With only one month left before release, it’s high time to highlight the aspects of the game that concern me. Before we go into detail, you as a reader need to know that I am very much hyped over the game. The majority of the articles I wrote about Cyberpunk 2077 have been exclusively subjective. And even though I have been skeptical of the game, I have stifled those thoughts hour after hour of cyberpunk – partly because I do not want to feel the anxiety but also because it is difficult to formulate criticism based on a game I have not yet experienced.
Here are at least five aspects of Cyberpunk 2077 which rubs my mind. Clouds of unrest I would rather not know about but which can realistically exist in the game. The opinions are based on material CD Projekt Red showed us, reports from game critics and people on the tube as well as my own experiences of games in the same game genre. Above all, this concern has arisen in everything that CD Projekt Red has not shown or talked about, or is abstinent with. Of course, it is also the type of information that is best left to the player himself to discover.
5. Performance on consoles
To enable such a vertical and detailed map as Night City, CD Projekt Red needed to create new functions in its engine. The result should be, among other things, scalable textures that adapt to where the player is and looks. The texture method should mean that the world does not have to be hidden from a distance, but can have a presence as far as the eye can reach. It is also one of the reasons why the recommendations on PC are SSD. Cyberpunk 2077 should be almost completely without charging times.
This sounds great on PC and the next generation console. But I, who is a couch-playing Playstation player, get a lump in my stomach. How will my dusty old PS4 ever cope with a game like Cyberpunk? It almost burns just by playing Marvel‘s Avengers and can barely hold 30 fps on the latest games.
CD Projekt Red has said that they will show gameplay on console before release, but with such a short time left, I wonder why they are delaying. Is it not optimized yet? Is it a marketing ploy to pull as many advance bookings as possible? Is it so heavenly downgraded that it would tarnish the good reputation of the game?
We are a significant proportion of consumers who primarily use Playstation 4 and Xbox One, so not optimizing the game to 1080p and 30 fps on console, with a good graphic quality, would be a big loss. Next generation consoles are not a given for all day one and many of us will have to live with that condition Cyberpunk 2077 has at release.
Please let it be good!
4. Short story surrounded by fluff
When I heard that Cyberpunk 2077 would be shorter than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt I was a little sad. And worried. This came after they tried to explain the complexity of the story’s structure and how completed and missed side missions relate to the central story. These can drive the story forward with consequences that close and open special branches in the story – and potentially shorten it. It should even be possible to complete the game without playing through the whole main story.
On a narrative level, this sounds fantastic! It makes the world appear alive and not a universe where we are its center. But I can not rightly mention an action role-playing game that has been successful in that respect.
Many games with complex stories fail to make the consequences significant. Sure, a character may live or die and a weapon may be the reward, but the world itself is unchanged. In these games, the side quests are just fluff that fills the short story, and this fluff is meaningless to the whole. This is a real risk for Cyberpunk 2077.
My biggest fear with the narrative, however, is that CD Projekt Red does it so badly that I as a player do not become aware of the consequences of my actions. Nothing would be so snobbish as to sabotage the outcome of the story without knowing it. After all, I’m the main character. The end of a story is possibly the most important thing in a story (Cyberpunk 2077 should have several different) and how it is delivered is crucial to the experience.
3. Substandard shooting
This is something that has gnawed at me for a long time now. Ever since the original gameplay show in 2018, I have been skeptically optimistic about the shooting. Not because numbers jumped out of the enemies – that part I appreciate as a role player – but because the weapon handling looked boring. The feeling was then strengthened from last year’s presentation. From what we have seen this year, it seems that small subtle improvements have been added to the feel of the weapon, as recoils and animations seem to have more weight in them. However, testers report that both combat and vehicles do not really reach home.
The fact remains that the action sequences we have seen are of a relatively rigid nature where construction and weapon movements are slow. It worries me that the game will handle firearms about as clumsily as Fallout 4. CD Projekt Red has said that weapon handling gets better the higher the character’s skill in the weapon – to the level that it feels like you have an auto sight. The only question is what level the character has in all the trailers.
2. Small variation of new gameplay
This one is a little harder to explain but put up with me and I’ll do my best.
Cyberpunk 2077 looks absolutely amazing. You can create your own character, equip them with weapons and cybernetic implants, dress them in the fashion of the future, drive around in a wide variety of vehicles, talk to other characters and participate in missions with different approaches. You play in a dense city, full of things to see and experience, objects to collect and volunteer missions. It is even possible to experience recorded memories for different purposes.
But if I am to be really picky, all systems and functions are also typical of action role-playing games in the open world with a focus on story. Cybernetics fulfills the same function as objects in other role-playing games, exploration and activities that engage you in the world are something Assassin’s Creed mastered for a long time, and Braindance can be equated with the detective segments in Batman: Arkham Knight. Of course, this is not a bad thing. There are good game mechanics who entertain and engage. My point is that all of these gaming systems are so ingrained and established today that Cyberpunk 2077 may become uninteresting in the long run, when the story is over and the world is familiar.
Reports from game tests reveal nothing new that dispels my concerns. But rather that hacking, something that could really have been unique in Cyberpunk 2077, works on your regular mini-games associated with intrusion into games.
Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be a safe production that should appeal to as large a group of consumers as possible – CD Projekt Red must earn back the money they invested, right? Hopefully we see some peculiar game mechanics, but at the moment I would not invest any money in it.
Feel free to read about everything we know about attributes, skills and perks in Cyberpunk 2077.
Not cyberpunk yet
None of the previous points weighs as heavily on my mind as this: that Cyberpunk 2077 is not “cyberpunk.” The concept has become so mainstream lately that I’m afraid the value base has been lost, what originally made it so fascinating. I want to believe that the game is well thought out thematically, as the author of the table role-playing game of the same name, Mike Pondsmith, has been involved in the creation process and acted as advisor. And that old man knows what cyberpunk is! But the feeling remains, probably because the game’s marketing and communication focus on aspects that appeal to the general public and not fans of the genre specifically.
Cyberpunk is a motley genre that is often associated with neon signs, constant rain and big bad companies. But there is much more to the genre than generic science fiction, namely subcultural influences from punk and hacking. Values about free church, opposition to authorities, companies, consumerism, a strong belief in do-it-yourself, power of action and integrity are topics closely linked to cyberpunk. In the same way, hacking is central. And by hacking I mean the subculture that emerged in the 60’s and that was more about the intellectual challenge of modifying and controlling programs than planting malware and stealing money. Conflicts between society’s excluded, artificial intelligences and large corporations are central themes in the cyberpunk genre, but which act secondary in Cyberpunk 2077.
So far, from what I have seen, it seems Cyberpunk 2077 more about becoming a rich gangster in Night City, armed to the teeth and with nice cars in the garage. Driven to fight on a personal level against corporate oppression seems completely absent. Only Johnny Silverhand anchors the game’s plot in cyberpunk as he is a digital ghost who hates the mega-company Arasaka with his whole being. However, the player character does not seem to have an agenda other than to “grow up” in the city.
The personal has been glimpsed in various trailers, especially when the player character becomes a storehouse of his fixer and involuntarily carries on the most coveted technology in the world. But that’s all. Cyberspace does not seem to be a thing in 2077, artificial intelligences are just a mythical creature and the values seem absent. Cyberpunk 2077 appears to be a high-budget game that aims to monetize the idea of cyberpunk rather than use its influence to contribute to the genre, which today is perhaps more relevant than ever.
I sincerely hope that the themes of the genre are there among all action and sexuality. That we between – and during – assignments are met by strong issues of technology versus humanity, are encouraged to take action against companies and are given space to express our independence and integrity.
Cyberpunk 2077 will be released on November 19 for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, as well as Stadia. Cyberpunk 2077 is also compatible with Xbox Series X / S and Playstation 5 with next generation upgrades underway.