Look, I know what you're thinking. Yes, there were all those meme videos at launch showing Cyberpunk 2077's broken features. In fact, that's what put me off playing the game up until now. But, with all the latest next-gen updates from CD Projekt Red and some bullying from my Cyberpunk 2077-stan friends, I decided to give it a whirl. And I'm glad I did, because I would have missed out on one of the best games to ever be created otherwise.
After creating my male character with suitably small penis, I was treated to what is the world's longest game tutorial. It took around two hours for me to play out the backstory of my character and meet best friend Jackie before we made it to the holy-shit moment of the main story, culminating in the sleek Cyberpunk logo running down my screen.
This is where I feel the first turn-off to new players occurs. Because the hand-holding game intro feels like the real deal; like there's nothing beyond the small and frankly boring couple of lifeless hours that explain how your character - V - got to Night City. Power through that, though, and you'll slowly start feeling those CD Projekt claws digging in. You know, the ones that have a nose for interconnected narrative.
What you need to realise is that every single side mission and gig in Cyberpunk 2077 is crammed full of character and story. At first, I focused on the main quest and largely shrugged off gigs as open-world busywork - that is the completely wrong thing to do. Gigs will have you infiltrating a hotel only to find your contact dead and a firefight right around the corner, allowing you to hack and pick up shards that contain vital world lore along the way.
Side missions are essentially an extension of the story itself, which is another overlooked factor. Characters you meet during the main story will branch off and have their own side story arcs that are wrapped up in the guise of side quests. One example is when Claire, the Afterlife night club bartender, invites you to participate in races. Your first thought might be "oh, racing minigame busywork." Oh, dear friend, are you so wrong. Those "minigames" turn into a full blown revenge plot that rivals Kill Bill.
These side missions also include romance subplots, like when you help a group of Nomads and get the option to get closer to fan-favourite waifu Panam Palmer (I don't make the rules), or help hacker Judy Alvarez and her friend in a gut-wrenching continuation of events that happen in the main story.
All of these missions affect the outcome of the admittedly short-for-this-kind-of-game main story, too. Sprinkle in the fact that how you juggle your relationship with Keanu Reeves' Johnny Silverhand also matters and you have a game that is rich in lore and worldbuilding. The issue is that it does a horrendous job of showing you how clever it is.
What are the Maelstrom, for example? The Bartmoss who? You'll only find out by grabbing those nifty shards around the world and reading them, because, like Dark Souls, it's about what is left unsaid. For example, if you revisit the scene of where you're left for dead at the beginning of the game, you'll find interesting tidbits of information about the Night City backstory, and you'll never knew you could find opening a fridge so interesting.
Aside from all of the interesting narrative choices, Cyberpunk 2077 also has a really wide array of ways to play the game. Like any RPG, you can put points into areas like making your character stronger or more intelligent. But, because Cyberpunk is all about futuristically altering your organic body into a machine, there are so many options in the way you approach missions. Want to shoot it out and intimidate people? Then you'll want to put points into body; want to hack cameras and other netrunners to disable them mid-combat? Put your points into intelligence.
Night City is also a fantastic place to spend dozens of hours. It's like stepping right into the world of Blade Runner, with evil Japanese corporations having their fingers in all of the pies in true 80s sci-fi style. Alleyways are full of down-and-outs, while the corpos next door laugh it up in their expensive suits. Bandit jalopies comb the badlands Max Max-style, but refined vehicles are the preserve of affluent city areas.
If you mainline Cyberpunk 2077, you'll likely be left pondering why some of the community so vehemently advocate for the game. But, if you take the time to complete some of these missions instead of dismissing them prima facie, it will start to sink in. You'll start to find the game makes a lot more sense when you take your time and give all of the activities a chance.
In fact, I think Cyberpunk 2077 has been done dirty. Technical launch issues aside, CD Projekt Red has created a masterpiece that rivals The Witcher 3. Granted, there were technical issues at launch that held it back, especially on last-gen consoles, but the team has lovingly dedicated years to fixing these issues in a labour of love.
If you haven't played Cyberpunk 2077 yet, then there's no better time than now. While some jank remains, the enhanced Xbox Series X and PS5 updates are out and they provide a smooth and complete experience. That means you can let Johnny Silverhand live inside your head rent-free as he tries to convince you to bring down the corporations, and who doesn't want that?
Now, who's gonna help me push this bomb into the elevator?