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Cyberpunk 2077: Unfinished, but amazing

Cyberpunk 2077, due out this week on December 10, is the biggest game in years: That’s both in terms of wait, expectations, hype, and the size of the game itself. It represents gaming’s most ambitious open-world approach to date, in the vast Night City, where Los Angeles is reimagined in a retrofuturistic sense and you play as V, with three “lifepath” options and a promise of no two storylines being the same for any player.

It’s also a game that’s seen a lot of drama emerge since its announcement

back in 2012, with trophies along the way like winning over a hundred awards at E3 2018. 

  • The studio behind the game, CD Projekt Red, has “forced” employees (reportedly a team of 500) to work extended hours to get it done (we’re not sure what extended means). While that’s not uncommon, reports are that it’s been that way for more than a year. 
  • That wouldn’t be a major point in a story about the game, but CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński told Kotaku back in 2019 that his company thought of itself as “more humane” than others in the industry.
  • The other element has been the prolonged wait for the game after the initial April 16, 2020 release date, a brief eruption about microtransactions in the game (later clarified: not in the game), the surprising and amazing role of Keanu Reeves, and a bunch more about the innumerable and perhaps slightly odd character creation customization possibilities, and more.
Cyberpunk 2077

It’s finally here

Come Thursday, the game will be available across PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia, — with next-gen support for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in 2021, but playable via backwards compatibility for now. And it’s worth the wait, say reviews.

Review embargoes have dropped, and the universal critical reception is something like: it’s brilliant but flawed, but incredible, has wonderful characters and gameplay but has loads of bugs, but you’re going to buy it if you’re into gaming at all and have any one of the platforms required.

And, crucially, everyone expects (and the developers have long promised) that the game will keep being patched, fixed, and made better with downloadable content updates and features, including online-play coming at some point. If it’s anything like Grand Theft Auto 5, which was released in 2013 but remains super popular due to its open-world and online play, people are going to be playing Cyberpunk 2077 for years and years.

The response

Early reviews are pointing at why exactly there’s so much potential, and why already it’s incredible. Metacritic is showing a 91/100 score, but there are dissenting opinions, too. A quick look:

  • Although not a gaming site, TechCrunch has the perfect summary of what you should know about the game and its early reviews: “Practically speaking, it’s nearly impossible to offer a real review of Cyberpunk 2077, … In the first place, it’s so big that the few days I’ve had with it aren’t enough to realistically evaluate the game; second, it’s so buggy and janky now that it feels wrong to review it before it becomes the game I know it will be; and finally, everyone’s going to buy it anyway.
  • The likes of IGN and GameInformer went for 9/10 reviews for the outstanding sidequests and core RPG glory but pointed at the uneven play and there’s so much talk about the bleak neon lights of Night City, and the beauty of the tough, vile and occasionally overwhelming world.
  • GameSpot, though, went a little harder at the lack of purpose to much of the world. Giving such a hyped game a 7/10 after 50 hours of play requires a certain metal in the hyper-reactionary world of expectant gamers, but hey: the review says it’s “phenomenally buggy,” and while the RPG mechanics are amazing, there’s too much that’s just superfluous.
  • At least one YouTuber is rebelling completely (Twitter) against the console review requirements and embargo on using their own footage versus supplied footage from the developer. This is a whole thing that seems to be preventing the insane amount of bugs being shown on YouTube before orders finally commence.

Better when it’s done

Gaming is probably one of the most unique industries in the world, where you pay good money ($50-$60 depending) while knowing it’s not done and the big hope is it gets fixed fast.

Still, once multiplayer is incorporated, late 2020 reviews will be relics — single-player is hardly where gaming is at in the world of lockdowns, and gaming/hangouts like Fortnite, PUBG, Among Us, and so on. Cyberpunk will probably have to get that right to make this an enduring gaming icon that has been promised for so long.

Michael

Passionate about technology and gaming. I am a regular bloke with a small child, so forgive any mistakes in my posts, it's from sleep deprivation. All opinions are my own.

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