in development, the hotly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 has finally arrived to overwhelmingly mixed reception. While PC gamers get to experience the next-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077, console gamers on the other hand have much to grieve about.
With reports on the PS4/Xbox One indicating terrible frame drops, poor textures, and consistent crashes, the general consensus is that Cyberpunk 2077 is virtually unplayable on base console platforms. And you know the situation is bad when CD Projekt Red themselves are issuing refunds.
Meanwhile, for the rest of us who are playing the PS4 version of Cyberpunk 2077 on next-gen consoles, the verdict remains unclear. Even though the game runs smoothly on the PS5, you would have to wait for future patches to experience the next-gen version. Less than ideal graphics aside, the ambitious open world of Cyberpunk 2077 still has a lot to offer.
A Mad World
Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City is a flashy, futuristic metropolis that isn’t afraid of flaunting its dark and gritty side. The result is a truly unique dystopia that is equal parts seductive and repulsive. It was only hours into the game when I started becoming aware of how certain in-game elements can prove annoying that ended up tainting an otherwise fantastic gameplay experience.
True to its staggering map size, Cyberpunk 2077 is filled with many things to do. There’s an abundance of side quests, gigs and random incidents to encounter on the map. And while a fair bit of investment went into ensuring most side quests feel memorable and distinct, the same could not be said for gigs.
You go from retrieving rogue AI limousines with varying personalities and solving murder mysteries in side quests to repetitive fetch quests and routine assassinations in gigs. It seems at odds with CD Projekt Red’s reputation for strong writing and quest design, which we have experienced plenty of in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Luckily, the main story manages to shine through as Cyberpunk 2077’s biggest strength. You play as V, whose story progression will differ depending on which origin you pick during character creation, be it a nomad, street kid or corporate rat.
And while you’re free to explore Night City early on, most side quest options aren’t available to you until you’ve at least finished the first act of the game. But it’s a small price to pay as Cyberpunk 2077 delivers polished writing and fast-paced action, with enough emotional beats to keep you engaged and invested in the main story.
Depending on how fast you progress with the main story, it may take hours before you finally meet the infamous Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves. Most people you encounter during your playthrough show great thought and care that goes into their characterisation and script, but how the game utilises Johnny Silverhand remains as one of the main highlights of Cyberpunk 2077.
When you’re not busy with the main story, you’re free to do any of the numerous quests available to increase your street cred. You can do gigs, assist the NCPD or go on an assassination spree to up your street cred, which will in turn grant you benefits with merchants and access to better gear.
These quests allow you to fully explore combat options in Cyberpunk 2077. You could go with guns blazing, wield blades or be a tech genius – there’s so much freedom to approaching every fight! But while there are many gun types available, from smart-assist guns to assault rifles with cool reload mechanics, the melee options aren’t as exciting. Melee combat also feels reminiscent of Falloutgames, where it’s just plain ol’ left and right swinging without much variety.
Enemies are basically bullet sponges, which does seem unrealistic because you’d expect a headshot to take the enemy out. But considering Cyberpunk 2077 is a futuristic world where everyone is filled with cybernetic implants, some suspension of disbelief is needed on the player’s part.
Mostly, I tackled Cyberpunk 2077 with a stealthy approach. It worked well with my tech spec, allowing me to fully utilise my Quickhack abilities that range from remotely deactivating surveillance systems and frying enemies’ optics, to causing their weapons to glitch. Rather than busting down the front door with an automatic rifle, I found the sneaky assassin approach more satisfying and immersive.
Spoiled For Choice Isn’t Always Good
You need not worry about narrowing to one type of combat class in Cyberpunk 2077. You can become a hybrid type depending on how you invest in your skill trees. The skill trees however are frankly quite messy and inefficient.
There are five main attributes: Body, Reflexes, Technical Ability, Intelligence and Cool. Upgrading these attributes can open up stat-based dialogue options and allow you to perform stat-based actions in-game, like breaking open doors. The downside to this means that if you invested your points in areas other than Technical Ability, you may miss out on quests that require tech skills, for example, hacking a device to save an NPC character.
Even within these five attributes, there are multiple skills with even more unlockable perks. Most of these perks only add a slight upgrade to your existing actions, usually in terms of speed or damage. Instead, perks that add new abilities to your combat usually require higher skill levels, which you can increase by doing actions related to the specific skill.
For some skills like Stealth, you’re able to grow it naturally by doing more stealth actions during combat. But for other skills like Athletics, you’ll need to sprint. A lot. This may appear quite meaningless since Cyberpunk 2077 actively encourages you to drive your fancy rides. There’s a ton of perks to choose from so careful planning is definitely required to ensure that your points don’t go to waste.
A Game of Precision Looting
Other areas of annoyance in Cyberpunk 2077 include looting and frequent crashes. Aside from the fact that there’s too much loot in the game (most of it trash), the game demands pinpoint accuracy when picking up loot. You need to be looking directly at the item, even if it’s as small as a card, in order to access it. If a body falls on top of a quest item, it’s sometimes nigh impossible to retrieve it! I might have screamed at some point.
Of the 30 hours I’ve invested into Cyberpunk 2077 on the PS5, the game has managed to crash once every half hour. It’s possibly the only annoyance that can be countered with frequent quick-saving, which I highly recommend to avoid backtracking. The game’s autosave feature is not as efficient as I’d hoped – oftentimes it doesn’t autosave after completing a gig, so when the game crashes, I’ve had to re-do the mission.
Ambitious Beginnings, Bleak Outcome
Cyberpunk 2077 depicts a cold, hyper-capitalist world that explores the harshness of surviving in such a cut-throat reality. In doing so, however, the game falls back on over-sexualisation of women and trans people. While I understand that this serves to expose how people are reduced to consumable objects in a hyper-capitalist society, it nevertheless affects me to some extent, having to witness the excessive sexualisation and violence of female and trans bodies in the game.
One has to look beyond Cyberpunk 2077’s crass and bleak exterior to get to the good parts. At the core of it, Cyberpunk 2077 is about the people you meet – all of them struggling in their own ways to outlive Night City, each with differing motivations and compelling stories to tell.
Cyberpunk 2077 is undeniably a fun action RPG with enough content to make your money’s worth. Aside from crashes, occasional glitches and some cumbersome game mechanics, the game plays well enough on the PS5.
If only CD Projekt Red had waited, instead of releasing this half-baked product that’s too ambitious for base consoles. Whether or not Cyberpunk 2077 manages to redeem itself in the eyes of fans with the upcoming patches, only time will tell.