Cyberpunk 2077 has seen significant attention for the past few months, thanks to its upcoming expansion, Phantom Liberty. Releasing on September 26th for PS5, PC and Xbox Series X/S, it introduces a brand new district, Dogtown; a new storyline centred on NUSA president Rosalind Myers; and new features like the Relic Tree with unique new powers for players to master. Impressions thus far have been positive, but that’s only half of the marketing juggernaut.
The other half is update 2.0, a major new patch which adds several new gameplay features and revamps others. It adds vehicular combat and car chases while overhauling the police system, finally adding high-intensity pursuits into the game and epic threats like MaxTac. It also redesigns all of the Skill trees and perks while reimagining Cyberware as a capacity system akin to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (with negative effects occurring if you cross the limit). This is on top of several changes to the UI, loot, crafting and much more.
The update is free for all players, and the extent of its changes is so deep that it’s recommended to start a brand-new playthrough. It’s planned to go live sometime before Phantom Liberty (with CD Projekt RED revealing more details on its release later this week).
It’s all bittersweet in a sense. Nowadays, Cyberpunk 2077 is compared to Bethesda’s Starfield, with many noting how inferior the latter is with its water effects, physics, etc. However, it was only a few years ago that CD Projekt RED faced that same level of scrutiny with the base game’s release. Whether it was the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Redemption 2 or even The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Cyberpunk 2077 was compared to several older titles and considered “humiliating” with what it offered in terms of features and immersion.
Positive impressions of its graphics, gunplay and story-telling shifted towards criticism of its development process, gameplay systems, polish and lacklustre features, a sizable shift was occurring within CD Projekt RED. The company suffered severe backlash in the wake of not delivering on promises, especially with the performance of previous-gen ports.
Remember that official current-gen versions weren’t available, so it wasn’t properly optimized for Xbox Series X/S and PS5 either. Though a negligible amount of consumers pursued a refund, Cyberpunk 2077 still had the dubious honor of being removed from the PlayStation Store due to its overly buggy nature.
Even if you seemingly faced no issues with the title, several basic features like reallocating perk points, improved zoom level for the mini-map, a barber to change your hairstyle and more accessibility settings were still wanted. Heck, some people just wanted more autosave and quick save slots. Others wanted game-breaking progression blockers fixed and the driving, especially on bikes, to feel better.
While some of these issues seemed easier than others to address, it felt almost impossible that the FPS/RPG would recover or that CD Projekt RED would ever deliver on its initial potential. Over time, changes were made to the development team’s leadership and issues like crunch began to be addressed. There were also updates to improve performance on all platforms while fixing the myriad bugs. But new content was a ways off, and the initially promised multiplayer was shifted to the wayside as the developer focused more on addressing the current game’s technical state.
However, the tide slowly shifted, starting with patch 1.3 in 2021. It delivered numerous quality-of-life changes, addressing many of the previously mentioned issues while adding new items, rebalancing loot and perks, improving performance and stability, etc. No, it didn’t let you ride the metro or suddenly introduce lots of new quests and branching decisions into the title, but it was some much-needed TLC.
In 2022, CD Projekt RED released another massive update in patch 1.5. It added the long-awaited support for current-gen consoles completed with ray tracing and several more new features. Players could now purchase apartments and even interact with different things for unique buffs, and parts of V’s appearance could be adjusted. There were new weapons and attachments, not to mention improvements to the world and driving model, and NPCs now responded realistically to danger.
However, perhaps the biggest update would be patch 1.6, aka the Edgerunners update. Studio Trigger’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners anime resulted in a resurgence of interest in the title, and it was the perfect opportunity to highlight just how much better Cyberpunk 2077 had become. Of course, the fact that patch 1.6 added new weapons, gigs, and long-awaited features like transmog and a playable arcade game also didn’t hurt. More than anything, all the little changes stood out, from the improved enemy animations and visual details to the effects and attention to detail. It felt like Night City was finally coming alive.
Cyberpunk 2077’s reputation did improve as a result, and CD Projekt RED would improve its development process behind the scenes. Issues like crunch are still a concern but have noticeably declined. CD Projekt would also announce new projects like Project Orion, a sequel to Cyberpunk 2077 that would prove the “full power and potential” of the universe.
Following the release of Phantom Liberty, CD Projekt will shift more of its developers to new projects like Project Polaris, the next sequel in The Witcher series. Sure, there will be patches and support, but Phantom Liberty is the only expansion that Cyberpunk 2077 gets. From that perspective, update 2.0 could be the last major update for the FPS/RPG as we know it.
So the question is: Can the update finally redeem Cyberpunk 2077 and deliver on Night City’s promise, which we all fell for back in 2020? The answer, as always, is complicated.
For many, patch 1.6 and its subsequent hotfixes and improvements have already turned the game into a worthwhile experience. They would consider the title already redeemed. However, for others, it looks like everything that the initial release owed them. Regardless, for CD Projekt RED, the update and Phantom Liberty are an opportunity to make things right with fans.
We probably won’t see the next major step of the franchise until Project Orion rolls around. However, update 2.0 offers promise, both in realizing what Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay could deliver and what the current development team is capable of going forward.
Redemption is always a difficult proposition, especially given the lengthy period of atonement the various developers have faced after suffering mismanagement and crunch. Nevertheless, as Cyberpunk 2077’s development begins to wind down, it’s a strong note to go out on and a commitment that such an unprecedented release, despite its initial success, never happens again.
Of course, we’ll need to wait for update 2.0 to see how much it affects the game. There are bound to be issues which require subsequent patches and fixes. That’s not including how Phantom Liberty will affect everything and whether it stands out, especially in a year with so many games pushing the boundaries of what video games can achieve. However, being excited about something from CD Projekt RED and how enjoyable it could be, instead of worrying about how hard its developers had to crunch or how buggy the release will be, is a nice change of pace.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.