Cyberpunk 2077 has been on our minds for a long time. Over 8 years to be exact. Since delivering the news in May 2012, darling developer CD Projekt RED has been generating more hype than any other title from the past decade. That includes Final Fantasy VII Remake, a game fans have been begging for since the PS3 showcase at E3 2005. And now, Cyberpunk 2077 has arrived on Stadia, PC and consoles of both past and next-gen calibre, hype now replaced with anger, disappointment and a flurry of bad press. We’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say that the game, initially touted as being developed for the PS4 and Xbox One console families, has been providing a way less than stellar experience on those platforms. After languishing over these issues for a bit of time, there is one question to be answered: is there a good game hidden within Cyberpunk 2077? If you’re playing on Stadia, PC or a next-gen console, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
You see, one of the core things about Cyberpunk 2077 is its impressive and captivating world. It’s the very thing that bugs, glitches and performance issues tend to affect the most as they break the immersion the game shoots for. Without these issues dampening our experience, we’ve been able to peel off the veil of negativity and experience Night City in all its glory. Open world games attempt to use crowds of NPCs to make their virtual environments appear alive. You can’t help but look around you and get that feeling of being a part of the bustling world around you. Cyberpunk 2077 makes you want to not just look around you but also look up and bask in the glorious neon-emblazoned skyline of its futuristic metropolis. CDPR may have not achieved the goal of making every NPC passing by a unique character but they’ve definitely nailed every other aspect of world crafting. Throughout the time we spent with the game, we’ve been told that Night City will chew you up and spit you right back out and that definitely feels like the case.
From the moment you kick off V’s story, whichever of the three beginning stories you choose, you feel like you’re part of a vicious dog-eat-dog world. In our Street Kid playthrough, our V started her journey in a bar where shady dealings and under-the-table exchanges took place. Our first mission delivered was assigned by a person we could only feel sceptical about and our scepticism wasn’t misplaced. Every single interaction we’ve had from that very first moment has been of a cloak-and-dagger nature mixed with a few doses of street family moments. This underground vibe of surviving in a big city filled with possibilities is what makes Cyberpunk 2077’s story and world-building so visceral. You want to poke and prod every single person you speak with, learn more about what they know or who they are. Even the cyber-ghost Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves, quickly goes from a tumour you want to yank out of V’s brain to a fascinating person who you ultimately want to try to save.
The fact that there is a cyber-ghost sub-letting your grey matter is one of many things that puts the “cyberpunk” in Cyberpunk 2077. Almost every action you take, every nook and cranny you explore, and every other minute aspect of human life you can think of involves futuristic tech. Need to freshen up? Gaze into your apartment’s smart mirror. Calling someone? They appear right there in your retinas. Want to live a fantasy with a cybernetically enhanced lady or man of the night? Jack in so the computer can find you the right match. Even doctors seem to be absent from this world, replaced by underground human chop-shops operated by Ripperdocs. These experts on all things cybernetics will be your stop for getting back on your feet as well as to enhanced V’s capabilities. From upgrading your ocular enhancements for better weapons’ accuracy to going full Wolverine with a metal skeleton for added durability, your V can go to the nearest Ripperdoc to evolve beyond her base human capabilities.
Outside of your cybernetic enhancements, you’ll have plenty of other ways to make V stronger as she journeys deeper into the underbelly of Night City. Cyberpunk 2077 works like any other RPG out there, despite looking like a first-person shooter. This isn’t to say that enemies act like bullet sponges. Although the gameplay ultimately boils down to achieving bigger damage numbers, enemies never feel like they take more hits to go down than they should. That is unless you’re encountering foes at a much higher level. Improving your damage and other stats can be achieved through the usual RPG style of itemisation. Guns, blades, armour and enhancements all come in familiar rarity colours that range from the common to the legendary. As an added layer of complexity, you also gain perk points to distribute across a mind-bogglingly large amount of perk trees. If this is sounding quite overwhelming then fear not. Cyberpunk 2077 is a world of experimentation and that extends to your V’s build. By visiting a Ripperdoc, you can buy a special item that will refund your perk points so you can redistribute them as you wish. Trying out different builds and weapon loadouts is one of the most engaging aspects of the game.
So, has Cyberpunk 2077 met the expectations of its 8-year hype train? It depends on your perspective. If you expected a cyberpunk world filled with shady dealings, cybernetically enhanced humans and all of the post-human questions that come from such stories then the game was well worth the wait. On the other hand, if you were looking for a groundbreaking title that will change the face of open-world adventures then you might be disappointed. But Cyberpunk 2077 never needed to deliver more than what it already does. You may not enjoy driving through Night City, but its richly populated and bustling streets will enthral you. Even if most quests feel samey, you’ll find plenty of underlying stories to experience. Ultimately, Cyberpunk 2077 delivers on the cyberpunk element in spades and then some. And that’s what makes it truly special.