Release Date : December 10, 2020
Developers : CD Projekt Red
Publisher : CD Projekt
Platforms : PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PC
Let’s answer the big question from the start: will Cyberpunk 2077 live up to the enormous expectations it has set since it was announced years ago? The answer is Yes. It’s true that it may not be a resounding “yes”, but CD Projekt Red’s new game offers what we have expected from it in more ways than you might anticipate. It may not be the Western RPG game that everyone expected but it enhances the RPG in many subtle ways, increasing the level of immersion that this type of game offers and making its own mark among the best games.
GTA Roots and Futuristic Shoots
Cyberpunk 2077 has a great inspiration from GTA obviously because there is a big similarity between those two in terms of the presentation of the game, such as the great level of detail they offer and the additional amount of realism and stuff. CD Projekt Red studio is clearly not trying to offer something we have never seen before, and they don’t have to, especially when having the successful formula of a videogame (which makes a lot of money) in their hands.
And like any Rockstar game, the biggest star (and character) of Cyberpunk 2077 is its city “Night City”, the city that was controlled by big corporations and where the cyber parts added to the human bodies have become a natural thing in the lifestyle, and where sex and corruption are rooted in everything in it, also where hundreds of its residents hoping to make their dreams come true, by becoming the star of the city, including your character.
On the opposite to the current perceptions of the “Cyber-world” that were presented in other videogames (Blade Runner for example), Cyberpunk 2077 offers a new approach, because it’s not only specified by neon lights, dark streets, and rain-soaked environments, yet Night City is a vibrant place and full of colors, opportunities, people and stories. It might be a little strange to say this, but the world is alive, breathing, and working precisely like clockwork, and that’s exactly what the future city should actually look like.
City of Contrasts: Socioeconomic Realities in Night City
Every corner, every banner and sign, every building or shop seems to be perfectly designed as if it were really built and not only just created by an algorithm. Once I went to a store that sells various kinds of fun games, and the interior design was created to comfort the consumer instead of products being randomly distributed like most video game stores, and I also heard two clients chatting about a particular product, the first was hesitating to take it and the second encouraging him more to buy it, and that made me feel like I was really standing there listening to them sharing their opinions on that product.
Outside, giant glowing billboards on high buildings display ads about the many products available for purchase, from drinks that you can mix with other flavors, to luxury clothes that make you look stylish in your office, to body enhancement cyber pieces that can improve and increase excitement in your personal life, that brings a great sense of place and make it look very realistic. On the streets, you will see people filled from head to toe with upgraded body parts, whether completely covered with chrome, or with specific customizations.
These people are not perceived or treated differently, since improved body parts are a normal thing in this period, and they are provided by surgeons distributed all around the city. Night City seems vibrant because it is also rooted from our reality today, there are wealthy people with their luxury apartments and luxury cars, the giant corporations and their high-rise buildings, and there are also the poor and the homeless living in the gutter and eating leftovers from garbage cans.
Of course, these sections are also divided into different kinds of people, such as night girls who hold your hand on the street and promise you a fun night, and fanatics shouting about the end of the world all over the streets, and the criminals that will try to rob you and take your money. While exploring this city you will see police investigating a crime scene, car wrecks, or gangs shooting at each other.
V’s Ambitions and Unforeseen Challenges
The main character called V, whose main goal is to become rich and make a name for himself among the celebrities of the city, but it’s rarely where plans work as we expect because once you have finished creating your character, with the freedom of choosing your sex gender, you will find yourself in the middle of a robbery that can shake the core of the city’s largest company “Arasaka”.
The plan was to sneak into the CEO’s main room and steal a new piece of technology and get out of there, but soon things got out of control, which not only puts you at risk of getting caught, but also makes you witness a series of events that set the pace for the rest of the game, and the sudden events that follow are completely unexpected and immediately immerse the story in the excitement it needs.
In fact, the first 10 hours of the game can be slow-paced a little bit, because it’s designed to help you get used to the world and the many characters that the story revolves around. I’m not going to talk about these sudden events or anything about it so I won’t spoil the game story for you and leave you the freedom of enjoying it yourselves.
Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t use the same usual approach to present the controversial intersection between humans and technology, which has been an obvious choice for many stories in the past, we’ve seen this a lot of times and it’s getting a little old, so the game changes course. Here the story revolves around survival and choice, and sometimes it may not be clear where a particular choice or path will take you.
V simply wants to get rich and live a luxurious life in the city, and one way to achieve his goal is by performing illegal tasks for those who can pay money, and here he will collaborate with Jackie, another tech thief who shares the same ambitions, and he starts doing bigger tasks, ending up taking more of his energy. Then things go wrong, and his whole personality collapses, and will have to seek help to fix it and keep him alive, by removing a parasite that eating his soul.
This journey is full of a lot of hard choices, some of them can break or build friendships, and some will put you in a serious moral dilemma. As you progress in the story, you will have to choose a side and make a decision, and what makes this exciting is the uncertainty behind each choice you make, you will feel uncertain about every option and what you’re about to do until the end of the game, even when you make your final decision, the implications of every action you have made will make you question every step. You will not only have to choose to support a friend or betray him, but you will also be forced to jump into an unsettling chain of events that you have no idea whether will end up the way you hoped, or whether it will hurt you even more.
Survival and Choice: The Core of Cyberpunk 2077’s Story
There is no right or wrong here, there is only what you think is right, Cyberpunk 2077 story is designed to reflect your character, with plenty of dialogue options that lead to different paths to reach your goal, each option may not necessarily lead to a different result, but it allows you to determine your personal orientation, and to change your perception of it, no matter what the writer wants. And the game becomes more immersive when you can perform certain actions, such as choosing to sit next to someone, or bending to him when you’re talking passionately about your plan, or simply lying down next to him during a moment of self-reflection.
This is a small addition in the big scheme of things, but it is an important addition to allow you to really embody your personality and develop your feelings along with understanding your motives and the terrible situation that you found yourself in, and the options available for you to get yourself out of it. My choices eventually took me to a route I would probably have chosen if I were really in a V’s place. I thought it was the path that required the least resistance, which might force me to get away from one of my best friends whom I met through this treacherous journey.
When it was time to choose, I had to step away from the game and think for several minutes, on one hand, I was in the company of some friends who were willing to put their lives at risk for me, and their plan seemed simple and effective, if not highly dangerous, and on the other hand, there was the option to surrender, submit to the troops and agree to go quite as possible. My choice didn’t come from my unwillingness to act violently but from the potential risk of losing my friends in battle.
Those “friends” are the characters you meet during your journey, their dialogues have been written and told effectively, and the voice actors succeed in giving you that sense of mystery and conspiracy that makes you feel more sympathetic to them. You will meet different kinds of people, one is a Nomad struggling with her family to regain a sense of freedom, and another who was so foolishly in love that she blindly got into trouble, and one of the main characters of the game was Johnny Silverhand, starring the beloved star Keanu Reeves, and I was surprised by how integrated he is in the main story.
One might assume that it has a cameo appearance in the game and that it is just a marketing approach, but Reeves as Silverhand has a major role in the story, and I can also say that Reeves gives one of the best performances of his career in Cyberpunk 2077.
Endings and Consequences: A Critical Evaluation
My only objection about how the story ends is that the game does not fully commit to your choices and changes itself according to them, instead, it simply returns you to a previous save point as if nothing had happened. With the way the game ended for me (and your game would vary greatly depending on what you chose), I was excited to see how the world reflected on my choice, and I understand why the game decided to stay on the safe side in order to give you a starting point to go to another end, but I wished the game had simply stuck to it.
In addition to the main story, Cyberpunk 2077 is filled with content that constantly appears every few minutes, which requires your time and attention. You will always receive side missions from the main characters of the game, all of which serve to embody their role with events and put a conclusion to unfinished things. Also, you will find missions from unexpected people that will send you on a crazy journey of excitement, weirdness, or fun, sometimes combining it all together.
Sometimes you will receive side missions from characters who want you to either take care of a certain problem or investigate something, or simply shoot madly in a certain location. These missions don’t have a lot of content and may be mostly boring but they are one of the few ways you can make money to get upgrades, modifications, and luxury cars you want to buy.
Diverse Customization: Crafting Your Cyberpunk Persona
Cyberpunk 2077 offers a huge amount of character customization options that allow you to set them to a high level, and your encounters with enemies do not necessarily require you to choose between stealth or direct combat, but can be a combination of the two or not at all. It simply depends on what kind of challenge you want to take while connecting your character with different abilities and cyber mods.
Like any RPG game, Cyberpunk 2077 offers certain character skills that you can upgrade, they are mainly Reflexes (which help you increase your speed and dodging skills), Technical abilities (which increase your skills in opening doors and using technological weapons), Body (which enhances your health and endurance as well as improving your skills with weapons), Intelligence (which makes you faster and smarter during penetration), and Cool (which increases your stealth performance).
My gameplay style focused on strengthening “Body”, “Intelligence” and “Technical ability”, which made me able to handle different kinds of situations. I prefer to sneak around, break necks, and hide them in garbage containers, but I’m also ready to use gun battles with my smart gun and my 300dps pistol if necessary. My character was also strong enough to break locked doors and smart enough to penetrate those who didn’t open by force.
I rely heavily on penetration and hacking to make my way through even if I found it very confusing in the beginning. The game takes some inspiration from “Watch Dogs” in terms of hacking, which is about disrupting security, causing a distraction, and creating chaos from behind the shadows.
With such great freedom to design your character as you like, it’s strange that the game often returns to boss battles to permeate action scenes. Boss battles make it impossible for you to sneak around, and if you haven’t invested in “Body” and “Technical ability” you’ll be too weak to confront and eliminate them, especially at high difficulty levels.
For weapons, the game offers a variety of pistols, light machine guns, shotguns, and even katana swords if you prefer to play with the ninja style, and unlike The Witcher 3 in which the battle system was difficult and unbalanced, Cyberpunk 2077, fortunately, offers a more refined experience.
For a studio that only dealt with third-person RPGs with swords, their transition to a first-person-shooter was very smooth, each weapon has its own unique flavor and style that makes its use fun, and if you got used to one of the weapons, you can continue to upgrade it to make it more powerful. Most powerful weapons have their own accessories and mod boxes, the first is used to repair the scope and silencer, while the second is used to change certain attributes of the gun such as making it non-lethal or increasing the damage.
On top of all this, there is another layer of customization in “Cyberware”, which focuses on improving the body. You can modify every part of your body, starting from the brain, eyes, arms, and legs, and down to the nervous and circulatory systems, and even the immune system and skeleton. These are all passive capabilities designed to improve your performance in the field and allow you to perform certain tasks more effectively.
Since I always worry about my health running out while fighting, I’ve adjusted my immune system to help my health when it drops below a certain level, and I adjusted my leg so I could carry more items, and my arm so I could cause more damage while fighting.
Cyberpunk 2077: Performance Insights
The game was tested on a mid-to-low-spec PC, which has an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GTX 1080, 12GB RAM, and 500GB SSD. With 1080p resolution, and using Ultra settings in the game, the FPS was consistently between 35-60fps, with around 45fps on average in most situations. This makes me say that the game is reasonably optimized given everything.
The game offers great visuals and is definitely recommended to try it with the highest resolution, and if you have an RTX card, then you will have the best experience my friend, but the release date for the next-generation version of the game hasn’t been revealed, and you might want to wait for it.
Another reason that can make you wait for the purchase of the game is the numerous technical problems encountered during my experience. The review process was before and after the release of the patch that solved some problems but not all og them. Ultimately this didn’t affect how much I enjoyed the game, so I wouldn’t allow it to reflect on the final result because these problems will be solved in the future, but as a precaution, you might want to wait for performance reports and resolve stability issues before buying it.UPDATE: Most of the technical issues mentionned above were fixed with update 2.0, you can find all details here.
Note: we didn’t test the PS4 and Xbox One versions, so we can’t comment on the performance of the game on them yet.
I played for about 60 hours in Cyberpunk 2077 at the time of writing this review, and I didn’t feel bored for a moment. This is a testament to CD Projekt Red’s ability to create an effective world and combine it with amazing characters and stories. Cyberpunk 2077 is raising the standards for RPG games. The game may not be as revolutionary as we expected, but it’s a great achievement in game development, and an outstanding example of how a game framework can be a powerful tool to enhance every aspect of it, and Cyberpunk 2077 goes far beyond any visual media that has ever tried to present a “cyber-world” before, and an example of how it really should be.