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Game preview 25 June 2020, 18:30

author: Kristian Smoszna

Cyberpunk 2077 Hands-on Preview. After Four Hours, I'm as Happy as Concerned

This will be one of the most difficult texts I will write in my life. Describing the highly anticipated game, which is on a collision course with exorbitant hype and expectations, is not easy – because this game currently has some flaws.

Slated for release: November 2020.

I liked it

As for my overall perception of Cyberpunk 2077, I definitely felt satisfied. The new game from Warsaw-based studio can surprise you with the diversity of the main missions and the fantastic dialogs, expected from this studio. The authors also managed to introduce some interesting solutions, such as the Braindance module, in which, like Batman in Arkham series, we can manipulate recordings of memories to get some answers. V acquires a headset necessary to perform such analyses, so there will certainly be more instances like that.

I also dig the general vibe of this game, although some of you might find the exaggerated, flashy world a little too much, especially if you liked the cold, slick design of recent Deus Ex entries. The creators consciously went in a completely different direction and served up a vision of a futuristic metropolis from movies from the 80s, where colorful outfits, crazy hairdos and ubiquitous kitsch dominated the streets and night clubs. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this, but I sometimes got the impression it was a bit too much; virtually all the people have augmentations, more or less conspicuous. In the aforementioned Deus Ex, this would be unthinkable.

The music also builds the atmosphere in a great way, both the original score and the songs played in the car. So far, it seems the best element of the game. Marcin Przybylowicz, Paul-Leonard Morgan and Piotr Adamczyk created a hellishly energetic mix of sounds, blending together completely different genres and soundscapes. The car radio was also really fun, because the creators approached it differently. Rather than licensing the existing songs, which is the norm for the Grand Theft Auto series, they have simply hired a whole host of artists to prepare tracks exclusively for the game, including Run the Jewels, Grimes, or Refused. I loved the diversity of music featured in the game. There's rock, pop, techno, and extreme metal, verging on the edge of listenability. A fantastic thing, especially since there's ten radio stations! Kudos!

But…

Unfortunately, the first experience I had with the game was far from flawless. What worried me most was what I've written about before – bland driving model and uninspired shooting mechanics, seasoned with a Borderlands feel. Sure, this is an RPG, so there are more important elements, but at the same time, we will spend most of the game shooting and driving, so it'd be nice if it at least felt alright. That's not all, though.

The prologue seemed rather ill-conceived. We're under constant barrage of numerous tutorials, and there's not really enough time to let it all sink in. It won't be a huge problem for advanced players, since the mechanics are rather predictable, but new players might find it a little too much to handle. Even I felt a little overwhelmed, and had to check some tutorials from 15 minutes earlier, because I couldn't properly internalize it the first time around. I do realize you can't keep players in the tutorial forever, but at the same time I remember Witcher 3 did a fantastic job introducing players to its core mechanics and story, but then Cyberpunk 2077 is sure more complex than Wild Hunt was.

I also don't like the HUD, which feels rather illegible. This is actually quite problematic, since interface hasn't changed a lot since a year ago, when it already was criticized by some of you. I just hope the game will have as much configuration options as The Witcher 3 had. They say you can get used to anything, and there is a lot of truth to it, but the first thing I will change, if possible, will be the colors of bars and icons, which get completely lost in the noise.

The setting

I want to finish off with the most important element – the city. Night City is already looking great and I know that after the release, I will spend a lot of time exploring it. However, while the static elements of it are ok, the movement isn't as convincing. People pop-in and out. There are some locations – mainly the ones that are part of carefully planned missions – that are completely overcrowded. When we get into a car, on the other hand, the city becomes bizarrely empty. The same goes for traffic. Other cars move around sluggishly, and there's really not many of them for such a metropolis. I also noticed some weird stuff going on as I overheard the conversation of a random NPC talking over the phone on the street. The game generated two of the same types of vehicles in front of me over and over again, but neither of them ever drove past me. All of them, without exception, turned into a side street, as if the street next to me was closed.

Perhaps it was a simple bug that can be fixed in a single string of code. I certainly hope so, since Cyberpunk 2077 has quite a few bugs to get rid of. The recent delay is certainly justified. After what I saw, I would never have believed that the game could be ready in September, let alone April. The Reds still have a lot of work to do to get it all right.

Since you've made it through the entire article, you deserve learning more about what I mentioned at the beginning. Cyberpunk 2077 is, in general, a very good game, but also not without some flaws, which are now a bit of a concern. So, we're four months ahead of the release, and I realize there's still time to improve things. But is there enough time? It's unlikely the driving and shooting mechanics will get a major overhaul, so we'll probably have to live with it. The remaining weeds will hopefully all be eradicated.

There's a good chance this will be a similar release to The Witcher 3, and that the pros will significantly outweigh the cons. Did horse racing or repeatable character models bury Wild Hunt? Certainly not. On the other side of the coin, we've had a fantastic story with great dialogs. I expect the same scenario to repeat this time, but it will also be much more difficult than it was with Geralt. There's a lot of uncharted territories for CDPR in Cyberpunk 2077, and they'll need quite an effort to match their opus magnum, The Witcher 3. Chances are, of course, that it will actually happen, but as I mentioned at the beginning, there's many question marks still. Given my immense sympathy for this team, I hope they will all be answered.

Kristian Smoszna | Gamepressure.com

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