After reading the wired article, How Cyberpunk 2077 Sold a Promise — And Rigged the System, I decided that even though I am not even halfway through the game, I would take a moment to write down my personal perspective on the CP77 debacle, if it is that.
The assertion that there is a chasm between what gamers thought CP77 would be, and what is is, is a bit melodramatic. I certainly expected less bugs, but not too many less.
The commentary from that article was silly, and demonstrably wrong. CP77 is a game with more representation than I’ve ever seen. Gay, Straight, Trans, Fat … there is something for everyone.
While some aspects of the game narrative are irritatingly superficial, the world-building is much better than most. I wouldn’t call it superficial, I would say that the deeper elements of it are largely inaccessible. You can’t really get involved with any of the deeper elements of the game. The path through the world seems a bit too forced, too linear.
Everyone is reviewing CP77 for all the wrong and uninteresting things. Except for the last-gen console gaming peasants, they got screwed and they should be angry. But the console rabble doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. They paid for cheap, fixed hardware, and they deserve cheap fixed experiences.
The one thing that no one is saying, is that CP77 is basically Cyberpunk: The Wild Hunt. The game is essentially The Witcher, with guns. All of the mechanics of the game are largely the same as the Witcher. The graphics are also more or less Witcher Level. There’s a teensy improvement, but not much.
The Scanner is basically Witcher Vision, and the quests rely on it heavily. Quickhacks are basically Signs, Technical ability and crafting are essentially Alchemy.
Mods are basically Runes yadda yadda.
That’s not actually a bad thing. Of course, they’re going to reuse successful components from a previous game, there’s no surprise, and in fact, it made the game better for fans of the Witcher franchise because it was less of a surprise.
In the words of Vetinari, people don’t want news, they want olds. Slipping into CP77 was pleasant and felt familiar with just enough newness to have something to figure out.
The upgrade and crafting system is perfect. It’s fun to use, and you can upgrade weapons to do insane damage. My upgraded revolver, from stealth, deals upwards of 40,000 damage. That might be a glitch or bug, maybe it’s OP or unbalanced, but I love it.
One of the big issues people seem to be having is that CDPR advertised a game whose graphics looked way better in promotion than they do as you play. But this is really a silly criticism. People always want things to look better than is realistic from a broad performance perspective. You have to make a game that plays well on lots of different hardware. They tried, and failed in that. But better graphics would have only made for a more epic failure.
The one issue I have with the visuals is that character bodies when nude are pretty much indistinguishable from Witcher nude bodies. The sex scenes are creepy because of how rigid the flesh looks.
It’s like two wax mannequins humping. It’s just offputting. I don’t want them to remove the nudity or the sex, I quite like that it’s an option, but still, the meshes need work.
The truth is, Night City suffers from this though. It’s much less immersive because the discordent neon colors overlay textures that are just a little too fake, a little too unreal.
The lack of graphics quality does kill immersion just a bit.
Cyberpunk 2077’s real problem
The biggest issue for me, with CP77 is that V is a non-entity. He is not a character, he’s me. Well, more or less. He has a lot of dumb dialog options that pain me to choose, but on the whole, he’s a character without an identity. He’s unloveable.
The customizable nature of V makes him nothing worth remembering. He can have scars, but why does he have those scars? Is there a story I can empathize with? No, because I have to make it up myself. Why do I need to pay $60 to come up with a backstory?
The Streetkid/Nomad/Corpo backstory is just kinda layered on, it has no real meaning or impact. I picked street kid, and basically became an honorary member of the nomads with little effort.
Your backstory gives you access to certain dialog options that are more or less meaningless.
The core issue I have with CP77 is that it falls short of a story. Jackie Welles is too uninteresting for his death to matter. While Takamura is outstanding as a character. I actually made it much further in the game, and then went back just because I found out I could save him and decided I didn’t want him to die.
The romance interests so far have been uninteresting. The only character I actually wanted to romance, Stout, is mostly unromanceable. You do get to have sex with Meredith Stout in a seedy motel during a mission misnamed Venus in Furs. Either they never read the book, or they were intentionally trying to piss me off — the encounter is pretty vanilla and uncompelling and ends unceremoniously, leaving me to chase irritating and insufferable paramours who I’d rather shoot than screw.
I probably should have picked Corpo. Next playthrough definitely.
Some aspects of the story feel forced, like helping Judy Alvarez, even though she’s an insipid weeb’s wet dream. She’s an emotional wreck, unattainable if you’re male, and the only thing that could make her more cliché would be a pair of Kawaii ears.
Every character you’d want to bang is pretty much unbangable. Evelyn Parker, Rogue, and even Joss are more attractive than your options. Hooking up with a milf instead of her brooding — I don’t know what — River Ward would be much more entertaining.
River Ward is a pointlessly clichéd cop who doesn’t know when to leave it alone.
Another issue with the story which really breaks immersion is Delamain. He’s just odd, his attachment to V is unbelievable, and his missions are irritating.
He goes from being a mysterious AI for an elite cab service, to pretty much a second rate fixer who won’t stop bugging you. He gets Flanderized fast.
The story is very dramatic up until The Heist, at that point everything falls apart. The world becomes much less intimidating, the pacing falls off a cliff. The fixers and side quests are mostly uncompelling. Regina Jones is a constant nuisance about her damned Cyberpsychos.
The best fixers, from a narrative standpoint, are Dakota and Wakako. The rest of them are irritating, and their missions usually suck. This might have to do with my playstyle, as I’m generally an amoral cold-blooded mercenary. Okada’s missions often give you the opportunity to play that out which is much more fun from my perspective.
The one ray of sunshine in the story is Johnny Silverhand. Keanu Reeves pretty much saves the narrative by being interesting. He’s more of a character than V will ever be. He’s a legend.
Honestly, the game would have been better if you had played him the whole way through.
The other aspect of the game which is both bad and good is the shoddy post-modernist commentary. It’s way too superficial to be thought-provoking and mostly misses the mark on what post-modernism was really all about.
Cyberpunk does seem to have a Baudrillardesque flavor to it, and yet braindances and ubiquitous pornography coupled with the transhumanist undertones feel cobbled together in a haphazard way. There doesn’t seem to be a core critique here.
Ecstatic telecommunication is at once subtly degraded through petty moralization (virtus, BDs), and then celebrated and integral to a mission (think the final mission with Judy Alvarez which left me feeling dirty and irritated).
CP77 misses the chance to really shine through narrative commentary on the Cyber Punk genre by banalizing everything with ubiquitous Milf Guard posters, trite dialog about corporations and cyberware corruption (think Cyberpsychos) and superficial commentary on soul-killing and the implication that copying someone’s personality construct is not the same as copying someone’s soul (a core transhumanist fear).
Maybe this will develop in the second half of the game though, I don’t know. Up until this point, it’s just been a confusing hodgepodge of platitudes.
Cyberpunk 2077’s real gem
Stealth. The stealth in this game is excellent and very fun. It makes the task of breaking in, stealing something, and leaving without a trace a fun challenge. I wish it was more apparent if you’re rewarded for it though.
The stealth component is a lot like Hitman. You can sneak around and hide, you can silently takedown NPCs and hide their bodies. You can distract guards, or reboot their optics to temporarily blind them.
Taking your time to eliminate all the NPCs in an area using stealth tricks is amazingly fun, and very immersive. Unfortunately not every mission has obvious methods for this. Some NPCs are just in too open an area, or body dump locations aren’t present.
The one thing that breaks this playstyle is that body dumps are all the same and you can’t use multiple types of environment objects like in Hitman, where you can use any human-sized container to dump a body.
The other issue is the body stat in taking down NPCs. If you’re running a hacking cool stealth build, the chances of you having a high body attribute are reduced.
A good stealth build needs intelligence (for hacking) and cool (for stealth damage) and technical (for upgrading weapons, and opening doors). The next attribute that seems necessary is reflexes, which leaves the body attribute out (irritatingly some doors can’t be opened without it), but then makes stealth takedowns of higher-level NPCs likely impossible, or so it seems.
I might be wrong about that. How stats work is truly not understood by me just yet, even though I’ve played 50+ hours.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
I feel the Pros of CP77 outweigh the cons by a long shot. I think it’s the second-best game CDPR has made, and one of the best games so far ever. Once the glitches are fixed, which they will be, and DLC drops, which it will. Then CP77 will go down in history as at the very least a cult classic, but it is truly a masterwork, even with the issues.
I feel that CDPR made some mistakes in advertising, and releasing this game. I understand why they did it though, and I think fans of their company and games are not being as understanding as they should be. They spent 8 years on this game without a cash injection, they needed the money. They should have been upfront about that, and gone to the fans and said, it’s not 100% finished, but it’s playable and we need money to keep going.
The reaction to this release is likely to scare their investors into more “safe bets” and less creative freedom (which is a sickness in the games industry). More rigid investor-led controls will lead to more safe and formulaic games.
The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves. We keep complaining about the shining turds being dropped by the AAA game companies, and yet we’re the reason for their lack of innovation. I mean, because of the player hissy fit, CDPR’s stock dropped 30%. That’s gonna scare the shit out of investors.
Essentially, the fans of the company are about to kill the goose who has been laying golden eggs because of some glitches and bugs, which at this point in gaming history, should be considered par for the course. Collecting up stats and bug reports is exactly what CDPR needed. And they will fix them, they always have. And they will deliver new content, they always have.
There are just a lot of Fair Weather Fans right now.
CDPR tried to make everyone happy, and in doing so, made no one happy. They should have done what RDR2 did, focus on a single platform, release, and then go to the next.
A few months of bug and glitch reports and patches could have had the game ready for another platform, rinse repeat. Instead, they did this massive, 1-day release and it bit them in the ass.
They should have done a soft release, they should have opened the game up for beta-testers and evolved the game with the community. Things would have gone differently, but they’re artists.
That’s something to remember about CDPR, they are one of the last truly artistic game developers. Willing to put it all on the line, for 8 years, to make a masterpiece. And in the grand scheme of things, all criticism aside, CP77 is a masterpiece.
I’m not even halfway done with the game but have spent 50 hours interacting with content. That’s like 25 feature-length movies worth of entertainment. That’s worth $60, and fuck you if you say different you entitled shitlord.
The reviews of this game, trying to tank it, came fast and furious. I call bullshit on most of them (except the last-gen guys, they got screwed).
The game is definitely playable on PC, even with the bugs. And don’t think that I’ve had a bug free experience. One of my favorite things in gun games are sniper rifles. Sniper rifles are totally ruined in my game.
A few quests have totally glitched out (Dream On won’t close), but 8 times out of 10 the glitches actually make the quest easier.
That’s especially true of the annoying Cyberpsycho quests which I feel compelled to complete even though I find Regina Jones intolerable.
I think people should give this game a chance. By this time next year, it will be the most replayable game in the 21st century so far.