Imagine if Cyberpunk 2077 was released right now.

When you hear the phrase “Cyberpunk2077”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Let me hazard a guess: I’m pretty sure it’s not blasting down one of Night City’s main thoroughfares atop a futuristic Arch motorcycle with Run The Jewels thumping in your ears. It’s probably not helping the roguish Panam Palmer reunite the Aldecaldo clan. My bet is that your first thoughts about CD Projekt Red’s latest open-world game are about bugs and memes.

Since its troubled launch, Cyberpunk 2077 has been the butt of countless viral jokes – the latest has involved the subreddit flooding with riffs on developer CD Projekt Red’s own #CyberpunkInNumbers hashtag. While CD Projekt was sharing figures like “13,000,000,000 enemies defeated,” redditors were shooting back with meme versions about how many players had crashed into buildings due to not being able to see an upcoming turn on the minimap.

By the time Cyberpunk 2077 launched in December 2020, expectations had reached ludicrous levels. Since Keanu Reeves’ E3 appearance in 2016, CD Projekt was running an extensive court publicity campaign. The product CD Projekt delivered, however, turned out completely unprepared to take the spotlight. The biggest gaming hype train ever crashed into the ground with multiple bugs and performance issues, especially on the last-gen consoles.

What if the events had been different? Imagine Cyberpunk 2077 was released now after much more work and, perhaps, without an inexorable marketing campaign.

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Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot going for it. After eight months of updates, its performance on mid-range PCs has improved, and many of the little slips that spoiled the illusion of a big futuristic open world have been tucked back behind the curtain. All told, these have been relatively minor adjustments from the point of view of the end user, but they’ve made what was already an impressive and complex RPG easier for more people to play.

The talk about Cyberpunk that ended up taking place was dull

There are still flaws, but take a look at some of the greatest games to have ever come to PC. Many of these have been plagued by bugs. We’re still finding fun Skyrim mods to write about every week, but when it came out nearly a decade ago, a smack from a giant’s club could turn you into Tamriel’s own Jeff Bezos, hurtling to the edge of the atmosphere for reasons no one is entirely sure about.

New Vegas: Fallout was often called the best series title. It featured characters with heads that spun and saved files that were corrupted at launch. Total War: Rome 2 was a poorly optimised mess with an AI incapable of using siege weapons when it came out, and it’s now taken its place as one of the best Total War games ever.

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While I don’t think Cyberpunk 2077 is as good as Skyrim or Fallout New Vegas, a game does not need to look perfect from the first day. This is especially true for PC games, which are more accustomed at things failing to work perfectly every time.

It’s worth a look: You canCyberpunk 2077 available here

Cyberpunk 2077 was released worldwide, and any talk of PC gamers enjoying it was quickly drowned by console users complaining, quite rightly, about their frustrations with that version of the game. Even worse, CD Projekt Red only gave PC codes to console reviewers. Many PlayStation and Xbox gamers had ordered Cyberpunk 2077 in the past after receiving a variety of bonuses merchandise. They felt betrayed and let it be known.

This is a small idea that I have been developing, and which I am tentatively calling “Ian’s Theory of Good and Bad Things”. If the first three to four thoughts that you have when thinking about something are positive, then it’s a good thing. When you discuss it, it is about what makes it great. If you think of negative things about something, it is likely that it’s bad. What matters to you most are its bad aspects. It’s revolutionary stuff.

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I have reviewed many good and poor games. My impression is that your first impressions will determine the way you feel about the game. Your first impressions can determine how you view the rest of what you are reading, watching or playing. No one makes a list about pros and cons of a video game. They then add up all the numbers to decide how they feel about it. After the initial hours, we form our opinions about a game and then start to make lists to validate them.

This is how it played in Cyberpunk 2077. The PC version was reviewed by many and they had fun, despite some bugs. Most gave Cyberpunk 2077 fairly high scores. They didn’t overlook the technical issues – Rich’s Cyberpunk 2077 review highlights the save file corruption, quest progression blocking and objects floating in the air in an inappropriate way. It was still a 9 because those bugs weren’t the most important thing about the game.

So when release day arrived and the fatally flawed console version of Cyberpunk 2077 appeared, the ratio flipped. The game’s most important features were not interesting characters or a city to explore. For hundreds of thousands console gamers, these were quickly tossed to the side by anger at being ripped off. If you feel that you have been conned or disappointed by a game, then the most relevant features will be those that explain it: poor performance, pedestrians, and a bad minimap.

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Cyberpunk 2077 could have launched with patches and without wall-to-wall media blitz. That first impression might not be the same. It’s easy to see that the feeling of betrayal, despite eight months of hard work and some QA testing, was absent or somewhat diminished after the game launched. Players might instead have felt excitement, discovery or even fear as their first reactions. If more players had started at that point, Cyberpunk 2077 might not have faced its remaining problems. At the most, it might have avoided being referred to as a meme of failure and hubris.

Total War 2: Rome 2 was poorly designed and lacked the ability to use siege weapons.

Although I don’t want everyone to love Cyberpunk 2077, I think that it deserves another chance. I have a problem with the boring discussion about Cyberpunk that ended up taking place.

Cyberpunk 2077 contains many aspects that merit further investigation. Cyberpunk 2077 has much to offer about sex work. How important is the Night City Police Department in this context? It is a statement about how we relate to each other’s bodies and our own. This is a praiseworthy portrayal of the future that we desire, or an alarming warning about one that we need to avoid. Cyberpunk, the tabletop videogame, does Cyberpunk really deal with late-stage capitalism in the same way that Cyberpunk does.

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These are questions that start conversations far greater than 60fps on an RTX2070 graphic card. These conversations may be happening in tucked away places, but it would be great to have them more visible. With a bit more time players might be able to give Cyberpunk 2077 another shot.

Skye is told by V that he just wants the whole world to see that he was there, and that he matters. They might one day.

PCGamesN’s new feature series, “What if?” is now available. Check back every Saturday for more hypotheticals, from thoughtful speculation about actually-plausible industry developments, to dream crossovers, to nonsense like Half-Life 3 happening. If you are still interested in Night City after reading this, you can purchase it through Humble.

Publited Sat 31 July 2021 at 10:55.40 (+0000).

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