Remember when you were back in school (or university, whichever was more recent) and there was that one kid that was exceptionally cool? You never spoke to them, mind you. They were too cool! Everything about them was stylish, trendy, and constantly appealing to anyone that looked their way.

Then, through some twist of circumstance, you were provided an opportunity to actually converse with this Entity of Chill. What a marvel! What a day! Finally, you could prod around inside their brain, dig around and figure out how they became so cool! It should have been a monumental moment, a step ahead for your social standing, and yet… there was just nothing.

Turns out, this Creature of Vogue was vapid, barely capable of stringing two sentences together without reminding you how cool they thought they were. It’s a sad thing to admit, but that high-school reality faced by so many people is what Cyberpunk 2077 reminds me of more than anything else.

As an aesthetic it’s remarkable and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my time with it. Yet every time I thought I was really having fun, something stupid would smack my hand and remind me that there is a lot wrong with this game.

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I don’t want to start with complaints though because there is a lot to like about Cyberpunk 2077. The biggest success of the game is the writing within its main and side quests. As young upstart by the name of V, your goal is to become “made” in Night City, a cultural hybrid of California, Tokyo and Beijing.

You’re a merc (with motivations that depend on your origin) that takes on odd jobs that mostly need a little muscle. It’s the setup for a story that’s soaked in the kind of eye-rolling cynicism of Grand Theft Auto V but truth be told, Cyberpunk 2077 is remarkably genuine. Given the aesthetic and the connotations of the genre it’s pulling on, I was shocked at how… nice people were. Sure, there are sleazeballs galore but the game tends to turn the lens on those lost and lonely souls just looking for a friend in dire times

V themself is a fantastic character, even if they don’t start out as much. The repercussions of their high-risk lifestyle expose the core of a person who’s terrified of what they could become if they dwell within the dirges of a city that’s so corruptible. They grapple with concepts of mortality, loneliness, vengeance and fear more than anything else.

They’re helped along by a cast of characters that, again, stand out against the grime of Night City. Every supporting character feels purposeful in their interactions with V as the themes of their stories weave into the players. There’s a masterful amount of storytelling in Cyberpunk 2077 and actually placing a character with emotion at the core of it makes everything resonate all the more.

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To put some things into context, there’s an entire quest dedicated to V just attending a funeral. Mingling with the guests and saying a few words. There’s a confidence in that, in taking such a mundane event and spinning it out into a full-on quest. The best part about it is that it works. I’m glad the game focuses on the humans in Night City as it would have been very easy to continually bash the player of the head with sentiments of, “Look, technology sucks, right?”.

That theme is still present but it’s never so obvious as to become Black Mirror levels of paranoid. By the time I rolled credits on Cyberpunk, I was exhausted yet satisfied with the ending I got. It’s an excellent story that’s populated with complex characters, set pieces, and memorable conversations from start to finish.

Yet I was also exhausted because there’s a lot about Cyberpunk 2077 that just doesn’t work and, I would go so as to say, is badly designed.

Firstly, let’s talk about the game’s UI which is terrible. Passively, it’s inoffensive yet the second combat breaks out and you’re forced to bring up your cyberdeck to hack enemies as well as the constant flow of information as to where enemies are, what objects are hackable, and where some netrunner is attempting to connect to your brain… it’s overwhelming to say the least.

The problem with the UI becomes even worse the second you bring up any kind of menu with everything appearing as a cluttered mess. The inventory is a pain to navigate through, the map is just a buckshot spread of markers that block your view and the quest log is just tedious. Why is every available car classified as a quest? That’s an entire submenu that needs to be scrolled through when literally buying a car is no-where near as important as the game’s actual quests. I used the word “cluttered” a little early back and I think that’s the phrase that best describes the game’s approach to UX and quest management. This is surprising, given that you’d hope CDPR would have fixed the biggest issue which was also present in The Witcher 3.

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Once you mash the exit button and retreat out of the game’s menus you’ll be doing a whole lot of things around Night City, but the bulk of your activities will most likely be driving and combat. Let’s start with the driving which for the most part works in the sense that holding down a button makes your vehicle go forward. Cars don’t handle very well at all, seemingly sliding over the words and never exhibiting the tight turns you want in a location with as many sharp turns as Night City. My advice would be to get a bike as soon as possible. The more slippery handling works better for two wheels and you’ll look cooler anyway.

That “looking cool” sentiment is applicable to Night City itself because beyond the main and supporting characters, there’s very little on offer. The world is robotic, turning its cogs like necessary and not doing much else. NPCs don’t engage with you and everything is just… unresponsive. We’ve seen a great deal of evolution in the open-world spaces of the last generation and none of that is present in Night City.

Remember how in Red Dead Redemption 2 the world responded to you? NPCs would comment on what you were doing in a parlor trick of clever design to really make you feel like you existed in the world rather than the world being built for you. It’s the opposite in Night City as nothing really feels like it matters. All the factions and street cred don’t mean a thing if I’m going to gun down a pack of Scavs only to be able to walk past a crew down the street that doesn’t seem to care or remember me for slaughtering their brethren.

It’s disappointing to say the least.

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Combat is fun at best and terrible at worst. To elaborate, using firearms is clearly the intended way to play the game because melee combat sucks. It’s just straight-up bad. Firearms in Cyberpunk 2077 often deliver a solid, meaty shot (depending on the type of gun you’re using) and while not all guns are equal, there’s certainly fun to be playing as a gunslinger with a big chunk of iron on their hip. Yet the second you need to throw fists the game morphs into a Bethesda title. Impacts are barely noticeable, and smacking an enemy usually results in them being stun-locked so you can simply wait for your stamina to recharge and keep wailing. It’s not an engaging form of combat and given that the vast majority of encounters will involve being shot at, I can’t imagine it would very fun either.

I also just wanted to touch on the game’s performance. At this point, we all know about the bugs and glitches so there’s no point in carrying on about them. I decided to write this review a little after everyone else to see what kind of effect the big Day One patch had and while it certainly fixed a lot, there’s still plenty wrong. Even on my fairly beefy PC the game often stutters and hitches, with character animations still ceasing at random intervals.

While I fortunately haven’t experienced any hard crashes since the patch, I’m aware of several colleagues that have said the game is virtually unplayable on PS4 and Xbox One. You might be tempted to just excuse that with a “Well, don’t play it on last-gen” but considering those are the platforms the game was meant to launch on, that’s a laughable defence. While certainly better, CDPR has a lot to work on if they want their game to meet any kind of easily playable standard.

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That’s the problem with delays, I think. Sure, most of the time the game comes out as a better product, but when a game has been in development for such a long time, the industry moves on. It changes. There’s so much about Cyberpunk 2077 that feels like a game that was designed and built seven years ago, barely acknowledging how we’ve evolved both as players and as an industry.

Ironic, given the game’s setting. There is fun to be had in Night City; a fantastic story and engaging side characters that made the experience worth the time for me. Yet there’s also so much that the game just whiffs. An unresponsive and cold open-world, a literal hit-or-miss combat system, irritatingly slick navigation, and UI that’s painful to be saddled with. Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t the game people wanted it to be. There’s good to be found in Night City but you have to put up with a lot of the bad to get there.

Last Updated: December 14, 2020

Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077 tells a compelling story with an excellent assortment of characters but fails to deliver on the promises of a living, breathing open-world. All of these faults are amplified by a messy user interface, unengaging combat, and shoddy performance across multiple platforms.
7.5
Cyberpunk 2077 was reviewed on PC
86 / 100
Some of our articles may include links to purchase products from third party suppliers which we may get a small commission from.

37 Comments

  1. The Big Bad Wolf

    December 14, 2020 at 11:46

    7.5?! I shall now rant and rave against your erroneous ways despite your still positive reception.

    Reply

  2. MechMachine

    December 14, 2020 at 11:46

    You do realize that it is virtually impossible for any game to meet the expectations that people place on it ?. They hype train that this game had going was all due to the fans ? I wonder how many reviewers took that into consideration. Average review.

    Reply

    • Mandalorian Jim

      December 14, 2020 at 16:13

      It’s almost like we should learn by now, right? But when the hype machine starts going, the adverts and trailers pop and the buzz grows, even the most rational and intelligent individual gets swept up by it.

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        December 14, 2020 at 21:54

        Not THIS rational and intelligent individual, HA!
        I mean, this is a SP game. No need to get it day one and okay with everyone else.
        I’ll get this once it’s had the crap patched out of it so that I can enjoy it relatively bug free.
        And at a much cheaper price to boot.

        Reply

        • MechMachine

          December 14, 2020 at 21:55

          There’s a gun that talks to you and randomly pre-fires. Almost as if it is prematurely..you get the picture. I watched a video earlier, It’s not something that’s easy to find, so I thought I would share, It scales to your level, a tech weapon. It has a cartoon bullet hologram that floats above it when you look at it.

          Reply

          • Original Heretic

            December 14, 2020 at 21:55

            Well I’ll forget all about that a year from now when I probably get it.
            I’ve avoided all gameplay vids of this because I want to go in without knowing much at all.

    • Catsim

      December 16, 2020 at 15:15

      I didn’t watch a single preview of the game and had no expectations and I still think it’s mediocre outside of the main missions and the good side missions. It’s amazing how big and detailed the world is but clearly a lot of polish in gameplay was sacrificed to achieve that.

      Reply

      • MechMachine

        December 17, 2020 at 10:58

        I actually agree to an extent. I am often left wondering how much content was cut. It feels like there are so many systems are missing from the game. I am still blown away by the ambition and feel of the game but I can see where the failures are. I hope this will be resolved with DLC’s or a sequel.

        Reply

  3. Francois Knoetze

    December 14, 2020 at 11:54

    5 Hours in and loving it so far. It has it’s issues but my PC is running it with a smile at the moment

    Reply

  4. Guild

    December 14, 2020 at 12:13

    You should have reviewed it on base PS4

    Reply

    • Iskape

      December 14, 2020 at 13:28

      I gave up on my base PS4 when I couldn’t even run Days Gone properly without my framerate dropping to something horrendous, and tons of texture pop in!

      Reply

      • Mrs. Crabtree

        December 14, 2020 at 22:00

        Why would I do that when I own a PC? This is what you get with gaming on a budget.

        Reply

        • geel slang

          December 16, 2020 at 15:15

          Thats a bit harsh. Nothing wrong with gaming on a budget. If a game is sold for a platform it must work, right?

          Reply

  5. I Forget Myself

    December 14, 2020 at 12:14

    Thanks for an honest review, I completely agree. Clearly Keanu signed on late then they tried to rework the whole story around the film-star gimmick. My favourite game of all-time is (was? in light of my dented respect) The Witcher 3, this just seems lackluster and completely superficial by way of comparison. I am mildly enjoying Cyberpunk 2077, with the caveat that I struggle to see a decade’s worth of development here, seems like it was rushed out the door and sold at a premium. That’s just on PC, mine is quite a beast and is having issues running it on the recommended ultra settings. It’s clearly not optimised at all for console, seems they definitely over-reached.

    I’ve never seen so many bugs on release, not even Dragon Age was this bad. Fallout 4 and Mass Effect 3 both do dystopian sci fi way more justice and are more fun in terms of gameplay, I can almost objectively state that. The vehicles in Cyberpunk are horrific to pilot and CD PROJEKT RED tried to squeeze GTA into this title with vehicle heists too, definitely ended up a jack of all trades. I’m sure they’ll deliver TLC over time and patch it up, but if you wrap a turd in gold paper it’s still a turd nonetheless. The irony is the whole subscript about evil corporations is applicable to their entire launch of this game and taking advantage of unwary consumers – very suspicious too that I can’t leave a review on Steam, money can buy immunity from bad public reviews too it seems.

    The disparity between user reviews and reviews from “formal” publications is also eye-opening, leveraging the release of the game for marketing entails giving it a good review regardless of the quality. I’ve read a lot of “5 star / 9 out of 10” reviews that are verging on outright mistruth. This is the disappointment of the decade for RPG fans… it’s 2020’s last kick in the collective nuts in my opinion: roll on Diablo 4. As for this, I’m racing through the main storyline (have put in 20 hours so far) and then will return to AC Valhalla and the new TWW: 2 DLC. Thanks for reading this mild rant, needed to vent.

    Reply

    • MechMachine

      December 14, 2020 at 14:05

      This is where objectivity plays a serious role. What are you playing ? The game is a bug riddled mess. But it’s not a turd. What are you even talking about ? What did you expect ? The second coming ? This is what I don’t understand, people need to temper their expectation a little.You’re racing through the main story ? There’s the problem, there is a lot of good stuff to be found in the side quests. In-fact, I would argue that the meat of the game is in the exploration. From a stylistic perspective, the game is on another level. More so then anything that has come before.
      If you rush through a game like this, you are doing yourself a disservice, and you don’t sound like you are giving the game a fair shake. It seems like too many people are riding the wave of criticism and not allowing the achievement to come through. Are you honestly going to say that the city is not something awe inspiring ? Just the sheer volume alone, simply incredible, the sounds, the lights, the atmosphere. It reminds me of the promise of all those Sci Films I grew up on. And I get to go live them.

      When I play a game, I don’t look at a list of requirements that need to be met, I just let it envelope me and I allow it to unfold, and the way Cyberpunk has done this, along with some of the somber moments mixed in with the action and crazy visuals is pretty damn insane. It may not be perfect, and I CD Project Red may have fallen short, but it a superior game compared to most others.

      Reply

      • I Forget Myself

        December 14, 2020 at 14:18

        Fair enough, in the interest of objectivity I will satiate your outrage by spending at least a good 6 hours this evening exclusively on side-quests as a nice diversion from the main quest.

        Reply

        • MechMachine

          December 14, 2020 at 14:19

          I don’t care. Do what you want.

          Reply

      • th3SiCn3ss

        December 14, 2020 at 14:19

        Fully agree, I’ve spent 35hrs in game & only on Act2 a.t.m. starting area is clear with nothing left to do. Moving on to 2nd area. I’ve had no game breaking bugs only a few annoying ones like recycled mods that still show. This game is fking brilliant & haven’t had anything in ages that made me play till early hours in the morning. “Each to it’s own” I guess..

        Reply

        • MechMachine

          December 14, 2020 at 21:55

          Yeah, each to his or her own indeed. No point in trying to convince others, I just don’t want this game to be put down for the wrong reasons. But It’s not my job to convince people, I realise.

          Reply

      • Mrs. Crabtree

        December 14, 2020 at 22:00

        I have seen only a few bugs. Floating weapons and teleporting npc’s. Other than that it has been a joy to play.

        Reply

        • Chris Summers

          December 14, 2020 at 22:02

          100% with you, I’ve also really only had some occassional, very minor graphics bugs and am absolutely loving it (51 Hours in).

          Neither have any of my mates playing it mentioned any significant issues with bugs, although we’re all playing on PC (non-potatoe)

          One of the best settings, music and so on I have played in some time.

          Reply

    • Plague Doctor Who

      December 14, 2020 at 14:19

      Witcher 3 was a mess at launch.. especially for “optimizations” for graphics.. I remember “enthusiast level machines having frame rate issues” back then, and it’s no slouch even today.

      I also don’t agree with Keanu being signed into the story as a gimmick.. there’s a lot, and I mean a lot of writing in the game that proves that notion as wrong. They spent a lot of time making his character prevalent across the entire story, and everything else you run into. I struggle with their gameplay trailers before release.. they really ruined the surprise of what to expect in the game.. they showed too much and made the initial experience water downed knowing what was going to happen before having played the game yet. In my eyes that created the initial lackluster feel knowing those events were played out in a trailer.

      Bug wise, It’s bad but it’s no fallout 76- and that’s saying something.
      Majority of issues I’ve had can be solved by saving, and reloading the save file. Of course there are script errors that just destroy the immersion of the game, but when you think about how much work they put into it I am not the least surprised some of these issues remained up to this point.

      My only real major gripe was their choice in creating an old-gen version of cp for xbox one, and playstation 4.. it never made a lick of sense to me.. and after seeing the specifics after launch I can only imagine it was either based on greed.. or microsoft/sony demanding they release on their old consoles as well as their new ones for marketing.. as I’ve so far noticed several titles doing the whole “cross save/free upgrade copy” mental gymnastics.

      Given time I know there will be plenty of QoL improvements.. my real interest though.. where will they take us with following expansions. (Considering the main story ending(s).)

      Reply

    • For the Emperor!

      December 14, 2020 at 21:56

      “recommended ultra settings” – My machine is no beast, barely making recommended. And it had me on Ultra as well by default. I tuned it down a bit.

      The driving is shoddy agreed.

      Reply

  6. Iskape

    December 14, 2020 at 12:18

    The few hours I’ve played, I’ve enjoyed it. Admittedly, it hasn’t grabbed me as much as The Witcher 3, and they are miles apart in terms of standard, so I have no idea what went wrong during development. It’s not like the studio has never developed an amazing game before!

    Reply

    • Krabby Paddy

      December 14, 2020 at 12:36

      I feel exactly the same. I think the problem might be that this game differs too much from the Witcher 3 and this was perhaps too ambitious of them. Maybe first a more scaled back quicker release Cyberpunk game should have been released and then go bigger after that.

      Reply

  7. Viper_ZA

    December 14, 2020 at 12:43

    Honest review. Really enjoying it regardless of its faults. Could never get into the Witcher games…

    Reply

  8. Plague Doctor Who

    December 14, 2020 at 13:58

    72 hours in, I could technically write a review of my own at this time (lol) and I’ve finished the main storyline. I still wager a good 40 plus hours on everything left over if not more.. especially if I want to get all the cheevo’s for bragging rights with friends.

    There’s a lot of good and bad with this title, kinda like- the good, the bad, and the ugly all in one dish. What really shines to me the fact that everything seems to have some synergy with how silverhand is depicted, and how involved you become with the character.. you become intertwined and immersed if you let yourself be. The real romance to this game isn’t the main story line but the stories you come across on the side.. there’s a lot of memorable experiences just waiting to be found.. just takes some exploration.

    Reply

  9. D4m@E

    December 14, 2020 at 14:19

    I am definitely enjoying my time with it, but yeah, there are definitely issues there.
    Some hillarious bugs that I can laugh at and some others, not so much.
    But my biggest issue currently is absolutely the menu system and the map.
    Good grief is it cluttered.

    Reply

    • th3SiCn3ss

      December 14, 2020 at 14:44

      playing on PC but pressing Z de clutters the map & only highlights certain activitiesobjectiveslocations…

      Reply

  10. Alien Emperor Trevor

    December 14, 2020 at 14:44

    I’m really loving my time in the game. Haven’t progressed much in the main story, rather been taking my time and exploring the city, doing side gigs, and just figuring out how all the systems work and how I want to play. I struggled a bit in the beginning, but now that I’ve got a few levels under my belt & some decent gear I’ve gotten into a nice groove. 100% agree with the melee combat though, it’s quite poor compared to the pew pewing.

    Game’s also been running very smoothly at 2k res on my PC, quite impressed actually given that it’s at the lower end of recommended. Haven’t experienced any crashes or real bugs, worst is a weird ragdoll every so often and some NPCs or cars popping in & out. Very impressed with the sheer density of the city and the attention to detail.

    Reply

  11. Mandalorian Jim

    December 14, 2020 at 16:13

    Any chance for a second review but one on either the base PS4 or Xbone? I think the readers on the older consoles need to be informed as well, because while the PC version is definitely the version to get, the bulk of the sales are coming from the console peasants (or at least that’s what the data suggest that I’ve been looking at).

    Reply

    • HvR

      December 14, 2020 at 21:56

      Think more than half the of the sales will becoming from PC as with other CDPR titles; they have really pushing it hard the last couple of months especially if you have gog account

      Reply

    • The D

      December 14, 2020 at 21:58

      I’m playing on PS5 via BC, and once we’re back from break I’ll probably whip a review based on my own experiences with the game. Want to try for a good solid playthrough, which the holidays will be perfect for.

      Reply

  12. CrAiGiSh

    December 14, 2020 at 21:51

    Currently have mixed feelings about the game.

    Reply

  13. For the Emperor!

    December 14, 2020 at 21:57

    I was not on the Hype Train for this game. Was going to wait for a next (current?) gen console to get it. But too many gameplay videos on Youtube got me really interested so I bit the bullet and got in on PC. Runs quite well on my older machine actually. Only 1 major glitch thus far – when looking in the mirror, V does not have pants on…and the area down there is not “accurate” at all 🙂

    Reply

  14. geel slang

    December 15, 2020 at 14:13

    I know its about the gameplay, but considering the fidelity on display more should be mentioned about the graphics, Its truely next gen. Immersion is an important part of the game. At least mention the rig it was reviewed on. Ray tracing a gimmick? Play Cyberpunk 2077.

    Reply

  15. Name

    December 15, 2020 at 19:33

    Cyberbug 2077. Probably the most hyped and overrated game ever made. Dodge this bullet…

    Reply

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