Cyberpunk 2077 is a complicated game. It came out broken, made some people angry, and caused hardware upgrades. Having sunk 100 hours into this over a near 100% playthrough, and halfway through another, I'm still not sure what to make of this. When I realized that the next blog post would be the 256th one, I thought it would be a crime to not have it be this. So let me get this out of the way before going into something seasonally appropriate.
Since I got a breathtaking videocard just to run this, I made sure to crank it up as far as I could. Of course, I turned on ray tracing! I've said that models and texture quality in games got 'good enough' about 10 years ago, but lighting still had a ways to go. I think we can get off the lighting bus: Cyberpunk's lighting is epic. It looks so soft! If you walk out in a sunlit field, it doesn't look flat. Unfortunately, I think it goes a bit too far, in that the streets are either always wet, or future streets are unusually smooth. However, sometimes I walk into a parking garage, and get blinded. This is a dystopian future: parking garages should still be dim and dirty places.
Speaking of wet streets, it rains in Night City almost every day. That's fine, but desert surrounds Night City. Once you leave the concrete jungle, there's cactuses and tumbleweeds everywhere. It makes no sense. Has the earth been salted for miles around? There is lore about some corporate wars in the current century, but I didn't fully understand them. Maybe something about those caused this?
Like the other CD Projekt Red games, the writing in this game feels good. Quests use the world to drive stories in a believeable way. Actual side quests are somewhat more rare than jobs, gigs, and gang busting; the latter 3 start feeling like a grind fast. Characters have depth and personalities, and don't feel like cardboard cutouts, as if they're simply a means to an end. They have multiple goals and concerns independent of yours. There are parts of the world and story that I wanted to explore more. The main quest takes you to a part of town that was supposed to be rich and upscale, but urban decay set in. I wanted to do more there and thought I missed a quest, but there were none. I thought that I was being introduced to quest givers there, but the story sidelined them fast.
You aren't (and won't be) the hero of this world; only the hero to your own personal story. The best you can hope for is someone writing a song about you. Keanu Reeves stars as the supporting character in the story. For all the noise made about games being art or 'cinematic', I don't care about celebrities appearing in games. That said, I thought Ellen McLain's appearance was hilarious.
Even though this game is set in the future, there is almost no synthwave what so ever. When driving around, there are about a dozen radio stations that play about 5 songs on an eternal loop. One of them has what kinda sounds like synthwave, but it doesn't feel right. Of course, there's rock, rap, pop, and this game's favorite, punk.
For a team that has only done medieval combat, Cyberpunk's gunplay comes off as good. Unlike Borderlands 3, I was impressed by the gun sounds here. They were punchy. Of course, there are lots of melee options, which I didn't shy away from using. Like most modern big games, Cyberpunk includes a crafting system. You can upgrade your current weapons, and craft your own ammo. (That kind of feels like cheating, but it's not hard to discover.)
The in-game interface and menus are inconsistent. There is a limit to how much ammo you can carry, and when you pick up or craft extra ammo it disappears without a trace. The interface makes no effort to stop you from crafting too much. I'm confused that the inventory menu displays weapons first, but the crafting and upgrades menu displays all items first. Many times I clicked aimlessly through the interface wondering where I was going, because it all started looking the same. Maybe that's some commentary on the game world itself?
The game's attributes and
skills perks have hit-or-miss effectiveness. Some seem made to fill a spot on the menu. There's one that automatically disassembles junk into crafting components when picked up. (For the record, I didn't take that one.) This doesn't add much to your character's effectiveness, but I was never wanting for skill points, since they are handed out like candy.
Make no mistake: Cyberpunk 2077 is a good game, but I'm not sure if it's a great game (or the best of all time). Despite its reputation, it is a good addition to the CD Projekt Red collection. I like it enough that I will likely buy all the DLC for this (or, at least the bigger ones). I'm sure I've found a DLC-ville in the oil fields to the north of Night City.
Unlike Witcher 3, I'm struggling to make myself play this. It's not about the game mechanics; Cyberpunk 2077 doesn't have a hook that makes me dream about it when I'm doing other things. Maybe it's because I'm too busy dealing with the real world looking more and more like an oppressive corporate dystopia, and I'm less willing to play a videogame depicting one? At least things tend to work ri