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Cyberpunk 2077: What Else Are We Talking About?

CyberPunk 2077: Meeting My Expectations

I avoided the hype. Stuck to what I understood about CD Projekt Red.

Recognized that this was an 8.5 year development. Didn't stick to the lore. And admittedly, Cyberpunk 2077 met my expectations which, to be transparent, weren't all that high. The first demo I saw at E3 was arguably the worst demo I've ever seen—unresponsive AI, a crash mid-demo, and a poorly-matched pair of people representing the game—and so I felt a lot of problems might carry forth into the finished game. Whether or not I could stream the game on Twitch was also a concern, because if a game is going to launch poorly, you won't be getting much of an audience either.

Sure enough, Cyberpunk 2077 launched unfinished. 8.5 years is a long time for a single release, and at that point, you have to wonder what's cooking in the kitchen. But I'll approach the most important question about the game that's on a lot of peoples' minds that haven't read much about the game or haven't played it either.

Is the game good? Yes.

Cyberpunk relies on the absolute immersion of the world. Everything from how people talk, to the news on TV, to the advertisements, to the in-car radios, to what's lying on the street—it's a pure mechanical dystopia, where everything is computerized. I've yet to visit the City Center yet as I'm still in Watson (if that's the correct name of the city), but I can only imagine that playing the main storyline will eventually drop me in City Center, just more of the same that Cyberpunk totes—a shiny, Matrix-like Neo-Tokyo that screams polish and pomp.

The most difficult part of the game is understanding the most effective paths of your character. I have a lot of points put into technical aptitude and intelligence, giving me perks to craft things and quickhacking abilities. However, I'm nervous about my selections with attribute and perk points because I'm not sure if they're useful or not. There's a perk that auto-deconstructs "junk" items that are picked up and used for crafting, but I'm not sure if that was a hasty, useless purchase. 

I often compare character creations with Arcanum: Of Might and Magick which continues to be one of my favorite games today, despite that I haven't actually finished the game. Certain skills your character could have absolutely nullified others. For instance, pickpocketing allowed you to steal a shopkeeper's key, open their shop at night, steal all of their items, sell all of their own items back to them to take all of their gold, and then steal all of their items again. Essentially, you could rob people blind, taking care of most high-end merch problems and all gold problems

It's hard to figure out what path would be best to take in Cyberpunk, and given the game's nature I don't think it warrants a second playthrough once you're finished with the main storyline. So starting off can be a little overwhelming where you're thrown so many game mechanics at once. I want to use quickhacking with my cyberdeck, but I also want to be efficient in submachine guns, but I also want to be stealthy at first, but I also want more holding capability—being well-rounded lends a question of what abilities to use and which ones to skip in lieu of others. Plus, which ones are the most entertaining? Which ones are the most useful? It's kind of a shot in the dark, which seems like both a strength and weakness. It begs for a replay, but that probably won't be happening. As they say, so many games, so little time.

Cyberpunk's world is difficult to get used to because conversing with characters almost needs some exposition—money is referred to as "eddies," fixers are "job givers," and ripperdocs upgrade your cyberdeck, which gives you technical abilities in the world. I was utterly lost at first with so many terms thrown around, but folks that have learned the lore and jargon ahead of time had an advantage here. I think a lot of new players opted to re-roll their characters to get an understanding of what the game's about.

There are three "roles" you can pick when you start, those being Nomad, Corpo, and Street Kid. I chose Corpo which gives me certain dialogue options likely not available in the other roles. However, I think that's the only effect of what you might see moving forward in terms of story. The Corpo option gives you more "You're not in the position to tell me what to do" options which turn some options in your favor. These life paths don't seem at all pivotal for the game, but pick what you will. To echo my thoughts, I call upon Yoda who is quoted "It matters not."

The Bad

So, for a game that's 8.5 years in development, there are problems when there shouldn't be.

First off, let me be clear that I purchased this game on Stadia. I haven't had any luck getting a next-gen platform, and I'd rather not purchase this game on aging hardware. My take on what I've experienced is biased because Cyberpunk runs really well on Stadia, but I can't ignore that Cyberpunk didn't meet a lot of expectations. It's a buggy game.

A lot of the battle mechanics operate very clunky. For example, I used my cyberdeck scanning ability (you can zoom in and evaluate what certain objects do) next to a character that suddenly felt under attack. He cowered while I used my scanning ability. Not sure why that was the case, but it's clear a lot of the systems didn't speak well with each other.

Another odd interaction happened with a character a floor below me in a building where I had a "job" assigned to me from a fixer. I cleared the floor of baddies and then walked downstairs, where I found one last enemy with his weapon ready. He kept telling himself "Must be my imagination" or "It may have been the wind," with his assault rifle out. I snuck behind him, but couldn't subdue him, probably because of my "coolness" attribute being too low.

I walked out of the office and saw that everyone within a block radius was "cowering" from the gunfire interactions in the office building. Every character model in the same pose on the entire block. Definitely not what I've been used to in similar games. 

The game is definitely not finished, and as Shigeru Miyamoto said,  "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." Not to say this was rushed, but for a game in development for this long, something definitely didn't go in the proper direction.

The Ugly

Soooooooooo.... the aftermath of the year's most hyped game is rough. As you probably know, Sony pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from the Playstation store and gave refunds to disappointed gamers. But more aftermath of Cyberpunk's fall from expected grace is that Microsoft has even presented people with warnings about the game's performance. It's clear that CDPR is under fire for pouring millions into marketing and a lot less into development smarts, especially since it's been revealed any game save files over 8 megabytes get corrupted.

Now, the staff of CDPR is admittedly showing hostility to the higher-ups about the game, citing heavy overtime, poor game direction, and a final product that didn't meet the hype. 2020 has been a fantastic year for gaming in the wake of a devastating pandemic, but CDPR's unfortunate udercooked product was something none of us needed. 

What's worse is that CDPR is facing legal ramifications for the sloppy launch from their investors—another game comes to mind. Those hopeful can likely expect a much better game, but not anytime soon, and not likely for the same price, either.

The Verdict

And yet...I still have fun with it. Im still enamored by Night City's gigantic guts. Last stream, I drove around the city' heavily-populated areas just to gawk in awe. The city's there in all its glory, but just like the game, it draws you in only to rob you. 

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