There is a timeline out there where Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed to February 16, 2022, allowing players to experience it with a proper next-gen version in tow along with all of the other improvements and bug fixes made.
Sadly, that’s not the case, and we live in a world where CD Projekt Red is fighting an uphill battle to win back the goodwill lost because of their infamous launch in December 2020.
The much-awaited Cyberpunk 2077 Patch 1.5 (view full patch notes HERE) is finally here along with proper next-gen versions, making a very good impression on players who are just diving into Night City for the first time. I, for one, hold onto the notion that there is a masterpiece in there somewhere but what we’ve been playing for the past year and change speaks differently.
This is THE big step in the right direction for Cyberpunk 2077.
Back to Night City
I haven’t played Cyberpunk 2077 for a little over a year now, where I invested over 100 hours on an incomplete PS4 version running on a PS5. In my review, I may have commended the story but was fuming at the fact that the game was obviously still under construction. Visuals were subpar and performance issues were everywhere, making it a buggy mess, especially on previous-gen consoles.
Coming from someone who has seen the preludes of Cyberpunk 2077 more times than I can count, believe me when I say that playing through the Street Kid and the Corpo Lifepath again on this update felt like a completely different game. It finally feels complete, and it looks and plays fantastic.
Finally playing on a native next-gen version, Cyberpunk 2077’s visuals are so much crisper on that first drive around Night City, either seeing it from the ground as a Street Kid or from the sky as a Corpo. It was the first impression I had hoped for but didn’t get back in 2020.
Alongside the obvious graphical leap, the absence of performance issues is another high point for this latest update. Playing the game on an Xbox Series X, loading times are definitely lightning-fast and there were no crashes to speak of. I will get into the specifics of how it affected gameplay later, but having an uninterrupted 4-hour session is definitely a godsend.
A Second Look
When it was first released, Cyberpunk 2077 was a glitch-fest, turning it into a comedic mess while ruining the immersion factor at the same time. Patch 1.5 isn’t a magic bullet, but what’s there isn’t as game-breaking at the very least. There are some annoying glitches such as skill points being rolled back after you’ve already re-speced but for the most part, the really big and obvious ones have been dealt with.
One aspect you’ll notice if you’ve already played the game before is how they’ve fixed criticals. This iteration makes the game more challenging, but certain mechanics can no longer be abused. The main beneficiary of this is the hand-to-hand combat and melee fights, now actually feeling like a street fight rather than using low-level enemies as a way to stack a broken ability due to the unbalanced critical hits.
Driving in Cyberpunk 2077 has also been vastly improved and performance behind the wheel is now smooth in both camera versions. The GPS has also been fixed, making it easier to navigate to our next destination. NPC reactions are also now more realistic, and the streets don’t let you get away with your bad driving anymore.
Another change I appreciated was the reduction of loot available to pick up. There is far less loot to pick up, making item management in Cyberpunk 2077 less unwieldy. It actually encourages players to craft items because materials and equipment are harder to acquire and also teaches players to invest in better builds and put more effort into building street cred to secure funds and have access to better items.
Speaking of street cred, faction missions are now released based on the progression and completion of certain missions compared to before, where you can almost have access to them immediately depending on where you are in the story. What this does is encourage the player to participate in them instead of being just another thing that adds to the open-world bloat.
CD Projekt Red has also gone out of their way to also take care of the small details in the game – night and day cycles having certain missions available at times, switching off unimportant calls, and police dispatch reducing noise especially when you’re in the middle of a mission. Also, a relationship now actually feels like one as you’re able to share living spaces and receive relationship-only texts and calls when you’ve chosen your partner.
It might still be a long way to go to actually get the fully-advertised game from years ago but Patch 1.5 and the next-gen versions have done wonders for Cyberpunk 2077, now finally ready to be experienced in full.
There are players who I understand will no longer give this game a chance because of the bad taste left in their mouths during the problematic launch but the fact that we’re able to revisit a hugely improved game again at no extra charge is a massive first step towards rebuilding goodwill.