TA Playlist Wrap-Up – Cyberpunk 2077

“ Sometimes, the only way to win is to burn it all down.”
~Johnny Silverhand

Welcome back to another month of the TA Playlist! For March, we focused on science fiction games, which often explore both the amazing benefits and the potential pitfalls of technological progress. Probably no game of the last few years exemplifies those themes like our March 2024 TA Playlist Game of the Month, Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 was a much-anticipated new franchise from Polish developer CD Projekt RED, best known for their work on the highly-acclaimed Witcher series. When it released in December 2020, however, performance issues and bugs famously plagued the console versions of the ambitious new RPG, leading to massive refunds for both Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game. Many called the console version “broken” and even “unplayable,” to the point where it was the subject of a class-action lawsuit and was removed from the PlayStation store until updates improved stability.
Stevo6483 said:

I really want to play this. I bought it at launch after jumping on the hype train quite late – I avoided much about it until a month or two prior to release. I bought it for my standard Xbox One however, and was dismayed at all the issues present. I’m still yet to upgrade to a Series X, might get one later this year hopefully so I can have the best experience possible rather than playing a substandard version of the game. And when I do this will be the first game I play. Despite not playing the game yet, it has left its mark on me. I refuse to buy games at launch anymore. Wait for lots of reviews, gameplay footage on all platforms after launch, and a good sale. 👍

Luckily, CDPR didn’t give up on the game. Like a ripperdoc adding cybernetic enhancements to an injured patient, the developers patched, updated, and modified the game significantly, evolving it into a very different experience compared to the original release, culminating in the “Cyberpunk 2.0” update in September 2023, alongside the Phantom Liberty DLC.
nickplv#1199 said:

Very solid RPG. Nevertheless its early problems, CDPR showed what proper support is.
Plot, setting, and design are on a very high level. How deep characters are developed, how close you’re getting to them as a player… Really one of the best RPGs I’ve played.

deathbwithu said:

Had really high hopes for this, but then it turned out to be a disaster. Good on CD Projekt RED for working to make it right and redeeming themselves. Hope to play it soon!

Based on the Cyberpunk table-top role playing game, created by Mike Pondsmith in 1988, the Cyberpunk universe splits from our own timeline in the 1980s, where the United States collapsed following a military coup, while Japan and the European Common Market rose to be global superpowers. Technology and cybernetics have advanced far beyond our current level, but society has fallen into a futuristic dystopia of violence and inequality.

The game takes place in the year 2077 in Night City, a mega-city on the west coast of the Free State of North California, just south of San Francisco. Night City’s corrupt government is run by large corporations in constant conflict with each other, while the streets are ruled by poverty and gang violence. Citizens of all classes engage in cybernetic body modifications for cosmetic enhancements as well as increased physical and mental attributes, although some individuals get addicted to these modifications and become mentally unstable “cyberpsychos.”
wildwest08 said:

I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition and was all set to play it on day 1. My game got delayed for a few days, and by then, all of the bugs and glitches came to the forefront. I decided to put it away until it got into a better state. I went back before the DLC came out and had a blast. The world-building was amazing. The city was big, but wasn’t overwhelming in my mind. The level of detail was precise and awe-inspiring, which you can tell they did with a lot of love.

Your character is V (either Vincent or Valerie, depending on your gender choice), and you can select one of three Life Paths – Street Kid, Nomad, or Corpo — to start your playthrough. The Life Path will determine which prologue missions you go on, as well as giving you access to different dialog options throughout the game. Whichever background you choose, your character will eventually meet up with a mercenary named Jackie Welles, and when your mission goes a bit sideways, you’ll be forced to cut ties with your old life and join Jackie’s crew, ending the prologue.

Along with their tech support, T-Bug, Jackie and V work their way up in the ranks of the Night City criminal scene, and become solid friends in the process. Act I picks up a while later, when V and Jackie are hired to steal an item known as The Relic from Yorinobu Arasaka, the son of Arasaka Corporation boss Saburo, and one of the most powerful men in night city. After a series of missions to set up the heist, the pair are successful in retrieving the Relic, which turns out to be a prototype biochip. Things don’t go entirely according to plan, though, and after some tragic twists and turns, V ends up with both the biochip – and a bullet – inside his (or her) head.
Luna Invictus4 said:

I know the game had a rough launch, but it’s a fantastic game, especially after the updates. Visuals are excellent, story is good, and the feeling of traveling throughout such a detailed city just has a special feel to it.

Flashback to the year 2023, and you are no longer V… you’re now playing from the perspective of legendary rockerboy and terrorist Johnny Silverhand. Fragmented memories show Johnny’s final rock concert before he stages an attack on the Arasaka HQ, complete with setting off a couple of tactical nuclear warheads to take down the building. Johnny is captured by Arasaka forces, however, and strapped to a chair just as the Act draws to a close.

You regain consciousness as V, surprised to find yourself still alive, and with the help of Goro Takemura, a former bodyguard of Saburo Arasaka who has been falsely accused of his murder. Takemura gets V to a ripperdoc named Viktor, who manages to bring V back from the brink of death. It’s only a temporary reprieve, however, because Viktor reveals that the Relic chip is imprinted with the digitized memory engram of Johnny Silverhand. The chip is all that’s keeping you alive, but it’s also starting to overwrite your own mind, with Johnny’s consciousness appearing as a hallucination that only you can see and hear. With help from Takemura, V must search for a way to safely remove the Relic while bringing justice – or vengeance – to Night City.
Schinderdiv said:

I don’t think I’ve played another game that paced the side content with the main story content so perfectly and that really impresses me. I’ve been going back to the main story after finishing Phantom Liberty during some of my free time and have really enjoyed playing through it again. One really notable thing about this game is that all of the characters are very memorable and when you take the time to follow the story it can be a very emotional experience. Video games rarely ever get me emotionally invested in my character, let alone the main and support characters, but this one does it all. An absolute masterpiece.

Starring Keanu Reeves as Johnny SilverhandStarring Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand

Cyberpunk 2077 offers players a wide array of options for both combat and non-combat situations, from melee and ranged weapons to netrunning (hacking) abilities that can quickly neutralize enemies and defenses. It’s even possible to play the entire game without killing anyone, using hacking attacks, dialogue options, and non-lethal weaponry. The 2.0 update reworked the skill tree quite a bit, and re-balanced some of V’s abilities, forcing some players to change their strategies following the redesign.
Allgorhythm said:

I always play on the highest difficulty available so the change was a big deal. Prior to 2.0, I could wipe out an entire compound with netrunner skills from outside its boundaries. In 2.0, as soon as V starts hacking, enemies become aware of the cyber-threat & start tracking V’s location. So, V can’t annihilate enemy compounds from a hidden position.

FruitofPassion said:

Hehe. I too was murdering everyone by simply looking at them. Was good times I tell ya. I kinda miss that. Can still do it to an extent but it’s super expensive unless close to them so I combined it with stealth knife now.
But memory wipe is officially the most op daemon now imo because I can just take someone out of combat and walk behind them and knock them out and it even works on cyberpsycos so can completely skip the fight xD
And on a side note I can still at least walk down the street and upload distract daemons to all the technology and make cars go haywire and explode and stuff and just flat-out cause chaos and honestly, it is a very fun distraction./ Plus it gives netrunner XP.

Night City itself offers a wide variety of side quests and activities, and rewards careful exploration of every dark alleyway and run-down building. Interacting with the detailed and immersive environment is enough to keep some players entertained, as FruitofPassion illustrated above, but others found the amount of content to be a bit too much, even if they enjoyed the game overall.
Thragg Avenger said:

Personally, I loved the main story and major side missions but got very bored of the minor activities and open-world content. Gameplay was fine, but got a bit repetitive (maybe didn’t help that I spec’d for stealth and hacking, effective but not very exciting!) – by halfway through the game I was so OP that nothing was even remotely a challenge, even when thrown into a straight firefight. Still, I had an enjoyable enough time – it was a good game, but not a Witcher-level game.

wildwest08 said:

The story was top notch in my opinion and they really developed the characters in the game. It is one of my favorites in the last decade of gaming, maybe longer. The combat was good, but I didn’t go really deep with it. I haven’t tried the revamp they did recently.
The one negative that stuck out to me, beyond the day 1 glitches, was the amount of collectibles. I think it was a little too much in my opinion. It wasn’t the worst game in that regards, but the end game felt like trying to get you to do too much

There are some benefits to having so much side content, however…
FruitofPassion said:

[N]earing the completion of literally everything in the game before finishing the main story, can attest that the “kill these guys, now kill these guys” stuff gets pretty stale. Luckily the side quests are great though so mix that in there and I got by. But hey I got this chip in me in 2077 and now it’s 2081 so like side quests have really been keeping me alive it seems. Don’t do the main quest and you are immortal!

and Idris Elba as Solomon Reedand Idris Elba as Solomon Reed

Despite all the content packed in the base version of the game, most of the comments in the forums centered on the 2.0 update and the Phantom Liberty DLC, which basically opens up an entirely new storyline for the third act of the game, including new areas, characters, and questlines that can lead to alternate endings for V’s story. The 2.0 update and Phantom Liberty DLC brought so many changes to the game that many considered it to be an entirely new release, and it received high praise from both critics and fans.
snipe4shotz said:

Started the game after the various patches were implemented so I don’t have a perspective from the bugs/frustration at launch. What I can say after completing everything the game has to offer (Base + Expansion) is that the game deserves the accolades it gets post-launch. Night City deserves to be explored at least once by everyone along with the journey that the story takes you throughout.

FosterJag15 said:

I bought and played this Day One (Xbox One game version on Series X) and had a wonderful time going through it. It made me sad and disappointed to see all the struggles that people were having with the game on launch because I was lucky enough to get a bug-free experience.
I’m super happy to see plenty of people being able to enjoy this game the way I did now that so many fixes have come along. I played through Phantom Liberty when it dropped last year, and it was fantastic. It set a new standard for expansions in my book. It built really well on the established world, and definitely sustained that hopeless feeling with some excellent quests and characters. I’m always excited to see what CDPR’s cooking next.

Note that the Phantom Liberty DLC is not available for the Xbox One, leading many to suggest that if you haven’t yet upgraded to the Series X|S, it’s worth waiting to upgrade before you jump into Cyberpunk 2077 in order to get the best version of the game with all the content.
Allgorhythm said:

rholliday said:

Not playing this until I get a Series X and can play Phantom Liberty.

You’ve made the right decision. IMHO, Cyberpunk 2077 was too ambitious (or too inefficiently coded or both). In contrast, I rate it highest among the games I’ve played on the Series X.
The game was great before the DLC came out. Phantom Liberty for Cyberpunk 2077 elevated the game even further—and I speak as one who always plays DLCs and, almost invariably, find them anti-climactic & lame compared to the associated base game.

FruitofPassion said:

Speaking of owning an X now, what a difference it is. I mean it runs fine on the One but the city is so empty in comparison. Maybe see 3 cars on the street at once. But upgraded to X and my first thought was: “wow! There’s traffic!” xD

In the end, the real-life story of the journey of Cyberpunk 2077 is almost as interesting as the in-game plot. Like a down-and-out mercenary resuscitated from near-death and going on to challenge the most powerful elements of Night City, the game itself started as a shocking disappointment that almost ruined the reputation of one of gaming’s premier developers, but through continuous modifications and improvements, went on to become one of the greatest comeback stories of all time.
UGotta Check It said:

I remember clowning this game at release lol. Now I’m struggling on whether I should buy a physical edition with DLC. How times change

This led to this deeply philosophical exchange in the forums…
ShinUkyo said:

As others said, the turnaround this game made is fantastic. The state it’s in now is brilliant, and someday I’d love to go replay it on Xbox (after tackling it on PC.) Though there’s always the question of, “Sure, the game turned out amazing in the end, but why let companies keep launching games early and broken?” Then again, both the public backlash and sort of “free public testing” post-launch could be a lot of what resulted in the final version being amazing. The age we live in. laugh

TymanTheLong said:

That’s a real mind bender isn’t it? Would it have been always mediocre if it had launched completely functional but flawed in the sense of good game play? CDPR has always had a habit of doing free DLC and quality updates but it’s not a given that a non Witcher game would have merited the same treatment.
To take another example, would No Man’s Sky as good of a game today than it would have been if it launched basically functional with B- gameplay?
Yet it’s a horrible way to treat customers… but what if the answer is that we actually did get a better game in the end because of it?
I don’t like those implications, but that doesn’t mean they might not be true…

Dr Marty said:

It pays off waiting 3-4 years before playing a game. Usually, they get much better at that point because we have reached a point where half-baked games are released to the public, and the first few years are treated like a beta.

TymanTheLong said:

I agree mostly: in general you’re playing the best version of that game. But there’s something to be said for the social value of playing something while everyone else is playing it, if only for the out of game community effect. I’m not always sure which is better for which title…. I wish I was.

Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think – if a game is terrible at launch but then turns out great after a few years, is that better than a mediocre game that stays mediocre? Is there still any value to jumping into a game at launch, or is it better to wait for fixes and improvements over time? This one leaves us with quite a lot to think about.

We had a strong month of Playlist stats, with 12,693 tracked gamers unlocking achievements in Cyberpunk 2077 during March. 3,156 TA users started the game for the first time, while 396 earned the full completion by unlocking all 57 of the game’s achievements. In all, 60,967 Cyberpunk 2077 achievements were unlocked in March, worth a grand total of 1,547,730 Gamerscore and 3,143,196 TrueAchievement score – an overall ratio of 2.03 for the month.

“The Fool” was by far the most unlocked achievement during the month, which is no surprise since it’s the first achievement available in the game, awarded to 3,133 tracked gamers for completing the prologue. The least-unlocked achievement was “Rough Landing”, which requires you to land a jumping attack on two enemies while Berserk cyberware is active. Only 349 gamers managed to put together that specific set of circumstances during March.

The March 2024 Shout-Out List is another very short one, with only three tracked gamers who managed to both start and finish Cyberpunk 2077 during the month. Kudos to Cold LsR, DeeZov, and HFr Soda for crushing out this entire beast of a game in just 9, 12, and 14 days, respectively. Impressive!

With April drawing to a close, it’s time to finish up our playthrough and discussion of this month’s Indie Game Pass gem: Cocoon. Either unlock an achievement in the game before midnight UTC on May 1 or drop by the Spoiler-Free and Spoiler Discussion Threads to discuss this innovative puzzle adventure. Then, get ready for next month’s winner of games with great TV adaptations, Fallout 3. See you in May!

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