Cyberpunk 2077… Where do I even start with this? The game was originally scheduled to release on April 16th of 2020. It would go through a total of 3 delays with the first being moved back to September 17th, followed by November 19th, with it finally releasing on December 10th. CD Projekt Red originally promised that the employees would not have to deal with “crunch time”, a practice that involves workers having to commit to long work weeks and overtime to have the game release on time. They would eventually go back on that promise after its delay that pushed it to November 19th.
As a gamer, I understand that video games can go through a process of being delayed. I’m personally okay with that if it means getting a better-finished product at the end of it all. With CD Projekt Red being behind The Witcher 3, which I consider one of the greatest RPGs of all time, I put a lot of trust in them hoping the delays would have been worth it. As time passed I continued to see more and more marketing for the game. I was blown away by the trailers showing off Night City and how beautiful it looked. I was left in awe with how great the characters looked, including Johnny Silverhand who was voiced by and modeled after Keanu Reeves. I told myself the wait would be worth it, and I’d even be okay if it got pushed back into January of 2021. But as we inched closer to December 10th, I realized that I would soon get my hands on a game I had been waiting so patiently for. But when December 10th arrived, that’s when all hell broke loose. Cyberpunk 2077 was not the game we had expected, at least not for PS4 and Xbox One users.
Upon release, we had found out that CDPR marketing for the game did not show footage of the base PS4 or Xbox One versions of the game. When gamers booted up their copies for the last-gen consoles, what they got was a VERY different-looking game than what was shown in all the trailers and photos. The game was loaded with frame rate issues, graphical pop-ups, visual glitches, and texture resolution problems. It was an absolute mess. It was so bad that IGN had to review the PS4 and Xbox One versions separately from the PC version. The PC version scored a 9/10 from IGN and delivered what most people expected from the game. The PS4 and Xbox One versions on the other hand managed to get a 4/10 which many would consider a TERRIBLE score. As you can see here console gamers were given a very different version of the game compared to PC users.
All of this turned into a massive PR disaster for CDPR. They released a statement on Twitter addressing all the issues which you can see here:
They acknowledged not showing what the game looked like on base PS4 and Xbox One consoles, they stated they would be releasing major patches to fix a majority of issues within the game, and they even offered refunds to those who no longer wished to play the game. That wasn’t enough for some as CDPR got hit with a class-action lawsuit. The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t looking so hot and this turned into one of the biggest L’s for CDPR.
Fast forward to the present. As of writing this is March 1st and CDPR has delivered one massive patch to the console version of the game that cleaned up the graphics a bit, fixed a bunch of the game-breaking bugs, but also added a brand new game-breaking bug as well. A second patch was scheduled to release at the end of February but was sadly delayed to late March due to the scope of it as well as a recent cyber attack against the company.
I’m sure a lot of you reading this right now are going “Cris… this sounds like an absolute fucking shit show for one of the most anticipated games to ever drop. There’s no way you could have enjoyed this game.” and let me tell you reader that’s where you’re wrong. Even with the rocky launch, even with all the bugs the game is plagued with, even with the delay of the second patch, I managed to pour 66 hours into this game and I enjoyed every minute of it and today I’m going to tell you exactly why I enjoyed Cyberpunk 2077.
Before I go further I’d like to state that my experience with the game has been on a STANDARD PS4 console. I’ve heard that graphically it’s a bit better on a PS4 Pro, but I have no experience with it myself. Understand that if you’re someone who’s considering playing this on a PC you are going to be getting a much different experience and if you want to know just what you’re signing up for check out this review from IGN on the PC version. With all of that out of the way, let’s begin.
There’s a lot to cover about the game so I’m going to break it down into sections placed in an order that I feel makes sense. I won’t be going into spoilers until the story section of the game, so feel free to skip over that portion if you want to go into the game with a fresh slate.
Creating V: Appearance And Background
In Cyberpunk 2077, you play a mercenary known as V who is trying to make a name for themselves in Night City. But before you go out and make a name for yourself, you first have to set up your appearance to the citizens of Night City. You first get to select one of three Lifepaths (Character Backgrounds) for V which are: Nomad, Street Kid, and Corpo. As cool as it may seem, the Lifepaths are really sort of a “set dressing”. Outside of the intro quest the rest of the game plays out the same for V. You do get some exclusive dialogue options that can change up certain conversations in the game, but that’s pretty much it. I decided to go with the Nomad background for V as it was the one that truly resonated with me the most.
Next comes the character customization. You can choose male or female physical appearance and you can customize: skin type, hairstyle, eyes, eyebrows, mouths, jaws, ears, cyberware, scars, tattoos, piercings, teeth, eye makeup, lip makeup, blemishes, and genitals. Even with all of these options I really felt the creation was lacking. No matter how many combinations I went through for V’s face, they really didn’t look that much different. You’re also stuck to one body type so if you were trying to make someone who didn’t fit a bit of “standard athletic build” you were out of luck. Outside of these physical characteristics, you get to choose a voice type for V of either Male or Female. Your combination of voice type and physical appearance affects the different romance options you have available to you. The voice you choose also affects what type of pronouns the NPCs will use to address V. I personally found it a bit problematic that Vs gender was boiled down to what voice type you chose. It would have been nice to have the option to select what pronouns you prefer regardless of what voice and body type you chose. I ended up going with the female body and voice type for my V. I’d like to state now make sure you’re satisfied with your appearance for V as it will be set in stone for the rest of the game. There’s no way to alter the physical aspects of your character during the entire game.
Once you’ve chosen your life path and appearance you now get to customize your attributes. You have five attributes to work with: Body, Intelligence, Reflexes, Technical Ability, and Cool. Each one of these attributes is in charge of specific skill trees. For example, Reflexes increase the chance to dodge and get critical hits and govern the blades, handguns, and assault skill trees. Intelligence increases the efficiency of quick hacks and governs the breach protocol and quick hacking skill trees. You get 3 points in each one of these attributes by default and are given 7 additional points to spend how you like. During the character creation, you can’t bump an attribute higher than 6. I strongly recommend you think about what type of character you’d like to play as the attribute points CANNOT BE CHANGED at any point in the game although the perks you choose in the skill trees can be changed with an item you can purchase later in the game. I threw my points into Body, Reflexes, and Cool as I wanted to build a character who used the Katana and would sneak around at times. If you need help with builds I’d suggest checking out both Fextralife and Rankedboost as they have some pretty detailed build information on where to allocate points based on what type of character you’d like to play.
How To Survive In Night City: Gameplay and Combat
Once you’ve created your version of V, the time comes to make your way through Night City. One of the best things about Cyberpunk is the freedom to approach various combat scenarios however you please. As I mentioned before, for my version of V I decided to pump my points into Body, Reflexes, and Cool. This created a version of V that could take a beating and dish one out. My personal approach to combat involved two different methods: Sneak around and be as quiet as possible when the mission calls for it, OR bust down the door and sprint around chopping people into bits. When I would be sneaking around I’d use some of my basic quick hacks to disable cameras, turn on TVs to distract enemies, and even short circuit a baddies optics so they’d go blind for a few moments. When it came to combat my distribution of points made my build very interesting. The points divided into Cool allowed my build to have a lot of critical strikes. The points I poured into Body allowed me to sprint around endlessly and take plenty of a beating. When it came to reflexes not only did it improve my damage with my Katana, but it also combined well with limitless sprinting. My damage would actually increase if I sprinted around non-stop going from enemy to enemy slicing away. Because of my increased critical strike chance from Cool, I was always able to one-shot most of the basic goons I’d run into. And because I was killing people so quickly, that set off my talent in body that would increase my movement speed per kill. In combat, my version of V was able to run around like a ninja cutting people open before they could even notice me.
The best thing about cyberpunk is choosing skills and abilities that complement each other and your playing style. If you want to create someone who can shut people down by simply hacking them, you can load points up into intelligence. Want to be a badass who uses a revolver and murders people with a headshot? Pour points into the handgun tree in reflexes. This is just the tip of the iceberg too as each tree branches into various weaponry. The game allows you the visit ripper doctors who upgrade and improve your cybernetics. If you want to be more machine than man, you can even have your arms replaced with cybernetic weapons. The mantis blades are an option that pop out these blades from your forearms that hack people into bits just as quickly as the Katana would. The gorilla arms turn your simple human arms into these big hulk fists that can punch people into oblivion. There’s also a crafting system in Cyberpunk that allows you to create and upgrade your own weapons. You can pour points into the technical tree to not only improve your ability to craft but also improve your armor as well as your ability to use explosives such as grenades. There’s no right or wrong way to approach this. However you want to approach a combat situation, the game gives you the freedom to have it unfold as you please.
Of course, combat isn’t the only thing you can take on however you want, this also works with dialogue options as well as your approach to a mission. Going into brief spoilers: One of the earliest missions I had in the game involved me finding an NCPD officer who was being hunted down because she ended up being a whistleblower. Your first goal is to find out where she’s hiding. As you walk around a busy street market you can start to question the vendors. One of the vendors I ran into was a Nomad so I had an option exclusive to the background that allowed me to peacefully talk to him and get the information I needed. Others may have to intimidate him to get what they needed. Once I found that she was staying at a nearby hotel, I had to get inside of it. Instead of paying the fee to go in, I decided to just hack the door and let myself in for free. Afterward, I worked my way up to the stairs where a locked door stood between me and the officer. If had the appropriate number of points in the technical tree, I could have easily popped the door open. But since I didn’t, I had to go into the hotel room I “rented”, walk out onto the balcony, and climb my way up to her room to get in via the window. At that point, a tense standoff unfolded and I peacefully talked her down and persuaded her to leave town. Had I wanted to I could have chosen some rough dialogue options and ended the quest with me blowing her brains out. At the end of the day, there was no right or wrong way to approach this situation, and that level of freedom is what I love about Cyberpunk.
Every Legend Has Its Start: The Beginning Of V’s Journey
At this point in time, I’m going to dive into the main storyline of Cyberpunk 2077 so there will be some spoilers. If you prefer to go in with a clean slate feel free to avoid this section. At the start of the game, you’re given a unique story mission based on your chosen background. This sets up the story and how V begins her big journey in Night City. Once completed you’re introduced to Jackie Welles, a character who becomes Vs right-hand man and closest friend. You begin your first gig with Jackie in a car stationed in a parking garage located in the area’s first mission. Before the gig starts Jackie offers you a chip to give you the basic rundown of gameplay mechanics in Cyberpunk 2077. If you choose yes, V inserts the chip into her head and the mission begins. This setup really cements the fact you’re living in 2077 with a world run by cybernetics. V is sitting in a car right next to Jackie… but your mind is transported to a training simulation where you get to hone your skills. Once you’ve completed the training course on the chip, your zipped back into reality and begin your mission with Jackie.
The first mission really does a great job setting up the tone of Night City, and Cyberpunk as a whole. The gig given to you is from a fixer by the name of Wakako Okada. Fixers operate behind the scenes in the underground of Night City. You need someone taken out? You go visit the fixer, pay them a fee, and they find a merc willing to do the dirty work. In the case of this situation, a client of Wakako’s by the name of Sandra Dorsett sent off an SOS signal. It seems as though some street scavengers kidnapped her off the streets and are planning to pluck her implants, carve off her limbs, and sell them off on the black market. This moment here reminds me why at times I’m terrified of a Cybernetic future. Jackie and V work their way up the apartment and into the area where she’s being held. Upon entry they see a hacked-up body laying on a stretcher. As they inspect it they realize it’s not Sandra based on the quality of the gear on the body.
As you progress through the facility you eventually stumble into a bathroom where Sandra is unconscious in a bathtub filled with ice. V mentions how to the scavengers, she’s just a piece of meat left on ice to sell to the highest bidder. During a conversation working your way up to Sandra you learn about something called Trauma Team. In a Cybernetic future, if you’re loaded with money you can have a tracker implanted on you where if anything goes wrong, Trauma Team is alerted and can come to rescue you. You’re reminded that in this bleak dark future, health care is a luxury the rich can have. You quickly learn that for the less fortunate of Night City, your life could truly end an empty shell stripped and sold off on the black market. V and Jackie wonder why Sandra’s tracker never went off for Trauma Team and V decides to “Jack-In” to Sandra. We see V pull out what looks like an AUX cable from her wrist and plugs it into Sandra’s head. After a quick scan, she sees that a bug has been planted in her that turned off her tracker. V gets the bug fixed up, Trauma Team gets the alert, and they escort her to a balcony to be picked up and taken care of. The mission ends, V and Jackie get paid, and the two of you move onto the next one.
In this first mission you learn about how Night City truly operates, how people are valued, and the quality of life you have based on your financial status. The rich have the best tech on their bodies and access to the best health care on the market. The poor have to do what they can to survive which includes mercenary work or, in the case of the scavengers, kidnapping folks and selling off their “chrome” as some folks like to refer to Cyberware.
After this mission, V goes home, sleeps, and then wakes up with a killer headache. She finds out that the bug Sandra had ended up jumping into her during the scan. In 2077, humans are not just vulnerable to physical infection, your mind and the cybernetics attached to it and get hit with a virus that messes you up physically. You talk to Jackie who ends up knowing just exactly who to send you to, to patch you up. The next mission takes you over to Misty’s Esoterica and Chakra Harmonization. Yes, you read that correctly. Upon arrival, you’re introduced to Misty, Jackies girlfriend. Misty offers tarot reading
Johnny Silverhand and The Digital Afterlife
After getting yourself patched up you go through a few more missions that eventually set you up for the grand finale of the game’s first act. Jackie and V are given a gig to steal an item known as “The Relic” from the CEO of Arasaka Corporation, Saburo Arasaka. Jackie and V disguise themselves as Corpos and work their way into a hotel where Saburo is staying. The Relic is being stored in a hotel room where Yorinobu Arasaka, Saburo’s son, is staying. Now I’ll skip some of the details with what exactly happens in this mission because the twist and turns are worth going in blind. But let’s just say the gig doesn’t go as planned and both Jackie and V need to bust out of the hotel while being gunned down by Arasaka goons. In the process, the storage unit for the relic gets destroyed and the only option to save it, it to insert it into your own head. Jackie decides to do this at first, but eventually as the mission plays out V ends up having to jam it into their own head. By the end of this mission, you meet up with the fixer who had set you up for the mission, Dexter Deshawn. Dexter ends up stabbing you in the back and shoots you in the head. At this point, the screen goes black and when the game comes back you’re suddenly in control of someone entirely different… Johnny Silverhand.
Johnny Silverhand is the character voiced by and modeled after Keanu Reeves. During this mission, you go through Johnny’s final performance as he prepares to go off and bomb Arasaka Tower in an attempt to stick it to the Corpo scum of the world. The mission ends with Johnny getting captured. You end up locked in a room laying on a table with a view of the destroyed tower in the background. After some dialogue exchanges, you see a program begin to work on Johnny called “Soulkiller” which pretty much transfers a copy of his entire consciousness onto the chip that ends up being The Relic.
Once this scene ends we come back to V who’s waking up back in Viktor’s office, with a very concerned look on his face. Viktor explains to V that while they survived the gunshot to the head, the thing that saved them was The Relic. The thing about The Relic though is that when V went out and it kicked in to save her, it began to upload Johnny’s consciousness into Vs mind. Viktor lets V know that they’re a walking corpse at this point. That eventually The Relic will overwrite V, and Johnny will take over the empty shell V leaves behind. This, in my opinion, is the greatest plot twist of the game, and it’s at this point when the story really takes off.
Throughout the game, Johnny will appear standing next to you. Only V can hear and see him. The internal struggle between V and Johny is amazing as they’re both trying to fight to survive. For one of them to live, the other has to die. Johnny will appear at random times to taunt you or even help you on missions. At one point in the game, Johnny and V have an extremely deep and philosophical conversation about death and life. V asks Johnny if the version of him that exists on The Relic is actually him… or if it’s simply a digital copy of what Johnny used to be when alive. Is it truly his soul that lives on in the relic? Something we’ve seen discussed is the possibility for humans to upload their consciousness into “The Cloud” in the somewhat near future. This brings up the question that will it actually be us floating around in the cloud? Will we actually feel and experience our digital afterlife? Or are we dead and what’s hanging out in the cloud simply a program that mimics who we once were among the living? Johnny isn’t even sure if he’s “himself” or simply a string of 1s and 0s living on as a program.
Out of everything in Cyberpunk, this portion of the story is what made me fall in love with it the most. Yes, you have plenty of action. You get to see the cool side of Cybernetics with how they can enhance our lives. You get to see the dark side of how we can turn our human bodies into fully functional weapons. But the game never forgets its human side and reminds us that no matter how much chrome we load ourselves up with, we still have an expiration date and we still have no idea what awaits us in the afterlife.
Making A Name For Yourself In Night City: Side Quests and Missions
Of course, any open-world RPG wouldn’t be complete without its share of Side Quests and Missions. As I mentioned before Fixers are the source of information and gigs in Night City. Throughout your entire time in the game, you’ll meet various fixers in the different areas of the game. Each one has its own set of unique gigs that pays some pretty nice Eddies, or Eurodollars, which is the game’s currency. And of course, you’re going to need some cold hard cash to get a lot of what you want in this city. In my opinion, I felt a lot of the side missions were hit or miss. Some truly felt bland and generic that involved going to X place and rescuing X person. But where they lacked in story, they made up for in the fun factor. You have the freedom to choose how you want to approach the mission. Wanna bust the front door open and go in guns blazing? You most certainly can. Wanna sneak in the backdoor and go in and out without anyone noticing? You can do that too. But just know that even though you can choose to approach these missions however you like, you do run the risk of things going wrong. In some hostage situations, busting the front door will end up getting them killed.
Now even though some of these side gigs feel bland, some of them actually do have an amazing storyline behind them. One gig that comes to mind is one given to you by a Buddhist Monk. Like I said, even with all the tech floating around Night City you still have the human element there. The Buddhist Monk and his brother were both kidnapped by a couple scavengers who thought it would be fun to surgically add tech to their bodies by force. The thing about this is using cyberware goes against their beliefs. So you can see the issue here. Of course, the Monk insists that during this entire mission not a single soul dies. He wants his brother saved, but he wants to create as little suffering as possible. You once again have the choice to approach the mission how you’d like. Go against their beliefs and choose to blast everyone to bits, or accept the Monks request and rescue his brother without killing anyone. My favorite part of this is by the third act of the game you run into the two of them again. They ask V how they’re doing and V is allowed to engage in philosophical conversation with them. I brought up the question to them if a digital construct is truly a being. One of the brothers told me that if the construct can feel emotion, if the construct can suffer, then it has a soul and is alive just like anyone else.
Throughout the game, you will run into side missions that will have a massive impact on the ending of the game. If you don’t feel like going through the filler missions I’d suggest pulling up a guide online and looking at which ones have an impact on the main storyline. But I’d personally recommend doing them all anyway as the experience you gain as well as the currency earned is more than worth it to make V stronger by the game’s end.
I will note that you also have the option to do these NCPD scanner missions. After doing a few of them I ended up skipping over them as they were all the same. NCPD puts out a call when you reach a certain area and lets you know criminal activity is going down. You simply show up, dispatch all the baddies, and get some cash and XP once it’s all done. If you’re an achievement hunter then you’ll have to go through all of them to gain full completion.
One other activity I’d like to note is one given to you by Misty. Once V has The Relic embedded in them, they start to notice these extremely out there works of graffiti. After seeing one of them she brings it up to Misty who notices they resemble the art on a tarot card. She sets you out on a journey to find all the tarot throughout Night City. As someone who’s very much into tarot, I loved this mission. Finding each piece of art and seeing a Cyberpunk-infused version of the traditional cards was amazing and worth the experience. And it once again served as a reminder that the human aspects of us still survive in this cybernetic world.
Night City Isn’t Perfect: The Bugs and Glitches of Cyberpunk 2077
Of course, I have to end this by acknowledging the most talked-about aspect of the game, the bugs, and glitches. In the 66 hours I put into the game, I ran into my fair share of issues. When arriving in a new area the graphic load in was rough at times. Everything around you looked so low res you’d be in shock that you were playing a PS4 game. Once it properly rendered you had a much better experience. Nothing like the trailers delivered BUT for a game of its scale, I’d say they did a good job.
At times the NPCs would behave in a truly odd manner. There was a moment in the game where one of the NPCs was lifting weights but the barbell was still on the floor and they were lifting up nothing but air. As they set the invisible barbell down suddenly the one on the floor popped back into their hands only to fall back down to the ground. This happens often, but for me, it takes nothing away from the game and adds a little bit of humor to it.
One of the most memorable glitches I experienced in the game was actually a load-in one. I remember I was zipping down a highway on a motorcycle when suddenly I crashed into thin air and went flying off my bike. I got back up and turned around to see what had happened. At first there was nothing… then all of a sudden a giant truck loaded in. I ended up crashing into a truck that hadn’t actually loaded in yet. Honestly, I wasn’t even mad cause I was too busy laughing.
But the most frustrating part of the game had to be the crashes. In the amount of time I put into the game I want to say the game crashed and gave me a PS4 Blue Screen about 15 or so times. To give you a comparison when I played Assassins Creed Odyssey I experienced about 3 blue screen crashes… in 120 hours of gameplay. This is one thing I truly hope they fix in the future patch because you will have moments where you’re so immersed in the game to suddenly be taken out of it from a hard crash. With that being said I can’t stress enough to save CONSTANTLY. Abuse the autosave button and make a normal save right before and right after a mission. You’ll thank me later.
Even with all the issues I truly enjoyed my time in Night City. The story was fantastic, the characters were memorable, and the gameplay was satisfying. I feel CDPR lived up to my expectations on that end of the game. With that being said would I give the game another play-through? Yes. Would I play through it again on a base PS4? Maybe. The game has DLC planned and we’re supposed to have a massive patch sometime in March. If the patch manages to truly sort out a lot of these issues, then I’ll play it again when the DLC is out. If not, I’m going to be waiting till I build my new PC to dive into V’s journey again. If you’re reading this and on the fence about picking it up on the PS4 I would personally say go for it. Even with all the issues it’s worth a playthrough just to experience the story behind it. If you’re someone who happens to have a PC I would suggest going out to pick it up and dive into what will hands down be one of the greatest Open World RPG experiences you’ll ever have.