Several months on from its disastrous launch and subsequent removal from the PlayStation Store in December 2020, CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 is back and available for purchase on all PlayStation platforms.
Arguably one of the most anticipated games of modern times, Cyberpunk 2077’s launch was a landmark moment in gaming history, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Bugs, crashes, frame rate drops and a level of polish simply unacceptable in today’s market ensured that Cyberpunk became the laughingstock of the internet.
CDPR holds most of the responsibility for the level of disappointment, as its effective marketing campaign cleverly hid the reality that playing this game on last generation consoles proved an exercise in frustration. Review codes were only handed out to media outlets for the PC version of the game and many online content creators found themselves forbidden from using their own footage.
Playing this open world action game on last gen consoles (particularly base PS4 and Xbox models) was just not achievable to the level of quality promised from its marketing. The game was in a woeful state at launch and Sony seemingly agreed, as not long after in an unprecedented move they removed Cyberpunk 2077 from their online store, meaning no digital copy of the game could be purchased. (Physical copies bought through various retailers would still function.)
After numerous hot fixes and patches, CDPR seem marginally more confident in their game being at least playable on PlayStation platforms now. Still, a level of hesitation remains as on the purchasing page Sony gives the blatant warning that “Users continue to experience performance issues with this game. Purchase for use on PS4 systems is not recommended.”
Listed as £39.99 rather than the previous £59.99, Cyberpunk seems to have received a permanent decrease in price which is good to see and goes some way to showing an act of good faith to consumers who may have already been burnt by CDPR.
Recent testing of patch 1.23 does show an improvement on overall framerate and performance. Crashes appear to have been reduced and framerate hits around 30fps more frequently, but this has come at a heavy cost. Night City, arguably one of the game’s best features, feels like a ghost town with deserted streets and bare pavements. The lack of pedestrians is noticeable and deprives much of the atmosphere that CDPR obviously worked so hard to create.
Night City already suffered from a ‘look – don’t touch’ mentality, as the level of intractability with the city is much less than was perhaps expected. This is not a world created by Rockstar for instance and players should not expect that, but the bareness of the city on PS4 simply highlights this game’s design even more.
CDPR have not revealed sales figures and are unlikely to do so from this recent return. However, this has not done much to reinvigorate online enthusiasm for the game. As is to be expected after nearly 7 months, many players have moved from on Cyberpunk and it is going to take a colossal effort to bring those players back after such a rocky start.
We know that the developers are working on free DLCs, but there has been no word on when we can expect these to arrive. (For comparison, by this point post Witcher 3 launch, all of its free DLCs had been released, as had the first of its two major expansions – Heart of Stone.) CDPR have also promised a future next-gen upgrade to unlock the game’s true potential on next generation systems.
Redemption stories are not unheard of in the gaming industry. No Man’s Sky was a completely different game at launch than it is today, but games like this are the exception and not the rule. Often games with a rocky start never get the second chance they perhaps deserved. It is encouraging that even months on, the studio has voiced their commitment to the game but it leaves many wondering how much can it improve from here? And does it even deserve player’s attentions when CDPR management deliberately tried to downplay the game’s issues before launch?
If all future content for Cyberpunk 2077 is to be implemented onto last generation consoles, how much is this going to limit their creative potential? The base PS4 was released in 2013, how is hardware 8 years old going to manage when it struggles to even run at an acceptable level? These are questions CDPR have not answered and we will likely not know until we receive word on where the company wants to take Cyberpunk in the future.
But with lawsuits looming in the distance, this Polish studio still has a long way to go before the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 stops haunting their every step.