Finally, it has happened. CD Projekt RED has got out in front of the greatest problem with Cyberpunk 2077, and done the right thing. It’s years too late, of course – but the studio has finally done what it should’ve done before the game even released: it’s jettisoned the previous-generation versions.
Yesterday’s Night City Wire broadcast wasn’t exactly groundbreaking in its content, but it did contain exciting news for those who actually enjoyed the base Cyberpunk 2077. The live stream was mostly focused around promoting the imminent release of a Cyberpunk universe anime on Netflix – and in a cool twist, that animated show is entirely canon to the games, with designs and even some of the world layout ripped right from the digital version of Night City.
Bookending a whole lot of anime talk was a little bit of video game stuff, however – confirmation of a new patch which includes some new content based around the anime, and the reveal of Phantom Liberty, the hotly anticipated expansion for the game. We got to learn a little about this expansion, including the fact that it’ll be a sort of spy-thriller that sees V working for the US government, and confirmation that Keanu Reeves has returned to the recording booth to reprise his role as Johnny Silverhand for this new story.
All of this is good and all, but the most interesting thing about the DLC was the quiet confirmation that it’d be coming to PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Stadia. There will not be a version for PS4 or Xbox One.
This, finally, is Cyberpunk fulfilling its inevitable destiny. This, to be honest, is what CD Projekt RED should’ve seen part-way through development. All the pain and suffering the team has endured – and the suffering of players who could barely get the game to run – could really have been avoided if the company had realized earlier that the game it was building was just too much for the outgoing eighth generation hardware to handle. After launch, this fact was embodied by Sony straight-up putting out a statement recommending that Cyberpunk 2077 players on their platforms play on PS5 or PS4 Pro. The game wasn’t fit for the previous generation of hardware.
As somebody who played Cyberpunk 2077 on a high-end PC at launch and had a pretty bloody great time with it, it’s been relentlessly saddening to see people write the game off thanks to how terribly it ran and how shockingly it broke on the previous-generation of consoles. Deus Ex might’ve been the sci-fi dystopia series that went hard on the heavy-handed Icarus analogies, but it was Cyberpunk 2077 that flew too close to the sun with its insistence on retaining those versions. The burn CD Projekt sustained to its reputation is arguably worse than the sales hit it would’ve taken by focusing solely on the next generation.
This isn’t to say that Cyberpunk 2077 is perfect. It’s a solid experience, though I wouldn’t dare to claim that it’s as groundbreaking as The Witcher 3. It’s full of interesting characters, concepts, and story execution, however, and I really appreciate how it’s a gun-driven, first-person open-world game that is nevertheless a full-fat RPG – to the point where cracking the game’s combat balance like an egg is one of the most fun things to do to it. The state it launched in on console is disgraceful – but the biggest shame is that not only did players deserve better, but so too did the game itself.
In many ways it’s now too little, too late. The damage is done. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. But as somebody who wants to see CD Projekt return to expand this world further and not simply return to the Witcher with its tail between its legs, I really hope that this expansion and focusing on hardware that can actually run the game properly will allow for the game to be at least partially reassessed apart from this, on its many interesting strengths and weaknesses outside of technical performance.
Regardless of if that happens, though, I’ll be there day one for the Phantom Liberty DLC. I enjoyed my time with this game, and in this world – and I look forward to returning to it. Maybe this time, I’ll even chance a full play-through on console.
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