As of writing this, I have played just about 30 hours of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s enough so far to get a bit of a first impression, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 (Note: I have not finished the main campaign yet).
Additional note: I preordered Cyberpunk 2077 through Steam and downloaded it when it first became available on December 10th onto my laptop. I have a Dell Inspiron gaming laptop with Nvidia Geforce GTX, which is pretty old at this point so I run Cyberpunk 2077 on the lowest settings possible. As a result the graphics are pretty bad, but good enough for my purposes, and in general the gameplay is fast and smooth. Regarding bugs, I’ve experienced a very minimal amount of bugs in the game thus far that haven’t ruined my experience yet. Small things like bushes appearing inside when they should be outside buildings out in the distance (which was fixed with the first day patch, an update of my Nvidia drivers, and when I arrived in Night City), NPCs walking around when/where they shouldn’t be (like one notable NPC that was walking in the air above me like it was nothing), and music sometimes playing on a loop when it wasn’t supposed to be while other music was playing and clashing with it (I saved and reloaded and that took care of it). All in all minimal bug experiences.
Cyberpunk 2077: First Impressions
When I first started playing Cyberpunk 2077, I had some expectations on how the story would play out, specifically with Jackie Welles. I thought I knew what would happen, and while the broad strokes were mostly correct, there was also a whole lot that I didn’t expect that was never spoiled in the trailers or the gameplay videos we saw.
I also hadn’t thought about tutorials. While the game does give you some basic tutorials on how to shoot, melee, dodge, sneak, and hack, I wish they had given several tutorial-style missions to explain how exactly the world works. There were a couple of these–like with Brain Dance, which we saw in one of the Night City Wires, and there’s also a bit of a mission early on to explain how to buy body augmentations. After that, though, that’s about it, and it’s up to you to figure out how to maximize your experience playing the game, and also how you want to play the game in general. Once I finish this game, I think I’ll finally understand well enough how to play it, in order to maximize my experience during the second playthrough. Because, just like the Witcher 3 was before it, this game is definitely complex and confusing.
There’s the main storyline, of course, and then side storylines to follow. After getting what I felt might be halfway through the main storyline, I intentionally stopped to be able to focus on all the side quests that I had been neglecting.
Regarding the main storyline, the beginning feels slow, until a big event happens (your heist with Jackie Welles) that introduces you to Johnny Silverhand and sets the rest of the main storyline in motion. In this regard, I felt like the introduction wasn’t nearly as gripping as I would have liked. As V you arrive to Night City in some capacity (depending on which backstory you chose) and start picking up gigs with your buddy Jackie. There was no driving event to make me feverishly search for relevant missions or to play. Take Fallout 4, for example. Right at the very beginning of the game, something shocking and tragic happens–a terrible wrong is committed–that you have to right. You feel compelled to fix what was broken. There is no similar feeling here in Cyberpunk 2077. Sure, once you meet Silverhand and the climactic event happens, there is a clear goal that you’re working to achieve. But the goal feels a little hollow, a bit as if I know what will probably happen in the end of the game, which is why I’m not too worried about resolving the problem that is presented in this game. A secondary goal that is hinted at several times is “to become a legend in Night City”. But what if you don’t care about becoming a legend, like me? What if you simply want to take on the impossible task of cleaning up Night City instead? I personally couldn’t care less if I become “a legend” in night city, although that does run against the “street cred” feature of the game.
At least the main storyline is better than the Witcher 3, which simply involved, more or less, finding Ciri. Again, like the Witcher 3, it’s the side quests where the game really shines. (Disclaimer: I never finished The Witcher 3).
The way that side quests work in Cyberpunk 2077, as far as I can tell thus far, is the following: you are either introduced, recommended, or stumble upon a new character who needs your help or services. After you help them out with an initial quest, they will then wait “a day or two” before calling you back with another problem or issue they want your help with again. Do enough of these, and you will eventually complete that character’s storyline arc.
One clear example of this is with characters like Panam, whom you can romance. Apparently there are only 4 characters you can romance and have a proper relationship with: Panam Palmer, Judy Alvarez, River Ward, and Kerry Eurodyne. Whether the option to romance them is even open to you depends on your V body type and voice type. Since I chose a male V body type with a masculine voice, Panam was the only character I was able to romance thus far (I haven’t met Kerry yet).
I was able to play to the end of the character arc with Panam already, and I can say that I thought the dialogue, character development, and missions were all excellent. I really enjoyed playing them and developing V’s relationship with Panam. Since I was playing with the Nomad life path, this opened up a few additional dialogue options for me, and also made it feel like a great fit to my character. Which makes me wonder if street kid or corpo backstories have similar character arcs that the player can similarly bond with as well.
How you play this game depends on your playstyle. Do you like playing an RPG where you read every scrap of information you can find, and complete all the quests religiously, or, do you stick to main and big side quests and ignore all that other noise? Also, are you a more direct, guns-blazing kind of player, or do you prefer living and breathing stealth? Yet another type of gameplay style would be a hacker, who hacks everything they can to get their hands on for the money, upgrades, and any other benefits they can glean.
First Person Shooter
Personally, I’m a First Person Shooter gamer all the way. Halo and Borderlands are some of my favorite video game franchises. As a result, I keep my stealth to a minimum, in order to simply optimize my first couple shots in my guns-blazing approach. So while I can’t speak too much to the stealth elements of this game (which are always an option, and seemed good in my view) what I can speak about is the First Person Shooting element of this game. And that part really depends on what type of gun you’re using.
Compared to Borderlands, for instance, I felt myself a little frustrated by the stats given for each gun. There’s a DPS number, then a damage per shot range, the name of the gun, the type of the gun, and then a little flavor text. There’s no accuracy number, nor is there a reload time number. There is, however, a shots per second number to indicate how fast the gun fires. In this regard, I felt the stats considerably inferior to those of Borderlands guns. I often found myself wondering which gun was better, and when elements like accuracy and reload speed are important, it would have been nice to have that information for each weapon.
Nonetheless, some guns feel great to have in your hands. The sound they make when they fire, the reload process…it all depends on which gun you have. I tended to favor conventional guns to tech or smart guns myself. I don’t like charging a gun to fire, although I will from time to time. I also don’t like the idea of a smart gun doing the aiming for me. Being able to shoot in any direction simply isn’t appealing to me, because it takes the fun out of constantly improving my accuracy with each gun I wield.
Each gun can also be upgraded, to make it even stronger. You can also craft guns using certain components you find lying around. In general, however, finding the right components and remembering to craft guns can be complicated and onerous. Simply not having enough of the right components can discourage you from doing so. After 30 hours of playing, I’ve never crafted my own gun, simply because of how many guns I encounter already, and the only guns I can really craft are ones I already own.
So in addition to sexually charged scenes with romances among certain specific characters, there are also some sex scenes you can have with secondary characters, and then of course there are the joytoys on jig jig street. I’ve never hired one of these myself in the Cyberpunk 2077 red light district, but I hear it’s possible. As a result, this game is very much an adult game, and it doesn’t shy away from it. Cursing, violence, sex, and drugs too are available. I haven’t tried any specific in-game drugs yet either, but my character has raised plenty of glasses with his fellow NPCs, and every time you have a drink the screen sways a little to mimic the effect of the alcohol affecting you. And no, I didn’t try getting drunk either and seeing what would happen. I imagine passing out?
Music (and Radio)
The music in this game is absolutely phenomenal–that is, the natural soundtrack when things are happening, and even when they aren’t. It’s partly electronic, partly rock, partly orchestral, and blends so well into the setting of Night City that you hardly notice it’s there, while getting you revved up in all the right intense moments.
The radio in the car, on the other hand…could have been better. The few channels I sampled, I didn’t hear much radio talk the way you might hear someone talking between songs in Fallout 4. Some of the radio channel options are shown above, and as you can see, there’s no real description for each one. You just have to listen to them and see for yourself. I was looking for something a la Synthwave, in the order of my fav synth bands like Carpenter Brut, or at least Kavinsky’s Night Drive, but could not find a channel that fit the bill. It could be it is there, and in some of the rides with NPCs, they have the radio on tuned to certain stations already, which felt like a subtle way to get to know the character by seeing what music they listen to. Speaking of rides with NPCs…
Riding With Characters: A New In-Game Feature
So riding with characters is actually a new in-game feature that I really enjoyed, at least new to me (does this happen in any other games?) The idea is that once an NPC gives you a mission and a place to get to, since they’re going too, they offer you a ride in their car. If you accept, you get to ride shotgun and look out the window of their car as they drive you to your mutual destination. The result is much like when someone’s driving you around in a new city when you’re on vacation. You get to talk to the driver, briefly, while also having full control to look outside the windows and watch the different cars drive by, people walking, and the myriad neon signs and billboards. Sometimes it’s by day, other times it’s by night, sometimes it’s clear skies and other times it’s raining and you get to watch the rain gently fall down your windows. It’s quite a calming experience, in fact–Except for the occasional hilarious bugging moments when your driver runs over another NPC (who is never harmed) or smashes into another car and keeps on driving like nothing happened.
Because Johnny Silverhand is a digitized consciousness hanging out on the data chip in your brain, only you can see or hear him, and he only appears at certain moments in the game, when you go to certain places, doing certain things. However, he appears A LOT all over the place. Sometimes he just won’t shut up! As a big Keanu Reeves fan, I personally loved hearing his voice and having him give his two cents at random moments I can never predict throughout the game. Sometimes I heeded his advice, other times I ignored him. Sometimes Silverhand loves or hates certain characters, and you might feel the same way or completely different. He definitely encourages you to bail on people or commit violence regularly, staying true to form as the punk rebel rocker Johnny Silverhand.
Cars and Driving
Driving in the game took a bit of practice at first. While playing on the PC, I prefer to use third person (you can alternate between 1st person and third person) and every touch left and right can send your car or motorbike veering off in the direction you tapped, which makes small turns and adjustments to your trajectory rather challenging. Nonetheless, after a while I started getting the hang of it. I only occasionally run over innocent bystanders now or crash into the traffic around me. One thing I had to learn that was never explained in the game is that once you acquire new vehicles that are given to you from completing quests, it’s available to you in your garage and you can summon those vehicles too. Instead of just pressing V and summoning your default black brick of a car, you can also press and hold V to see what vehicles are in your garage, and then choose the car or motorbike you want at that specific moment. So far I haven’t bought any cars yet (they’re very expensive and it’s hard to find one I like) but I’ve acquired 2 motorbikes in addition to the black car you start off with (which wasn’t hard, I just had to complete certain side quests to their entirety).
One Truism about Role Playing Games is that you always have a ton of missions at any one time. Instead of getting a mission upon talking to someone, most of the time, a new mission would text my phone (yes, you can receive and reply to text messages) or call me directly and offer it to me then and there. Sometimes when I was very busy doing other missions at the same time. While acquiring new missions through no effort of my own was great at first, it quickly resulted in a huge pile of missions that were more or less open at the same time, resulting in me getting anxious at leaving so many unfinished (a huge portion of these are all the cars the AI construct Delamain wants you to fetch for him). You just have to choose the right time to pause your main mission (s) in order to start working on these side missions. Each mission stored in your journal also has a risk indicator (from low risk to very high risk) which helps you organize your missions, going with the lower risk missions first and saving the higher risk missions until your level is higher and you have better gear.
Overall Verdict: 9/10
As a first person shooter, the gameplay feels like it’s lacking something, although it’s unclear what to me exactly. As a role playing game, however, it’s excellent. The dialogues that can be discovered throughout this game are truly incredible, and have quickly become my favorite part of playing the game–simply listening to the characters talking about their hopes, dreams, fears, worries, and having deep discussions with them as we all try to make sense of living in this dark, dystopian cyberpunk world. At the beginning of the game, for instance, I took the elevator up to my apartment but ended up staying in the elevator several minutes after I arrived at my floor because the TV inside the elevator was showing a debate on a talk show between a religious anti-augmenting zealot and a human augmentation spokesperson. The age-old debate on whether or not we should augment our bodies, in particular what being able to digitize our consciousness and live forever would mean to religion and spirituality, was something that was very interesting. And it all happened randomly, passively while I was riding the elevator. That’s the magic of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City.
So for the fun, decent shooting action, the incredible dialogues, quests, and stories, the soundtrack and the detail-filled beautiful city, I give Cyberpunk 2077 top marks. My only complaints would be about the occasional bugs, better information about the guns you can pick up, better tutorials on more details of how to play the game (like quick hacks, body augmentations, weapon crafting and disassembling, selling weapons, buying cars, etc.), and better game play in general. The pace always slows down in any RPG when you have so many different things you can do in an open world you can explore. Games like Borderlands and Tomb Raider had smoother gameplay and better pacing, as well as a better balance in general. I also felt those other games had better hooks and compelling overall story plot for the main storylines.
So because of all these, I’d give it a 9/10. I still haven’t finished the entire game and will be posting a full review, possibly with some spoilers, at a later date. There are even features I haven’t even talked about here, like the photo mode. But I’d highly recommend getting this game and playing it on a PC on the highest settings, if possible, and if not to get a next-gen console and play it there. Until next time, Choomba!