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Cyberpunk 2077 review: Next-gen release salvages something which once looked beyond repair

The re-release from CD Projekt RED is still janky as hell, but a fun, hot mess

Matthew Cooper
Tuesday 01 March 2022 19:25 GMT
Cyberpunk 2077: Next-Gen Launch Trailer
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More than two years of being told something could be the “best game ever” should have been a major red flag from the off. But the so-called hype train can be an unstoppable force when it leaves the station and eventually it can catch so much momentum that it remains impossible to not get swept up in (and then flattened by) it.

By now, we’re sure you know the story, Cyberpunk 2077 released to much fanfare in December 2020, then fury – almost immediately. It was horribly buggy, Keanu Reeves looked like a melted candle, Night City was deserted and then your console would hard crash, sometimes repeatedly.

People were rightly furious that the game they were given was not the game they had stumped upwards of £60 for. It brought up dozens of questions about ethics and transparency in the gaming industry and it all got very ugly, very fast.

Multiple patches by CD Projekt RED followed and fixed some issues, but in some cases created entirely new ones. But what about those who swerved all the discord and waited for the long-rumoured next-gen release in the hopes that the game on the PS5 and the Xbox Series would be the game we all hoped it would be?

How we tested

I tested on the Xbox Series S, clocking up just over 25 hours, exploring the majority of Night City and the Eastern and Southern Badlands outside the city limits. I was keeping an eye out for those previous hard-crashes and if any NPCs ended up walking through cars to see if it was a smoother ride from minute one.

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Before telling you my experiences with the game, it’s important to note that local raytracing is not enabled on the Series S – but all that means is puddles and shadows don’t look as nice. So, without further ado, here’s what we made of the re-release.

Cyberpunk 2077: £19.99,

Cyberpunk 2077 is a lush, ugly-hot circus (Xbox/CD Projekt RED)
  • Consoles: Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S
  • Developer: CD Projekt RED
  • Release Date: 15 February 2022
  • Price: £19.99 (PS5) £24.99 (Xbox X/S)
  • Rating: 7.5/10


You are V, the player character you can create, and you start your journey as either a roaming nomad who lives outside the city, a street kid or a corpo (business suit in the boardroom type of person). Depending on which lifepath you choose, your early missions will differ before you meet your soon-to-be new best friend Jackie Welles, and then everything else kind of becomes irrelevant.

Yes, your lifestyle path will open up certain dialogue choices but other than that, your sole purpose is the same – fix the problems caused by a botched heist that turned your life upside down.

Gameplay experience

I am one of those people who gave the game a wide berth first time round for all the reasons listed above, and around 25 hours in (and only five hard crashes) I feel lucky to be in this position, testing a code provided by CD Projekt RED on my Xbox Series S – which doesn’t include the raytracing local shadows feature.

Read more: 15 best PS5 games for every kind of player

Unweathered by 14 months of disappointment since the original release I can safely say I am playing something that is more or less what I expected and hoped for. Visually, it mostly looks great, from a distance. If you hone in on some of the finer details then cracks do start to appear. But now, Night City is such a lively, vibrant and pulsating environment that there’s far too much going on to notice that a spot of graffiti on a strip club hasn’t rendered correctly.

Where before, Night City was a sprawling, dystopian metropolis that had nobody in it, it is now a circus of illicit activity and unbridled mayhem. And while most of that mayhem is a hoot, some of it is just infuriating, because yes Cyberpunk 2077 is still janky as hell.

As V (who I accidentally made look a little like Adam Lambert) I am trying and mostly failing to tow the path of least resistance as much as possible. This becomes even harder when I’m tearing down the street on my motorcycle and mowing down an invisible woman, instantly attracting a huge police presence before the aforementioned motorcycle gets wedged into a wall, and me, unable to escape, shot to ribbons by the cops of Night City in seconds.

Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red)

The outrageous performance issues are now, thankfully, few and far between though. The next-gen code runs smooth for the most part (I’ve only clocked up five hard-crashes in 20 hours.) One of which kept occurring on the same dialogue option which meant I had to reply to a certain character differently, which in an RPG where what you say can change the story massively, is less than ideal.

Even now, Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t the fully-fledged RPG many thought it would be. The choice of which life-path to go on and how to build your own legend are still kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of it all as you pick up the pieces after a high-stakes heist goes spectacularly wrong.

The game presents the illusion of choice quite well but after enough hours you’ll start to see through the cracks and realise that maniacally macheteing your way through a brothel because you spooked one security guard has little to no repercussions. Still it feels cool to do it when you have a thermal mantis blade on the end of your arm.

The verdict: ‘Cyberpunk 2077’

Let’s be clear: Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t reinventing the wheel. The augmentation aspect of the game isn’t executed any better than Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and it feels less intuitive, while the hacking is of a similar level to Watchdogs 2 and Watchdogs: Legion. For some, this next-gen release providing light entertainment more consistently won’t be enough to change their opinion.

But for me, exploring this dense megatropolis, driving irresponsibly from place to place (the floaty controls make any alternative just about impossible), and doing cool cyber stuff as part of a pretty-decent-but-not-groundbreaking story, is enough to keep me entertained and engaged long after I should have gone to bed.

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