Credit: CDPR

If you enjoyed Edgerunners it’s time to give Cyberpunk 2077 a(nother) chance

Cyberpunk 2077’s launch in December of 2020 was an absolute shambles. Enough has been written about the nature of that shambles that we don’t need to go through it again here, but suffice it to say the issues with last generation consoles; the refund fiasco with Sony; the poor standard of QA in the game itself, with multiple impactful bugs being present at launch; and the mismatch between what the game was, and what CDPR had advertised the game as being, all combined to create a scenario which probably haunts the nightmares of CDPR executives to this day.

Many people, particularly those who played the game on last-gen consoles, purchased the game at launch and simply couldn’t make it run in any sort of playable fashion. Other users experienced numerous game breaking bugs. Some refunded the game, some powered through as best they could, and some set it aside and waited to see if it CDPR would continue to work on it. Now, with the incredible reception and popularity of the Edgerunners anime, which is set in Cyberpunk’s Night City, Cyberpunk 2077 has seen a massive surge in public interest.

Luckily for those people, and I suppose for CDPR, the game is currently at Patch 1.6, the Edgerunners update, and Cyberpunk is not the game it was at launch. It is more stable, better optimised, and a host of small features have been added, and tweaked, to make the game better. None of these have touched some of the issues with the story, like the limited impact of life paths, but there has been a substantial improvement in general quality-of-life features. They even changed the Braindance scene that seemed designed to cause epileptic fits.

That’s not to say the game is perfect now or that 1.6 has left the game bug free. In my own playthrough the upgrade to 1.6 introduced a new bug which causes audio to occasionally desync from what is happening in game. I’ve also had two crashes to desktop, something which I had never experienced with Cyberpunk 2077 before, even at launch.

But even taking those issues into account the game is absolutely playable in its current state, and absolutely worth playing. You could, if you wanted the complete experience, wait until 2023, when the newly announced DLC Phantom Liberty will be released but, honestly, I would say to just jump into it now.

For all the PR oversell and the sheer volume of bugs at launch, both of which CDPR absolutely bear responsibility for, Cyberpunk 2077 has always been an exceptionally good game buried under the impossible weight of its own hype and, at least on older consoles, technological limitations. With the improvements made to it, a bit of distance from the hype, and the resulting disappointment and backlash, the quality of the game really shines.

Credit: CDPR

If I liked the story of Edgerunners will I like the story of Cyberpunk  2077?

Given that both take place in the same universe you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are common themes and characters across both the game and the anime, with a major theme of both the game and the anime being the idea of destroying yourself in order to achieve a dream.

The game’s story has its ups and downs, and frankly I think the decision to bring in Keanu Reeves’ character so early in the narrative, instead of focusing on your early mercenary career and the relationships you built there, was a pretty substantial mistake, but overall the story is decently paced, fairly well thought-out, and there are absolutely moments where the story is fantastic.

But it’s in its characters that the game really shines, and I would strongly recommend that you do all of the same missions in order to ensure you develop your relationships with those characters, including the city itself. The supporting characters generally feel as if they have their own issues, and personalities, and don’t generally come across as if they’ve been waiting for you to make their lives perfect in order to unlock an achievement. You generally can’t fix all their problems regardless of how many missions you do. You can, however, make a meaningful impact on their lives.

The main character of the game, V, shares a lot of similarities with David, the main character of the anime. Where V differs from David is not so much in his motivation, or his willingness to do anything to succeed, as it is in the people he is surrounded by. V, nearly from the start, has people who seem to care for him and want him to succeed. That becomes ever more true as you do more side missions and build your relationships with these characters up. David is far more isolated, and the characters around him seem largely unable to effectively help with anything outside of combat. Throughout their respective stories V builds more and more support around himself whilst David loses more and more until he snaps.

It’s an odd thing to say, as V’s circumstances are legitimately hopeless, whilst David could have cut back on the chrome any time he wanted, but V comes across as substantially more in control than his counterpart – particularly if you unlock the secret ending.

What’s changed since launch?

Beyond the general quality of life and stability improvements we’ve seen since launch there are a few features that stick out.

The most popular change appears to be the introduction of a transmog system, which allows you to save outfits for your character and have your character appear to be wearing one of those outfits rather than whatever nightmarishly garish combo of high-stat clothing you’re actually wearing. Unfortunately for returning players the system isn’t retroactive, and so if you’ve got an old save and you boot it up you won’t have access to any pieces of clothing you previously picked up.

The police system has been revamped, although not completely and future improvements are expected, so that police are less likely to just spawn immediately behind you in an unending wave.

New player housing was added to the game, with players able to change the appearance of the starter apartment, on a basic level. Players can now also change their appearance in game.

The perks have also been reworked, which is probably not surprising given that some of the perks that were in the game on launch seemed legitimately useless and like they were left over from earlier versions of the game.

There is also now an iguana egg you can steal at the end of Act 1, and later hatch in your apartment. You’ll know it when you see an adult iguana.

One area which has not improved are the Life Paths, which were a major focus of the original promotional material. They are largely pointless outside of the odd dialogue check, and the main character is always going to feel like a street-wise kid with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. That’s not what CDPR sold when they promoted the game, but it’s also not something they’re ever going to fix, given the amount of work it would require and CDPR’s move away from REDengine, the engine Cyberpunk 2077 was made in.

How should I play it?

If possible, I’d highly recommend playing it on PC rather than consoles. I haven’t tried it on the latest generation of consoles but most of the complaints around bugs or glitchy features I’ve seen seem to come from those players.

In relation to what build you should use I would say that you can trivialise the entire game, on any difficulty, by building a character who focuses on hacking. At lower levels you’ll probably have to rely somewhat on guns, and tech weapons pair very well with this build, but by midgame you’ll be shattering hordes of enemies with ease, and by level 50 you’ll be a walking weapon of mass destruction, with your opponents’ eyeballs melting if they even dare to look at you. That’s not hyperbole by the way, that’s what the optics jammer daemon does.

That’s not to say hacking can only be enjoyed by those looking to trivialise combat and purely focus on the story, it’s just a particularly effective build, that really fits with the themes of the game, which will suit a particular playstyle.

If you’re interested in a build that emphasises fluid, acrobatic gameplay, and a focus on the melee based ultra-violence, a blade based reflex build is the one for you. This build makes very heavy usage of the augment used by David in Edgerunners, the Sandevistan. This mod is going to slow down time for other characters, by somewhere between 50% and 90% depending on the type you’re using, leaving you free to slice and dice whilst your enemies react as if they’re buried in mud. It mixes fantastically with stealth and silenced weapons. On stealth – this isn’t Deus Ex, you’re not going to be able to go through the game without killing anyone, but stealth is usually an option and a lot of the missions give you multiple ways to get in and out of locations.

Finally, when you get the opportunity, do it for Rebecca.

Credit: CDPR
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