Cyberpunk 2077: Mr. Nobody, or a blaze of glory?
If you haven't heard already, Cyberpunk 2077 is out. And if you haven't heard, it's a bit of a messy launch for multiple reasons. Here's my 2 cents on it:
Before the launch
Oh man, I was hyped about this one. Last couple months have been one giant hype train: The Last Of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Watch Dogs Legion, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, The next-gen consoles, and the pinnacle of this year: Cyberpunk 2077. It's been a weird year for all of us, working from home, not being able to go out and do our regular things. So as many people around the world, I've spent a lot more time in virtual worlds than last couple years. Last time I gamed this many hours in a day was back when I was studying. (You know: ‘studying’). I remember being angry that the World of Warcraft server I was playing on had to shut down at 3AM for maintenance, because I wanted to keep on playing. Yes, 3AM, you read that right.
So all of the things that I've mentioned above have had roughly the same thing happening to them. First there was the build up. The game/console was going to be awesome! It was everything we hoped for and more! And then it came out, and then the bugs and glitches and crashes started surfacing. And then someone blamed it on Covid-19, because well, what else right. And then the hate happened on the social media. People trashing The Last Of Us Part 2 because the story didn't go the way they wanted it to go. People trashing Watch Dogs Legion and Valhalla because of the many bugs. People trashing the PS5 because of limited availability and some issues with the launch (none of which I've experienced yet, so far the PS5 has been rock solid, only thing I would like is for Sony to add 144p support, pretty please?)
So here comes Cyberpunk, a game that's been in development for 7 years. A game that has a hypetrain going over 1000 miles an hour. It was bound to go crashing hard. I knew there was some bugs/glitches and things about to go wrong. But that was going to be OK. This is CD Projekt Red we're talking about. They've created The Witcher 3, one of my fav games out there. If it's going to be more of that but in a cyberpunk sauce, I'm ready!
First few hours in
So, december 10, delivery man came and I plugged in the disc. One 45GB update later, I'm in the game. Hell yea! The soundtrack is epic, hello Night City, I'm ready for you! Playing through the opening missions, a few jaw drop moments when Night City's visuals and lighting are just working. This is going to be a good game. I can feel it!
The storytelling, voice acting, it's very good. Dialogue options are nice, unlocking secret paths that reward you for taking the time to listen to people. Spoiler alert for the rest of this paragraph: there's this side quest. Your neighbour Barry is feeling a bit down, and the only way to save him (and get a bigger monetary reward as well), is to listen to him, and explore the optional dialogue options. That will unlock an optional quest objective: find his deceased friend. Only when going to the cemetary and finding the gravestone, you figure out that his one true friend was just a guinea pig and not a real person. This in turn opens up some more dialogue which in the ends saves Barry. If you don't follow all this optional stuff, Barry commits suicide, just because you didn't truly listen to him! This is what I loved about the Witcher 3: the side quests. And this is what I love about Cyberpunk as well. Those type of quests. I'm intruiged by Delamain: an AI that runs a taxi company and has issues keeping his autonomous vehicles in check. I'm wondering how this storyline resolves.
The dream is collapsing
But then after a couple hours it starts to hit you: Night City is just a facade. It's just like Inception, if you look closely enough, you can see cracks where the dream is collapsing.
There's floating cigarettes, and phones. Weird rag doll physics, texture pop-in issues. I've noticed garbage bags spawning in right before my eyes a few times, making me think there was a rat or something between the bags, since they were still rolling around even though there was nobody in sight. You know, all the well documented glitches. But you think: OK, this is fine, you can patch that out right?
Then there's the combat: NPCs are dumb, they just stand there and shoot at you, they don't try anything else. If you commit a crime, the police just spawns in behind you, even if you are in an empty elevator. Police can't drive cars, so just run away, hop in a car and drive away. They won't chase you. Nobody will chase you, driving AI is stupid as well… Ok, that's fine, you can patch that out right? Right?
The dream is slowly collapsing before my eyes. This giant town is basically empty, only a few people inhabit it. And those that are walking around are pretty much zombies. They only have one or two lines of dialogue, and it's always the same dialogue for the same people when you walk by. Which reminds me that there's only 1 news item on the radio. I've literally heard the story about the collapsed mine in some Russian town more than 20 times by now. Is there literally nothing else going on out there?
Which brings me to driving. It's clunky. And there's only 10 or so cars out there. I keep seeing the same 10 cars out there. Ok, they have a slightly different color and some attachments, but there are only 10 cars out there.
And finally: Keanu Reeves. I love that dude: The Matrix, Constantine, John Wick. He's great in those movies. But in the game, well he's a bit of a jerk… And all his lines are delivered in the exact same way. There's nothing of his acting shining through in his voice acting for this game. Which kinda makes me think it's the director's fault, he/she wanted Johnnie to sound like this, because other characters have excellent voice acting. I mean: Jackie is awesome! Judy as well, Delamain, … you name it, they sound like true people. But Johnnie? The star of the show, he's just not on the same level…
The internet is screwing with me
And I'm following the news surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 as well. And there's a lot of posts out there on the social media that talk about how buggy it is, how bad it is that CDPR released this game, and it's causing me to doubt myself. I like this game, so many people hate this game, there must be something wrong with me right? Up to the point where I'm not really enjoying myself while playing Cyberpunk 2077. Not just because of this, also because of the bugs and the empty world, but still, I feel like it's a big part of why I'm not loving this game.
Next steps, or next gen?
Which makes me think. Maybe it's best if I just press pause on this game for a while. There's a diamond in the rough in this game, we all know it. It's CDPR, they're bound to release a lot of patches that will improve the performance and other aspects that are clunky in this game. If there's one studio in which I have faith that they'll support a game for a couple years, it's going to be CDPR. They're also working on a true next-gen version of this game, optimized for PS5/XBSX. If I compare the PC version to the PS4 version, there's a lot more NPCs in the PC version, that will probably help improve how I feel about the empty world. So maybe I should wait to play this game until that next-gen update is out right? But on the other hand, I'm kinda curious to see how the main story turns out for V and Johnny Silverhand… So maybe I'll just keep playing, and replay the game when the next-gen patch is out there.
Anyway, maybe I should just shut off facebook/reddit/discord for a while. Let it all rest for a little bit, stop reading all the negative things. Sorry about the long post, I just had to get this off my chest.