Cyberpunk 2077 Review

Developed and Published by CD PROJEKT RED, Cyberpunk 2077 was the most anticipated game of the year, if not the last couple of years. From the team that brought you the highly-rated The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Cyberpunk 2077 was supposed to be a milestone in gaming accomplishment. Hot on the trail of the releases of the latest consoles, it was going to be the first real test of the new systems to show what next-gen gaming was all about. Everyone one was nervous about the constant push backs and then the crunch to meet the newest deadline. So, regardless of the shady pre-release marketing and much-documented bugs on older systems, I will be giving my review solely based on my experience playing on the Xbox Series X.

The storyline in Cyberpunk 2077 is slightly varied depending on which path you chose in your character customisation. You can choose from street kid, nomad or corpo. This choice sets your backstory and your initial prologue. It will also provide conversation choices based on your selection which already gives you a hook for replay value. The prologue is long but also very interesting. It feels longer as you are trying to take everything this futuristic world has to offer in and it takes a while before you feel any immersion, but once you’re in, it fits very snugly.

You’re not forced to stick to the main missions for the prologue; although some areas are restricted, there is plenty to explore. However without spoiling too much, once you have finished the prologue is where you meet Johnny Silverhand, the enigmatic character played by Keanu Reeves. Your paths become very much entwined and, well, I’ll spare any further details other than it soon becomes revealed how you and Silverhand’s fate set up the rest of the wonderfully presented main story full of betrayal, espionage, and chaos. Aside from this main tale there are plenty of side missions, specific jobs called Gigs, random crimes to assist with and much more to occupy your time.

The game looks incredible and is insanely immersive once you commit enough time to it. From customising your character completely – including their genitalia! – to diving straight into your characters story arc, it is all a bit of a whirlwind. It’s hard to take everything in straight away and it’s only when you begin to explore the world do you understand the work that has been put into this. All other NPC’s seem to have some personality, usually mostly negative, but gone are the muted drones that just carry on with their lives regardless of what you do. The NPC’s are having real conversations, arguments which can spill into conflict, making deals or even just voicing their opinions on topics you might be interested in eavesdropping on. All the NPC’s seem different including the multiple gangs of enemies you come across. I rarely if ever think I saw the same face in an enemy and that really helped the immersion. You can scan pretty much everyone in the world and it tells you their name and affiliation if they have one.

Second Opinion
Cyberpunk 2077 is such a behemoth that we thought it’d be good to get an extra short opinion on the title too. I have spent about 8 hours now playing, though truth be told I’ve barely made any progress in the main tale past the opening sections.
I was pretty underwhelmed at first to be honest. It feels like too much is thrown at us with very little explanation, and we’re expected to care about characters we’ve only just met. The combat felt sluggish, the world felt overly dense while also not really having any substance to it, and no matter how hard I tried I could barely keep my attention on it for more than about an hour before becoming bored.
But then.
I sat down one evening and just focused. No phone, no kids, nothing. And it’s true splendour began to emerge. That world that felt dense? I can now see the sheer detail involved here, and how it all just runs regardless of me and V. Around every corner is something else to see, someone else to meet, to shoot. The obtuse menus still allude me a little, but it’s so detailed that it looks to provide almost any option you could want to build. The gunplay has improved along with my upgrades and new weapons, and V has a good range of movement in combat, letting us duck and weave in and out of cover. It’s not going to challenge Halo or Titanfall, but it’s far better than I gave it credit for to start with.
The main change of heart for me though has been the characters and story. I’ve grown to become really quite invested in the people I’ve met, and part of the reason I’m so behind on the main tale is that the side missions are just brilliant. They might not be long but what I’ve seen so far have felt like they could slot into the main campaign of any other title, yet here they are optional.
A lot of just criticsm has been levelled at the game since release, and there’s no denying hiding the last gen version until after launch was a dick move on the Exec’s part, but if you’ve a Series X (or decent PC) then I feel that Graham is right; there is something special here, and I only hope that CDPR can turn it’s fortunes around so that more people get to appreciate it.

This Second Opinion has not been factored into the full review.

The driving in the game when you choose the first-person view felt the most realistic in a sandbox-style game. The cars feel heavy and don’t steer with perfect ease as some games do, and riding motorbikes feels the best way to travel long distances.

There were a few minor graphical glitches but nothing not already seen in other games. For example, an enemy died and fell into a table, but then become merged into said table. One enemy I shot fell through the floor and ended up being suspended in the air. Lastly, there were 2 occasions where both a companion and myself walked pasted a set of drawers and it spontaneously popped open like it was booted. But that was it really, 4 glitches in around 20 hours of gameplay which I could easily live with.

The gameplay feels like it took the best ingredients from other sandbox games, mixed it up with an interesting Cyberpunk storyline and cooked it delicately. Although some would say they have been slow cooking it for a few years. I know the latest GTA offered a first person view, but to me, it somehow felt forced and didn’t feel too comfortable (completely agree – ed). But this plays like a GTA-style game, with Elder Scrolls-like characters and combat and some technical abilities not too dissimilar to Deus Ex.

Cyberpunk 2077 allows you to play in whichever style you choose except in certain storyline areas where stealth is or isn’t an option. You can use both melee and guns and switch between 3 equipped weapons at a time. The combat is fair in difficulty and you can switch up your challenge to focus more on the story so combat isn’t too tough or to ramp it up and make the combat immensely hard. As it is cyberpunk you can also make use of cybernetic implants to send commands to nearby electronics to distract enemies or send a ping to highlight where all enemies are, hack cameras to turn them off or even hack straight into enemies. There are so many options with your cybernetic powers as you progress that you can select the ones that are tailored to your style. You can distract, deafen and blind enemies to play in a stealthy non-lethal way. You can overload electronics, burn enemies synapses or cause their weapons to jam if you prefer a more lethal approach. Or maybe you want to go somewhere in between which you are free to choose to do. Some fixers, who supply you with jobs, ask you to do them in a certain way and moan a little disapprovingly if you don’t comply.

There is plenty to be had for the looters and those into customising. Every enemy drops loot and most buildings and even the streets have bits of loot scattered around. With the loot, you will be constantly finding equipment and attachments slightly better than what you have and so you will notice your outfit changes constantly. There are a variety of different guns and melee weapons to choose from so you can always mix it up and keep things interesting. There are special stores with ripperdocs who are the skilled techies who will adjust your cybernetic abilities for a price. But with all the loot you can also choose to either sell them at the many drop of points or dismantle them for components which you can then use to craft better equipment or consumables like health items or grenades. There are a lot of fixers to take jobs from and characters that you interact with that it is so easy to lose so much time to. I have heard that the storyline isn’t as long as people would hope for, but I have managed to play 20 hours and I don’t feel like I am anywhere near the end of the main story. So the experience will last as much as you want it too and there will always be other areas to experience as you reach higher levels. I say this as a warning as when you see on a map that some activities are high difficulty, they should say impossible and not to try yet. I have attempted 2 of these out of curiosity and each time I was downed within seconds without standing a chance so make sure you stick to activities around your characters level.

Conclusion

Cyberpunk 2077 for me is the whole package of what I want from a game like this. Great looking, great controls, great storyline and plenty of choices, content and replay value. This was marked as many players game of the year before it came out. Regardless of the outside noise, I didn’t suffer any game-breaking issues and only a couple of graphical glitches. I am not saying its perfect, but I am saying its wonderfully immersive and addictive. There is a lot here to be impressed with and when the Series X version is released and all the bugs are worked out I am sure more will agree how great this game actually is.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Packed full of content
  • So many choices of experiencing the game in different ways
  • Amazingly immersive world and storyline.
Bad
  • Minor graphical glitches
  • Playing on older consoles is not fun “for now”
  • Food and drink in the game feels a bit pointless
9.4
Excellent
Gameplay - 9.5
Graphics - 9.5
Audio - 9.5
Longevity - 9
Written by
Gaming, or, games in general, are in my blood. Just shy of an addiction but still an obsession. From opening my mind on the Commodore 64 I have kept up with the generations of gaming, currently residing on the Xbox One. Gamertag: Grahamreaper

4 Comments

  1. WTF is this review? It sounds biased af. Cyberpunk runs like garbage even on my XB One X. Those “minos graphical glitches” happen every 15 minutes, and the gamebreaking bugs that you forgot to mention happen every 2 hours. It crashes all the time. But that’s not the bad part, besides the performance issues there are way too serious problems with it. Braindead IA, a repetitive and generic mission design, a lifeless open world, pointless side activities and the absence of half the things CDPR promised to put in the game. It is a mess and giving it a 9.4 does nothing but encourages the studio to keep doing stuff like this. I really hope this review score doesn’t have anything to do with the Microsoft-Cyberpunk promotion deal.

    Reply
  2. It is unfortunate that you see the review as bias it was merely my opinion from playing the game on the Xbox Series X. Even playing over 20 hours in my game has not crashed or broken in any way. I have seen more and more graphical glitches which sometimes border on the line of amusing. But the story itself I found amazing and immersive and the same goes for the world. I understand that CDPR’s actions around the release are not acceptable, but my review has to be based purely on my experience playing the game. I have heard that the game is much more buggy on the PlayStation and Xbox one but i didn’t play it on those platforms. But i disagree that the world is lifeless and all the bad press aside, i enjoyed and am still enjoying the game greatly so i still stick by my review. Once all the patches have been released i am sure more people will enjoy it the same as what i have and i am looking forward to the series x release of the game. I appreciate your comment and opinion on what you have experienced but please be assured my review is not biased and there is no promotional deal.

    Reply
  3. “I have heard that the game is much more buggy on the PlayStation and Xbox one but i didn’t play it on those platforms.” Then why is this review posted on MetaCritic under Xbox One’s reviews?

    Reply
    • Cyberpunk 2077 is technically a Xbox One/PS4 generation game – at least right now. The next gen “versions” are not out until later this year, though all they will likely do is up-spuff the visuals and hopefully iron out some of the bugs/grievances players have had so far. So even though we used a Series X to play it, this is still a review of the same version that will play on any modern Xbox console, hence it being categorised as an Xbox One Review. Thanks to the backwards compatibility of MS’s consoles we were able to play it on our shiny new machines, but the core experience will remain unchanged.
      I suspect that there will be a few examples of games labelled in this way for a while yet, but hopefully as the gen goes on this will become less and less of an issue.

      Reply

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