Cyberpunk 2077 works now, but its real strengths and weaknesses remain unchanged
Cyberpunk 2077 was an infuriating mess in so some ways when I reviewed it on the finish of 2020, however a humorous factor would occur each time I might cease enjoying it. All of the T-posed NPCs, floataway physics bugs and crashes-to-desktop can be misplaced in time, like tears in rain. What remained was the deep appreciation I had for its story and characters, and a longing to revisit Evening Metropolis.
So I’ve. After final week’s patch 1.5 promised extra fixes, a refreshed perk tree and improved AI, I puzzled if I would lastly be capable of champion the first-person RPG with out caveats. The reply just isn’t a easy sure or no – however the checklist of caveats is certainly quite a bit shorter.
This is not Cyberpunk’s first replace since launch, clearly. Patch 1.2 already introduced a number of hundred fixes, wiping away essentially the most egregious launch errors – together with fixing quests which, on my unique playthrough, merely could not be completed.
Alongside one other stack of fixes, patch 1.5 makes substantive adjustments to Cyberpunk’s techniques. These adjustments are a lot wanted, at the least in concept. At launch, 2077 was a nice RPG within the sense that it gave you a wealthy world to discover, an attention-grabbing character to inhabit, and a number of other dozens of hours of quests which might spin in wild instructions based mostly in your choices.
It was additionally a reasonably garbage RPG anytime a quantity was concerned: its weapons had been a soup of barely distinguishable DPS stats, till out of the blue you had been overpowered; its economic system saved you poor till it very out of the blue did not anymore (and largely appeared there to promote you uninspiring vehicles); and its perks had been both unexciting minor share tweaks or totally ineffective.
Patch 1.5 goals to deal with the perk tree particularly, and it’s higher now. A perk like Commando, which made you undetectable whereas underwater in a sport wherein you are nearly by no means underwater, is gone. It has been changed by “Wanting Sharp”, a perk that permits you to use throwing knives to blind enemies. It’s roughly a kajillion instances extra helpful, and the type of means you’ll be able to really feel opening up new choices as quickly as you unlock it.
Likewise, a perk like Lightning Bolt – a piddly 3% improve to crit probability for tech weapons – has been changed by Draw The Line, which helps you to see the trajectory of ricochet weapons earlier than you hearth. I am joyful anytime a small share improve perk is binned, and the alternative right here makes a enjoyable fight trick simpler to do often.
Do these adjustments flip levelling in Cyberpunk 2077 right into a wealthy train in defining your playstyle? Sadly not, as a result of the adjustments nonetheless do not – and certain cannot – go far sufficient. A whole lot of the remaining perks proceed to supply simply small share tweaks, and in a sport the place your actions are additionally being formed by weapon stats and put in cyberware, the affect of your choices within the perk tree nonetheless by no means really feel satisfying. I invested most of my factors within the “Annihilation” tree this time, the title of which alone suggests thrilling issues, however more often than not I could not inform the distinction after unlocking a brand new perk there. Am I actually now reloading shotguns 10% sooner after killing an enemy? For those who say so, Cybes.
On paper, patch 1.5’s AI adjustments deal with a extra obtrusive set of omissions from the unique launch. In follow, whereas enemies are apparently now smarter throughout fight, it is one other factor I did not actually observed whereas enjoying. I did discover pedestrians performing extra intelligently. It was potential to cease your automobile in Cyberpunk’s launch construct and block each automobile behind you for eternity. Now, NPC drivers will again up and attempt to drive round you. Likewise, for those who aimed your gun at a driver within the unique sport, they’d cowl their face with their fingers like a toddler who thinks you’ll be able to’t see them if they can not see you. In 1.5, they will flee, slamming their automobile by way of you and some other impediment as a way to escape.
Sure, Cyberpunk 2077 has lastly achieved parity with Grand Theft Auto 3 from 2001, and the outcome does enliven any struggle you have got in an space the place pedestrians are round, as their panic can immediate explosive chaos.
Nonetheless. Nonetheless! Right here is my daring and articulate counterpoint: …who cares? Regardless of being a de facto function of these-sorts-of-games for over twenty years, none of my actual frustrations with the unique launch associated to unresponsive NPCs. All of those AI tweaks really feel like adjustments that look good in YouTube comparability movies, however do little to substantively change or enhance the precise expertise of enjoying Cyberpunk.
Which is kind of the issue with replace 1.5 on the whole. As one other instance, you’ll be able to lease completely different residences now, one other function that I’ve by no means thought the sport wanted.
Actually, with the ability to concurrently lease 5 completely different residences undermines plenty of what I like about Cyberpunk 2077’s story. Evening Metropolis is gorgeous however deafening, and the individuals who dwell in it – notably the poor – are commodified and killed by firms who act not merely like governments, however as gods. V and her pals, Johnny Silverhand included, all try to transcend their setting by turning into “legends”, whether or not by enriching themselves by way of crime or by committing violent acts of riot, but all are proven again and again that the one transcendence obtainable is thru their connection to 1 one other.
I like this shit, as a result of I like rain-soaked neon nearly as a lot as I like sentimental paeans to enduring human kindness. Cyberpunk 2077 does an unusually coherent job of speaking these themes throughout its 30-hours of missions, too. So it is a disgrace that it is now a tad undermined by V proudly owning extra flats than a Tory MP. Put one other method, it is like Solely Fools And Horses – V is Rodney, Johnny Silverhand is Del-Boy, FYI – and identical to Solely Fools And Horses, it is shit once they truly succeed at getting wealthy.
As a substitute, there is a a lot smaller change that I feel works a lot better in 1.5: now, typically while you fall asleep in your mattress, you will get up to search out your companion sleeping alongside you. That is it.
So, can I now champion Cyberpunk 2077 with out caveats? It undoubtedly works quite a bit higher than it did. You may full all of the quests, I encountered no unusual physics glitches, and I noticed just one T-pose (within the GIF above). That is clearly excellent news.
Past these simple fixes, Cyberpunk 2077 stays a messy, mediocre RPG in the case of the methods its fight and development interlock. Whereas 1.5’s tweaks to these techniques make marginal enhancements, it does not – and certain cannot – deal with the issues totally.
But in fact, I am able to jettison the caveats anyway. Cyberpunk 2077 works now, and I can settle for the failings which stay as a result of the bits of it that basically matter to me, the bits of it which have caught with me, are precisely as nice now as they at all times had been. For its world, story and characters, it is best to play Cyberpunk now.