Cyberpunk 2077: Is the Controversial Game Finally Fixed?
As millions start playing Cyberpunk 2077 again, we look at whether or not the game is worth a second chance.
In case you haven’t heard, a lot of people have been playing Cyberpunk 2077 recently. While the game’s popularity resurgence can partially be attributed to the success of Netflix’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners series, many have also found themselves asking the question we proposed above, “Is Cyberpunk 2077 finally fixed?”
In case you’ve forgotten, Cyberpunk 2077‘s 2020 release was nothing short of a debacle. The game was a technical nightmare that also happened to be missing a number of notable features. All things considered, many people eagerly tried developer CD Projekt Red’s follow-up (production-wise, that is) to The Witcher 3 found it to be insulting in many ways and simply never looked back once they walked away from the title. Others decided to wait until the game’s many technical problems were finally resolved so that they could have a somewhat fair chance to judge the rest of the experience for themselves.
So while it’s a little strange to still be talking about Cyberpunk 2077‘s many, many problems in 2022, here’s a look at where the game currently stands.
Is Cyberpunk 2077 Finally Playable on PS4 and Xbox One?
Cyberpunk 2077 had a lot of problems at launch, but the game’s most significant technical issues were reserved for its “last-gen” (PS4 and Xbox One) versions. Those who tried to play Cyberpunk 2077 at launch on those consoles found a nearly unplayable experience filled with bugs, visual shortcomings, massive AI issues, and game-breaking crashes. The situation was so bad that Sony elected to pull that version of Cyberpunk 2077 from their digital store.
Since then, developer CD Projekt Red has released a variety of patches designed not just to improve those versions of the game but fundamentally fix them. So is Cyberpunk 2077 finally playable on those consoles? Well, to paraphrase one of my favorite Simpsons quotes, it ain’t getting any more playable, that’s for sure.
Look, the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk are still not the ideal way to play the game. They look rough, they still suffer from framerate issues, and they occasionally suffer from downright weird problems (missing pedestrians, disappearing objects, etc.). If you’re planning on playing Cyberpunk 2077 on those consoles, you’re still going to have to put up with a variety of technical issues and shortcomings. There will probably never be an entirely smooth version of the game available on those consoles.
However, there’s no denying that the Cyberpunk 2077 last-gen updates took that version of the game from “unplayable” to “nonoptimal.” Those versions of the game are now free of their biggest technical problems and now run well enough to be considered functional in the minds of many. That’s obviously not a rave review, but anyone looking to play the game on those devices for whatever reason will find that this is the best that experience is ever going to get. Again, I mean that literally. CD Projekt Red has released the last PS4/Xbox One update they currently intend to release for the game, so unless they surprise everyone with additional last-gen patches, the current PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game are as “fixed” as they’re ever going to be.
Ultimately, I still can’t recommend those versions of the game to anyone with anything less than an uncontrollable urge to play Cyberpunk 2077 and no other way to do so. Those able to find a bargain bin copy of the game for those platforms at $20 or less may also be incentivized to look past some of those flaws and enjoy the game as much as possible via those platforms. For everyone else…well, there are always these incredible Cyberpunk 2077 alternatives.
Did Cyberpunk 2077’s Next-Gen Update Improve the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S Versions Of the Game?
Believe it or not, CD Projekt Red did finally release Cyberpunk 2077’s next-gen upgrade earlier this year. While that update should have been released much sooner than it actually was, I have to say that it did drastically improve the next-gen versions of the game.
To get right to the heart of the matter, those who play Cyberpunk 2077 on PS5 or Xbox Series X with Performance Mode enabled will find a largely stable experience with drastically improved framerates. Mind you, the game still suffers from relatively minor bugs and visual glitches like texture pop-in (as well as the occasional bit of slowdown). However, those major technical issues that once plagued the game are pretty much gone on next-gen consoles. Cyberpunk 2077’s running on Performance Mode feels very close to the game its developers seemingly intended for you to play from the start. It’s the version of the game that really lets you judge Cyberpunk 2077 on its creative merits (or lack thereof) without having to constantly focus on all the bugs, glitches, and game-breaking issues.
Sadly, Cyberpunk 2077’s Ray Tracing mode is a bit more of a mixed bag on both consoles. That mode is primarily designed to improve the game’s lighting and shadows vai Ray Tracing features, and it performs that function admirably. With Ray Tracing enabled, parts of Cyberpunk 2077 look as a modern game can look. Drive through the city at night while it’s raining with Ray Tracing turned on, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
However, there are large chunks of Cyberpunk 2077 that don’t substantially benefit from Ray Tracing. If you’re walking around during the day or navigating an industrial interior, for instance, you probably won’t notice many of the improvements that feature is designed to offer. What you will notice are the drops in framerate that accompany that feature. While Ray Tracing mode is meant to run closer to 30 FPS than the 60 FPS Performance Mode shoots for, the framerate can sometimes dip below that 30 FPS mark. That’s why most players will probably prefer Performance Mode, though Ray Tracing is certainly worth checking out from time to time.
Furthermore, the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game are about equal in terms of their overall performance. Twist my arm, and I might argue the PS5 offers a slightly higher performance ceiling while the Xbox Series X tends to be a bit more stable. Neither console has a huge advantage over the other, though, unless you really like the PS5 versions’ DualSense control features (such as adaptive trigger feedback). I should also mention that both versions now feature drastically improved loading times that make the game so much better than it ever was.
As for Xbox Series S…well, don’t expect much. That version of the game is clearly better than the PS4/Xbox One versions and clearly inferior to the PS5/Xbox Series X versions. I suppose that’s about what you’d expect from that hardware, but you get the sense that CD Projekt Red could have done more with that platform if they had a more technically solid foundation to work off of. Still, it’s a perfectly acceptable middle-of-the-road option.
I should also note that CD Projekt Red isn’t done improving the PS5/Xbox Series X versions of the game. They can only theoretically get better from here, though I suspect most future improvements will focus on bug fixes and optimizations rather than any kind of sweeping updates that make the game look like it was developed for next-gen hardware right from the start.
Is the PC Version of Cyberpunk 2077 Still the Best Version of the Game?
At launch, the PC offered not just the best way to play Cyberpunk 2077 but the only way to play the game for anyone who wanted to feel like they were playing something that was meant to be released in the first place. While the console versions of Cyberpunk 2077 are much better than they once were, the PC version of the game is still the best way to experience the game.
The difference comes down to “floor and ceiling” performances. The PC version of Cyberpunk 2077 was by far the best version of the game at launch, so it also required the fewest significant performance upgrades/fixes (relatively speaking). In other words, CD Projekt Red was instead able to focus on optimizing the PC version of the game sooner than they were able to focus on optimizing the console versions of the game.
As a result, Cyberpunk 2077 runs fairly smoothly (minus the aforementioned moments of lingering technical issues) on a variety of PCs. Those who play Cyberpunk 2077 on a lower-end PC that meets the game’s performance requirements will likely enjoy a smoother overall experience than those who play the game on PS4 and Xbox One.
High-end PC gamers are the ones who are really in for a treat, though. If you’re running Cyberpunk 2077 on a top-of-the-line GPU (with the processor and RAM that typically go with that kind of GPU), you’re in for a treat. At present, the PC version of Cyberpunk 2077 is the only version of the game that has a real chance of maintaining a consistently high framerate with every graphical bell and whistle enabled. Again, it’s not perfect, but it turns out that Cyberpunk 2077 looks really, really good when you’re playing it on the most powerful hardware possible. Go figure.
It should also be noted that the PC version of Cyberpunk 2077 greatly benefits from mod support. While CD Projekt Red has added more content to Cyberpunk 2077 (more on that in a bit), modders have been tweaking and expanding the game since it was launched. At the very least, the game’s mod scene is still one of the best places to turn if you’re looking to fix a few specific lingering issues. At best, you may be able to use those mods to address some of your personal problems with the game in ways that the official updates just can’t do.
If your PS5 or Xbox Series X is significantly more powerful than your PC, then it’s probably worth playing Cyberpunk 2077 on those consoles instead. However, the PC version of the game remains the easiest to recommend to a wider array of users.
Has Cyberpunk 2077 Been Updated With Any New Content Since It Was Released?
If you’ve been waiting for content updates as an excuse to dive back into Cyberpunk 2077 (or play the game for the first time), you should know that there is technically more to do in the game than ever before. However, (as with most things Cyberpunk 2077-related) be sure to keep your expectations in check.
Since the game was launched, CD Projekt Red has added numerous little things to Cyberpunk 2077. Said additions range from new gigs, weapons, vehicles, and perks to the ability to “transmog” your appearance (meaning you can choose what you look like regardless of what armor you’re wearing). One of the more substantial updates to the game even allows you to rent multiple apartments throughout the city (and receive small buffs for using certain facilities in those apartments).
You also have to consider the ways that some Cyberpunk 2077 technical and mechanical improvements essentially changed how you can play the game. For instance, now that the game’s A.I. behaves more dynamically, you may find that certain sections of the game play out a bit differently than they did before. Now that the game’s driving and shooting systems have been improved, you might feel incentivized to try new strategies or take on new tasks. Every little improvement made Cyberpunk 2077 feel a little different than it was before. Some fixes to the game even opened up new ways to complete missions and other assignments.
What if you’ve already beaten Cyberpunk 2077, though? Is it worth playing the game again just to experience the new content? Well…probably not. I think that all of the little changes add up to offer a pretty good excuse for a second playthrough if you were already thinking about doing one, but you’re ultimately talking about a small army of little things.
If you felt like Cyberpunk 2077 was just missing too many significant features and cut pieces of content, then you should know that most of those features still aren’t in the game. We probably won’t see those kinds of significant additions to Cyberpunk 2077 until the game’s Phantom Liberty DLC and New Game+ mode are eventually released. Cyberpunk 2077 still isn’t the game some (including those who worked on the game) built it up to be.
However, I’d argue that enough is new or “different” about the game to justify taking another look at it if you mostly liked the base experience or decided to put it away until a few more things became available.
Get to the Point: Is Cyberpunk 2077 Worth Playing in 2022?
Ok, ok, calm down.
Look, I’m one of those weird people that actually kind of liked Cyberpunk 2077 when it was released. The game ran well on my PC, and I found it to be a slightly more ambitious take on a modern Deus Ex title that happened to be filled with tremendous little moments and enough RPG elements to speak to the genre nerd in me. I voted for the game to be included in our best of 2020 list, and I think the game deserved its spot on that list from a creative standpoint. There are things in Cyberpunk 2077 that are very much worth experiencing.
However, I also wasn’t anxiously waiting years for the game to be released, nor did I consider myself a part of the CD Projekt Red “cult of brilliance” that only grew in the years since The Witcher 3’s release. I came into Cyberpunk 2077 with a slightly more neutral perspective, and I found a game that did a lot of things I liked and quite a few things that were either incomplete or simply ill-advised.
So on the one hand, I feel comfortable saying that Cyberpunk 2077’s historically bad technical issues have been improved enough to allow the game’s best qualities to shine brighter than ever. There’s also something to be said for distancing yourself from expectations. Now that we know exactly what Cyberpunk 2077 is, it’s much easier to appreciate it for what it is.
On the other hand, how can you blame anyone who was burnt by Cyberpunk 2077 and decided to walk away from the game for good? Cyberpunk 2077 simply should not have been released in the state it was in. That statement speaks to the game’s ludicrous technical problems as well as the various signs that indicated the launch version of the game wasn’t anywhere close to being representative of the intended final product.
To make matters worse, CD Projekt Red’s handling of the post-launch Cyberpunk 2077 situation has been pretty bad so far. The game’s initial patches did very little to address the title’s biggest issues. The more substantial patches were not only delayed but were so poorly communicated that I’m willing to bet many of you are just hearing about them for the first time. While there are many very real (and understandable) human and economic factors that have contributed to those updates being delayed, those factors may be cold comfort to those who perhaps justifiably feel that Cyberpunk 2077 was a bit of a rip-off upon its release.
I genuinely think Cyberpunk 2077 is a good game. It might even be a very good game for the right kind of person. If the game’s technical problems were the biggest thing preventing you from enjoying it, I can also tell you that it’s safe to go back into the water. Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t perfect from a technical perspective, but it is “fixed” so far as that goes.
Yet, for those who felt Cyberpunk 2077’s many issues made it irredeemable or that the game just wasn’t the kind of open-world RPG experience they were looking for…well, I kind of doubt the modern version of the game is going to fix the problems you had with it. For that matter, Cyberpunk 2077 may never be that kind of game.
If Cyberpunk 2077 was a surprise release from a small studio (in other words, something closer to No Man’s Sky), I’d push a little harder to suggest that we should all make room in our hearts to give it a second chance and appreciate how far it has come. Given the circumstances, though, I’ll instead say that Cyberpunk 2077 is now easier to play than it is to forgive.