December 10th, 2020 was a day that will live on in gaming infamy. CD Projekt Red’s highly anticipated open world RPG Cyberpunk 2077 finally launched after years of hype and expectations. But what followed was one of the most disastrous and controversial game releases in recent memory.
A Glitchy and Unfinished Dystopia
On launch day, players eagerly booted up Cyberpunk 2077 hoping to dive into the immersive futuristic world they were promised. Instead, they were met with a mess of bugs, glitches, crashes and performance issues so severe that the game was virtually unplayable on base consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One.
Framerates plunged below 20fps, textures failed to load properly, and crashes to desktop were frequent. Even high-end PCs struggled to run the game smoothly. The state of Cyberpunk 2077 at launch was completely unacceptable and a far cry from what fans were expecting after years of marketing hype.
Swift Backlash and Commitment to Fixes
In response to the disastrous launch state of Cyberpunk 2077, public outcry from players was immediate and unrelenting. Fans felt misled after being shown curated demos that did not reflect the actual quality of the game. Sony even took the unprecedented move of pulling Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation Store and issuing refunds.
CD Projekt Red’s once sterling reputation took a huge hit. However, unlike other developers that have “taken the money and run”, they committed to fixing Cyberpunk 2077 with massive patches and updates. Over the past year, there has been slow but steady progress in stamping out bugs, improving stability and enhancing performance.
Lacking Depth and Unfulfilled Vision
While the mountain of technical issues marred players’ ability to enjoy Cyberpunk 2077, even when the game was playable at a basic level, it became clear that the overall experience felt lacking in depth and scope. Promised features like advanced NPC AI and well-realized transhumanism elements were missing.
The character creator and customization options, while deep in some areas, prevented mixing and matching Many complaints centered around the feeling that Cyberpunk 2077 failed to deliver on its hype as a genre redefining, open-world RPG where “choices matter” with ripple effects. Instead, its campaign felt strangely linear and lacking in agency for an open world game.
Hope for Redemption with Future Expansions
While disgruntled players cried foul over many missing features and the lack of meaningful choices throughout Cyberpunk 2077, CD Project Red has maintained that two upcoming expansions will address these complaints and greatly enhance and expand upon the core campaign.
The Phantom Liberty DLC, slated for 2023, promises to deliver compelling new story content, deeper combat mechanics, additional romantic relationship options and a chunk of fresh side quests with greater complexity.
No Man’s Sky – A Template for Cyberpunk?
When looking for examples of how a disastrous launch can be turned around with ongoing support and expansion, No Man’s Sky has become the blueprint. Hello Games’ space exploration title faced similarly extreme backlash over missing features and bugs.
Yet through tireless work and free content updates, No Man’s Sky blossomed into the ultimate chill space adventure with seemingly limitless scope for discovery and meaningful progression loops unmatched in its genre.
The Road to Night City Redemption
While Cyberpunk 2077 stumbles, the potential found in its incredible Night City setting, stories and characters cannot be denied. Much like our protagonist V, a deadly mercenary with a damaged psyche enhanced by bleeding edge chrome cyberware implants, Cyberpunk 2077 perhaps can be saved and redeemed.
CD Project Red has vowed to continue repairing bugs, optimizing performance and keeping their promise to deliver two epic expansions. If they can channel Hello Games’ dedication and achieve even a fraction of No Man’s Sky’s turnaround, perhaps years from now gamers will remember Cyberpunk 2077 not as a failure, but as a phoenix risen from the ashes.
Night City’s dark future awaits in all its glitchy, neon lit, high tech glory. And despite the disastrous launch, countless players still believe this sci-fi saga has unfinished tales left to tell if given the care and feeding needed to overcome its imperfections.