A feeling of deja vu gripped the gaming industry this week as we once again heard that familiar refrain about the creation of the latest update Cyberpunk 2077 really good now. No really, this time they did it. It’s now definitely the game they promised in 2020, 2018 or 2013, depending on when you start counting. Patch 1.2 really fixed everything. Except until patch 1.6, which fixed everything. However, now patch 2.0 has fixed everything. If you get Phantom Liberty then everything is really fine.
This time it actually looks like Cyberpunk 2077 has arrived. The 2.0 update overhauls the game’s RPG systems so thoroughly that it’s almost a completely different RPG. Less confusing, more fun, in a move reminiscent of the similar overhaul that fixed all of the more annoying parts of The Witcher 3 a few years after release. And the new expansion, Phantom Liberty, represents a studio at the top of its game firing on all cylinders (and other clichés).
As Alex and I discuss in the video below, combined with Patch 2.0 and the cutting-edge graphics technology that Nvidia’s 4000-series GPUs bring to PC, Phantom Liberty gets it right in terms of its visual spectacle and hit-for-hit quest design well displayed close to the ideal of Cyberpunk 2077, which eight million players thought they would pre-order in 2020.
How many of those eight million players bought it on PS4 or the base Xbox One? We don’t know the exact numbers, but considering that Cyberpunk pre-orders went live weeks before the current-gen consoles shipped to retailers, it’s fair to assume a high percentage. And considering how many people bought it upon release and no PS5, Series I’m not going to let it run acceptably. Millions, no doubt. A very high number of sales. Lots of income.
As good as Cyberpunk is now – and it is amazingly good, to be clear – the current version of the game is what many consider to be the game that exists now arrived correctlySome even claim that 2077 was essentially in early access up to this point. The game was at least partially funded by people who bought a game that didn’t work properly on their hardware. Hardware it was sold and labeled for, despite the protests of people who insisted at the time that trying to play it on the base PS4 was some kind of user error.
Cyberpunk 2.0 exists because Cyberpunk 1.0 was incorrectly sold as a last-gen game. None of us should forget that.
I don’t believe for a second that this is what the creative team at CDPR wanted. I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks it’s acceptable to rush a product to market before it’s ready and push it to an install base that isn’t ready to receive it. I had the pleasure of meeting a few CDPR developers during the release of The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, and like the vast majority of game developers, they are passionate people who simply want to make the best games they can make. Like many of us, they are under a lot of pressure to achieve certain goals and milestones that often have nothing to do with producing quality work.
But someone in that chain is responsible for the debacle they spent three years fixing, reclaiming all the goodwill the studio earned from running The Witcher, much of which will never be reclaimed. They probably made a fateful decision because they believed it would add value to shareholders. A system that encourages immoral profiteering at the expense of a company or product’s reputation is a broken system that essentially only serves to propagate itself, rather than serve the needs of the people who live and work around it to maintain. The parallels to cyberpunk’s grotesque projection of uncontrolled capitalism need no further explanation.
Cyberpunk 2077 is currently the most advanced graphical showcase ever. It is state-of-the-art and will one day, probably until the next generation of consoles come out, be fundamental to how real-time 3D rendering works. We are heading towards a future where the image rendered natively will merely be a blueprint for reconstructive processes from which to work their magic. This will make immersive, groundbreaking ray tracing a standard feature of video games, just as ultra-fast storage is now starting to transform the fundamentals of game design. And it will run on energy-efficient hardware that wasn’t considered particularly powerful for the time. Cyberpunk offers a glimpse into this future. It’s exciting stuff for every type of gamer, from the die-hard tech nerd to anyone envisioning buying a Nintendo Switch 2 in the coming years.
But this progress came at a price, and the consumer had to bear the brunt of it. Next time a game enters a lengthy hype cycle with a mind of its own, I hope people remember the state in which Cyberpunk 2077 launched and, as they say where I grew up, the memory keep. Because it should be a learning experience for all of us.
Cyberpunk 2077 version 2.0 is now available as a free update for current generation consoles and PCs. The Phantom Liberty expansion is available in most stores for £24.99.