Cyberpunk 2077 First Week Impressions (NO SPOILERS)

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Played on an Xbox Series X via backwards compatibility.

Cyberpunk 2077, the game a lot of us have been waiting for. After rounds of marketing campaigns and a series of delays, it’s finally here. For all of us to sink hours upon hours of our lives into.

Ever since CD Projekt Red released The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the game that most people compare any RPG to these days down to it being such a magnificent title. Anticipation around Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red’s next game, was high to say the least.

I’ve spent the last week with this game. Personally, I’m enjoying it. Though I know others are feeling the opposite. With myriads of bugs and performance issues hampering people’s experiences. Mainly on last-gen consoles, CD Projekt Red has even started offering refunds for the last-gen versions of Cyberpunk

Nevertheless, I’m having a fun and great time with it so far. That’s not to say I don’t have my complaints, bug encounters, and suggestions for the game.

Glitches

I’ll get the biggest issue or issues out of the way first. The bugs. I’ve encountered many bugs that are visual and or just annoying. The sort that get the roll of the eyes and a sigh when they happen. I’ve also encountered two progress halting bugs. One was near game-breaking which almost got far more than a roll of the eyes.

The visual bugs are mostly just annoying from what I’ve personally experienced.

Here is a list of bugs – mostly but not all visual – that I remember running into:

  • Subtitles not disappearing.
  • Weapons stats that appear on screen not disappearing.
  • Characters not doing certain animations.
  • Automatically being zoomed in when leaving a vehicle.
  • Not being able to pick up certain items.
  • Floating assets such as mobile phones and guns.
  • Cars falling from the sky.
  • Health bar displaying “0” when I was still alive.
  • Combat music continuing to play outside of combat, until I reloaded a save.
  • Overlapping dialogue.
  • A.I car exploded for no reason.

But then there is the bug which could have potentially ruined everything.

During the quest Lighting Breaks, I entered the passenger seat of a truck which leads to a fast travel marker. However, when the fast travel happened, the loading screen which entails was an infinite one. The loading bar got stuck around under a quarter of the way and never went any further.

I reloaded the save three times with no luck. I closed the game and tried again just to be met with the same problem. So I rebooted the console, just for it to still keep happening.

After a trip to Reddit, I found out that the issue is happening to others. I managed to find the solution on Reddit which was to load a save before the bar conversation scene, which did work and I could now progress. At the cost of losing about ten minutes of progress.

Thankfully not too much time, but if I had not had autosave on, I would have been stuffed. Unless I held out and waited for a potential patch or I started the game again. These are the sort of bugs that put your progress at risk and hurt the most which can rightly turn people of off a game.

The other progress stopping bug was during The Heist quest. It all started when the A.I broke for an officer I was supposed to eliminate. They just stood there taking the damage I dished out until they died. It now got worse as I had to loot the corpse but the game had other ideas as it wouldn’t let me do this. A reloaded save fixed it, but all of these bugs, big and small, are just appalling.

Running the Program

On the performance side, I’ve not had anywhere near the issues others are having. I’ve not really had any major frame drops, just some random freezes here and there. Which always give me a game crash scare. Just remember I’m playing on a Series X, the game on last-gen consoles is an unacceptable mess of bugs and terrible performance at the moment from what I have seen of it on the internet.

Well, to be honest, all the versions including the ones running via backwards compatibility are in a state of shambles with bugs galore. So much for “Coming: when it’s ready” because Cyberpunk in its current state clearly wasn’t.

Pixel Punk

Graphically the game looks good, not breathtaking (hehe) but good. Sometimes when the lighting was right I did have some screenshot-worthy moments. But it’s clear to see that some measures have been taken to get the game on older systems. Though it didn’t seem to do much good. A choice between performance and visual quality can be selected which does improve the visuals at the expense of frame rate is the visual quality mode is selected.

The PC version is the best pick in the graphics department and the upcoming Series X and PS5 versions should bring an experience that’s closer to the PC to consoles.

I would say the models in the game are terrific. Characters and all of their cyber augmentations look detailed and interesting. Vehicles and vehicle interiors follow the same trends.

Animations like working speedometers and chambering new guns were details that aided in the game’s immersion factor.

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Cyber People

A story is only as good as its characters and so far I’m finding Cyberpunk’s rather interesting. Characters have personality and relations which make them come across as believable and genuine.

The protagonist V isn’t as fleshed out as Geralt from The Witcher. But that was to be expected from being an original character that hasn’t appeared in any media before, one who you created. I did like having the option to pick V’s lifepath from 3 options, which determines the first act of the story and can sometimes give you different dialogue options in conversations. However, I can’t comment on how different the paths are in practice yet. Not having the lore of a character like Geralt also gives you the chance to roleplay and act like the character you want to be.

Prior to release, I was a little skeptical about how Johnny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves) was going to be handled. So far I have to say that he’s being handled very well and has been a standout part of the game so far. CD Projekt Red hasn’t skimped on Silverhand’s inclusion either, with the rocker showing up frequently. Johnny’s humour and attitude have had me anticipating his next appearance.

Overall, the outstanding writing is what makes the characters so great. And from such a violent and brutal world where people are part cyborg, there are human moments that shine. Whether it be V making a speech at a funeral ceremony or V’s more lighthearted failed flirt attempt.

CD Projekt Red has knocked it out of the park with the writing and dialogue. Even with multiple different dialogue options, it still delivers. The use of in-world slang such as “chrome” used to describe augments elevates the dialogue by making it sound unique and adding character to the overall world.

Robot Wars

Cyberpunk’s combat plays out mostly like a First-person shooter. With your typical FPS gunplay, aiming down sights and crouching behind cover. It plays fine, though Cyberpunk isn’t a shooter but an RPG first and foremost. During gunfights, you’ll use a range of gun classes. Pistols, revolvers, shotguns, assault rifles, and snipers are some examples at your disposal.

Weapons will also be labeled as Power, Tech or Smart, each with different abilities. For example, Tech weapons can be charged up for a more powerful shot and Smart weapon rounds can home in on targets. These differences are cool and all, but personally I would say that you’ll probably be picking guns based on number stats as opposed to it being a Tech or Power weapon.

Guns can also be customised with sights, muzzles and performance changing mods. Though I would have liked to have seen some more in-depth gun customisation. Maybe some extended mags or bayonets.

Like in a lot of other games, stealth is an approach you can take to combat encounters. I have felt that the stealth can be a little janky at times. With enemies spotting me when I feel they probably shouldn’t have.

Getting up close and personal is also an option with melee weapons. I’m personally a fan of the Katana, dismembering fools and taking down packs of gangs blasting guns with a blade has been a way in which I have dispatched of enemies on more than one occasion.

Now for hand to hand combat. Unfortunately, it’s outright bad. It’s clunky and unfair. One fight had me taking on two twins at once, and it was horrible. Punches and kicks were locking on to me, while my own lock-on system was having a hard time deciding what it wanted to do. The twins were dashing around as well which just made it even more of a headache.

Quickhacks are hacking abilities that can be used during most combat scenarios. These hacks allow you to do things like short someone’s circuit or temporally blind them. Using these to aid me in my various shoot outs has given the combat uniqueness and added some strategy. With these Quickhacks helping in melee, gun and stealth situations.

Overall I have been enjoying the combat in Cyberpunk. With a mix of melee, shooting, stealth and hacking I’ve found fun in the skirmishes even if it isn’t the most amazing shooter ever.

Powering Up

Leveling up and upgrading is essential in an RPG, so obviously they are here in Cyberpunk. Leveling up awards attribute and perk points. Attribute points can be put into different attributes like Body, which improves things like your overall health and stamina, or Technical, which improves your armour and allows you to do things like open locked doors.

As you level up attributes, skills inside each attribute become available to acquire with perk points. This is where you can build the character style you want. Maybe you want to invest in quick hacking or pistols, this is where you do it. Feel free to go heavy in one area or mix and match, it’s up to you.

The character progression hasn’t rewritten the rule book. More just followed it. You get stronger as you go and can become more proficient in an area of your choice.

Getting Chrome

Ripperdoc’s can fit Cybernetic implants. Giving you the opportunity to kit V out with body augments such as Titanium bones to carry more items or Matis Blades that are placed inside V’s arms and can be us to slice and dice up anyone in your way.

So far I’ve found getting my V speced out with cybernetics to be the most interesting way of upgrading. With implants on offer that allow you to do things like double jumps, slow time when dodging and bust out an arm-mounted rope to slash people with. These sort of implants can affect gameplay on a moment-to-moment basis while other more passive implants can be used to enhance playstyles and/or paired with more drastic ones to improve their effectiveness.

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City Life

Night City’s design is truly a spectacle, no doubt about it. Whether the suns gracing its blood-soaked gutters or the neon lights are illuminating the advert ridden streets. Night City will have you just looking at it in awe.

As you traverse around, cops can be seen investigating crime scenes, Trauma Team can be seen with patients and thugs will hold up stools.

Head out into the Badlands to witness the run down turbines, the empty desert and small civilisations away from the corporation ridden city.

The visuals and design of Cyberpunk’s world are impressive and are a serious strong point. Though, when you start to play about in it some cracks start to show.

The traffic fails to drive around your car if it’s parked in the road, instead, they will just stop and look at it. I know it’s Night City but brandishing a weapon in the street will garner no reaction from pedestrians. Crashing into an A.I. driver will get no reaction either, no cursing or getting out of the vehicle. All things like these we’ve seen in other open-world games.

Then comes maybe the most underwhelming part of Night City’s lack of reaction to your actions. The Police. You can indeed gain a wanted level for crimes, but simply driving or running around a corner or down the road will lose whatever level wanted you were at in an instant. I’ve yet to have a real police car chase either, I don’t think that it’s here. The whole police debacle is also rounded off with cops that spawn out of nowhere when you’re in trouble with the law.

Behind the Wheel

Getting around Night City usually involves a vehicle of either the car or motorbike kind. The vehicles look the part that’s for sure, but how do they handle?

The cars I’ve driven so far in Cyberpunk handle just fine, I’ve not felt any frustration getting around in them. Motorbikes, on the other hand, I can’t say handle as well. They aren’t completely terrible but when breaking they seem to react with a weird slide completely unlike how a motorbike would behave.

I also was a little disappointed when I realised I was unable to lean back and pop a wheelie. Not a big deal but would have been sweet. Maybe I haven’t fathomed out how to do it yet, though I have tried various ways to perform the stunt.

I also thought it would have been cool to perform drive-by shootings from cars or motorbikes. Or wield a Katana to strike foes down while on a motorbike similar to how Geralt can use a sword while on horseback in The Witcher 3. So far I’ve only been able to fire off from the passage seat of a car with an NPC driving.

There appears to be no public transport systems either. We did see a cinematic in a trailer for Cyberpunk where V was traveling on a train though we don’t have the option in-game. Even if we hopped on a train as a fast travel method it would have been more interesting than the way we got, which consists of using a computer terminal in the street.

Cars and motorbikes can be purchased and called to your location on demand. Or stolen GTA style without the ability to call them. Disappointingly, there is no option to customise our cars, no performance upgrades and no visual changes, not even colour. This would have been a nice thing to spend our “eddies” (slang for eurodollars, Cyberpunk’s currency) on. Perhaps it could come later down the line in the promised free DLCs for Cyberpunk.

I have enjoyed traveling around though. I’ve opted to drive or ride to my next location as opposed to fast traveling so far. Putting my foot down with Samurai on the radio has put me right in the world of Cyberpunk. Taking in the world and sights as I pass on through.

Big Leagues

After a week the best thing in Cyberpunk for me has been its story. I’m truly captivated by the narrative and its characters. I won’t go into it to avoid spoilers, but I can’t wait to see where it goes. The writing and characters have been high quality and are just what you would expect from the peeps behind The Witcher series of RPG’s.

Side Stories

The same goes for Side Jobs. Just like The Witcher 3’s side quests, Side Jobs are their own beasts. With stories, character development, conflicts and choices that all happen outside of the main quest path.

Some will take you by surprise with cruel shocks, have you puzzled at the absurd situation you got yourself in or laughing at an interaction. I’ll leave it at that as to not spoil some splendid side stories.

Gigs are another form of side quest in Cyberpunk. These are a bit more straightforward; for example escorting someone from a gang or carrying out a hit.

Gigs are more for racking up the eddies and XP whereas Side Jobs are meatier.

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Conclusion

I’ve owned Cyberpunk for around a week now, where I’ve spent a generous amount of time with it and I’m looking forward to spending more. I want to see where the story goes and the characters I’ll meet along the way. It’s also worth noting that I don’t mind the locked 1st person on-foot and cutscene decision. I think it works here and keeps me in-game at nearly all times. Even during cutscenes, I can still look around.

Even if Cyberpunk doesn’t have the positive impact The Witcher 3 had on gaming, it still contains a lot of what made it have that impact. Player choice, marvelous soundtrack, compelling story, well performed intriguing characters and a striking world.

When it’s working as intended, I’m immersed in the world and having a blast. But I can’t help but get frustrated with all of the bugs. Bugs are inevitable with a game like this, but this just shouldn’t have happened. It’s also sad to see a team like CD Projekt Red who have earned mass respect over the years from gamers pull a move like this.

I also have a feeling in the back of my mind that the game may have been announced too early. Not only did we end up with delays. We got features discussed and mentioned that sounded cool, ambitious and could have made the world feel more dynamic and given the player more options in the world. But they appear to have not made the cut.

I know a lot can end up on the cutting room floor in games development but having features publicly talked about that aren’t in the final product can lead to disappointment. Here’s an article from PC Gamer detailing some features that didn’t make it.

Once it’s fixed I believe this will be a fantastic game. With free and paid DLC on the way, I’m hoping things can only get better. The full-blown Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 versions that are on the way, if they work, will give players on the systems a better way to experience what Cyberpunk has to offer. And then the multiplayer mode which is supposed to be a thing sometime in the future, what will that entail? We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

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