After years of excitement and anticipation for this wildly ambitious title, Cyberpunk 2077 is here to many fans’ dismay or enjoyment, depending on who you ask. While the game is best experienced on the PC, past gen consoles don’t leave much desired. However, I will tackle the current-gen console of the PlayStation 5 for the game for this review. In contrast, some may be turned off by the incredible mucky glitches and bugs that plague the PS4. If you managed to snag a PS5 or Xbox Series X before the scalpers, you might be in luck with Cyberpunk 2077. Although the past-gen consoles are suffering, the current-gen is playable even with a few technical hiccups. A caveat for high-end tech, the game is progressing with every new update. Even though bugs and glitches persist on PS5, the game can still be enjoyable.
While this is not a “true” PS5 version of the game, this review will be based on the backward compatible feature on a PS4 copy. I will also be basing this review on the base game up to the current patch of version 1.06 of the time of this review. As for the game itself, I would happily say that Cyberpunk 2077 has a world worth exploring despite its slight performance shortcomings.
It’s been a while since I have spent so much time immersed in an ecosystem like Night City. However, while the setting is massive in scope, the rich details, addictive gameplay, and compelling storytelling bring things to a personal level. One that benefits from the choices you make and how it affects the environment around you. The area tells a story itself that grabs hold of you from beginning to end. Over 60 hours within the game between the campaign and many activities, I feel I just scratched the surface of this world.
If you are interested, check our PC review for the game.
Story – Welcome To The Night Life, Baby!
The story within Cyberpunk is pretty straightforward on paper. You play as V, a cutthroat mercenary working the underground streets of Night City. A high tech metropolis of gang activity, corporate takeover, and adult-rated suggestive themes. Basically, a hacker’s wildest dreams. You can choose to either play as a male or female with plenty of customizable tools at your disposal. Along with your character, you are given an option of a trio of lifepaths to choose from. You can choose to be a Streetkid, a true underdog story to make it big in the big city; you can live in higher-ups as a Corpo agent, or if both of the choices sound unappealing to you, try the Nomad lifestyle. It entirely up to you. All three offer unique perspectives as well as offer different dialogue choices and side quests.
No matter what you choose, however, you will eventually cross paths with Jackie Welles: a stand-up guy with a big heart and a pension for danger. This danger takes you down the main plot, which involves trust and finding real purpose within an ever-evolving city. After a heist gone wrong, V finds themselves at a dead-end of a botched plan with nothing guiding them except good old Johnny Silverhand (played by Keanu Reeves) literally eating away at your conscience. While Reeves is not dodging bullets in slow motion or exacting revenge for his dead puppy this time around, he acts as a voice of reason and a pure narcissist that antagonizes you every step of the way. You have to deal with this dilemma because of “The Relic,” also known as the corrupt chip within your very own noggin.
Silverhand also chimes in on the situation that you are in. Always pitching in his two cents and give an opinion. Whether you agree with him is up to you. I found this quite interesting because if I didn’t listen to his advice, he does not shy away from letting me know how he feels, usually in the form of an insult or words that I can’t write in this article. V and Silverhand’s constant bickering are some other best moments and dialogue within the game.
Exploring Outside The Main Story
Although the primary narrative focuses on the dysfunctional relationship between V and Silverhand, Night City offers tons of lore and stories worth diving into, which is where the game shines the most. I found myself getting deeper into conversations that were being told and thinking about the choices I made. In many ways, I have either stood by my decisions or regretted them. Of course, you could replay those scenarios through past auto or manual saves, but it’s best to witness the consequences as they play out. The way people reach you is through cell phone calls and messages. On the surface, this may seem inorganic, but I like this aspect of the game. Given that this is 2077 after all, I mostly reflect on today and how social media and cellphone use enslaves our minds on a daily basis. I can only imagine technology usage in 2077.
The side missions themselves are spread out across the map, some you will discover, and others will come over time as you develop more street credit. Gigs are given from Fixers, which hires you to do their dirty work. It pays well in good eddies (Cyberpunk‘s currency), but the gigs themselves reward you with backstory, interesting dialogue, and choices. In one case, I had to rescue a doctor in trouble only for a scenario to break out where I help or refuse to save a vicious enemy. These scenarios made things far more interesting than going from point A to B. It made me value these smaller jobs more as I played along with the campaign.
Branching Storylines and Character Dynamics
Gigs are one thing, complete storylines are another. Night City is full of them, many of which have branching storylines and paths that don’t intertwine with one another. In one moment you get a call about an investigation over a mayor’s untimely demise. You are forced to team up with an NCPD officer to explore clues and whereabouts of the case. However, instead of having the same officer be a “one and done” character, he now requests your assistance for a slew of new objectives.
Meanwhile, the point of contact who reached out to you before has another task for you that doesn’t involve the officer. I found this far more interesting than random pop-up missions you would discover in outer open-world games. It feels organic and kept me more invested in finding out more about these characters and situations. In some cases, you can even romance characters the deeper you go within their questline. Such as Panam. A woman with a spicy attitude and a caring heart. I love me some Panam.
It’s a great idea to take advantage of these opportunities. If you do, you will discover a deep, meaningful relationship with these characters; you wouldn’t expect this at first glance. Along with strong character development and growth, the further you progress through their storylines. Of course, all these missions are entirely optional. Some are undiscoverable, depending on the choices you make beforehand. I could follow the fixer’s assignment and kill the convicted killer. However, another option is I could hear him out and discover his path of redemption. Had I chose the execution method, I wouldn’t gain any new missions, dialogue options, or rewards—meaning your choices matter within the game. Not all scenarios are black and white, either. It mostly rests on your instincts and what benefits you the most. The choices you make have an impact and tie in the many multiple endings.
Gameplay – Silently Or Bold, You Choose
Of course, with the narrative being heavy in dialogue and lore centric in Cyberpunk 2077, it’s an RPG at heart with a First Person Shooter brain attached to it. Within Night City, you are offered a plethora of weapons at your disposal. There is a vast assortment of assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, and melee weapons to get your hands on. All follow a rarity system from basic to legendary or iconic armaments. Some of these weapons can be found in the city through crates or vendors and looted off defeated enemies. However, there is a catch; if you are not a high level or have a high enough street credit, you may not gain access to these weapons. You can keep them, but till you get to a certain level, they are a keepsake.
Level not only affects what weapons you can use, but it can also affect how you explore the world of Night City. The map will indicate where areas can oppose danger from very low to very high. I found this component very discouraging. I wanted to explore Night City and its vast open world, but it’s disappointing that you can enjoy all if you have to deal with dangers that far exceed what you are capable of. Trust me; the game makes it hard to complete a “very hard” mission if you intend to go in guns blazing. Instead, you are mostly limited to stealth only if you want to survive, mainly because enemies within this area can take you out in one shot.
Prepare Your Arsenal
Preparing yourself to face the dangers of Night City deals with constant micromanagement of inventory. You are welcome to have as many guns as you can carry. However, the game encourages you to be wise to your carrying compacity. Similar to Fallout or The Elder Scrolls series inventory system. If you have too much weight, you are unable to move a free as you like. A great strategy for me was to keep at least three to four weapons on me at all times, and the ones I collected I just either sold, disassembled or stashed in my apartment for safekeeping. Utilizing armor is a great way to keep afloat and alive. There are tons of ways to tailor your character, fitting with the best stats possible. There are mod slots you can use to enhance their capabilities.
This can range from increasing critical damage, limb damage, or reduce recoil on firearms. As well as damage resistances and increasing carrying capacity for armor. Epic and Legendary items come with a slew of buffs and enhancements. Enhancements can include elemental damage such as electric, fire, or poison. This makes the hunt or even craft for these items worth it, just for its additional benefits within combat. There are different types of guns that further diverse welding capabilities. If you want to reduce the risk of aiming down sights, try smart pistols that enable auto-aim. Luckily for you, this a single-player game, so you practically can aimbot away to your heart’s desire. It makes for easier headshots with half the effort. Tech weapons can power up and have devastating effects on enemies. There are power weapons that can ricochet and bounce off walls to penetrate cover.
If guns aren’t your thing, you may want to look at the selection of melee weapons. There are clubs, bats, and blades to slice open enemies. Melee is pretty simple, and for the most part feels uninspiring. Dodging, blocking, and attacking requires stamina, and being aware of its usage is critical. You have your fist as an option to bludgeon foes. However, for me, the novelty option to dispatch enemies came in the form of the marvelous mantis blades. Honestly, when I came in possession of these blades, I felt like Wolverine. Ready to slice through anything or everything in my path even though a precise shotgun to the face brought me back to reality or at least to the flatline screen, which made my usage with them very situational at best. I still have to remember that I am made out of flesh and enhanced cybernetics, not Adamantium.
Enhancements and Cyberware
Speaking of enhanced cybernetics, the bread and butter of Cyberpunk have to be the modifications you can place on your body. Like the mantis blades, there can enhancements were done to your body to improve your overall playstyle. Improvements can be brought through a Ripperdoc, a handyman for these sorts of things. You can use these doctors to install cyberware as well as purchase mods to boost them. Best be prepared to shell out some serious eddies to have some of the finest components, especially legs that can enable you to double jump or charge jump. Arms enhancements can give another tool to your weaponry. While I like the mantis blades, I enjoy blasting enemies with my rocket launcher arm or slapping fools with my guerilla arms. Other enhancements such as your skeleton and other functional systems add to the layer of customization and benefits towards your cyberware.
Taking An Approach To Combating Enemies
Utilizing these tools against your enemies is such an enjoyable experience. However, going gun-ho on enemies could be your downfall. Like I said before, it’s easy to get carried away with the Mantis Blades and other cool cyberware attachments, but dodging and using cover is just as important. Regardless of the gang you go up against, from the malicious Malestroms to the Tyger Claws, they pretty much play the same, and the A.I. is sadly basic. Sometimes, enemies are utilizing cover, and some with flank you; other times, they can make for mindless drones that stand out in the open. Often, stealth situations can be frustrating because I would try to get behind an enemy only for them blindly discover me by luck or glitch. If you decide to go the stealth route, you can dispose of an enemy by killing them or non-lethal measures.
Another method is hacking; if you have a high enough RAM space, you can short circuit enemies to deal with or distract them. The unique blend of stealth and hacking is always a useful tool, especially in high-risk situations. It’s often smart to avoid confrontations entirely by using this strategic method. For example, I had a gig at a small bar, and the objective was to take out a target. Plain and simple right? Well, that target happens to be around a group of enemies. I could risk it to go in with a lead-filled approach, but I opted to distract an enemy with the TV instead and execute the plan. More often than not, you have to choose the smartest method for survival.
It’s Time To Level Up
As mentioned before, leveling up your character is a core part of the game. You have five different skill trees to focus on and commit attribute points towards. If you want to have a stealth-based character great at hacking, focus on “Cool” and “Intelligence” stats. I focused on my “Body” to keep the longevity going in firefights and “Reflexes” to improve my weapon skills. Both go hand to hand for me to receive less damage while dealing more damage towards enemies. However, despite leveling up with these stats, the game doesn’t make you Superman. You are still vulnerable to significant damage regardless of your attribute levels.
This is fine because it does keep combat exciting and strategic, not allowing to dispose of enemies easily. However, at times it could be a tad bit annoying to wipe out a ton of enemies, only to die from a shotgun blast you didn’t see around the corner. Leveling up specific stats also gives you additional bonus options in dialogue and pathways for a mission. For example, if you have a high level of technical ability, you can gain access to hidden doors and areas that would make avoiding enemies a lot easier. Often, utilizing a particular skill naturally can level up organically through a progression system.
Vehicles also need some fine-tuning as well or, better yet, a complete overhaul. Vehicles in this game are utterly disappointing. Driving is a tricky task while balancing speed and turning; it’s a task I would often avoid due to how floaty the vehicles are. I would facepalm every time I would randomly crash and become stuck after just turning the vehicle. So trust me when I say driving in Night City is more difficult to master than combat. If you are expecting a Grand Theft Auto style of steal and keep method, Cyberpunk does something different.
Stealing vehicles require a decent “Body” attribute level to perform. There are also no garages to store your stolen vehicle. Instead, you have to rely on fixers to contact you about a new vehicle within their respective districts. There you can locate and buy a new vehicle to keep. The benefit of acquiring vehicles this method is you can request them anytime and anywhere through the push of the D-Pad. Of course, the more luxurious the vehicle, the greater the cost, but at least you free valet service at your leisure.
What About Performance?
Performance is stable for the most part on PS5. Clocking in around 60 FPS, even though there are slight subtle dips in frame rates at times, especially within the downtown area. If bugs and glitches don’t plague your playtime often, Cyberpunk runs smoothly for the most part. I remember encountering a glitch where I was in hot pursuit of a vehicle only for the environment to have a cool shade of blue tint. As bizarre as that sounds, I proceeded to turn the corner, and the standard color came back. A weird flex, but okay. Gunplay doesn’t feel choppy, but the melee needs a bit of fine-tuning. Sometimes I would have a full stamina bar and not even throw a punch, even though I am mashing the attack button.
Visuals and Audio – A Wonderful Buggy Masterpiece
Cyberpunk‘s visuals are hit or miss. I feel your pain of blocky images, blurred faces, and pop-in textures for any past gen console users. However, playing on next-gen consoles and PC, the calamity of these issues are less, even though they are still present. In contrast, when the bugginess doesn’t occur, this game is an absolute beauty to witness and explore. The map is absolutely massive, and the variety of districts you undertake within Night City brings its own style and ecosystem. It’s a unique blend of a mix between the dystopian cities found in Blade Runner and Judge Dredd. Night City often feels like a breath of fresh air, a memorable and vast area of exploration.
Even traveling through different districts of the map felt fresh and opportunistic. Travel outside the city to the scenic trash area of the Badlands. Gaze upon a visual spectacle of glowing fish in Japantown. The city is a visual show; often, I can kick back and enjoy the atmosphere. Even subtle cruises around the outskirts away from the busy inner-city streets feel peaceful and serene. However, I am often reminded of Night City’s digital light gaze if I peek back to the bustling downtown area. Usually wondering about the new jobs, I will discover within. Also, thinking about the cost of the light bill to keep those visuals afloat.
The people of Night City seem more focused on their daily activities than what you are doing. There are conversations to chime in on, random crime occurrences, and I even witnessed a dispute that ended tragically for one individual. As realistic as this game can be at times, the character models can be less desirable. Oftentimes some random NPC’s can look a bit plastic. However, I have to say that CDPR does an excellent job of populating its world. They are also fun easter eggs to discover from different games and media, from an Akira-inspired bike to finding a pretty “solid” game director at a hotel bar. Although, the cops within Night City can easily be avoided, even if you find yourself in hot water. There were times I could lose them by driving down the next block. Like, really?
Attack of the Bugs! Also, Glitches and Crashes!
As impressive as Night City is visual, I would be remiss of how often a beautifully visual masterpiece can turn into a buggy garbage pile. More often than not, the biggest threat is not any Katana wielding Cyberpsycho, but more of bugs that disrupt the flow of gameplay. People often move in weird directions or phase through vehicles. Pop in textures plague the streets, as once busy traffic areas become little more than one or two cars occupying the roads. Building and vehicle textures sometimes take a dive. While I am not that fazed by these issues, sometimes they can be more than a mere annoyance. I often had a bug that kept me in a zoomed-in state, unable to move until I cycle through my weapons to break the invincible grasp on me.
Again, a mere annoyance, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you my eyes kept rolling the more it happens. Glitches could play a factor in missions. In one case, I had to reload an objective because the game didn’t register my actions before to progress. On the flip side, glitches helped me on occasion. Luckily autosave exists, and I would encourage you to save often. Why do I say that? Well, because the game’s biggest letdown is game crashes. On a good day, I may experience one or two crashes that occur periodically. On a bad day, let’s say it happens often enough to get downright frustrating. More patches are on the way from CD Projekt Red to combat these issues, but the occurrence is still persistent. However, despite these issues, Cyberpunk always keeps me wanting more. Maybe I am crazy, or the game is just that addicting?
Intense Musical Bliss
When going into a fray behind enemy lines. Cyberpunk does not shy away from letting you know that the action is about to start. Guns have a subtle intensity to them. The sound of a shotgun blast is impactful. Just as much a firing round from a smart pistol or charging up a shot from a sniper. Of course, driving will have its course selection of radio stations you jam and listen to on the way to a destination. If you are a fan of intense thrasher music, you will feel right at home with the intensity the soundtrack of Cyberpunk brings to the table. More often than not, I would cut off the radio and enjoy the sweet, peaceful drive down a scenic road of Night City’s limelight.
This review of Cyberpunk 2077 was played on PS5.