'Cyberpunk 2077' Is Finally Realising Its Potential, And I'm Obsessed
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Featured Image Credit: CD Projekt
When I reviewed Cyberpunk 2077 back in 2020, I was heartbroken. Like so many, I’d found it hard not to get tangled up in the immense hype of the supposedly game-changing open-world RPG CD Projekt RED was building.
The initial wave of positive reviews from PC users painted an incredibly promising picture of a rich and detailed sci-fi city. But like everyone else, I was concerned that console codes were being held back till just before the full launch. Still, I downloaded the game, and started my adventure in Night City with an open mind.
Let's just refresh our memories as to what the game looked like on consoles at launch.
Playing the PlayStation 4 version of Cyberpunk 2077 on my PlayStation 5 was not a good experience. The world looked flat and lifeless. Main characters looked incredibly rough around the edges, and what few NPCs populated Night City looked as if they’d crawled out of a PlayStation 3 and wandered aimlessly up and down dull-looking streets. A wondrous metropolis this was not.
I still found a lot to like, and even a few things to love. In my 7/10 review of the game I noted that Night City was brimming with potential, and filled with fascinating stories and characters. My main issue was that it was hard to enjoy those stories in a game riddled with near-constant crashes and irritating bugs. Looking back and seeing how much worse the game ran on base PS4 consoles? I think even 7/10 was maybe too generous.
I uninstalled Cyberpunk 2077 in early 2021, looking on in interest as CD Projekt RED worked hard to claw back some respect and make it the game they’d promised fans it could one day. But it wasn’t until the substantial new-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions dropped last month that I decided it was time to head back to Night City.
Reader, I have been blown away by how much better Cyberpunk 2077 looks, runs, and plays. It feels like a whole new game.
I should stress that I’m not really a snob when it comes to graphics. Heck, if a game is on Switch, that’s always my preferred platform. But Cyberpunk 2077 just looked flat-out bad on PS4 a lot of the time - an open world where the detail all ended up swirling into a sickly washed out shade of grey and any genuinely impressive vista was almost immediately followed up by an ugly visual glitch.
Seeing Night City for the first time as it looked in all those trailers - as many those reviewing the game on high-end PCs back in 2020 saw it - was astounding. This was the sprawling sci-fi city we were promised, fizzing with colour and noise and life. I’ve found myself simply walking slowly along the streets in between side gigs, taking in the preposterous adverts and drinking in the beauty of the garish neon lights illuminating the slick rain-soaked pavement.
That the game finally runs at a smooth 60fps also means I can go back to playing my character the way I wanted to - as a relentless Terminator-type who rips off the front door and murders everybody with a shotgun. It’s sublime.
As great as improved resolutions, better textures, and smoother framerates are - and they do make all the difference - they’re nothing compared to the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 just works now.
I appreciate that’s a low bar, and certainly not one I’m giving CDPR a standing ovation for, but being able to wander around the city aimlessly taking on missions without the nagging fear that the game is about to crash or go to shit in some other unexpected way is marvelously freeing. It allows me to better enjoy what always worked about the game: outstandingly written and deeply varied quests. That I can experience them in a properly stunning open world is a delicious bonus.
Cyberpunk 2077 still isn’t without its problems. While there are more NPCs and a more responsive police force, they still don’t really behave in a believable way most of the time. A lot of the gear and loot still feels largely pointless, too, and I’ve amassed a small fortune that I have no impetus to spend.
But these are minor niggles compared to the problems I had with the game a year ago, and given CDPR’s commitment to continuing to improve Cyberpunk 2077, I’m sure that things can only get better.
For the first time since 2020, I’m actively excited about Cyberpunk 2077. I'm slightly obsessed, even. And that really does fill me with joy.