- Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world First Person Shooter RPG developed by CD Projekt Red.
- Cyberpunk 2077 is a divisive title even to this very day thanks to a disastrous launch that was marred with bugs and performance issues on both PC and consoles.
- Despite its now-infamous reputation, Cyberpunk 2077 is getting a much deserved redemption arc thanks to not only the heaps of updates by the developers but also the anime Cyberpunk Edgerunners as well as the upcoming expansion pack “Phantom Liberty.”
I think one of the games I was hoping would get a “No Man’s Sky” style comeback is Cyberpunk 2077. Not because I think it was a bad game but because there was so much to love about it that I would have loved to see it reach its true potential. Fast forward to 2023 and after numerous major updates — and an upcoming expansion pack that is making overhauls across the entire game — I’m a happy guy.
I think today, the discussion around Cyberpunk 2077 while still somewhat soured due to its launch state, is nonetheless in a much better state than it used to be.
As someone who grew up playing games such as Fallout 3, New Vegas, and even CDPR’s own “The Witcher”, I’m used to broken, janky games held together by prayers and duct tape. That’s why I wasn’t particularly bothered by Cyberpunk’s launch woes, sure it’s bad but I’m used to a lot worse, and hey, Bethesda gets a pass for their “quirky” bugs all the time.
What I do think was inexcusable was its state on last-gen consoles. I played it on PC so it wasn’t a problem for me, but I can imagine buying a long-hyped game that you’ve been waiting for only to get a game that has your console gasping for breath isn’t a very good experience. Considering its state on those systems, I think it shouldn’t have launched on last-gen systems in the first place.
But that’s all beside the point. What I want to talk about is Cyberpunk 2077’s redemption in the eyes of the general audience and why of all the games, Cyberpunk truly deserves it. It’s also about why everyone should play Cyberpunk next month because I really cannot stress enough how good it is when you ignore all the vitriol online.
Having played the game a ton on launch, and finishing it up earlier this year, I don’t understand the hate for it, at least in its current state. Setting aside the bugs and the performance problems, I believe Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the best open-world RPGs ever crafted. With phenomenal storytelling, and some of the best writing and performances in the genre.
There is so much to love here, Cyberpunk deserves its redemption because there is so much it gets right.
A Closer Look at Night City
It is said that if you stare at the abyss for too long, eventually the abyss stares back. That’s exactly what Night City feels like. A parasitic virus that takes root in the heart of everyone in it, corrupting and bringing out the worst in its people. It is a cruel, uncaring place. A perfect rendition of a Cyberpunk dystopia. You can tell that past the rain-soaked neon glamor, is a hellish abyss that consumes everyone inside it.
Cyberpunk is exceptional at driving home how horrible of a place Night City is, but it appropriately romanticizes it too, and it lets the player revel in the fantasy that it offers. Very few games can make it so that a setting has this much character and even more of an impact on its actual characters. Everyone has things to say about Night City, whether it be those who have exploited and manipulated their way to the top of the chain, or the bottom rung that the city beats down on a daily basis.
Night City thrives on contrast. Tall imposing skyscrapers tower over the rusted shacks of the rotten slums, and advertisements pollute the night sky visible from across the nomadic desert outside the city. Trauma Team rushes in to protect only those who have the money to afford an exorbitantly expensive insurance plan and everyone else is “collateral damage.”
Amidst all this stands V — our main character. A mercenary trying to make it big, and become a legend in the history of Night City. You see Night City, its glamor, its facade, all through V’s eyes. The characters V meets are people bruised, battered, chewed up, and spit out by the city’s darkness, whether it’s the seemingly corporate lackey Takemura, the rundown cop River, or most importantly, the legendary Rockstar turned terrorist outlaw Johnny Silverhand.
By the end, Night City feels like a character in itself, and its beating heart pumps life into everything around the game. Its beauty is as shallow as the city during actual exploration but without Night City, there is no Cyberpunk 2077 and that’s what makes it so compelling. Of course, one of the best contributing factors to this is Cyberpunk Edgerunners.
Edgerunners Made Cyberpunk Even Better
Cyberpunk Edgerunners was a 10-episode anime set a few years before the events of Cyberpunk 2077. The anime places a new character on center stage, an up-and-coming young lad named David Martinez. I believe this show finally started turning people around on Cyberpunk 2077, which made people go “Huh? Maybe we really should go back and play Cyberpunk 2077 again.”
It’s a fantastic companion piece to the actual game. It fleshes out the world in ways the game only slightly dipped into such as the inner workings of things in this world, particularly the way cybernetics work. I’d like to think I’m not the only one who started using the Sandevistan in the game after watching the anime. What’s most interesting about the show, however, was its delving into the concept of cyberpsychosis.
Cyberpsychosis was something the game did delve into but it was only relegated to a bunch of optional boss fights for a long chain of side quests that didn’t lead to much. Seeing Edgerunners make it a central element of the plot was extremely interesting. There’s a domino effect kind of feeling, you know the worst is going to happen, but you keep waiting to see what finally sends things over the edge.
In essence, the Sandevistan works like any other Shonen anime power-up. The underdog gets this extremely powerful ability that could be used in a variety of ways.
Some shows, like My Hero Academia, take a physical or mental toll on the protagonist for using these abilities, however, none of them truly delve into the true consequences of these powers. Cyberpunk Edgerunners in turn felt like a direct subversion of that trope. David uses Sandevistan a lot and he keeps getting more and more cybernetics and boy are the consequences heavy.
The best feat in Cyberpunk Edgerunners however is Adam Smasher. In the game, Smasher isn’t much of an interesting character and even when you do get to fight him, he’s kind of a push-over. You do get a personal incentive to kill him — as he was the one who killed Johnny Silverhand — but he sadly doesn’t get the screen time in the game that he deserves.
In Edgerunners too Smasher doesn’t have a ton of screen time, he only appears in the last episode, but they wring so much out of his limited screen time here. Smasher is terrifying, a ruthless force of nature that would kill everything in his way if he had to. Watching him just absolutely destroy everything in Edgerunners makes finally fighting him as V so much more satisfying.
In a vacuum Edgerunners is pretty good, as a companion piece to Cyberpunk 2077 however, it becomes something truly special. Both works lift each other to be even better and I’d like to think the game was originally intended to launch side-by-side with the show considering that the developers themselves admitted the game was intended to be released much later than it did.
Thankfully, it mostly worked out either way. Cyberpunk 2077 became more popular than ever following the launch of the show and general opinion largely turned in favor of the game.
The Future Of Cyberpunk
With an update that is looking to do an overhaul across the entire game including new systems, a completely reworked skill tree, and reworks to many of the game’s mechanics, Cyberpunk 2077 could truly become something special for many other players as well. As someone who has been eagerly to return to Night City forever since I finished the game last year, Phantom Liberty has me practically salivating in anticipation.
Despite a rough launch, I truly think Cyberpunk 2077 is a special game. It’s a story about a mercenary running on borrowed time, trying to find some kind of meaning from it all, and ultimately deciding how you choose to go out. It’s a game about dying on your own terms and what legacy you choose to leave behind.
Cyberpunk was always a fantastic game; it was just unfortunate to have many of its most interesting aspects buried under the discussion around its launch. Even after this lengthy tangent, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of the things I love in this game. Its characters, its side quests, the visual look of Night City, the satisfying combat, there is an endless number of things I’d love to go on about but alas this is where we end things.
CD Projekt Red still has a lot to live up to with Phantom Liberty. Keeping in mind that this is the only expansion that the game will receive — and the supremely high quality of the two expansion packs for The Witcher 3 — they have a massively high bar to live up to.
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