After so many years of waiting, Cyberpunk 2077 has finally graced us with its presence. While its story and world are real delights, it’s hard to look past this game’s many technical problems — or to not wonder how many of them there were before if this is the finished version they chose to give to us.
We are truly humbled that so many of you trusted us and decided to support #Cyberpunk2077 before the release! Even 8 million thank yous isn’t enough! The journey has just begun and we are hard at work on the upcoming fixes and updates to the game. See you in Night City! pic.twitter.com/ycIe2kN0Zq
— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 10, 2020
Note that this isn’t a review: I haven’t played enough of the game to pass judgement on its story, or art direction, or gameplay. I also won’t spoil anything you haven’t already seen in the trailers or Night City Wire shows. But I can still give you my first impression, and that is… that this game is a buggy, broken, glitchy mess. I got more bugs in my first three hours of gameplay than I can recall getting in Skyrim or Fallout 4. Ordinarily, I’d be willing to excuse some of this, but the unique history of Cyberpunk 2077 leaves me rather unsympathetic.
Just to give you a quick rundown, in my first few hours of play the game outright crashed twice — granted one was as I was trying to quit, but that just makes it ironically funny. Characters will frequently hover around in order to hit their marks, or freeze in dominant T-poses. Animations routinely fail: during my first encounter with a major character who’s meant to be intimidating, his lip flaps stopped and he emoted at me like the world’s burliest ventriloquist. Other animation fails include a smoking character’s cigarette freezing in midair while her hand gesticulated around it, or another’s chopsticks freezing while he’s shoveling food into his mouth with nothing.
At least five or six characters walked through walls and closed doors, or got stuck in the scenery: At one point, I heard a character give me the angry “you just ran into me” dialog while walking on an empty staircase, and discovered she was somehow inside the staircase, and that dialog was triggered by me stepping on her head as it glitched through the floor. This isn’t even counting all the random NPCs who would randomly pop into existence close by me because the game forgot to spawn them in with the rest of the scenery. The framerate would also repeatedly drop below 10FPS for seemingly no reason at all.
And those are just the big, obvious ones. Another annoyance was that the game would repeatedly place trigger points or hitboxes nowhere near the objects to which they were supposed to be attached. While attempting to stealth kill an enemy, I practically crawled into his back pocket looking for the “Grab” prompt, but then turned 180 degrees and found the trigger point for it behind me. I tried to pick up a bottle of booze from my coffee table, and the game kept insisting I look several inches to its left before it would allow me to pick it up. Those got to me more than anything because they were everywhere.
I want to remind everyone that CDPR has been saying this game was “complete and playable” since January, when the game was originally delayed. That means, assuming that was the truth, they’ve had almost a year — a year of allegedly constant crunch time, no less — to fix the myriad problems with this game, and the fact that this is the best they could give us concerns me.
And I think CDPR knew that what they were giving us had problems. Let’s get a little “inside baseball” here and talk review codes. Several prominent outlets (including TNW) were not given codes ahead of release, and those that were were given PC codes — nobody got console codes. According to GI.biz, review sites were required to sign NDAs promising not to use any of their own video footage for reviews, but only the B-roll footage provided by CDPR. And now we know what that move was likely intended to hide.
Don’t get me wrong: I like the game just fine now that I’m actually playing it. The story and characters are winning me over, especially Keanu as the futuristic version of the elf ghost from Shadow of Mordor. I mean, I didn’t have high expectations — I found the marketing campaign, which insisted the games was brilliant no really you guys it just is, a little too No Man’s Sky — so there’s nowhere to go but up. But let’s be clear: CDPR has been trading on the promise that this game was going to rock our world for years, and I’m left unamused by what I got.
Cyberpunk 2077 feels like an essay that was turned in at 11:59pm on the due date. It’s still pretty good — even great at times — and given how much crunch happened behind the scenes I wish I could wholeheartedly recommend the game just because I feel bad for the developers. But this needed more time. This needed more work.