Game of the Year or Flop of the Year?: An In-Depth Look At Cyberpunk 2077

(Source: Youtube/Cyberpunk 2077)

On Dec. 10, the highly anticipated game Cyberpunk 2077 was released across last-gen and next-gen consoles. The initial reaction to the game’s official release was extremely joyous with many fans not even having to play it to feel enthusiasm – many were just happy that the game was finally accessible. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s developer, CD Projekt (CDPR) premiered teasers as far back as 2013 and going forward the company provided its enthusiastic fans with release dates that did not end up occurring as stated.

Such delays caused fans to wonder if the game would be ready for public purchase by its newly promised release date of Dec. 10. After all, previously it was said that Cyberpunk 2077 was set for Nov. 19 – only for it to be announced in late Oct. this would not be occurring.

Therefore, if the news of its Nov. cancellation could come spontaneously to the waiting public, some fans believed that the game could have very well been delayed into 2021.

However, while CDPR managed to release Cyberpunk 2077 on Dec. 10, it would be shown that the release was met with critical negativity by the public. Within less than 24 hours, players of Cyberpunk 2077 would release a host of posts, blogs and memes across the internet of how the PS4 and Xbox One port was full of bugs. There was even a claim of the game being “unplayable” due to the severity of the glitches. 

The voices of the people were so powerful and effective that as of Dec. 18 SONY removed Cyberpunk 2077 from the Playstation Store. In regards to this moment in time, the game is still inaccessible to purchase on the Playstation. Only those who had already downloaded it and did not ask for a refund can continue playing. 

I am one of these people who decided to purchase it digitally and in addition to that, I am also one of the people who held onto my copy. 

(Photo capture by Jeri Hensley.)

Cyberpunk 2077 opens with the player choosing their lifepath for the protagonist who is only known as V. There is the option to be a nomad, who is a newcomer to the crowded Night City or the tough, local street kid that grew up in one of Night City’s most impoverished neighborhoods. The other final option is being a Corpo, who is a member of society’s elite – until they had gotten fired from their job. 

These lifepaths come included with unique dialogue options, such as streetkid V having the ability to confirm they know who certain people are or, what key events that have previously taken place in the city. This is in contrast to nomad V who has an extensive knowledge about cars, drugs, and alcohol. 

Additionally for each lifestyle, the game begins with a unique prologue that is tied to one pivotal character, Jackie, who introduces V to the life of being a mercenary. 

After spending a year performing all sorts of jobs and scores with Jackie, a new client by the name of Evelyn Parker appears granting V with the opportunity of participating in the heist of the century.

(Source: Youtube/Jakevac TV)

The object is in the custody of Yorinobu Arasaka, heir to the prestigious Arasaka Corporation. But beyond that, details of the target object, as well as Evelyn’s intentions, are unknown. Still, V and Jackie pursue the job believing that it will change their life.

Coincidentally, the day of the heist is the same day Yorinbu’s father, Saburo Araska, has a meeting which ends in fatality. With V and Jackie having been conveniently there, the death of Saburo is pinned on them. 

The two manage to escape with the relic safely implanted into V’s head, the spirit of a infamous, legendary terrorist known as Johnny Silverhand now inhabits their mind as a result. 

Although it is a lot to take in, this entire moment is the true minute the game actually begins. After this, a vast array of side missions open and the main story further develops.

When I played Cyberpunk 2077 the glitches, bugs, and graphic delays were a big part of my experience. Some of them can be ignorable, such as how the hair and clothing textures of non playable characters (NPCs) can take a few seconds to load properly. This causes the pedestrians to look like they emerged from an early video game from 2003.

(Photo capture by Ayzha Middlebrooks)

But, there are far more situations that make a player want to scratch their head in puzzlement. For example, with the urgency to get to my next mission, but the lack of desire to find my character’s car – I went to the closest vehicle in-view for transportation. Much like in games such as Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, you are capable of forcefully manhandling your way to illegally possess a vehicle. 

But suddenly, my stolen car collided with another car which caused it to soar in the sky. Higher and higher I went and upon hitting the ground I had to witness the vehicle further descend through the concrete. Finally, my television screen would turn black. 

Eventually, the image would come back in to show my car of choice flipped upside down and it would explode before I could properly digest what I saw. As a result, the entire game had to reload. 

Welcome to the PS4’s rendition of Night City. 

Meanwhile, Cyberpunk 2077 is a considerably different experience on next-gen consoles. Jeri Hensley of the Clarion has played both copies of Cyberpunk 2077 respectively on the Xbox One and the Xbox Series X|S. Therefore, Hensley has experienced how both copies function. 

Hensley describes the graphics as being “worlds different,” complete with more realism found within the details of the character’s appearances. There is also the presence of ray tracing, shadows and specific highlights.

The differences in how the consoles function with this game brings yet another complaint from disappointed fans – the idea that CDPR deliberately focused on making Cyberpunk 2077 better for the next-gen as a money making tactic. Needless to say, this is not true.

(Photo capture by Jeri Hensley.)

 It is the SSD and hardware of new-gen consoles which cause the game to feel, look and run smoother. With the PS4 and Xbox One consoles lacking the same abilities as their newly modern counterparts, there are natural mishaps in how the game runs on new systems versus older systems.

Consequently, CDPR had to focus on developing Cyberpunk 2077 for these upcoming consoles since they were on the verge of being released. Had there been a failure to perfect the game for something many would have been purchasing for the holiday season would have resulted in massive failure on the studio’s behalf.

Unfortunately, another aspect that goes into Cyberpunk 2077’s horrendous launch is the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted purchasing the latest Xbox and Playstation. 

There is a strong likelihood that many more people would have possessed a Xbox Series X|S or PS5 had they not been primarily sold online this year. Customers for these products had to compete with scalpers, as well as website malfunctions which resulted in many people, who were ready to purchase them, being unable to. 

Additionally, the impact of the pandemic on companies and manufacturing products could have played a role in the quantity produced during the pandemic.

(Photo capture by Jeri Hensley)

Each delay of Cyberpunk 2077 stemmed from the matter developers were playtesting, fixing and polishing it to perfection. Wanting to meet deadlines, Cyberpunk 2077’s PS4 and Xbox One copies ultimately did not get enough time placed into perfecting their flaws.

Yet, rather than announcing another delay to fans who were already irritated, CDPR proceeded with the game’s release.

In my personal gaming experience, only side missions had massive glitches that could be seen while exploring Night City. Meanwhile, I found minimal faults as I followed the main story missions.

But does a good game have to have good graphics? Honestly, yes. With an abundance of technology available in the present-day, there is a standard for how realistic and textured a game should look and games that maintain lower quality graphics stand out like a sore thumb.

Still, there are modern, beloved games such as Fallout: New Vegas that are notoriously buggy – and even ugly with dated graphics without the inclusion of player modifications. Yet even to this day, people replay this older Fallout installment because of its strength and charm.

What the last-gen Cyberpunk 2077 lacks in visuals, it makes up for in storytelling as well as it’s characters. Truly, the game has the best LGBTQ+ and racial diversity that can possibly be found in modern day gaming.

For instance, when creating V you can choose genitalia that is not restricted to gender. You also have the ability to pick the pronouns people use for V based on their voice. Even one of the characters, Claire, is openly trans with the transgender pride flag able to be viewed on her custom truck.

(Source: Youtube/Lamia Kitsune)

Night City also heavily implements Asian culture as a backdrop. Its most notable residents – the Arasaka family are of Japanese descent. Initially, with little information about the source material, it made me wonder if Cyberpunk 2077 took place in a future country akin to what can be seen in “The Legend of Korra.”

However, Night City is located in California which interested me, because while the game could have been enveloped in American culture, they instead chose to allow this landscape to be ethnic in addition to heavily featuring characters of color. 

As a result, this makes non-white depictions of V feel as though they definitely belong to this city where there are a variety of different cultures intertwined with one another. 

Being in first person also makes the game more immersive for the player. As a street kid, just a few minutes into the prologue, I found that Night City felt crowded for me. A few mere moments in my playthrough I felt closed in by the walls of Haywood and uncomfortable by the filth. It truly felt as though I was in the slums of the most dangerous city.

This is in contrast to Hensley, whose nomadic V began in a dusty town outside of Night City. She found that coming into Night City felt large and open, which was intimidating yet exciting. This is accompanied by an enormous map which is littered with a vast array of things V can tend to. 

One of my greatest weaknesses with Cyberpunk 2077 came from the amount of complex controls. Players can choose how they want to navigate Night City through their own playing styles, which includes skills that boost your physical brawling or technical abilities like hacking. For a new person, the variety of key functions can feel overwhelming.

(Source: Youtube/zoko TV)

Interestingly enough, despite it’s removal from the Playstation Store, Cyberpunk 2077 is frequently under-going massive updates which are likely in the pursuit of fixing the game.

So, with all of this being said is Cyberpunk 2077 the game of the year? No. But it could have been had the devs had more time to ensure the PS4 and Xbox One worked without flaws. There also exists the strong likelihood that COVID-19 impacted the game’s release.

Is Cyberpunk 2077 the flop of the year? While it’s public downward spiral was noticeable and painful to watch over the early weeks of its release, the game continues to have its strong charm and doubtlessly unique aspects. It is not a bad game by any means. 

But all and all, with the continuous updates occurring on the PS4 version of Cyberpunk 2077, it will be at its full potential eventually. 

Ayzha Middlebrooks
Executive Editor

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.