Let me just say upfront this is NOT our review, Shank is in the process of working on that. These are just my impressions as someone who’s waited as long as the rest of you for Cyberpunk 2077 and has put in around 20 hours or so. Let’s dive in.
It’s a Looker…on PC
Say whatever you want about this game, but it’s undeniably a showcase game (at least on PC) almost the way Crysis was back in 2007. Visually, Night City is a beautiful, fully realized future dystopia bathed in neon lights. Character models are incredibly detailed and expressive, and CDPR’s decision to go fully first person feels vindicated to me with the games gripping narrative cutscenes. The game also features a full suite of ray tracing effects that make it look even better on PC than it did in a lot of the marketing material.
It’s All About the Characters
The overall writing in CP2077 can be a little edgy at times, but the characters are mostly well written and well-acted, especially those connected to the main story. No one feels one dimensional to me and Jackie definitely grew on me, despite the fact I found him grating in all of the marketing footage.
Combat is Somewhat Basic, But Fun
Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t innovate the way many people hoped for with its combat systems, but I actually find combat quite fun in the game. It’s no immersive sim, but there are often many ways to consider an encounter and the game allows you to explore most of them without really pigeonholing you into anything.
Gunplay is super basic on its face, but gets a bit more interesting with tech and smart-link weapons, skill investment, and cyberware. Melee fares a lot better with some slick animations, dismemberment, counter attacks, and lots of fun options in cyberware from Berserk enhancements to Gorilla Arms and Mantis Blades.
As degenerate as it is, hacking is both completely overpowered and fun as hell. If you invest deep enough into it you can pretty much trivialize any encounter and take out an entire enemy base by just taking over a few cameras and quickhacking everyone to death.
Play The Way You Want
As someone who tends to prefer more strict class based systems in games, Cyberpunk 2077’s sort of hybrid between picking a spec and rewarding generalization is super interesting to me. Attribute requirements sort of gate you from full blown free-form generalism, but the way skills are leveled (by usage) allows you to play the way you want and level up reward tracks for those skills in the process. If you like to stealth kill here and there, you’ll gain experience in stealth, which can reward you with skill points that you can go and spend in entirely different focuses, like handguns.
Style Over Stats…Oh, Wait
CDPR beat us over the head for years with the incredible range of style options available in the game, but then gave us a leveled loot system that encourages constant replacement of gear, without any sort of transmog system to go with it. You can’t even hide your hat! I’ve played random indie games that feature Hide Helmet options, even in games that aren’t big, sweeping narrative RPGs. I won't mine words, this is a huge fail on CDPR’s part.
Crafting is Underwhelming
Tying into the previous issue, it’s possi ble to upgrade gear you do like to keep up with your progression, but it’s not easy to engage with and requires a ton of investment in the Technical attribute to really get a lot out of. You can’t even craft Legendary items at all unless you’ve invested a full 18 attribute points into Technical. Materials aren’t easy to come by, either. You can spend all this time crafting an item and then just pick up some random thing off the floor that’s better. Doesn’t feel great.
The Beauty is a Façade
Night City is beautiful, for sure, but it’s only skin deep. Cyberpunk 2077 features a vast open world, but there isn’t a whole lot to do in it. Interactivity with the environment or its characters is extremely basic and there aren’t even fun side activities to participate in. This sort of open world would’ve fared better over a decade ago, but today its competing with the likes of games in the GTA series and RDR2 and it just doesn’t stack up as a living, breathing city.
I weep for my console friends, but things aren’t so much better in PC land, either. My system features a 9900K, 32GB of RAM and an overclocked GeForce RTX 3090 and (first world problems here) I still dip into the 50s regularly with all settings cranked on an ultrawide resolution of 3840x1620. Tweaking options doesn’t help a ton either unless I fully disable ray tracing. The game is definitely playable all cranked at a 1440P resolution, but I should hope so with a 3090 powering it.
I have friends with good, but much less beefy systems having to deal with playing the game at much lower settings and with worse performance. CP2077 may be a bleeding edge game, but it is clearly not optimized well at all.
THE BUGS, OH, THE BUGS!
I’m going to just go and say it: Cyberpunk 2077 often feels like an Early Access title with the amount of bugs and outright crashes I’ve experienced. I played The Witcher at launch so I remember this sort of CDPR nightmare well, but the studio has come a long way since then. When it comes to bugs and performance, CP2077 feels like a regression to The Witcher era of CDPR as a small, fledgling studio, not a game that has been in the cooker for eight years. I didn’t set myself up with insane expectations, but I expected the game to at least be a lot more stable and well-functioning than it is. If I hadn’t been waiting as long as I have for this game to come out, I would legitimately put the game down now and wait for the Enhanced Edition update that is surely going to be released in a year from now.
And there you have it. Those are my first impressions of Cyberpunk 2077. What’s your take on the game so far? Share your thoughts in the comments below!