It’s safe to say that Cyberpunk 2077 was once one of the most anticipated video games of all time. After all, it was a new RPG from CD Projekt Red, which already etched itself as one of the industry’s best developers after The Witcher series. Then Cyberpunk 2077 launched and the fallout was infamous, to say the least. Many players were put off by its bugs, performance issues and generally unpolished state. However, almost two years has passed and after plenty of patchwork and updates, is it worth playing today?
In light of its one and only major expansion, Phantom Liberty, being announced, Cyberpunk 2077 has seen a bit of a resurgence in the gaming world lately. Perhaps it was time for players to dig back into the game and gain another opinion after the controversy. We decided to jump in and see just how far the game has come, where it still falters and what players can expect after two years.
MORE CYBERPUNK 2077 – Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Tour in 8K Looks Jaw-Dropping
The story of Cyberpunk 2077 remains largely unchanged. Players assume the role of V, a resident of Night City that gets caught up in a world of trouble and chaos after the “soul” of a deceased rebel rock star, Johnny Silverhand, is implanted in their mind. Keanu Reeves still brings a level of raw, unhinged attitude to the game’s plot which keeps the momentum going and players hooked. However, the writing still leaves a bit to be desired.
The story isn’t as engaging as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (then again, few games’ narratives are), but Cyberpunk 2077 at least makes an attempt to involve players in the world events and make everything feel organic. The story takes a few interesting turns in the latter half, though it’s nothing quite as earth-shattering as The Witcher‘s surprises. By the end, I was left simply feeling content than satisfied with the narrative, but thanks to Reeves’ charisma and some solid voice acting from Cherami Leigh, the main plot holds up well enough.
Night City remains one of the most visually arresting open-worlds in modern gaming. The city is a beautiful metropolis of high-rise towers, neon lights, stacked apartments and bustling urban life. Not much has changed since the launch with regards to the design of Night City, which remains Cyberpunk 2077‘s greatest appeal. However, it’s also a hollow utopia, drenched in dreams and promises with a gritty underbelly.
CD Projekt Red crafted an incredibly dense and immersive playground with Night City. While it’s not exactly “open” once you realise the limitations of the city (some shortcuts were absolutely taken), the game’s world still feels remarkably alive and unique. Future updates increased the amount of NPCs populating the world, making it appear more thriving and engaging. Revisiting Night City to simply bask in its neon-lit glory is something Cyberpunk 2077 delivers, even today, that very few open-worlds can achieve.
Gameplay is where Cyberpunk 2077 still feels a bit hit or miss. The melee combat remains excellent and you’ll find yourself having a lot more fun with mantis blades and katanas, but the shooting still feels incredibly uneven. There’s a weighty kick to certain shotguns and rifles – and you really feel the impact of your shots decimating enemies – though it never reaches the heights of other first-person shooters where the essential shooting is given care and attention.
Understandably, this is CD Projekt Red’s first attempt at using a first-person perspective but there’s a lot the studio can still learn and experiment with. Gameplay also extends to the driving, which is a tad bit clunky. Despite updates apparently addressing the issue, vehicles will still spawn in odd locations or simply drive past you if you call them. Since most of the missions in Cyberpunk 2077 either revolve around shooting or driving, this can be problematic for your enjoyment.
Character customisation and the gear system is another feature that still bothers players. Transmog has been added in the latest update so it should remedy this issue, but customisation required players to swap out clothing and items (very frequently) that often looked atrocious, all for the perks and defense that comes with the pieces. It never really felt like you were customising your ideal V at any point and with a first-person perspective, it’s hard to really appreciate any of it.
On the plus side, the skill tree has since received a massive overhaul, allowing players to experiment with builds that have a lot more variety and options. Most of the RPG elements are lacking, like the oddly restrictive three backstories that leave little room for role-playing opportunities, but honing your specific playstyle is now a lot deeper and more rewarding.
Getting to the meat of why Cyberpunk 2077 is, according to many, an experience best worth playing now than it was at launch: PS5 and Xbox Series X/S upgrades. The upgrade tested for this article was based on the PS5 version and it absolutely delivered a much smoother and more refined experience. Crashes were less frequent, bugs were still there but not as nagging as before and visual and lighting improvements brought a much-needed overhaul to bring the game closer to its superior PC counterpart.
It’s not going to win over players who still believe the problems of Cyberpunk 2077 extend beyond the visuals and performance, but it now plays a lot better – at least on PS5 – which is great for newcomers who get to look over the technical hiccups and just experience the game for what it is. If you’re willing to dip your feet into Cyberpunk 2077 again, it’s best played on newer hardware. Which brings up the next point…
Cyberpunk 2077 notoriously launched with busted PS4 and Xbox One versions. Players reported bugs, glitches, game crashes, severe framerate drops, texture pop-ins, broken quests, broken AI, corrupted save data, audio problems, etc. The list goes on. Almost two years of patches later, it’s unfortunately still a bit of a rough ride. Seeing the game running on a base PS4 today, there’s definitely been some improvements but not enough to wholly recommend the last-gen versions above PS5 or Xbox Series.
The framerate has been improved albeit with minor drops here and there, texture pop-ins are less frequent and there’s been attempts to fix the numerous AI issues. Unfortunately, it’s still not up to scratch or at the quality you’d expect for AAA video games of this caliber. For some, this might be the only way to play Cyberpunk 2077 right now, though we can only say proceed with caution. Last-gen players will also be missing out on the Phantom Liberty expansion which has been confirmed only for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Is It Worth Playing?
All that said, is Cyberpunk 2077 worth playing after almost two years? From a technical perspective, Cyberpunk 2077 is a far more polished experience overall than it was back then. This might’ve been the gate blocking some players from entering, but bringing it up to scratch with visual and performance enhancements makes it a much more digestible, fun time today. The core elements can’t really be changed and for some, Night City might still feel empty and the story not on-par with The Witcher, which is understandable.
CD Projekt Red made a lot of bad calls during Cyberpunk 2077‘s launch and the repercussions are still felt today, both for the game and the studio’s reputation. If you’re willing to give Cyberpunk 2077 a second chance, you might walk away pleasantly surprised at how far it has come. It’s closer to the experience CD Projekt Red promised before its release. On that note, it’s hard to look past its missteps but at its core, there’s a pretty fine and highly entertaining game underneath.