Cyberpunk 2077 returns to the PlayStation Store!

More than six months after a cataclysmic, bug-riddled launch saw Cyberpunk 2077 quite deservingly removed from sale by Sony, the game is finally back on the PlayStation Store. But is this the triumph it appears to be?

It’s been a while since we last took a look at the disastrous Cyberpunk 2077, and this seems like a good opportunity to consider the game’s progress – and how far it still has to go. On the surface, Cyberpunk 2077′s return to the PlayStation Store seems like a win for beleaguered developer CD Projekt Red. They’ll want to spin it as testament to the work put into the game since launch, and that it must be representative of a significant improvement for the game… even though its PlayStation Store listing comes with a major caveat that warns players of “performance issues” and that buying the game for PlayStation 4 is “not recommended!”

Cyberpunk 2077 is finally back on the PlayStation Store.

Let’s not forget, before we go any further, that Sony doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to gatekeeping on the PlayStation Store. Some truly awful games have been released there and allowed to remain on sale even after being shown to be buggy, unplayable messes. That’s one reason why the decision to pull Cyberpunk 2077 was so shocking! Sony allowing the game back means it’s finally at the same level as PlayStation classics like Life of Black Tiger and Sword of Fortress the Onomuzim.

The general consensus, even from Cyberpunk 2077′s remaining supporters, is that the game still has a long way to go. There are still a lot of glitches and issues to correct, but most significantly there are underlying gameplay problems, more of which become apparent with every bug fixed. Cyberpunk 2077 was rushed out the door to meet an arbitrary deadline, and the result of that isn’t just the bugs and glitches. Many aspects of the underlying gameplay just aren’t all that good.

Many elements of Cyberpunk 2077 – including driving – have been heavily criticised.

Non-player characters don’t react naturally to situations that transpire around them. There are many video clips you can find on YouTube of half a dozen characters performing an identical animation when the player takes out a gun or fires a shot. Night City’s police don’t exist dynamically in the world in the same way they do in games like Grand Theft Auto V – or Grand Theft Auto III, come to that. Instead, they spawn in when the player commits a crime – often within a metre or two of the player.

If the version of Cyberpunk 2077 that launched in December felt like an early alpha version, six months later what we have at best is the equivalent of a closed beta. It’s ready for play-testing by a large professional QA team who would report all of these bugs and glitches to the developers so they could be fixed before launch. In a game of this size, this phase of development could easily take six months or more. Being as generous as we can, Cyberpunk 2077 is still in dire need of months of development time to get to a state that’s anywhere close to acceptable.

Cyberpunk 2077 launched in an appalling state… and despite some improvements, is still nowhere close to acceptable.

And that’s before we get into new problems. CD Projekt Red and the development team are still reeling from a major hack that exposed the private data of many individuals who work for the company. That will undoubtedly have damaged morale. But to my great surprise, in recent interviews CD Projekt Red has already begun discussing its next game – which is assumed to be The Witcher 4.

They quite literally and demonstrably have not finished working on Cyberpunk 2077 and they’re already talking about moving on to new projects? Ouch. I think we can kiss goodbye to any Cyberpunk 2077 expansion packs or DLC! CD Projekt Red has also announced sales figures for the first quarter of 2021, and as you might expect given the state of the game, those numbers are catastrophically bad – Cyberpunk 2077 sold somewhere in the region of 800,000 copies. That’s less than 6% of the 13.7 million copies of the game that were sold in December 2020.

As you might expect, sales tanked following the game’s disastrous launch.

Then there are refunds to take into consideration. Many players chose to get refunds directly from Xbox, Steam, and other outlets where they’d purchased the game. This is a big part of the reason why Sony took the game down – there were so many refunds being requested, and Sony was concerned about their ability to handle all of them. CD Projekt Red directly refunded only around 30,000 players – but that doesn’t account for the vast majority who got their refunds from the shop they purchased the game from. The total number of refunds as of June – according to unofficial reports – may be in excess of two million.

Even if that number is inflated, a huge number of refunds have been paid out, and that’s had a massive impact on CD Projekt Red’s bottom line. The company has seen more than 50% wiped off the value of its share price in the last six months, and a recent investor presentation saw further falls as investors were disappointed at the lack of clarity about the company’s future – and Cyberpunk 2077 in particular.

CD Projekt Red’s stock price from June 2020 to June 2021.
Image Credit: Google Finance

I’ve spoken at length about how Cyberpunk 2077 has become the latest in a long line of “release now, fix later” failures, but the point needs to be re-emphasised: this is not how you make a video game. Players have a right to expect basic functionality and playability at the bare minimum, and even as Cyberpunk 2077 returns to the PlayStation Store, those basic expectations are still not being met. The game remains in a poor state, unworthy of being called a finished product.

As the old joke goes: if you can’t be a success in life, maybe you can still serve as a bad example. And that’s what Cyberpunk 2077 is right now: a warning to any other publisher that thinks they can get away with releasing a broken, bug-riddled, unplayable mess and promise to fix it later.

Cyberpunk 2077 will be studied in the years ahead.

I had been hopeful that Cyberpunk 2077′s updates over the last few months would kick off a No Man’s Sky-style revival, with the game crawling its way slowly toward commercial success and critical acclaim. That’s still possible – though if CD Projekt Red are already considering their next game, I’m not encouraged by that. But as things stand, the updates and patches released so far haven’t succeeded at getting the game to anywhere near its promised condition.

Some of the bugs are gone. But each bug removed seems to uncover something else about Cyberpunk 2077 that’s disappointing – in a way, the game’s reputation for being unplayable due to bugs concealed what may come to be seen as its true failing: Cyberpunk 2077 is just not that fun to play. There may be a decent story, but in terms of gameplay, what’s there is a roleplaying-shooter that’s mediocre at best, with gameplay systems that other titles did better years earlier.

The reputation of CD Projekt Red has been badly damaged by the Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco and will take a long time to recover.

Considering the financial impact on CD Projekt Red, in a way I could quite understand the desire to move on. Cutting your losses and racing ahead to a new project makes business sense in some circumstances, and may even be helpful in the medium-to-long term for team morale. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear in the next few months that there won’t be any more Cyberpunk 2077 updates; that this is as good as the game will ever get.

BioWare did this twice in recent years – with Mass Effect: Andromeda and with Anthem. So before you dismiss the notion out of hand, keep in mind that it’s happened before. Games companies are notorious for cutting their losses and abandoning underperforming projects. And if we’ve learned one thing from the Cyberpunk 2077 clusterfuck it’s that CD Projekt Red, despite their earlier glowing reputation with players, behave just like every other major games company on the planet.

If you’re still playing Cyberpunk 2077 – or holding out hope for its future success – I’m with you. I don’t want this game to be forever bad; it had so much potential and I’d like nothing more than to see it succeed. I’m just not holding my breath any more. There have been too many underwhelming updates and too many strange noises coming from CD Projekt Red.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X. Cyberpunk 2077 is the copyright of CD Projekt Red. Some promotional artwork courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Cyberpunk 2077: Version 1.2 might be a step in the right direction, but it’s still got a long way to go

If Cyberpunk 2077 had been released today, with all of the improvements version 1.2 brings – and all of the other hotfixes and patches rolled out since its abysmal release in December – it would have received the exact same negative response from players and critics. This is a game that, for all of the minor improvements made, still has a long way to go to get to a decent state. At least, that seems to be the consensus now that the latest version of the game is live.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that, quite frankly, is still in development. But CD Projekt Red opted to release it to the public before development was finished. The game will go down in gaming history as one of the worst and most egregious examples of the horrible “release now, fix later” business model that has plagued the industry for the better part of a decade. Whatever improvements may come in future as development on the game continues, its reputation has been defined by its catastrophic launch. Don’t believe me? Just look at No Man’s Sky, another game that took years to get to where it should have been at launch. No matter what happens now with No Man’s Sky, it will forever be known as the game that was overhyped, lied about, and that players hated upon release. Cyberpunk 2077 is in the same boat.

Cyberpunk 2077 is the new No Man’s Sky.

Even the game’s biggest fans and supporters seem practically united in their unwillingness to recommend Cyberpunk 2077 in its current form, even after the updates and fixes brought by version 1.2. “If you’ve held off this long, you can wait a little longer,” suggested one Cyberpunk 2077 fan on YouTube. If that isn’t damning, I don’t know what is.

The problem with Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t just that it was full of bugs, glitches, crashes, frame-rate problems, and graphical errors. Ironically, those issues concealed what may come to be seen as the game’s worst traits – awful enemy and non-player character AI and scripting, unrealistic physics, and a game with what is considered to be an engrossing story held back by first-person shooter gameplay that’s average at best.

Fixing those things, if it’s even possible, will take a long time.

An NPC clipping through a vehicle.
Picture Credit: Gameranx via YouTube.

Taking on an ambitious project should be commended, and CD Projekt Red were certainly ambitious with Cyberpunk 2077. As with No Man’s Sky, though, the ambition was clearly not backed up with sufficient skill, knowledge, and management. CD Projekt Red stepped away from the style of their previous title – the critically-acclaimed Witcher 3 – to tackle a wholly new genre. There’s clearly a big difference between a third-person action-roleplaying game and a first-person shooter roleplaying game, and for CD Projekt Red, the transition from working on one style of game to the other did not go smoothly – to say the least.

Perhaps one day we’ll learn more from those involved about how Cyberpunk 2077 went so far off the rails, and that will be an interesting story. However, even without knowing the details, we’ve been in this position so many times over the years with so many different games that we can make some reasonable assumptions. Developers were pushed into working on a totally different style of game without sufficient backup or training. Management kept changing their minds about the direction of aspects of the project. Despite being announced way back in 2012, development didn’t begin in earnest until 2016, meaning the game was developed in a scant four years, not eight. An absolute rock-solid deadline of the end of 2020 was in place and immovable, despite the game not being ready. And so on.

Driving in Cyberpunk 2077 is one aspect that has been improved – but still isn’t right.

Many of those points about poor project management, a lack of necessary skill and training on wholly new systems and engines, and rushing to meet deadlines applied to games like Fallout 76, Anthem, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and many others. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn something similar happened to Cyberpunk 2077.

It’s clear, though, that CD Projekt Red lack the development skill to match other open world games, even those from years ago. Grand Theft Auto V, while not directly comparable as it isn’t a roleplaying game, uses a densely-packed city as the main part of its open world, with systems like driving and evading the police that are present in Cyberpunk 2077. Yet that game manages to do every aspect better. Police in Cyberpunk 2077 randomly appear out of nowhere, spawned into the game within feet of the player. Even older Grand Theft Auto titles didn’t do that. Heck, even a game like Saint’s Row 2 from 2008 handles driving, pedestrians, and police way better than Cyberpunk 2077 version 1.2, and that game was released twelve years earlier and cost an awful lot less to develop!

Saint’s Row 2 managed to do better than Cyberpunk 2077 at several key aspects of gameplay.

For me, this is the real problem with Cyberpunk 2077, and it’s one that is not easily sorted out. The bugs and glitches at launch took attention and focus away from the fact that some pretty major gameplay elements are sub-par, and now that some of the glitches are finally going away (though by no means are all the problems fixed, especially on consoles) people are beginning to come around to the simple fact that the game itself is suffering from some significant issues.

Far from being a quick patch job, with the game being fixed and playable by the summer or even the end of 2021, Cyberpunk 2077 is in the early stages of a complete root-and-branch overhaul. The version that launched should have been a beta. Heck, it should have been an alpha. The game is still in development, but it’s already been released. This has to be one of the single worst examples of the “release now, fix later” business model that plagues the modern video games industry.

Cyberpunk 2077 promised a lot, and failed to deliver on much of it for many players.

Individual developers are not to blame, and they never are in cases like this. That’s why I was so upset when some “fans” seemed to be celebrating the company being hacked a few weeks ago. This is a failure of management. Management failed to understand the complexities of the project they were taking on. They were overambitious. They failed to ensure the development team had adequate resources to do their jobs. And when it came to marketing Cyberpunk 2077, they allowed a ridiculous hype bubble to get completely out of hand.

Version 1.2 may be the biggest step so far toward getting Cyberpunk 2077 into a more enjoyable – or even just basically playable – state. But the task facing CD Projekt Red, at a time when harsh but deserved criticism has surely lowered staff morale, is a truly daunting one. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes!

Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Cyberpunk 2077 is the copyright of CD Projekt Red. Some screenshots and promo artwork courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

The CD Projekt Red hack is nothing to celebrate

Despite the slow pace of updates meaning that Cyberpunk 2077 is still a hot mess more than two months on from its release, I had hoped that the controversy was dying down, giving the game and its developer, CD Projekt Red, time to fix things. We’ve recently discussed why the “release now, fix later” approach is a bad idea, and Cyberpunk 2077 is a case in point. But there’s a line between criticising a company for its bad, anti-consumer decisions and breaking the law to attack them and their employees. CD Projekt Red has recently fallen victim to what they’re calling a “targeted cyber attack,” one which has not only compromised their recent game, but has also supposedly granted the hackers access to private employee data.

This is not something to cheer, no matter how disappointed one may be in the Cyberpunk 2077 fiasco. CD Projekt Red made many mistakes and acted in an unfair, aggressively anti-consumer manner. But the company and its employees do not deserve to have their work – and especially not their personal data – stolen for ransom.

A hacker has attacked Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red.

There are many cases of hackers doing good things, attacking truly evil entities and bringing to light incredibly important information. It’s thanks to hacking that we know, for example, the extent of cyber surveillance by governments. Hackers routinely take on dictatorships, corrupt governments and organisations, and have even helped bring to justice sexual predators and abusers. But unlike in any of these cases, video games are not a matter of life or death. No one has been helped by this situation, and it may very well make things worse.

Some industry watchers and analysts are saying we need to brace for “shocking” revelations which may come from the stolen data. While no one is yet saying precisely what the hackers may have unearthed, it’s not hyperbolic to say that cyber attacks of this nature have literally shut down companies in some cases. If there’s something big hiding in the CD Projekt Red data, it could spell disaster for the company.

We don’t yet know what – if anything – is hiding in the stolen data.

Nobody wants that. Most folks I’ve spoken to who were disappointed in CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077 want the company to keep working on the game, fix the issues, and apologise for the misleading way they handled the marketing and launch. Nobody serious is advocating for the company to suffer or be closed down; that would be counterproductive to what all of us want: for Cyberpunk 2077 to get to a decent, playable state.

Of course it’s most likely that nothing in this hack will lead to CD Projekt Red being shut down. But the mess that results from this kind of event will harm morale within the company – especially among ordinary employees who are now finding out that their personal data has been stolen. It will slow progress on fixing the game, and despite what we might say about how it should have never been released in this state, that’s already happened and won’t be undone by a hack like this. The game needs to be fixed as soon as possible, and this will slow down that work.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a broken bug-riddled mess that needs to be fixed.

I’m not someone who goes to shill for corporations, nor someone who would ordinarily stand up for a wealthy company – especially one that has behaved in such a scummy way. But this hack helps nobody, harms the company right at the moment when it needs to be focusing on fixing the game, and only benefits cyber criminals – criminals who probably don’t even care about Cyberpunk 2077. This may simply be a convenient excuse to attack a company and demand money.

Speaking of demanding money, if this were simply an irate gamer trying to “get back” at CD Projekt Red, why threaten the company and ask for a “ransom?” There’s nothing altruistic about this; it isn’t even like the recent “Reddit vs. Wall Street” battle over GameStop shares. This is cyber crime, plain and simple, and I find it very disheartening to see how many people are actively supporting it and cheering for it.

Cyberpunk 2077 launched to well-deserved bad reviews in December.

It’s funny, in a way, and I get that we all like to make jokes and memes about these situations. I saw someone making the joke that hacking into CD Projekt Red was comparable to a hacking minigame in Cyberpunk 2077 – and I admit that one made me chuckle! There can be no denying that the company massively screwed up the launch of its latest game, and they have seen their share price take a hit, their reputation and goodwill utterly collapse, and they’re undoubtedly losing money as a result. Cyberpunk 2077 has been pulled from the PlayStation Store, seen huge numbers of refunds issued, and the mess will take a long time for CD Projekt Red to clean up.

All of that is good. And I support companies like Sony taking legitimate action to hold CD Projekt Red accountable. That absolutely needs to happen. And it has happened already – by lawful means. The game’s review scores have been mediocre, with many players giving the game 0/10 for its bugs and glitches. And all of the aforementioned criticism has eroded the reputation of CD Projekt Red. But this hack is a step too far and cannot be condoned. Criticise CD Projekt Red. I know I have. Call them out for their lies and their nonsense. Don’t buy the game or insist on a refund. Support companies like Sony in pulling the game from sale. But breaking the law and attacking the company helps no one, and is ultimately going to make the wait for the game to be fixed even longer.

Cyberpunk 2077 is the copyright of CD Projekt Red. Some stock photos courtesy of Unsplash. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

CD Projekt’s full statement on the hack can be found below:

Another surprising twist in the Cyberpunk 2077 saga

Having said all I wanted to about Cyberpunk 2077 both before and after its release, I was content to sit back, wait for the patches and updates to be rolled out, and not discuss the game again until I’d played it for myself – something I still hope to do some time next year. But out of nowhere came a truly shocking piece of news and I just had to add my two cents to the conversation. If you somehow missed it, here’s the lowdown: Sony has removed Cyberpunk 2077 from sale on the PlayStation Store and is offering a refund to every single PlayStation player who picked up the game.

People throw around words very easily these days, so forgive me for emphasising this point: this action is unprecedented. Sure, some games do get removed from sale from time to time, sometimes for rights or licensing reasons, sometimes for copyright, sometimes because they were literally cobbled together from pre-bought assets and barely function. And of course Nintendo has its “forced scarcity” business model that we’re seeing with Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which will be pulled from sale in March.

Cyberpunk 2077 is being removed from the PlayStation Store.

But in all the years I’ve been involved with the games industry, I have never seen such a major release as Cyberpunk 2077 being removed from sale. Never. Nintendo and their anti-consumer practices aside, the only games that tend to get pulled from shelves are the non-functional pre-bought asset “games” that have been put together by amateurs. A major release on this scale has, as far as I know, never been unceremoniously de-listed in this way. It is wholly without precedent.

On the one hand, I actually sympathise with CD Projekt Red (the developers behind Cyberpunk 2077). There is a process involved in getting a game onto the PlayStation Store in the first place – as indeed there is for any digital shop. Part of the process requires approval from Sony, who will have been given pre-release access to the game to test for themselves. So from CD Projekt Red’s perspective, they may feel that Sony acted unfairly, and that if they didn’t want to sell the game they could have denied it access to their platform weeks ago.

Cyberpunk 2077 was developed by CD Projekt Red.

However, as with everything to do with major corporations, it’s more complicated than that! In a competitive market, with Sony up against Microsoft both with the Xbox One/Xbox Series X and PC gaming, they could hardly be the only place Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t available. In short, if there was going to be a prohibition of the game’s sale due to bugs and glitches, if Xbox didn’t follow suit it would hugely disadvantage Sony in the short-term. Secondly, I have no doubt that CD Projekt Red wooed Sony with promises of day-one updates and patches to some of the major issues that they surely uncovered during their own tests.

But most importantly there’s a legal component to what’s happened. CD Projekt Red initially offered refunds to anyone disappointed with Cyberpunk 2077 on their platform of choice. Sony, by some accounts, had difficulty processing those refunds when players requested them. In order to avoid legal action from players who had been promised a refund, or from players who may claim the game was not as advertised, Sony have stepped in and used the proverbial “nuclear option” as a last resort.

Cyberpunk 2077 launched in a broken state.

When I first saw this news break I thought the individual writing about it must have got confused or been exaggerating for clicks. It simply did not seem possible that a major game from a huge company would be pulled from sale entirely on the PlayStation. After all, Cyberpunk 2077 has hardly been abandoned; patches, hot-fixes, and updates have already been rolled out and more are already scheduled. Even if the game is buggy at launch, improvements are on the horizon. I was stunned to learn it was true, and it’s even been covered by mainstream news outlets here in the UK.

It’s hardly the first time a major game has arrived with bugs and glitches. Fallout 76 a couple of years ago was truly awful on that front (in addition to being just an awful game all around) yet it remained on sale. As did the likes of Skyrim, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Assassin’s Creed Unity. Despite having incredibly buggy launches, none were pulled from sale in the way Cyberpunk 2077 has been. And this must surely irk CD Projekt Red.

The notoriously buggy Assassin’s Creed Unity is still for sale on the PlayStation Store.

Despite what I said a moment ago about feeling a pang of sympathy, let’s not overdo it. This is entirely CD Projekt Red’s own fault. Despite having been willing to delay the game twice, they ultimately decided to force a release before the title was ready – if indeed it ever can be ready on current-gen consoles given its obvious PC and next-gen focus. There are two reasons I can see why they chose not to delay the game into 2021 – a desire to get the game out in time for the Christmas season (also known as the E.T. problem) and perhaps because the board game upon which Cyberpunk 2077 is based is called Cyberpunk 2020, and there was a clear desire to release the game in this calendar year.

When I wrote about Cyberpunk 2077′s first delay all the way back in January, I said that “the response from the [gaming] community when any game is delayed is almost always overwhelmingly positive.” That is a universal truth. There are a handful of troublemakers and brain-dead idiots who get upset and say stupid things – such as making death threats – when a title is delayed, but everyone else understands. We would rather play a good game in six months than a broken one now.

We’ve been talking about this game for a while!

In the case of Cyberpunk 2077, the hype bubble got out of control. Partly what’s happened is a result of CD Projekt Red trading on past success and their good reputation; they hadn’t released a new game since 2015, and it’s easy to seem like a good, pro-consumer company when you aren’t in the trenches. Perhaps the insane hype that grew around the game is why the company chose not to shift their focus entirely to next-gen hardware and higher-end PCs. That would be a difficult pill for many players to swallow, but had such a decision been made a year or more ago, by the time the game finally made it to its launch date practically all of that would have abated.

So the question now is: what happens next? CD Projekt Red have completely botched this launch. Many players found the game so bad it was unplayable, and by now the plot and even the side-missions have all been spoiled for a lot of people. The excitement of playing the game for the first time has gone, and for players who had a disappointing experience, even if it’s patched and fixed over the next few months, they can never get that back.

Cyberpunk 2077 will not be available on PlayStation 4 for the foreseeable future.

Given that the PC version is generally more stable, I can’t imagine the big PC gaming shops like Steam and Epic Games will be willing to follow suit and refund everyone who bought it. Microsoft might, though, and it’s possible in the coming days (or even hours) we’ll see Xbox make a similar announcement.

I’m still shocked. Even though I could tell the hype bubble around Cyberpunk 2077 was completely out of control, and I expected at least some players to find the game underwhelming, I had no idea what was coming. CD Projekt Red have gone from one of the best-loved games companies to one of the most criticised in a matter of days, and it’s not unfair to say that the hype bubble has completely burst. Cyberpunk 2077 is not the amazing, barrier-breaking, genre-redefining interactive experience that fans hoped for. As I predicted, it’s just a game. A bug-riddled game that’s so “unplayable” for many that Sony had to step in, refund everyone who bought it, and pull it from sale. Absolutely extraordinary.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for PC and Xbox One. The Xbox One version is compatible with the Xbox Series X. Cyberpunk 2077 is the copyright of CD Projekt Red. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

So Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t work…

Oh dear. The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 has not gone well for a lot of players. The lucky few who managed to acquire a next-gen PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X seem to be managing to have a decent enough time, as do PC players with an above-average machine. But anyone who picked up the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One has encountered a bug-riddled mess that many have described as “unplayable.”

CD Projekt Red is now receiving a lot of criticism, not only for releasing the game in a broken state, but for trying to cover that up. Reviewers who received copies of the game prior to release were only given access to the PC version – the version of the game which seems to run best – and were prohibited from using in-game footage they took themselves; launch day reviews were only allowed to use footage of the game provided by the developers. These things add up to a company trying to shield their game from well-earned criticism – and, as usual, the gaming press fell for it.

Welcome to Cyberpunk 2077!

There is once again a disconnect between reviews from professional games journalists and reviews from the general public. On Metacritic – which is usually a decent aggregator of both professional and amateur opinion – Cyberpunk 2077 is sitting at a 90 from professionals, but even on PC it’s only getting a 6.6 from regular players. On consoles the average score dips massively – 3.2 on Xbox One and 2.6 on PlayStation 4 respectively.* There’s a degree of review-bombing, with many players giving the game 0/10. And if the experience is so bad it’s “unplayable,” I can quite understand why.

On a normal Xbox One or PlayStation 4 – i.e. not an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro – frame-rates for the game routinely dip below 20fps, textures are massively downgraded, there are fewer cars on the road, fewer NPCs on the street, and the game suffers from a strange haze effect that makes it look blurry. And that’s before we get into a single bug – such as hard crashes, broken missions, and so many different graphical issues that it makes Mass Effect: Andromeda look good by comparison.

Keanu Reeves stars as Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077.

The overwhelming consensus is that the game should not have been released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. At some point during the development of Cyberpunk 2077 – which began in earnest in 2015 having been in pre-production since 2012 – the decision was made to prioritise higher-end PCs and next-gen consoles over current-gen machines. However, the game remained in development for older hardware and has clearly been unable to adapt. It’s possible that patches may be rolled out in the coming weeks that blunt the edge of some of these issues, but if the game is fundamentally built with better hardware in mind, it’s hard to see how that’s something that can be patched out.

Even if patches are coming, though, many players are asking themselves a perfectly reasonable question: why wasn’t the game delayed? Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed twice: from its initial April release to November, and again from November to December. With the game clearly in such a state, how on earth did CD Projekt Red decide to go ahead with the release? Surely they anticipated this reaction – otherwise they’d have allowed reviewers access to the console version of the game. Knowingly launching a broken game is something we’ve seen become all too common in the last few years, and as I’ve said before: it almost never works.

Driving is one aspect of Cyberpunk 2077.

Players have trusted CD Projekt Red as one of the few “good” games companies out there. Compared with the likes of Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, CD Projekt Red have a good reputation, largely because they’re considered pro-consumer. That reputation is in tatters right now, and the trust they’ve broken with millions of players will be very difficult to rebuild.

We’ve seen games launch in a bad state many times, and often it’s a killer blow. A few titles like No Man’s Sky manage to partially rehabilitate their reputation over time, but I know people today who still refuse to play that game because of the “lies” and broken promises at launch. And of course there are many games that simply fail because of the reputational damage suffered by a buggy, broken launch. Mass Effect: Andromeda is a good example; its planned expansions were cancelled and the entire franchise put on hiatus after its disastrous release.

Cyberpunk 2077′s poor console performance is doing serious harm to the reputation of CD Projekt Red.

Even if Cyberpunk 2077 can be reworked on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to be basically playable, the damage to the game’s reputation has been done. As many commenters have said: it doesn’t matter how good the game might be if it doesn’t work on the console they have. Pretending Cyberpunk 2077 is a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game was a mistake. CD Projekt Red have clearly known for some time that current-gen consoles are not capable of running the game in any meaningful way, and a decision should have been taken a long time ago to either make significant changes and scale back some of the next-gen elements, or to make it a next-gen exclusive.

Had such a decision been taken a year or more ago, Cyberpunk 2077 would be in a better place today. It could have been one of the launch titles for the new generation of consoles, hailed as a great advertisement for what players can expect in the years ahead. Instead it’s being attacked and ridiculed for being such a mess.

Cyberpunk 2077 is broken on PlayStation 4 (pictured) and Xbox One.

We haven’t even touched on an issue I brought up last time I wrote about Cyberpunk 2077 – the insane level of hype that has surrounded the project. I said then that many players, having built up in their heads an idea of what the perfect game could be, will come crashing down to earth when they realise it’s just a game. A good game, perhaps, but just a game. I didn’t anticipate this, though. For players who’ve been eagerly awaiting this game for eight years, this must feel absolutely awful.

Far from being the spectacle they wanted, the game doesn’t even work. Anecdotally I’ve heard from players who literally can’t get past the main menu, hard crashes that make any meaningful progress impossible, and the framerate being so low that at key points the game cannot be played. Players have crashed their cars or been unable to survive a firefight because the framerate tanked at the wrong moment. The sheer frustration that must lead to is unparalleled.

Promo art for Cyberpunk 2077.

The most important lesson we’ve learned here is this: DO NOT PRE-ORDER GAMES! Don’t even buy them on launch day! Wait! Slow down, jump off the hype train, and be patient. Wait for the game to be properly looked-over by professional and amateur critics before making a decision, no matter how much you think the game looks amazing or that the developer can be trusted.

On the developers’ side, the lesson they need to learn is that exaggeration and false advertising always comes back to bite you. The marketing team at CD Projekt Red allowed the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 to get wildly out of control, and now that players have their hands on the buggy, barely-functional game, all of that criticism is their fault. They took the No Man’s Sky approach of failing to rein in the hype when they had the chance, of over-promising, exaggerating what the game would be like on current-gen hardware, and all the problems and low scores are their own fault. I have very little sympathy for the marketers, and as someone who worked for several years in video game marketing, I understand fully the environment they’re in.

It’s possible that Cyberpunk 2077 will eventually be made to run better on current-gen machines, but I wouldn’t bet on it looking anywhere near as good as advertised prior to launch. If you were planning on picking it up, wait. Either wait till you have a next-gen console or a PC, or keep checking to see if the issues have been fixed. For such a highly-anticipated game, I get that it won’t be easy to do so, and I sympathise. But paying £50/$60 for it today will only lead to disappointment.

Shameless plug time: I wrote a list of ten games you could play instead, and you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

*All review scores were correct at time of publication.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions may be used on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X respectively. Cyberpunk 2077 is the copyright of CD Projekt Red. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.