Cyberpunk 2077 Review : After 100Hours Gameplay - The Final Verdict || Error69Pro

wake up samurai "we have a city to burn" 

It's hard to know where to begin with Cyberpunk 2077. This is one of the most anticipated games of the generation, with the firepower behind it that produced The Witcher 3, which at this point in time, has received critical acclaim in the form of the “most awarded video game of all time.” You can see the DNA of CDPRs witcher in the genetically tweaked dark future of Night City too. It seems that during development CDPR has fallen into the role of Ripper doc, peeling back the layers of The Witcher and its formula, re-arranging, and grafting a shiny new chrome exterior. But with this fresh out the clinic style, is there also substance in Cyberpunk 2077? Does it live up to lofty expectations & how has this augmentation from a third-person perspective fantasy game to a first-person RPG focused on fluid class system fared for a studio now nipping at the heels of the top dogs of gaming. 

Introduction :

I initially wanted to get this review out before the embargo, but these are going to be my honest thoughts after 100 hours sunk into the game, having completed all the side quests and markers that are at least visible on the map, following lifepaths, and seeing their influence on the story, picking different dialogue trees in regular side missions and seeing their effect, playing with differing builds, and experiencing more than one ending. I’m no longer in the honeymoon phase with Cyberpunk as well, in the sense that things have begun to become more black and white for me in terms of what is good, what is great, what is bad, and what is lacking. In this review, we’ll mostly talk about the positive things first and then tread into the negative so do stick around for my 360-degree thoughts. Also, note I played this on a pre-patch review copy of the game as well as has put time into the game after some of the hotfixes and patches using a 3700x CPU and an RTX 3080. 

Lifepath System Of the Game :

Cyberpunk 2077 starts you off chasing 3 distinct lifepaths. The self-serving up-and-coming corporate path, the boots on the ground, in the thick of it all street kid path, and the family-oriented, city rejecting Nomad path. These will all give you a different introduction to Night City, as well as help you in your conversations in Night City with factions that are more aligned with your life path. I first chose Street Kid, which had you doing a favor for a barkeep in the district of Heywood, where you grew up, and meant I could converse more easily with gangs & street scum alike. I’ll skip the details here, but I did manage to play each lifepath in their entirety with my favorite being my original choice of the Street Kid and my least favorite being the painfully underwhelming Corporate intro. These life paths were not overly meaty considering this was touted as one of the more exciting RPG features for the game. They are all relatively on par with each other and offer 3 branching allegiances that will influence your dialogue options, with those with who you align. Throughout the main campaign, the lifepath options did rear their heads from time to time in additional dialogue in the form of the blue options which allowed your character to extract more information, and the yellow ones which progressed the story forward, locking it into one trajectory, but I have to say you will only experience the difference in your choices after multiple playthroughs. As for now, 100 hours in, the changes are too subtle for the average player to notice. In fact other than the Maelstrom prologue mission, which has around 5 outcomes, I’m struggling to remember where my lifepath dependant dialogue option took me on a completely different route, or established or severed a relationship with an NPC.

The lifepath options seem to be more dominant in the side content, but again to the effect where the changes were too minute to notice. This would be fine if the game established more of a need for replayability when it came to the lifepaths and their prologues so you could actually get a better feel for this, but sadly Lifepaths are more subtle than this. After the lifepath-specific beginnings, you are thrown into a 6-month montage of your escapades in Night City with Jackie, which is in my opinion one of the biggest mistakes in an overall satisfying main storyline. This montage severs the comradery built with Jackie by forcing the player into the role of the passive observer in the most important first steps of getting to know Night City through the lens of an up and coming merc. You are then thrust into a situation where the character of V is well adapted to Night City and has grown a relationship with Jackie, but we were never active participants in what is an integral part of the growth of V and the relationship. We are stripped of experiencing some of the growing pains of our character, which also feeds into a point I will talk about later, with the main story really needing one more strong act as a windup for the knockout punch of the finale. That being said, despite this 6 month cinematic, Jackie is an extremely strong and likable character, and the prologue moves onto the awe-inspiring heist mission with him at your side as you try to extract a biochip as an entry point into the upper echelon ranks of mercenaries and the promise of more lucrative opportunities. 

Environment And Presentation :

The main story of Cyberpunk 2077 despite its shorter length, is paced elegantly and weaves its interesting characters into a gripping moment to moment story where dialogue plays a pivotal role. Cyberpunk has a sparkling cast of characters and is arguably its strongest element in combination with what I believe should be much more popular in the fully immersive FPP system which gives you the full autonomy to look where you please, whether that's at whoever is talking to you, the fringes of your peripheral vision, or even lost in thought, completely away from the point of interest. This adds a layer of authenticity to every interaction you have in Night City. Just like in real life, your attention wanes, you look around at the sources of ambient noises and so do the characters you are talking to. I remember getting into a car driven by one of these fantastic characters at the outset of the story, as it started to cloud over and rain in Night City. As this character began to discuss the hows and whys of the mission we were about to undertake, I found myself looking out of the window, at not only the awe-inspiring architecture and vertical scale of night city, but simply the raindrops running down on the window. If you ever remember sitting in the car as a child and betting on which raindrop would make it to the bottom first, this is something that this scene system allowed me to think back on. This might seem inconsequential, but It was a nice moment where the video game world and reality collide and is a strong reason why we play story-driven narrative games, to begin with.

The storyline & Extra in-game Exploration  :

Obviously, in a Cyberpunk dystopia, a helping hand doesn’t come cheap and your journey is punctuated with tough decisions following various crumb trails to any solution to your conundrum. It’s a great story, and you meet some stellar main characters along the way, but I can’t help but feel this journey was too short to give the emotional impact it could have delivered. One more strong act in the form of the prologue would have given me a better overall experience, and one more strong act once you’ve met Johnny would have made the potential endings more impactful and I think either of those would have increased my enjoyment of the main story for different reasons. More Silverhand for more impact, and a longer process to acclimate to Night City to better align with my character, whom I did feel detached from at times. The endings are also extremely varied and have different epilogues depending on them. Of course, I got the worst ending during my first playthrough just like I did in The Witcher 3, but all endings that I have seen are well done in capping the main story in extremely different ways. Going back to Lifepaths, again they didn’t seem to matter in getting a specific ending, and all endings can be queued from one life path. 

Now let’s talk about Johnny Silverhand. Keanu is perfect for one side of the duality of johnny. His disparaging tongue in cheek remarks from a distance is something that Keanu naturally leans into, but where it comes to some point of urgency in Silverhand’s story, you can see the breaks in Keanu not fully stepping into volatile johnny. For example, Johnny tells V to put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger at one point, and it's so devoid of emotion or attachment making it much more chilling & at that point, Keanu really sells Johnny that lacks empathy. There are also times where Johnny is talking about getting revenge on a certain Megacorporation, which doesn’t translate very well because it demands tapping into a state where you can sense this bloodlust lying under the surface. I’m not sure I necessarily got this in his delivery more often than not. There’s also this third, rarer side of Johnny where he is raw, real, and emotional which I thought was caught somewhere between the two performance-wise. Not fantastic, but not bad either. It was good. That being said, I was really pleased with Keanu's VA overall and how he handled the character since his dialogue is mostly strung together ramblings of cynicism and contempt. 

I recommend that you do plenty of main side content before finishing the main story just because he does appear routinely as the devil or angel on V’s shoulder, leading you to either make the choice you were going to anyway, or seeing a different side of the coin separate from the influences of characters involved in that story thread through Johnny’s commentary. It allows you to get to know Johnny beyond his main story motives, and he definitely has some very funny lines and critiques of the various adventures you’ll inevitably drag him to. Now just like in The Witcher 3, most of Cyberpunk’s substance is embedded in its writing, on full display in the game's excellent side-quests. The game does not shy away from the wretched themes of the dark future including abductions, rape, violence, torture, and even a very poignant quest on religion. 

The best of the best in Cyberpunk are these quests that push the boundaries on how twisted the world has become, using futuristic tech such as braindance as a vessel for telling these stories, or as a set piece within the mission. In this case, the most potent stories in night city use Braindance to help tell them. I don’t necessarily mean that the quests using the Braindance editor are the best ones, but most of the better side quests use it in a more passive sense. That being said, I did also like the Braindance editing sequences during my first playthrough but did wish that after the tutorial the game wouldn’t hold my hand so much in these sequences to make them harder. 

Audio and visuals of the video :

The autonomy of making anything in my field of view the center of attention, no matter how big or small is a simple yet effective design choice. It’s something that you might become more of a passive feature as you play more, or even on additional playthroughs, but at first, it really enthralls you in the experience and even engages you more through dialogue, since you are mainly going to be using this to gauge the nuanced body language of the wide variety of characters you will meet. When it comes to body language, and believability of NPCs, this is another overwhelmingly strong element of Cyberpunk. Animations, faces, and the eyes of most of the main characters are encapsulating, raw and real. There was a moment I was lying down next to a character who was reading my deeper thoughts and intentions, and the voice acting, the facial animation and attention to detail, and the freedom to make micro-adjustments with the FPP cinematic system coalesced to create this cinematic experience. There’s this snap back to reality moment in the end, and it was a crude reminder of the nature of what I was involved with, but also the realization of how amazing this first-person scene system can be at pulling you in. Now, this is a dialogue-heavy RPG especially when it comes to its main story, but it's all exceptional writing. 

The Cyberpunk IP created by Mike Pondsmith has a wide variety of lore terms and terminology, but it’s all added inappropriately and within the right context so that even if you don’t have knowledge of the 2077s TTRPG predecessor, you can still follow what's being spoken about for the most part. The script is not overly cerebral, but it's strong in that it uses its future slang in tandem with regular terms and gives a sense that the characters you interact with are well adapted to the world around them. In typical CDPR fashion, there is a ton of crude language, swearing, and dark humor and sets up the dark future as some sort of comedic noir film filled with corporate scum, violent factions, burnouts & bums. The main story sends you down this hallucinatory road of collided psyches, and a race against time to separate them. The marketing material has already mentioned this pre-release so I think I’m in the clear when I mention that Johnny Silverhand's consciousness has merged with yours, the result of you lodging a biochip into your mind to keep it stable. Silverhand is a parasite and you are the host and the journey to free yourself from the mortal implications of this is the main objective. 

Things that could be better :

The weapon diversity is enough to allow you to find something in your niche that you will like, but you’ll often swap it out altogether once you find a stronger weapon. You can of course upgrade your weapon in the crafting menu, but weapon drops will scale to your relative level and it's often a waste to do this when you will inevitably find the same variant down the line that is stronger. In this sense, I didn’t find a weapon that I had any attachments to until midway or a little past that throughout the game. I did eventually find my go-to revolver in my first playthrough, but at that point, I was well past the mid-way mark. Augmenting the body through Cyberware is also important in creating a specified gameplay feedback loop. Most of these are effectively stronger perks, with some additional gameplay capabilities, but the most apparent changes come through the operating system and the arm augmentations. Your operating system can be more hacker focused through a cyberdeck, or more guns blazing focused through Sandestin or berserk cyberwar, which create the biggest changes in combat. They are all unique enough and fun enough to warrant a spot in your gameplay. 

Arm augmentations are another feature, with my preference lying with the arm cannon and the mantis blades. The gorilla arms are useful for your boxing questline, and although the nanowire has been stripped of its remote hacking functionality, it is fun to use despite an overall weird hitbox. There are all okay, but I never really relied on any of these augmentations too much, other than the projectile launch system which felt a few tiers above the others in terms of damage potential. Speaking of combat, we have to talk about AI. The AI in cyberpunk is either not the greatest, or extremely buggy, or some combination of the two. Enemies are constantly blissfully unaware of everything around them and even trip over fallen comrades, but there will be times where they take cover, blind fire around walls, or become aggressive at the right moments. 

The problem is, that more often than not, they don’t do this. Police will spawn out of nowhere and kill you extremely fast, and the wanted system extends the length of a city block, where they will forget about your existence altogether. I’m also lukewarm on Driving. The driving isn’t awful, but the sensitive handling will make it feel like at times you are driving over a thick layer of ice, something that Night City obviously would never have been in California in the year 2077. This is made worse by the exclusion of a pan out feature on the minimap when driving and a GPS system that will have you doing circles around the city, or screeching on the brakes to make an exit at the last minute. The visual and sound design of the cars are a redeeming factor here, but driving in the city can bog down your experience if you are not paying very close attention. Finally, we have the flurry of bugs and performance issues. 

This is from someone playing on a PC with a 3080 and 3700x. They were enough to hamper my experience of the game, with the most annoying ones being audio bugs like combat music not ending when it should have, bugged main quest lines where an NPC would just stare me down, overlapping dialogues, the inability to choose a certain dialogue, pop in, clipping issues, open-world breaks in the forms of drivers grinding across barriers and more. I had a fair number of issues with performance as well, even with DLSS enabled. It did hurt my experience playing, and did not change drastically from my pre-release review copy into the latest patch which is 1.05. It’s gotten better, but not enough where I could say it was release ready. And this leads me to my conclusion on Cyberpunk 2077. 

The Final Verdict :

All in all, it makes me feel like at times I'm playing 2 different games. There is a clean, engaging main and side narrative here, but also a fragmented open world that could have benefitted from more of an evolution from CDPR’s last game. The more story-driven elements of the open-world are wondrous as is the world itself, but I can’t help but feel like CDPR just ran out of time here. The game in many ways is a shadow of what was promised in the 48-minute demo. In hindsight the marketing here was always going to be overpromising and underdelivering They really did themselves no service by claiming that Cyberpunk 2077 would be cutting edge in every single department. This includes making claims it's the most immersive world to date, knowing that the environment is not a sandbox and there will be comparisons to GTA. Despite all the negatives, CDPR also delivers on an overall fun and engaging experience and I’ve really really enjoyed my time with it. The stories, the characters, the diversity in combat, the city and structure of it, the graphical fidelity, and art design are all in a tier that gamers will notice as being a cut above, and in the grand scheme of things, it starts to blur some of the things Cyberpunk gets wrong. And at the end of the day, for me, that's what mattered. As I'm recording this audio my mind is not here. Maybe it's being housed in some crystalline matrix somewhere deep in the depths of Mikoshi, or maybe it's just lost on thoughts of Night City despite its flaws, inadequacies, and shortcomings. Thanks for watching, have a great holiday guys and I will see you in the new year for more Cyberpunk and more gaming.

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