Cyberpunk 2077: A Tale of Redemption Emerges Years After Its Tumultuous Debut
My recent return to Cyberpunk 2077, accompanied by its substantial 2.0 update, brought forth an unexpected delight. Back when the game initially launched in December 2020, I embarked on the journey amidst a sea of technical issues, and while I found it passable, it never truly captivated me. I reveled in the stealthy art of netrunning, hacking my way through enemies with finesse. However, the game’s relentless edginess in dialogue, an eccentric clothing and gear system that made me look absurd for stat boosts, and an irksomely zoomed-in mini-map hindered the overall experience.
Fast forward almost three years, and many of these grievances have been addressed. After immersing myself in the world of Night City for over a dozen hours with the new update 2.0 and the Phantom Liberty expansion, I am rekindling my enthusiasm for the game.
The introduction of vehicular combat seems like a missed opportunity from its initial release, but as someone who prefers non-lethal approaches in Cyberpunk 2077, driving and shooting hold little appeal. My tactic usually involved abandoning my vehicle, using it as cover, and utilizing my netrunning abilities to dispatch foes, sometimes even remotely detonating their cars. There’s also a revamped police system, but as someone who generally adheres to the law (excluding the numerous missions involving unlawful activities), I didn’t experience its full impact.
The extensive changes in update 2.0, as comprehensively outlined in GameSpot’s video breakdown, build upon previous improvements such as optimizations for next-gen consoles, an enhanced mini-map, and seamless cross-saves (which effortlessly transferred my Xbox Series X save to PS5). My journey wasn’t entirely devoid of bugs; during a pivotal showdown in the Phantom Liberty expansion, a tutorial prompt became stuck on the screen, rendering the boss immobile and facilitating my victory. Nevertheless, Cyberpunk 2077 now aligns more closely with my initial hopes for it, and I can finally wholeheartedly recommend it.
Back in 2019, when CD Projekt Red, the Polish video game company, announced the release of Cyberpunk 2077 for the following year, it took some of its own employees by surprise. Some even considered it a jest. They believed that to fully realize the game’s ambitious sci-fi, role-playing vision, it would require until 2022.
When the game eventually launched in December 2020, after multiple delays, it arrived in a buggy and unfinished state. The console version was so riddled with glitches that it was removed from the PlayStation Store for six months. As details about the game’s turbulent development surfaced, Cyberpunk 2077 symbolized the industry’s woes with overworked staff, understaffed teams, and rushed game releases.
Nevertheless, everyone loves a story of redemption. Post-launch, the executives issued apologies, and the developers diligently released a series of updates and bug fixes, causing some critics to cautiously declare that Cyberpunk was now… good? A substantial patch in early 2022, the year when at least one CD Projekt Red developer had originally expected the game to launch, introduced significant improvements to combat, the game world, and more. A critic from Kotaku even suggested that the game “might finally be complete.”
But CD Projekt Red wasn’t finished just yet. As of September 2023, the Cyberpunk 2077 saga is drawing to a close with two final, significant releases:
- The 2.0 patch, which rolled out on September 21, fundamentally transforms many core mechanics of the game.
- Phantom Liberty, an expansion featuring Idris Elba, slated for release on September 26.
Both offerings are receiving acclaim. The expansion introduces a fresh area within Night City’s dystopian landscape, immersing players in a heist narrative alongside the president and government agents. Reviews have praised it, with IGN stating that “Phantom Liberty represents Cyberpunk 2077 at its pinnacle.”
While new content is undeniably enticing, it’s the 2.0 patch that leaves the most indelible mark on Cyberpunk 2077. Its impact becomes evident the moment you launch the game. The menus are cleaner, the loot system less convoluted, and character development undergoes a complete transformation due to an overhauled skill system that allows for diverse playstyles. Players can now specialize, molding their character into a stealthy ninja, a swift assailant, or a cybernetic hacker.
Cyberpunk 2077’s primary challenge, besides its technical glitches, was its identity crisis, wavering between emulating Deus Ex and Grand Theft Auto. It straddled the line between a deep role-playing experience and a systemic open-world sandbox, ultimately feeling like an inferior version of both.
The new patch doesn’t fully resolve this dichotomy, but it strengthens both aspects. The revamped leveling system encourages experimentation, fulfilling the desires of RPG enthusiasts within the Cyberpunk 2077 universe. Elements such as loot and crafting have also undergone refinement.”