CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 gained quite the amount of notoriety when it got to the hands of gamers on December 10th after multiple delays to its release date. The long-expected game had such a substantial amount of difficulties with running on last-gen consoles that the news reached even those who might not often follow the latest scoops about video games. I for one, to my surprise, ended up discussing pre-ordering, day one patches, and the outcries of disappointed gamers who felt led on by the game’s extensive marketing with my mother over a box of chocolates on Christmas night.
So, the game is unplayable on consoles until one owns a PS5 or an Xbox Series X, and the developers have released the next-generation update, right..? Well yes. Or kind of? Or I would argue, not really.
It’s true that Cyberpunk 2077 will never reach its full potential on last-generation consoles. This prior statement feels especially appropriate when comparing to the visuals and performance players get to enjoy with a powerful PC. While the developers have promised a more stable and bug-free version through patches, technology-vise the game perhaps just isn’t truly meant for the likes of PS4 and Xbox One. The loading times, rendering distances and graphics will not magically improve beyond the consoles’ capabilities by patching the game, while the other performance issues no doubt are being combated to the best of the consoles’ and developers’ ability after having been bombarded with the storm that was the game’s reception.
The patches aren’t all here yet though. Why then, am I on my third playthrough already, having played the “broken and unplayable” game over a hundred and fifty hours? Am I just bad at assigning my time? Well maybe, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss. It’s simple. The story, the worldbuilding, the aesthetics, the music, the characters, the atmosphere, the immersion, and the love and the hours of work that have obviously been poured into the game all have me hooked. Hook, line and sinker, even though the blue error screen of the PS4 has become more familiar to me in the past months than in the previous years of owning the poor console I’ve been torturing with this bulky game.
While I would highly recommend anyone interested in playing Cyberpunk 2077 to wait for the next-gen version if their patience, wallet, and a lack of a PC suited for the task create the perfect circumstances for biding their time, I wouldn’t completely discount the value of the last-gen version either. If it is the most accessible version for you, and you are thirsty for a good story wrapped in an immersive first-person open-world RPG, go for it! Just do your research, as one should with all their purchases in all areas of life. And remember that quick save is a thing. Trust me.
There is however an argument for not giving money for something that doesn’t fulfill what was promised. Cyberpunk 2077’s marketing and review copy availability has been criticized, and not without reason. The game has been an excellent addition to the list of examples to use when criticizing pre-order centric game sales. The developers’ response to the critique, however, has been to own up to their mistakes on their part and to encourage requesting refunds for the last-gen version of the game. CD Projekt’s co-founder Marcin Iwinski addressed the game’s shortcomings and the developers’ future plans in a video released on Cyberpunk 2077’s official YouTube channel, a move that could be argued to have been both necessary appeasing as well as a step towards refreshingly open communication. But as with most controversial topics plagued by circular arguments, this video response too caused some outrage for assigning much of the blame on the quality assurance testers. And on and on the debates go.
But all in all, whether you’re demanding refunds for your pre-order, have skipped the game entirely, or are hooked like me, it could be interesting to follow the news and reveals of what the game’s development process was truly like. What tone the discussion around Cyberpunk 2077 will ultimately settle to? Even CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which is now remembered as a genre-defining masterpiece arrived with enough bugs to gift the internet with memes about horses on roofs. In the current day and age, it seems to be more the rule than the exception for a big game title to arrive in the hands of consumers in a controversial shape in one way or another. Whether it be due to bugs, story leaks or microtransactions, or the portrayal of sexuality, gender, religion, race, politics or violence, there seems to always be something that proves how easily the values, wants, and plans of those involved in gaming can collide with one another. Meaning not only the players but the developers and the investors as well. One can only hope that the game industry will continue to improve its ability to balance profit with quality.
Picture credit: The writer’s own screen capture taken on PS4
The video referenced in the text, released on Cyberpunk 2077’s official YouTube channel on January 13th: