You know that meme of Obi Wan and Anakin on Mustafar where Obi Wan opines about Anakin being the chosen one? Well that’s KIND of how the gaming community seems to be reacting to the recent “onslaught” of news about the rather sizably fucked launch of Cyberpunk 2077. I mean, this was supposed to be the game of games. The perfect bridge between the passing generation to the latest incoming one. CD Projekt Red has been developing this title for about a decade if not longer, and while long development cycles don’t necessarily dictate a rainbow at the end of the tunnel… a studio this venerable usually garners enough trust from the fans to assume everything is okay. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is very widely regarded as one of the best games of the entire Xbox One/PS4 generation of gaming. CDPR was very good to its fan releasing free DLC content, regularly patching and upgrading the game and just generally being viewed as a studio that really catered to its fans before their own shareholders bottom line. So, when they kept announcing delay after delay for Cyberpunk 2077, everyone just trusted that they kept pushing the release back further to ensure we get the most polished and playable version of their product that they can muster. They earned that praise and trust with interest….
And they managed to burn it all to the ground and piss on the ashes in a matter of less than 2 weeks.
The first sign that maybe the game was in trouble came when they started sending out review codes to content creators and influencers all around the internet. When it comes to pre-release content and reviews, typically Studios will send out codes for both PC and Console versions so video Game journo’s can get you their advanced opinions and inform you on whether or not your purchase was well warranted. This is a pretty standard practice in this internet day and age we live in. However, Cyberpunk 2077 was a unique case as CDPR only sent out advance codes to creators for the PC version and restricted them even further by providing them with b-roll footage from the game and not allowing them to use their own captured footage when creating video reviews. CDPR assured us that the game would run fine on the Xbox One/PS4 generation of consoles and be even better on the Series X/S and PS5. Again, we took them at their word due to the hyper excitement surrounding the game and their history with delivering fan favorite games. So, the warning signs started popping but we kind of ignored them all the same.
However, the dam finally burst open and even after 3 delays this year alone, even after all the promises the studio spoon fed us, EVEN after all the red flags kept going up and we just straight ignored them… we finally got a glimpse and what was really being sold to us….
And holy fuck it has been an epic shitstorm the likes of which the gaming world hasn’t seen in a long time. I mean the disparity between the different platform versions of this game are in a word…. unreal. I get now why CDPR only sent out PC codes to reviewers as it seems that is the most optimal way to play the game. It still comes with glitches and various bugs, but playing Cyberpunk on a computer seems like the best way to go for now. It also plays fairly decently on the next gen consoles as well. Let me be clear though, the game hasn’t been optimized for this new hardware yet. Essentially, you’re playing the previous generation of the game running in backwards compatibility mode on the newer hardware. The upside to this is that the game is very smartly aware of the new specs powering its software and runs relatively painless on both platforms. I’ve been playing it on both the PS5 and Xbox Series S and both consoles have their ups and downs but there is one that runs the game in a more stable environment and you’d actually be surprised which one it is.
PS5 has an uncapped frame rate which boosts it all the way to 60fps and “largely” stays there. Certain gun fights and action spectacle heavy set pieces will see some drops into the low 50’s but certainly nothing that takes you out of the experience or drops the immersion in anyway. The downside to this is that the graphical fidelity leaves a little something to be desired. The actual resolution doesn’t seem to really reach any higher than 1080p which kind of sucks seeing as most PS5 games…even ones in back compatibility mode come packed with some sort of Graphical Fidelity mode vs Performance Mode. Sadly, this one just comes packed with the one mode. The Series X outputs a Fidelity vs Performance option so its weird that its omitted-on PlayStation. Circling back around to the Xbox Series S is where I noticed a rather sizable and pleasant surprise. CP2077 runs at a locked 30fps but its graphical fidelity reaches somewhere around the 1144-1440p resolution scaling. Its dynamic so the resolution isn’t locked, but again like the frame rate on the PS5… it largely hits this mark and stays there. I’ve always been something of a gamer that prefers a smoother performance over a sharper image… but this version running on the Series S in all honesty runs sooooo much more stable and smooth than the PS5 version even though the Series S doesn’t have the same GPU power of the PS5.
It’s when you get to the older consoles that the true tale of this disastrous launch really begins to take shape…. or lack of shape in CP2077’s case. I installed the game on my old as dirt Ps4 Slim and the horrors that awaited me we’re straight out of an HP Lovercraft horror story. Texture’s took almost a full minute to pop in, loading times we’re slow as molasses, near constant hard crashes, visual glitches that break the world immersion, progression blockers that would simply prevent you from completing the game. The ways in which the previous generation version of this game is broken is not something that can be waved away in some bugs and tech glitches. This is the tale of a game that in all honesty seems like it was forgotten about. It was as if the technical ambition that CDPR had in place was way beyond the means of the older hardware, which is fine but then you have to start making hard choices about perhaps maybe aiming your title at hardware specs that could handle the load. The major downside is that CP2077 has been in development long before the PS5 and The Xbox Series X/S were even in development themselves. There was a point in this game’s life cycle where the base PS4 and Xbox One were the target platforms. If that’s the case, then you really begin to wonder what the hell was going on behind the scenes at the studio.
As matters stand right now, it really looks as if CDPR kind of abandoned the older generation of hardware all together and focused most of their fire on PC and also the new generation of consoles as well. This in and of itself is also problematic because the install base of PS4 users versus PS5 users right now is so skewed in the older consoles favor that there’s no way they thought this gambit would be pay off. Sure, the people with their shiny new consoles would have a playable game with some funny glitchy animations but that’s at most 15 million consoles created for this particular launch cycle versus the probably 100+ million Ps4/Xbox One consoles already in existence. If they really wanted this game to be a success on the level everyone up until this point assumed it would be, they really should have paid more attention to those consoles as that’s the widest possible audience that will be plunking down their hard-earned cash to play the game.
Instead, with the state the game is in currently not only are fans revolting around the world, but it would seem that CDPR are now in an extreme state of ruin and things have been getting progressively worse every day since launch. Their stock’s have tumbled nearly 30% and the scathing public reaction to the game has caused Microsoft and Sony to drastically alter their returns policy for those who purchased the game. Sony has, as of yesterday, taken this even a step further by de-listing CP2077 from all its digital based marketplaces, meaning that if you haven’t gotten a copy yet… the only way to do so now is to buy it in store somewhere.
I cannot overstate how unprecedented this whole situation is. Cyberpunk 2077 went from being one of the most hotly anticipated titles of all time to an absolute dumpster fire of a launch. CD Projekt Red was a gaming studio that was viewed as a champion of the consumer and the fan. This was going to be the game by which all future games would be judged and sadly none of that has come to fruition. What we got in its wake will undoubtedly be remembered as perhaps the punctuation mark on a year that was littered with various garbage situations. So, can we really be surprised given all that’s happened?
Honestly, my overall experience with Cyberpunk 2077 has not been a negative one. However, I also have the benefit of running the game on next generation hardware which the majority of gamers do not have the luxury of. So, while I can still enjoy the game and its myriad of eccentricities, I recognize that I’m in the minority here. If I paid 60 dollars for a game that came as broken as this does I’d be pissed. There are probably going to be millions of people that will have this game wrapped under a Christmas tree waiting for them to open and play it. The thought makes me sad to think that those excited to play Cyberpunk are in for a rude awakening.
While there has been plenty of blame being thrown at the studio for their mishandling of the development of this game, their insanely anti-employee crunch policies, their flat-out misrepresentation of the product itself and their continued lies and deceptions in the marketing of the game, we as gamers have to shoulder some of this responsibility as well. A 10-year cycle of development is going to naturally foster some pretty unrealistic expectations and we as gamers and consumers of said product have to learn to check some of that expectation at the door. Yes, the developer does have to answer for their part in this too. They promised us a product that they simply did not deliver on, and I believe they are paying the steep price for all the corners they cut for this.
The community has to accept that they have their own stake in this mess too. Any piece of entertainment whether it be a movie or a song or a video game cannot be everything to everyone. I totally get the need to hit the widest possible audience but sometimes that’s just not possible. CDPR tried to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to Cyberpunk’s cross generational capabilities. They tried to fart out a very middling borderline unplayable last gen experience while touting the awesomeness of the PC and next gen console variants as well. Thinking maybe people would be so awe struck by how awesome the game was that people would be willing to let go of the last gen deficiencies. Yet, they still woefully failed in their mission and while this version of the game is certainly more manageable and not a near fatal car wreck of a situation, it’s still a catastrophic mess any way you slice it.
The game that was shipped and sold to fans is not a game that spends 10 years in development and still turns out half baked. You can’t use Co-vid as an excuse because even with the pandemic still in full effect there are still plenty of studios that managed to successfully develop, ship and support their video game releases to great success. So, what really gives? How was the ball fumbled this hard? This was a Triple A multi-billion-dollar enterprise that everyone and their mothers was anticipating on some level. This was to be the perfect capstone to a year that felt like a 365-day long kick in the knackers with a steel toed boot. Does this whole she-bang warrant the vitriol of the fans? Was it necessary for Sony to de-list the game from its own digital store? IS the game honestly that bad? The answer to all of these questions is a flat NO. The game is still fun and entertaining despite its flaws and quirks. It has problems but nothing that absolutely breaks the fun of running around a world that blends the best parts of Blade Runner, Grand Theft Auto and Fallout. I think the actions taken by Sony are ever so slightly an over-reaction. There have been plenty of other games way more broken than this that have never been taken down. Fallout 76 and Anthem are both games that were launched in even more broken states than Cyberpunk is and those were never taken down or the founding developers didn’t see fit to advertise gamers get refunds for the broken product. So yes, right now it’s easy to dogpile on CD Projekt Red for the absolute fuck up that is the Cyberpunk launch, but at least they’re trying to make amends along with Sony and Microsoft which is more than I can say for the half assed garbage Todd Howard was trying to peddle in the wake of the Fallout 76 failure.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a good game that got the short shrift. I do believe in redemption stories and I do think this game will eventually get to a point that the world over can celebrate its awesomeness all together but right now that particular ending is a long way off. This was a bungled mess that could have been easily avoided had CD Projekt Red let their developers take the time to polish as much as they could have to give us the best possible experience we’ve been waiting for. Instead, the studio heads and shareholders rushed out a product THEY KNEW wasn’t finished just so they could line the coffers and make as much profit as they could before the end of the quarter. Now because their greed won out over their drive to please the fans that MAKE THEM THEIR MONEY, the reputation of the entire studio is a smoldering ruin of what it was not even a full month ago. Yes, the game can be fixed and we can eventually get what we are owed… but right now CD Projekt Red really fucked up and have every right to be feeling the sting of this one square on the keester.