Cyberpunk 2077 was probably the most highly-anticipated game of the decade. Fans waited eight long years for the dystopian sci-fi RPG, made by the team responsible for the beloved The Witcher series. But it turned out to be a dud.
If you have even the slightest interest in video games, you’ve probably heard that Cyberpunk 2077 is a buggy mess. Not since the release of Assassin’s Creed: Unity have we seen a game so broken, and Cyberpunk is a lot worse.
It runs like shit on the PS4 and Xbox One. Slightly better on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. It’s not even optimized for PS5 and Xbox Series X.
The internet is filled with videos of dumb glitches, ranging from slightly bugged out animations to genitals clipping through clothing. I’ve had more than a dozen hard crashes on my PS5. Never before has a major game shipped with so many issues.
Cyberpunk 2077 should’ve been delayed a lot more. Not just for the people who paid $60 for a glorified beta, but also for the developers who’ve worked on this title under horrible working conditions.
But all glitches, bugs, and performance issues aside, Cyberpunk 2077 is not a good game. It’s ambitious in its scope and it has some neat story ideas, but the framework surrounding it is sub-standard at best.
A good RPG presents the player with a story and then lets them carve their own path through that story. Player agency is one of the most important staples of the genre, and Cyberpunk 2077 lacks severely in that department.
You can avoid conflict by talking your way out of certain situations, but that’s about as much freedom as you’ll get. Most dialogue options are slight variations of the same line, and generally result in the same response. Every now and then you get a dialogue option only available to the ‘life path’ you choose at the start of the game, but the additional dialogue is inconsequential.
The lack of interactivity extends to the world in general. Your actions have no effect on what’s going on and you can steal any object you find in the environment without anyone reacting to it. Normally in RPGs like these shopkeepers get angry when you steal their stuff, not in Cyberpunk. You can’t customize your character, you can’t pickpocket NPCs, you can’t do much of anything.
You’ll spend most of your time in Cyberpunk 2077 navigating dialogue options, but every now and then the story is broken up by a combat mission. The game provides you with some options as to how you want to tackle these encounters – you can go in guns blazing or you can sneak and hack your way around – but there’s very little incentive to play it tactically.
The AI is so dumb that you’re often best off dumping your shotgun point blank at them until your health gets too low, at which point you just spam one of your copious healing items to refill your health. You have ‘magic spells’ (called quickhacks) that allow you to deal some extra damage or disable certain foes, but they’re cumbersome and superfluous.
Combat isn’t the only area where the lacklustre AI shows Cyberpunk 2077’s limitations, the pedestrian AI is equally bad. The citizens of Night City don’t feel like real people, they’re just empty shells that stroll around a bit until their ‘panic state’ gets triggered by gunfire or by you driving over them, at which point they hunker down and start screaming. Even the PlayStation 2-era Grand Theft Auto games had more convincing NPCs.
CD Projekt Red will iron out most of the glitches, performance issues, and other surface-level problems over the next months. They’ve already announced two big patches for January and February, and I’m convinced they’ll iron out the bulk of the jank in due time. But the problems are deeper than T-posing pedestrians and penises showing through pants.
Cyberpunk 2077 was obviously too ambitious. Not just too ambitious from a performance-perspective, but too ambitious on the content-side too. CD Projekt Red attempted to combine the open-ended gameplay of games like Fallout and Deus Ex, with a huge sprawling open GTA-style world, but fell short on both ends.
Surely a lot of people will get some sort of enjoyment out of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s an interesting product with some great characters and a story that’s worth experiencing. But it’s not a good game, and no patch is going to fix that.