Imagine this: you’re walking down a crowded street. Skyscrapers loom overhead, neon and LED lights around you reflect on the slick pavement below. You can hear gunshots to your left and hear screams to your right, but not a soul bats an eye: this isn’t anything new to them. Everyone seems decked out in cybernetic gear, armor and clothing you might find in a Goodwill from a futuristic version of the 80s: flashy neons, spikes and faux furs. The world is filled with gaudy, sometimes raunchy, in-your-face and off-the-wall ads, proof that capitalism reigns supreme (and not subtly either) in this alternate and bleak America. Kiosks and vending machines litter the streets and homelessness appears to be the norm. The cars all look like DeLoreans, sputtering little hatchbacks and luxury cars, and you have half a mind to steal one anyway because you are almost always armed to the teeth. Almost everyone here has a gun, a knife or something worthy of self-defense on them. This is Night City, Cyberpunk 2077’s sprawling Megalopolis, where you’ll most likely be spending most of your days in the game. It is also the anchor that keeps players, including myself, coming back for more. CD Projekt RED, Cyberpunk 2077’s game developers, absolutely outdid any competition with their mesmerizing city.

I was so engrossed in exploring the massive map and eliminating side-quest baddies that I didn’t reach the actual game title screen until I was 10 hours in. I absolutely adored the attention to detail. I found a back alley where I could pet a friendly Sphynx cat sitting at a water bowl. Running across rooftops may actually lead you to assault events to take care of and gain Street Cred, a type of currency to unlock new items and gear. Kiosks often attract NPCs, some with ridiculous or hilarious dialogue you can listen in on. Some cars left unattended or abandoned allow you to take them for joyrides throughout the city, but not place them in your owned inventory. This feature felt very similar to GTA V, so I’m secretly hoping they add a “sell car” option in the future. 

Create a Character

You play as V, a mercenary for hire. V can be played in either a male or female body, with a feminine or masculine voice being assigned to either. While the game’s designers originally wanted your character to be any gender on the spectrum, I was disappointed by the lack of pronoun selection during the game after V was created. I tested this out by playing a character with a masculine voice in a feminine body. If you select the masculine voice, V is referred to as a “Mr.” or he/him. If you select the feminine voice, V is referred to “Ms.” or she/her. The customization compared to the hype is underwhelming, especially since you can only play in first-person camera view which means you can’t admire your character while running through Night City, except in photo mode or in third-person camera mode while driving throughout the world. This is all in the name of immersion, according to the Global Community Lead of CD Projekt RED. 

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No playthrough of this game is the same. You can start as either Corpo, Nomad or Streetkid, three character types to play through. Their introductory story is different for each. I selected Corpo as my first character type, tempted to start out with the advantage of knowing the inner workings of the master controllers: the corporations of this dystopian American society. I was not disappointed. Corporations control every aspect of this world, down to healthcare, cybernetics, the military and even sex (and there’s a lot of it—just visit Jig-Jig Street to find out) so knowing about the big guns beforehand usually opens more options for dialogue and events, and even allows you to persuade other characters to do your bidding. As Corpo, you act as a top-tier agent for the Arasaka corporation, essentially as someone who cleans up the corporation’s messes. Corpo is all about getting the job done at any cost, so most of your decisions in situations will be effective and lucrative, albeit shady. 

I also tried out Nomad and Streetkid shortly afterward. Nomad was my second favorite lifepath to playthrough. It’s probably the simplest lifepath to start out in since Nomad V is seeking a fresh start in Night City. You start out in the Badlands, or the deserts of Southern California, and you’ve moved on from your family (or clan), determined to reach Night City to start a new life. In order to get to Night City, you have to cross the border, but you’ve been commissioned to smuggle out some interesting cargo while making your way there. Nomad V typically makes moral decisions, so this option is a great one if you want V to be the city’s hero. 

Streetkid was my least favorite of the three lifepaths and it was the shortest to play. You essentially play the role of street urchin here, intimately familiar with the gangs of Night City. Knowledge of the inner workings of Night City does give you some advantages, but not as many as Corpo. The comparison between the GTA series and Cyberpunk 2077 really sticks out here in that V must steal a car in order to help a friend settle some debts. Streetkid V values loyalty, family, friends and is used to dealing with sticky situations, so this lifepath is recommended if you want to use those Night City connections to your advantage and get to the main storyline rather quickly. 

The Story of Cyberpunk

The storyline is complex and occasionally tricky to follow with all the nuances of Night City and its inhabitants, but it’s not as gritty as you might imagine.  Keanu Reeves’ character, Johnny Silverhand, terrorist-gunslinger extraordinaire, is not only a cameo in-game, but a main character who follows you around for much of it, hitching a ride in your mind when the main mission goes sideways at the start and even helps you out of near-impossible situations. I wonder if I’ll even befriend him later on, considering he has decided not to kill my V.

CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, based on Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk tabletop RPG game created in 1988, does not disappoint…that much. A game that spent almost eight and a half years in the making seems like it should meet all expectations, but it does not always, especially when it comes to glitches, bugs and even content creation. 

Keanu Reeves' character Johnny Silverhand in CD Projekt RED's Cyberpunk 2077

Keanu Reeves’ character Johnny Silverhand in CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077

A Glitch in the Matrix

Thankfully, most of the bugs encountered were small. Some of the non-playable characters (or NPCs) were stuck in T-Poses, a few animations were buggy and the UI and scanner occasionally got stuck, causing me to save and restart. The best and worst glitch was when my character, even while clothed in the inventory, appeared naked to the world and would not die until I reached a certain checkpoint.

According to Business Insider, other players have reported worse problems such as the incomplete rendering of characters and objects, inability to progress due to crashes, and other severe issues. Due to the more severe issues, PS4, Xbox and even PC are advertising refunds due to the crashes. Hopefully, a future hotfix will take care of these. 

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Content creators and streamers increasingly find this game a challenge to stream since the music can cause DMCA strikes on platforms such as Twitch and Youtube. Even though the game offers a “streamer mode” in which the copyrighted music is muted, it was found that even some of the music left behind was still subject to strikes. Not only was the DMCA of concern, but so were elements in the game which could trigger epileptic episodes. While the game does have an epilepsy warning, there is a feature in-game called a “braindance.” This is a futuristic version of VR, except that the player is set inside a program or memory and can playback the scene in order to pick up clues. To have V enter the braindance program, the equivalent of a seizure is triggered by a series of flashing lights on the headpiece. Many Cyberpunk players objected to this instance, and according to Games Radar, as of December 10 the game now includes a clearer message at the start of play that states braindance events come with “risk of seizure.” 

Judy in Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt RED

Judy in Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt RED

Overall

Even with the glitches, DMCA strikes, and potential epileptic episodes, Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the few highly anticipated game releases that come around once a decade and leaves you pretty satisfied with the result, even though there’s clearly more work to be done even after multiple delays to make for a smoother launch. I hope to see some patch fixes in the following days to make this thrill ride even more superb.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox One X and Google Stadia. A gameplay trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 can be found down below: 

 

 

Kathy Spangler
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