Cyberpunk 2077 – First impressions

Welp, only one of my four most anticipated games for 2020 managed to actually launch. Considering what kind of year it’s been that’s the least of my worries though, obviously.

Anyway, Cyberpunk 2077 is finally here. Or is it? Depends on who you ask, really. As far as the majority of console players as well as some PC users are concerned the game isn’t even remotely close to being a finished, playable product.

I won’t rehash the stories about myriads of bugs, Microsoft and Sony offering full refunds and the latter even pulling the game from its store, corrupted save files and everything else that went wrong. Let’s just say that it ain’t pretty.

Like that guy on the right. Not pretty at all.

If I didn’t actively follow the gaming news I’d know nothing about all of this though, as my own experience with the game has been drastically different. A few graphical glitches here and some (unimportant) items that I wasn’t able to pick up there…that’s the whole extent of problems I’ve encountered during just shy of 30 hours played.

And I’m having a lot of fun, too. I’m not quite as enthralled as Jeromai and Belghast seem to be (at least not yet), but as a fan of the genre roaming around Night City is definitely a great experience.

I actually can’t tell you why I’m not totally in love with the game at this point, because I honestly don’t know. It has a lot going for it, that’s for sure.

This city feels more alive and real than any other place in any other game I’ve been. The atmosphere, already very good by day, cranks up to 11 at night. The contrast between rich and poor, people with power and those without, is palpable. Death lurks at every corner, it feels like – not for the player, mind you, but for normal people.

I didn’t really have a preconception of what the game world should look and feel like beforehand, but if I’d had one it probably wouldn’t be very far from what we’ve got.

The quests are pretty good too. Each and every one of them, even those of the shorter, optional variety, has a story to tell. You will find no kill ten rats quests here.

The tone is very bleak though, and while I’d expected as much going in some events still managed to get to me pretty good.

[Spoiler] For example, one side quest asked me to retrieve some stolen meds. Once I’d made my way into the culprit’s hideout I could’ve just killed him and called it a day of course. Instead I managed to talk him into just handing the meds over peacefully. He turned out to be a former soldier with PTSD who just wanted the stuff to make the pain go away.

Satisfied with myself for not killing the poor guy I turned around to leave the place, when a gunshot cracked. I immediately knew what had happened, and sure enough there he was, his head blown off by his own shotgun. For a minute I just stood there, feeling numb. Then I just left without giving the place or anything in it another look. I didn’t take his gun to sell or dismantle either, although that’s what the game teaches you to do all the time from the get-go…but I just didn’t feel like it. For some people there just isn’t a happy ending in the cards in this world. [End spoiler]

The gameplay of shooting, slashing, sneaking and driving works well enough, although nothing feels quite as smooth and polished as a Call of Duty title or a racing game, respectively, but I guess that’s kinda expected when a game has everything and the kitchen sink thrown in.

Variety comes in the form of hacking, which is unfortunately nothing more than a little, non-complex mini game, and the braindance, which is to relive a recorded segment of someone’s experiences, including everything they’ve seen, heard and even felt. It’s basically an advanced version of the SQUID clips from Strange Days. The kicker here is that you can switch to ‘editor mode’ and analyze the scene thoroughly to catch every little detail, even if the recorded person perceived something only subconciously.

Despite the overall dark tone the game isn’t completely without humour, thankfully. Some conversations, and especially the dialogue options my character is given, are hilarious, and there are many little details strewn all over the game world that made me laugh.

He doesn’t know how to use the three sea shells, he he ho ha he…

What I really don’t get is how we don’t have a proper wardrobe system. I mean, this is an RPG, right? One that even lets us freely choose any combination of male and female looks, voice and genitals (not kidding!). When the ability to define who and what exactly my character is is so damn important, why the hell can’t I wear the clothes that I want to wear without compromising my defensive stats?

I mean, seriously, look at the shit I’ve worn so far:

Stop laughing, this is NOT funny!

I’ve been doing all kinds of serious stuff, even given a speech at a friend’s funeral, while looking like this…I can’t think of much that kills immersion quicker and more thoroughly than that.

Maybe that’s why I’m not completely enthralled by the game despite liking a lot about it – it kinda doesn’t feel like it’s my adventure. This character, V, is doing all that shit, and I’m just along for the ride.

Quite literally…

This is definitely complaining about first world problems though, because the game is, in my opinion and on my hardware, really good. If you like this kind of game and own a decent PC I can absolutely recommend giving it a shot.

And now I wish you all a good and healthy start into the new year. May it be better than this one. Not too much to ask for, is it?