Ireviewed Cyberpunk 2077’s PS4 version upon its launch back in December 2020, and to say the very least, I was not impressed. For starters, it was an absolute technical mess, riddled from head to toe with glitches ang bugs of all manner, from the small, annoying ones to much larger issues that pervaded the entire experience on a much deeper level, like constant crashes. So poor was the state that Cyberpunk 2077 launches in on last-gen consoles, in fact, that Sony ended up outright delisting the game from PlayStation Store not long after its release, and it didn’t return until several months later.
Then, a little over a year later, in early 2022, Cyberpunk 2077 came to current-gen consoles with several patches under its belt, but in my review of the PS5 version, I was still far from enamoured with the game. Sure, over the course of several months, CD Projekt RED had eliminated many of the action RPG’s biggest technical issues, but many of my problems with the original experience had had as much to do with its design and gameplay choices as they did with its technical state.
By this point, I had become convinced that CD Projekt RED would never be able to truly deliver on the lofty promises it made for Cyberpunk 2077 in the lead-up to its launch. Even if it was polished to a sheen, there were significant issues with the game’s open world, moment-to-moment gameplay, RPG mechanics, and much more that I felt would always exist, short of a total redesign, which you hardly ever see for single player games in particular.
"Across a number of areas, Cyberpunk 2077’s newest update has made radical improvements, whether that’s through the collective efforts of a number of smaller iterations or through surprisingly in-depth overhauls of entire systems. The result is a far, far better game that comes much closer to hitting the highs that CDPR had promised it would nearly three years ago."
And yet, that’s exactly what CDPR has done. Cyberpunk 2077’s Update 2.0 launched recently, only for PC and current-gen consoles, and where previous patches for the game were largely focused on polishing up the experience and ironing out its technical deficiencies, 2.0 turns its attention to the actual gameplay experience. Across a number of areas, Cyberpunk 2077’s newest update has made radical improvements, whether that’s through the collective efforts of a number of smaller iterations or through surprisingly in-depth overhauls of entire systems. The result is a far, far better game that comes much closer to hitting the highs that CDPR had promised it would nearly three years ago.
Take Night City, for instance. Even back at launch, Cyberpunk 2077’s open world looked excellent and boasted some truly outstanding art design, but the open world experience was, sadly, let down by a number of issues nonetheless. There was minimal interactivity, the environments, even though they looked cool, felt static and lifeless, and on the whole, it just felt like a very shallow open world experience. After Update 2.0, however, Night City is not only a place that’s great to look at, but also one that’s a lot of fun to be in. No, it doesn’t have the emergent reactivity that you’d expect from many other modern open worlds – that’s not the kind of experience Cyberpunk 2077 was ever really going for – but now, finally, Night City feels incredibly alive.
Crowds are much denser, making it feel like a true megacity of the future, and the general AI of NPCs does a much better job of selling that vision, from the general chatter you here around you to how busy each location is to how NPCs react to your actions. A full-fledged police system is also now included, and though it’s far from perfect, it’s a significant step up nonetheless. Yes, police vehicles sometimes have trouble with pathfinding, and yes, it’s still all too easy to lose your wanted level (simply walk into a shop or an owned apartment), but cops no longer simply spawn in and out of existence, and they do put up a fight and become increasingly more threatening as your wanted level increases, especially if you end up locking horns with MaxTac, while the introduction of vehicular combat also adds extra spice to the police chases. So no, it’s not exactly GTA, but the new wanted system does make feel Night City like a much more real place.
"It doesn’t have the emergent reactivity that you’d expect from many other modern open worlds – that’s not the kind of experience Cyberpunk 2077 was ever really going for – but now, finally, Night City feels incredibly alive."
Another area where Cyberpunk 2077 has made significant improvements is with its RPG mechanics, thanks to a complete overhaul of its skill trees. You still have the same five attributes pertaining to different paths of upgrades, each having its own tree, but the improvements made to the progress systems are numerous. The rewards you get for unlocking perks, for instance, are much more- well, rewarding. That remains true regardless of whether you’re unlocking starting perks or are significantly deeper in a specific tree, with the game requiring you to put some actual thought into how you spend your skill points and attribute points. Not only is it a much cleaner and more engaging progression system, the results it produces are also much more tangible, with the game now boasting legitimate build variety in a way it never could before.
Clear improvements are easy to spot when it comes to the moment-to-moment gameplay as well. Specifically, combat and stealth in Cyberpunk 2077 are now an absolute blast. Some things that the game did get right even in its original, less-than-stellar form was the variety of weapons the game offered and how good pretty much every single one of them felt to use- but the AI in the game was, in a word, terrible, which felt combat and stealth encounters had next to no bite. Now, with enemies being much more aggressive and much better suited to dealing with the threat you pose, every combat encounter comes with a heathy dose of blistering adrenaline.
Where stealth is concerned, significant improvements made to hacking prove to be game-changing- like being able to stack quickhacks, making it much easier for you to focus on dealing with threats from a distance without having to engage in combat. Such improvements combine with the game’s much more robust and flexible progression mechanics, as well as its remarkable AI upgrades, to make stealth feel like more viable option than it ever did in the past.
"With enemies being much more aggressive and much better suited to dealing with the threat you pose, every combat encounter comes with a heathy dose of blistering adrenaline."
Of course, there are some areas of Cyberpunk 2077 that Update 2.0 doesn’t touch, and no potential future update likely will- like its story, its quests, and its side quests. And on that front, what was true in 2020 remains true today. Cyberpunk 2077 tells a solid enough story in its own right, and boasts some genuinely compelling characters that are both, well-acted and well-written. Even so, where its narrative and choice and consequence mechanics are concerned, the game doesn’t come close to matching the ridiculously high standards CD Projekt RED set for itself with The Witcher 3. Then again, if you’re looking for something that’s closer to that level where storytelling quality is concerned, Cyberpunk 2077’s excellent expansion, Phantom Liberty, is definitely worth looking into.
Is Cyberpunk 2077 an all-time great? No, probably not. Should it have been in a significantly better state back when it first launched? Absolutely, yes- that much will always be true. But by now, is it safe to say that the game has redeemed itself? Up until this point, nearly three years’ worth of improvements and polishing hadn’t done much to convince me of that. Now, however, it’d be foolish to deny it- Cyberpunk 2077 has indeed redeemed itself. Even if it doesn’t touch the heights that we were once told by CDPR it would, it comes quite close, and is unequivocally and undeniably a legitimately good game, one that cannot be recommended without any major, significant caveats. Not only has it polished itself by a great degree (even though it does still have some bugs here and there, most of which are the kind you’d expect to see in most open world games), it has also examined the parts of itself that were decidedly underbaked and made far bigger improvements to them than I had expected it ever would.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Night City is a much more fun open world to exist in, thanks to better crowds, reactivity, and a new Police system; Overhauled progression mechanics are significantly more rewarding and engaging; Impressive build variety; Combat and stealth feel much better thanks to a number of key improvements; A solid enough story in its own right, with some legitimately good characters.
New Police system doesn't push back as much as it should; Still has a few bugs; The original version's storytelling issues still exist.