Cyberpunk 2077 is Disappointing

14th of December 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 is the first game I've ever preordered. I'll be honest, I fell for the hype a bit, but I also just wanted a brand new, high quality game to play. However, I cancelled my preorder over a year ago after CD Projekt Red released more gameplay that indicated the presence of some problems.

Despite my concerns based on the gameplay, I once again preordered Cyberpunk 2077 ready for the launch in November. Real stupid, I know. When the game got delayed until the 10th of December, I suspected there were going to be lots of bugs and issues, but I didn't cancel my preorder this time. The hype got me again, and I was hoping that CD Projekt Red would pull through. Boy, was I wrong.

I only have about 10 hours in game so far, but I can say with confidence that there are a lot of problems with the game at present. Some of these are fixable (like bugs and crashes), whilst other things probably won't be changed much (like the NPCs).

If you haven't bought or started playing the game yet, then I suggest you wait at least 6 months before playing to allow the main issues to be ironed out. Don't be fooled by the positive reviews; this game has a lot of flaws, as I will explain below.

Hype

Before the launch, some people were claiming that the hype was a positive thing for CD Projekt Red since it resulted in lots of preorders. That's a fair point, but it's clear that the hype has come back to bite them, and I expect there have been quite a few refunds now too.

CD Projekt Red hyped the game up for two years with gameplay videos and promises, and then they released a buggy game that doesn't even meet realistic expectations like having a game that doesn't crash, contains few bugs, and fulfills what was promised.

Besides the reports of developer crunch, I used to think CD Projekt Red was one of the good guys, but their handling of the current fallout and very dodgy marketing practices deserve to be heavily criticised. I hope their reputation goes down because of this as they don't deserve to be on a pedestal any longer after this abysmal launch.

With that said, the gaming community also played a large role in overhyping the game on forums and social media. I hope people have learnt a few lessons. For example, just because a company produced a good game before doesn't mean they'll do it again. I know I certainly have and won't be preordering a game again.

Bugs

I have been lucky enough not to encounter too many bugs so far after about 10 hours of playing. The main things I've noticed include:

The situation is a lot worse for many others, especially console players, with many people experiencing crashes, terrible performance, lots of clipping, and texture issues according to Reddit. Sony is even refunding Cyberpunk 2077 on PlayStation, which is something they don't normally allow. They're also apparently filing a business complaint to CD Projekt Red, assuming that source is to be believed. PC players are also encountering similar issues.

The game is a mess from a stability standpoint. This is the buggiest game I've ever played, and I haven't even experienced most of the issues other people are having. CD Projekt Red really screwed themselves over by having unrealistic release dates and delaying the game several times. I hope they learn their lesson, but I fear that they won't because these game developers never do.

All new games will have bugs, but they shouldn't have this many, things should be optimised so that performance isn't an issue, and there shouldn't be crashing. The state of the game on the previous gen consoles is especially unacceptable. Why even release the game on last gen consoles if it's practically unplayable? It's as if they didn't bother testing the game at all.

Gameplay

Let me start with the good things because there aren't many. At times, the graphics are very nice on Ultra settings, although I haven't tried any other settings. The game feels kind of cool and can be enjoyable despite the flaws. The gunplay is all right, with the weapons having some recoil and sounding good. Finally, the fact that you can change settings without having to restart the game is great.

Now for the bad. Firstly, the difficulty level implementation makes enemies really bad bullet sponges rather than increasing the number of enemies. I've noticed people on Reddit using 'it's an RPG' as an excuse, but that's rubbish. There's no sense of realism when it takes several clips of ammo or multiple headshots to kill someone. Enemies sometimes fall over but still have health and start getting back up after you've shot them half a dozen times. It reminds me of The Division. I've turned down my difficulty from Hard in an attempt to make things better. I hope it gets better with improved gear as well.

Another issue is that the street NPCs are lifeless. They're bland, there's no point talking to them, they almost all tell you to 'f*** off', they often get stuck in a crouched position after you start shooting, some are unresponsive to you fighting, they often move weirdly (e.g. sliding), they sometimes repeat the same actions (e.g. a waitress coming over to the same table with a clipboard about 10 times), and you see the same character models. The NPCs are significantly worse than in some other AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2, but it makes sense since The Witcher 3 NPCs were also terrible.

In terms of immersion, as well as the NPCs being poor, there aren't many buildings you can go into. The world looks decent a lot of the time, but it isn't interactive and feels fake. CD Projekt Red made it sound like you could go into loads of buildings to do things, but they've just placed vending machines, some noodle stands, and lots of locked doors around the city instead. What a missed opportunity.

Then there's the police wanted system, which causes the police to teleport to you and give up immediately if you go into a building. Fighting the cops isn't fun either like it can be in GTA V. The police system is completely broken and worse than the implementation in GTA V in every way. The game would be better off without it, but this could be fixed down the line.

There's an excessive number of phone calls from the people who give you missions. Going almost anywhere causes you to be spammed with calls about nearby missions. For example, Delamain (the AI for a luxury cab company) won't shut up and keeps reciting the same thing after I agreed to collect some cars as a side mission. Popups are constantly appearing. It's overwhelming and distracting.

The driving feels floaty rather than the car being firmly on the ground. When you turn around corners, the rear of the car slides all over the place as if you're trying to drift all the time. There's no weight to the vehicles, and you can do some really dumb parkour on the bikes. The other cars on the road are also a facade and completely unresponsive - e.g. they stop in the middle of the road, they sometimes completely disappear, and they don't react to your driving.

There's too much loot. Everywhere you go, there are these icons telling you that you can loot things. I want to pick up things to sell because I'm poor but my inventory gets full very quickly. It's ridiculous having so much loot everywhere, and it ruins the flow of the fights/stealth on missions if you feel the need to pick everything up like I do.

The gunplay is ok at best if we ignore the bullet sponge enemies. There's something off about the guns, and the AI during fights could be better. I'm hoping some of the higher quality weapons will be better. There are also too many weapons, making it more difficult to sort through which ones you should keep and which ones you should sell/dismantle. Furthermore, getting ammo is a mess. For example, you're only able to buy ammo from the gun dealers some of the time, so it seems you have to rely on ammo crates you find.

The melee combat is outright bad. There's no weight to it at all, and you deal basically no damage. Furthermore, weird melee weapons can deal more damage than swords, which makes no sense.

There's not as much customisation as CD Projekt Red promised. Why can't we get a haircut? Why is there no body size customisation? Why are there only a few options for certain character aspects? Why is there no vehicle customisation?

The game isn't an RPG like it was originally advertised as being. What's funny is that CD Projekt Red agrees since they recently changed the description to 'Action-Adventure game'. For instance, the skill tree doesn't seem to do much, and you don't get enough perk points to upgrade skills sufficiently. The life paths apparently don't matter besides some missions at the start of the game and a few extra lines of meaningless dialogue. Then the dialogue options appear to force you into taking a scripted path rather than allowing for choice.

Finally, I haven't been a fan of any of the side quests so far, although I haven't played that many at the time of writing. It's not very clear what you have to do for a few of them. However, some people have been saying that a lot of them are enjoyable, so perhaps there's hope.

Story

The prologue was definitely rushed, and the driving portion was painfully scripted. Parts of that first year of friendship with Jackie should have been playable rather than just being given a cutscene.

The main quests I've done so far have mostly been talking and also felt scripted, but people say the story gets better as you go on. I should also mention that I'm not a fan of the braindance mechanic so far because it's unexpectedly boring having to rewatch portions of the same video over and over. On the other hand, the voice acting has certainly been good so far besides Keanu Reeves, who is very robotic and often delivers his lines poorly.

I'm not even far into the game though, and it's already confusing who everyone is. You do jobs for all these different people without much explanation. I don't really know what is going on. Plus, some of the dialogue isn't that understandable, especially the life path dialogue, which is essentially pointless. However, I expect who's who and what's what will be cleared up as I progress. I'll perhaps update this section once I've finished the game because I realise that this is an unfair evaluation of the story.

Verdict

I'm going to keep playing and hope that things get better along the way, but there are so many issues that I doubt much will improve any time soon. Furthermore, my opinion of the game has only become worse the more I've played, so who knows how I'll feel after some more hours.

If I had to rate the game in its current state, I'd probably give it a 5/10. It can be enjoyable and looks beautiful at times, but Cyberpunk 2077 is objectively worse in many ways than some games that came out years ago (e.g. GTA V, which was released in 2013). The quality of Rockstar's recent games is the benchmark for an open-world game like this. Shame on you CD Projekt Red for not even coming close.

Update - 31/01/21

I've reached the point of no return in the main story now, and I've completed a fair number of side missions. I will admit that I have enjoyed parts of the game, but it feels strange saying that considering just how flawed Cyberpunk 2077 is.

The patches seem to have made some things worse. I've experienced plenty of bugs, with the slow texture loading being one of the most irritating considering I'm playing on Ultra. There have been side missions that I couldn't complete because of glitches. The police still instant kill you during certain side missions and if you get up to a high enough number of stars.

The minimap is ridiculously small/zoomed in, meaning you miss every turn. I tried switching the minimap off, but then I just spent more time getting lost than actually doing missions. Most of the vehicles have atrocious handling, and you can't see out of the windscreen in the cars. Bikes are the way to go.

Finally, there's the story. It's mediocre. Don't believe all the praise. The main story is far too short, some of the main characters could have been better, and a lot of story seems to take place in side missions. The story side missions have been better than the main missions. It feels like I've played 8 main missions, with a fair chunk being dialogue. In reality, I've apparently played around 20 without realising since they're so short. Don't skip the side missions.

In sum, a rating of 5-6/10 is fair. When the bugs are fixed, Cyberpunk 2077 has the potential to reach 7/10. I recommend watching the review by AngryJoeShow because it's funny and hits the nail on the head.