Let’s not spend too long going on about the state of Cyberpunk 2077 when it first launched in December 2020, but it was pretty rough. And pretty high profile too; heck, even my mum asked me if I’d heard anything about it as we sat down together for that one day we could over the Christmas period. Those that tried to play it on a base Xbox One or PlayStation 4 reported a night-unplayable game. Those on their shiny new Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 apparently didn’t mouse much better.
Fast forward to 2022 and the game has just received Patch 1.5, which brings a current-gen upgrade amongst many other new features. Cyberpunk 2077 is in a much better place than when it first released, but how does it fare as an actual Xbox Series X|S title now, over a year after launch?
I’m sure at this point, many players will be jumping into Night City for the first time, and I include myself in this group. Furore about the state of release aside, I had largely avoided any spoilers about the game itself. The only decision I had made beforehand was that I was going to start as a Nomad.
Other starting locations are available, but aside from a change of scenery during the initial moments and some different conversation options, there is very little difference. Don’t go in expecting Dragon Age: Origins opening sections depending on which background you choose.
Background chosen, character created, genitals sized: It is time to begin your adventure. Cyberpunk 2077 is first and foremost an action-centric open-world adventure, with very light RPG elements thrown in. As V, you move into Night City with fellow merc-for-hire Jackie Welles. They think they’ve hit the big time when they receive a job to steal an implant known as The Relic from a huge corporation. Things go disastrously wrong however, forcing V to implant The Relic chip inside their own head. The Relic however contains the conscious mind of one Johnny Silverhand – former lead singer of in-game band Samurai and played by none other than Keanu Reeves – and a power struggle then begins inside of V to see who will ultimately control the body.
Cyberpunk 2077 progresses as you would expect; a main quest path that will continue the narrative as you complete missions and plenty of side content. In this sense, Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t breaking any new ground. Side quests become available for specific characters once you have met them in the main narrative.
But it’s the world you inhabit, the characters around you and the overall atmosphere that will suck you in. Cyberpunk 2077 starts off slow; it wasn’t until at least two hours in I could begin to explore this world and at least five hours before the main titles revealed themselves. But once the shackles were removed, I was off. I wanted to be fully absorbed in Night City; a dangerous but gorgeously designed world. And it felt alive. Stepping out of my flat and I was instantly caught up in my surroundings. The people, the traffic, the shops. Many open-worlds have touted “living” and “breathing” descriptors, but Cyberpunk 2077 is the first time I can honestly say that they have nailed it.