Sunday, December 27, 2020

Cyberpunk 2077 - My First Impressions

 Ah Cyberpunk 2077. I guess No Man's Sky is happy you finally pushed them off the podium for "games so overhyped they couldn't possibly deliver". 

I was fairly excited about Cyberpunk 2077 myself. After having played the Witcher 1-3 I knew CD Projekt Red could do really amazing games. I loved each and every one of those games for completely different reasons too. With the Witcher series CDPR showed they could handle a multitude of gameplay styles but also had a handle on storytelling and character building. Or do they? More on that a bit further down.

But I also knew there was a possibility that this game, being something very different from the Witcher universe, could be something I wasn't going to love. I was ok with that. I had already decided I was going to buy the game at launch anyway, because I knew that even if I ended up hating it I still would've thought CDPR deserved my money for the fun I had already had with the Witcher series (all of which I bought cheap).

Don't bring a katana to a gun fight.

I wasn't bothered by the constant delays either. The stars know my backlog stresses me out enough as it is already, so I had plenty of stuff to keep me occupied while I waited. Finishing the Witcher 3 was one of them.

In fact I would've preferred if they had delayed the game further to prevent having to use crunch hours. I guess it must've been the Christmas holidays looming that made them finally release it (even though it was still not finished as it would turn out) but who needs to hear the echoing words of Shigeru Miyamoto again nowadays? Surely everyone knows that a game that is released too early may never manage to redeem itself. The beforementioned No Man's Sky is a decent example, because even though they've done a tremendous job making a great game out of it, I am sure most people still only know it as "that game that was overhyped". Unfortunately it seems Cyberpunk 2077 will now join that stable of games that deserves better, at least in the future.

I fretted for the longest time over whether to get it on PC or ps4. I knew there was shooting and I hate shooting with a controller. On the other hand, what if I get it on PC and it turns out my PC can't handle it properly? In the end I opted for the ps4 version because it had worked so well with The Witcher 3 (completely different games, I know, but that is the logic I used). The fact that the game wouldn't run well on my ps4 didn't even enter my realm of possibilities. That is the one thing console has over computer right, you know the game will work?

Shotguns are really fun to use, as they should be.

Usually before I get a game I spend quite a lot of time looking at and reading reviews about what other people think about it, this is to avoid buying something that is actually a broken game. But I had already decided CDPR was going to get my money, remember? So I wanted to be as unspoiled as possible about Cyberpunk 2077. I am glad I did that too, because if I had waited and seen all the fallout about the game, and especially the ps4 (and Xbox) release I would've most likely not bought it at all.

And that would've been a shame, because so far.. it's actually a pretty fun game. Which is not to say it is perfect. And it is far from the amazing experience The Witcher 3 is, with its excellent world building, characters, story telling, gameplay... and so on. But Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot going for it as well. I loved Deus Ex and had fun with Shadowrun Returns and Cyberpunk definitely takes a lot of inspiration especially from the latter.

Some core ideas are similar to The Witcher 3, where you have an over-arching main story but are allowed to wander around and delve into other issues around the map as you please. I have so far (around 10 hours of game time) put a lot more time into the side missions than the main story, just like I did in the Witcher 3. And over 150 hours I wasn't bored once with what there was to do in the Witcher 3. After 10 hours it is difficult for me to say if Cyberpunk will hold up as well, and while I have been having a lot of fun so far there is a nagging worry that it might get repetitive in the longer run.

I am playing on normal, and just like The Witcher 3 I don't find Cyberpunk to be particularly difficult at any point so far. While there is the option to hack things I often find I can do well just running in guns a blazing. I am not really sure if I think the hacking option isn't well enough designed or if I think I just don't have enough talents (or know-how) to make the best use out of it yet. Time will tell regarding that bit I guess.

You'll meet many people, but few to care about.

The world building is adequate, Night City is a fun city to run around in. Does it feel like coming to a real place like in The Witcher 3? Not really, but I still enjoy walking around slowly and look into nooks and crannies like I did in that game. There is a lot to look at, discover and learn about Night City and I am curious to do so.

But coming back to the point I briefly mentioned in the beginning, you can tell CDPR didn't have the lore from some books to fall back on here. The interesting thing is I find CDPR did more and better with the lore in The Witcher 3 than the Witcher books ever did, but this time around I am nowhere near as interested or invested in the characters or stories that I come across. It doesn't help that the voice of my own character is really annoying. But overall they at least don't detract from my fun of the game. The AI isn't the best at times, with enemies not reacting appropriately to bombs thrown in their face for instance but then again it's easy for me to write it off as them being "off their trollies", or having implants that don't work so well, it would all fit the world I am in.

I'm not even sure I understand the main story yet, or that I have come into it. So far I have mostly been doing side quests, as mentioned, and whatever seems connected to the main story has got to do with me establishing rep in the "fixer" business, or whatever. I wasn't overly invested in the main story in Witcher 3 either, in the sense that I didn't care too much about Ciri. But it was still fun to play through, and so far Cyberpunk 2077 is too. 

I seem to have been lucky enough to not have come across too many bugs, glitches or crashes so far. I've actually not had a single bug or crash, though I've probably jinxed myself now. There have been some floating objects and faces that took a bit too long to load, but again I find as long as it doesn't actually prevent me from playing, I can have these aesthetical glitches work in the world I am in. That quirky weirdness that those glitches add also sort of add to the atmosphere of the game in a way that would've never worked in The Witcher 3.

I have feelings that I wish I could do more in each encounter, rather than just run in slashing my dagger around like a crazy monkey, but I tell myself that'll happen as soon as I unlock more perks and learn the systems better. If it doesn't happen however, there is danger that I'll find this game repetitive in the long run. But so far it has great potential and I am having a lot of fun exploring the crazy world of Night City, even if I don't love the characters that inhabit it.

Images from