CD Projekt Red recently shot down the rumour that Cyberpunk 2077 was heading to Xbox Game Pass, and in doing so underlined that the game believes it can turn things around for itself with its upcoming new-gen versions and the fabled DLC expansions. Those might yet save it, whatever ‘saving it’ means. The game made impossible profits followed by impossible share price losses, so I’ve no idea what success even looks like anymore. Not being the dictionary definition for hubris in the modern age? Not being a gigantic meme? Having any cultural impact beyond being the butt of the joke? I think those three ships have sailed now anyway. The point is, while new content might be decent enough to claw back a little bit of dignity for CDPR, Game Pass was never going to help.
Cyberpunk 2077 had the worst launch ever. Record breaking initial sales aside, I don’t think there’s even a debate here. The hype cycle was rampant and toxic, and even a very good game might have felt the backlash of these high expectations. But Cyberpunk was not a very good game at launch. It wasn’t even a game, it was just a bunch of pixels Pritt-Sticked together and a series of blue crash screens. As I’ve written about before, Cyberpunk 2077 1.0 belongs in a museum – a monument to where game development was at that moment in December 2020. It wasn’t just a little buggy or prone to glitches, it fundamentally did not work. I played at launch and 27 minutes was the longest I went without crashing, and I was playing on the far more robust PS5 than the PS4 and Xbox One consoles it launched for.
Related: Cyberpunk 2077 Is Best Played As A Fashion Shoot SimulatorIn time, it got better. There are still a load of bugs today, but they’re the types of bugs you’d expect of a bad launch or from a typical open world game of this scale. Had it launched in this state, it might just have gotten away with it. Thanks to relentless crunch, Cyberpunk 2077 moved from ‘unplayable’ to ‘vaguely playable if you don’t mind a hard crash every 90 minutes’ within about a week. For a game that promised to say so much and delivered so very little, it’s a shame that the conversation around it never really moved past ‘it would be a masterpiece without the bugs’. If I could breathe fire I’d be a Charizard, mate, but I’m not.
Here’s the thing though – I’m not even sure that’s true. The driving feels like pushing a brick across some soap, the menus and RPG systems are a nonsense of numbers, the guns lack variety until you get to the unique ones, there’s no customisation beyond the initial character creation, hand to hand combat is rubbish despite having multiple quests designed around it, the story is paper thin, the… do you want me to keep going? I just don’t think it’s very good. A lot of people out there have convinced themselves that Cyberpunk 2077 is a masterpiece, however, but I don’t think that would carry over to a Game Pass launch.
I say ‘convinced’ very deliberately. Sure, Cyberpunk 2077 looks great if you play it on a high end PC, but think of all the people you know who love Cyberpunk 2077. Maybe that even means yourself. Look inward. How many of those knew they were going to like Cyberpunk before it even came out. All of them, right? The game has its claws in people. When everything works, Cyberpunk 2077 is fine. It needed a lot more time in the oven, but parts of it are good, even. Certain individual quests like Sinnerman, or the entire Judy storyline, have been expertly crafted. The best missions don’t require a single bullet, but that’s because the parts of the game you need to play are just a bit rubbish, and they’re usually filled with shit memes that died six years ago.
I understand why someone who desperately expected to love Cyberpunk 2077 can put up with the crashes and come away thinking they had a decent time. Only the most delusional will think they got exactly what they were promised, but if you were buying collector’s editions and getting Johnny Silverhand tattoos before the game even launched, you are a) a top class sucker, and b) probably still a Cyberpunk fan to this day. That’s fine. You do you. I watched Valentine’s Day because Taylor Swift was in it, we all have our crosses to bear.
Cyberpunk 2077 is not a game for the floating voter. If you want to like it, you’ll just about find enough there to justify it – but if you still haven’t checked it out in almost a year, you are probably not the sort of die-hard fan the game will appeal to. The new content might be spectacular – The Witcher 3 has some of the most critically acclaimed DLC expansions ever. But the old stuff on Game Pass? That never would have worked anyway.
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