Revealed in 2013 with a gorgeous CGI trailer, CD Projekt RED gave us our first glimpse into the world of cyberpunk with words at the end of the trailer that read “coming when it’s ready.” CD Projekt RED was known at that time for the first two “Witcher” games, and while they weren’t as mainstream as they are today, they were extremely popular and loved by their community. While “Witcher 3” wasn’t even announced back then, this one quick glimpse at “Cyberpunk 2077” gave everyone a reason to be excited about it. A couple of years after that, they unveiled and released “The Witcher 3,” which quite literally became their magnum opus and is to this date considered one of the best RPGs ever made. Needless to say, CD Projekt RED was on fire and quickly became a household name among gamers and the gaming industry as a whole, but a lingering question kept popping up. Where is cyberpunk?
CD Projekt RED kept a very tight lip, and whenever they were asked about the game, all they responded with was, “we’ll talk about it when we are ready.” The hopes kept building with every passing day. Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the Cyberpunk tabletop games, was heavily involved with this project and kept reassuring people that this would be the best rendition of his Cyberpunk world that anyone had ever laid eyes on and that it was in the right hands. Despite all of his reassuring words and the developer’s silence, people wanted to see the game with their own eyes, and that became a reality in 2018 when, at the very end of the Xbox E3 presentation, the conference was “hacked,” and we got a glimpse at “Cyberpunk 2077” with a re-reveal of sorts and another beautiful CGI trailer. It took them five years, but when they showed it, my Lord, was it impressive. While this was also another CGI trailer with no release date, this gave us a lot more information about the game, and I was surprised at how colorful it all looked. A few weeks later, they showcased 45 minutes of gameplay, and everything was on point. The anticipation built even higher.
Another year went by, and in 2019, at the Xbox E3 presentation, they brought us another CGI trailer, at the end of which the internet got its biggest surprise. Keanu Reeves himself was unveiled to be part of this project and played the role of none other than everyone’s favorite rocker boy Johnny Silverhand. It was one hell of a moment that took everyone by surprise, and when Keanu showed up on stage, everyone lost their collective minds. That day, the “you are breathtaking” meme was born, and we got a release date for “Cyberpunk 2077” in April 2020. As 2019 almost came to a close, everyone eagerly waited for April to arrive, but unfortunately, they were met with disappointment as the game got delayed to December 2020. While disappointing, everyone supported the decisions because they wanted a good game in their hands and not a rushed game. Eventually, December arrived, and the game was released, but did it live up to everyone’s expectations? No. The game was a disaster in every way imaginable. Bugs, glitches, and over promised and under-delivered mess with choices having no impact, a lifeless world, and so many other things destroyed this experience for almost everyone as they waited to get it for eight long years. What happened next? Well, CD Projekt RED had a lot of fires to put out and faced a lot of scrutinies; after fixing their mistakes, they went quiet and got back to work.
The easy thing to do would have been to apologize and promise never to be this ambitious ever again, but they kept their heads down and worked on the game to make it a well-functioning product by releasing a series of patches and fixes. According to them, they believed in the project and wished to own up to their mistake and not let them die. The player base, on the other hand, while disappointed, saw the potential hidden behind this game and supported CD Projekt RED patiently as they slowly fixed it. As of today, “Cyberpunk 2077” is a game that works very well and is stable across all platforms, with a ton of improvements that have been made to it. There are some fundamental issues with the game that still exist, and I don’t know if they’ll ever be or can be fixed, but overall, the game is in a much better place, which brings us to this article. Let’s leave all the drama behind and see if “Cyberpunk 2077” is worth playing as of right now, and if so, what makes it worth playing?
‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Premise
“Cyberpunk 2077” gives you control of V, and you choose your life path between a Corpo, a street kid, or a mercenary, which changes the opening of the game. Despite of the route you choose, you’ll end up with Jackie eventually, and after a montage of them spending a few months of their lives together as mercenaries in Night City, they end up getting in contact with one of the most popular fixers around town named Dexter Deshawn. The gig is simple, nab a prototype biochip. The catch? It’s inside the stronghold, which is the Arasaka building. Arasaka is one of the biggest mega corps that runs Night City. Jackie and V prepare for the mission, infiltrate the building, and successfully nab the chip, but their escape plan runs into some issues, and they are forced to hide. While they are hiding, they witness the murder of Saburo Arasaka, the head of the family, at the hands of his own son, Yorinobu Arasaka. Things quickly go awry from there, and in their escape attempt, they damage the case holding the chip and are forced to slot it in their head. With all of Arasaka’s forces chasing them and Adam Smasher himself on their tails, they end up back at Dexter Deshawn, who betrays them and shoots V in the head. I have skipped a few details here that you can explore on your own, by the way. V wakes up semi-conscious in a dump and is “saved” by a mysterious company man who shoots Dexter Deshawn and kills him, and takes V to a ripper doc. Upon barely surviving, V is told by his/her doctor and friend Victor vector that he/she doesn’t have very long to live, and the chip in his/her contains the digitized soul of Johnny Silverhand, whose consciousness is slowly melding with V’s.
Back at the apartment, V lies hopeless and gives up on life, and we see Keanu Reeves, aka Johnny Silverhand, appear in front of him or her and pick a fight with him or her. This is how “Cyberpunk 2077” opens, and you are free to pursue the story or explore Night City. I have purposefully skipped a lot of details here, as the opening act of the game is very strong, and most of these key details are best left explored on their own. Despite the game’s issues, the story was and is the one area where this game truly shines. Sure, the RPG choices have next to no meaning behind them, as the story is very linear and doesn’t have many diverging paths. Despite that, the story for this game is solid and very well written, and the fact that Keanu hangs out with you throughout the journey just makes me giggle to this day. Let’s take a look at the gameplay and other stuff now.
‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Gameplay
Cyberpunk’s gameplay is in first-person and is incredibly fun. The gunplay, at least. There are a ton of guns here, and while they are divided into rarities, a thing I absolutely abhor, they still pack a meaty punch. Shotguns, pistols, and machine guns—you have all of that here, but you also have futuristic weapons that shoot lasers and weapons that can shoot through walls. You can use three of them at any time, carry the rest in your inventory, and instantly switch between them depending on the situation. The Arsenal here is very versatile and fits every situation. Alongside your guns, you also have cyber weapons like guerilla arms that can punch harder than a truck and Mantis Blades, which are two blades that pop out of your arms and cut your enemies to pieces. How cool is that? There is more cyber ware here that you can find or buy at Ripper Docs, and again, mixing and matching these can elevate your gameplay experience and take it to new heights.
There is a vast skill tree that brings genuine improvements to your characters. More health and stamina and all that good stuff are here, sure, but the real deal comes when you spec into certain perks for certain play styles that totally change the way your character works. You can become a stealthy ninja of sorts or a master hacker (netrunner) who can rip almost anyone apart from a distance. Or maybe you have an itch for the traditional run and gun/spray and pray gameplay, in which case you can spec into that as well and become a force to be reckoned with. There is a ton of choice and variety here, that’s for sure, and you can respect all your skills at a moment’s notice to try out different builds. The build variety and diversity here are very commendable, and when combined with all the mods that you can find and slot into your clothing, you truly become a force of nature here.
The gunplay is fun, and the skill tree is awesome, but where do you use your skills? You may be wondering. Well, there are tons of enemies you’ll encounter throughout the story, and while roaming the streets of Night City, you will stumble on different gang members or cyber psychopaths, none of whom can be persuaded diplomatically. The gameplay, when firing on all cylinders, is extremely fast and satisfying, despite the AI being kind of dumb. You feel like you are playing a game like “Doom,” with incredible music blasting in the background and you taking to the skies and jumping from enemy to enemy, quickly disposing of them. Very fun. There’s driving here as well, and it’s serviceable. Not good, but definitely not bad. All the cars and bikes look incredible, though, and fit the world perfectly. I wish there was vehicle customization here as well, but alas, that’s not the case. Speaking of customization, I should mention that your character is heavily customizable with a ton of options available, most of which can be changed mid-game as well, so you are not locked in with your initial pick. The city, while gorgeous, is hollow and lifeless, and it was a missed opportunity at the hands of the developers not to add a ton of mini games like the “Yakuza” games do. You can’t even go and have a drink at the bar or enjoy some street food as each vendor is practically a menu. As immersive as Night City is, it’s simply a mile wide and an inch deep.
The worst offender has to be the AI for cops; there are no car chases, and the cops spawn a few feet behind or in front of you every time you get into trouble. Besides that, you really have to turn into a maniac if you wish to go on “GTA” style rampages, as the cops forget about all the crimes you committed the moment you leave their sight. It was terrible in the beginning, and while it’s improved a bit since then, it’s still terrible. Other than all this, you can expect standard RPG elements with gear, mods, and all that good stuff. There’s more to “Cyberpunk 2077,” but these are the most important pillars the game is built on and are good as a whole. Could it have been a lot better? Yes. Most definitely, but what we got, especially after all the patches fixing the game, is good.
I’ll just give a basic glimpse into the world of “Cyberpunk 2077,” which is Night City, as this deserves its own article. Despite the emptiness, Night City is densely packed with buildings and has crowded streets full of cars and NPCs. The game pops and oozes with color so much that you can’t help but let your jaw hit the floor in awe of how gorgeous it can look. Sex sells in the world of “Cyberpunk 2077,” and that’s evident as everywhere you look, you’ll see ads with varying degrees of innuendos and sometimes even blatant imagery selling sex. That’s the dark future, and Night City, being the last great megalopolis, serves it up to you on a silver platter. Most of the city is ruled by different gangs that you’ll meet and interact with, while companies like Araska, Militech, and more act as the government for the most part. The world of “Cyberpunk 2077” is incredible in many ways, and while they could have done so much more with it, it can’t be ignored how visually stimulating and drop-dead gorgeous every centimeter of Night City is. There is also a desert surrounding the city, which is also worth visiting, but when the city packs so much charm, why would you want to leave?
The Technical Stuff
We have technically been through this part so let’s do a quick rundown here. The game uses CD Projekt’s proprietary “REDEngine” and is very stable now, especially on current-gen consoles where they give you the option to play at 60fps or at 30fps with raytracing enabled. Both of these options look and play very well, but the game truly shines on the PC. The voice acting and sound design are phenomenal, and the art on display is simply breathtaking. It still has its rough edges, but it is sound enough at this point of time that you can easily jump in and have a good time.
“Cyberpunk 2077” has to be one of the most anticipated and most disappointing/controversial games in recent memory. Despite its issues, I commend CD Projekt RED for sticking with it and making it a well-functioning product. I just hope they didn’t over-promise so much to begin with, but hey, they announced they were making a sequel for this, so here’s hoping they learned their lesson and find redemption. I am happy with this game as of now, and I can easily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played it yet, especially if they are on current-gen consoles. The story here is incredible, the world is stunning, the gameplay is fun, and you can get multiple hours of enjoyment from this product. The “Phantom Liberty” expansion is coming out next year, and here’s hoping they nail it out of the park with the expansion and hopefully find ways to fix the fundamental issues that still plague this game. “Cyberpunk 2077” was a good game under the hood when it came out, and now it’s a good game on the surface as well and is definitely well worth playing at least once.