December 2, 2021

Xbox One X

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Beyond the bombast and the bugs, Cyberpunk 2077 has a very human heart

2 min read
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Editor’s note: After years of hype and controversy, CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 is arriving later this week. We’ve spent around 40 hours in Night City so far and will be delivering our final verdict later in the week. In addition to wanting to spend a bit more time with the game, the pre-launch build we have has some stability and performance issues, and we’d prefer to give CD Projekt a little more time to squash bugs and get the experience to the same level players will see later this week. Before the final review, here are our impressions of this vast and frequently impressive open world adventure.

If I were to sum up Cyberpunk 2077 quickly – and I’m not suggesting that’s a very good idea – I’d say it is quite a bit smaller than you’d think. That sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t. For all of Cyberpunk 2077’s vastness – in the sheer height and width and length of it, in the sprawling, monolithic Night City, and in the noise it’s made, the attention it’s demanded ahead of launch – it is often quite surprisingly focused.

It’s still early on for me, I should say – after 30 hours I was still, no doubt to the horror of many with vanishing spare time, just finding my feet – but much of that focus is placed on Cyberpunk’s central story, which has so far been a welcome surprise. Beneath the noise – and Cyberpunk is truly cacophonous – there is a lingering thread of tenderness to it. I’ve opted to play V as a woman, with a ‘Corpo’ background, and she’s been voiced impeccably by Cherami Leigh and written with some skill. There’s real tenderness here, real vulnerability – a lot of “this city’ll chew you up and spit you out” stuff, sure, but there’s a waver to the tough talk, and from more than just V. Cyberpunk’s story so far is one of fear, the surface of it plated in chrome and angst and body horror gore, but still built on a core of humanity. It’s more than I expected, and more than we’ve been taught to expect, frankly, by the brashness of the marketing, the pitching of Night City as this great, submissive, ultra-hedonist playground. Night City is a vile swamp, in actual fact, and Cyberpunk’s characters are drowning in it. It is, so far, more than just a synthwave skin on another puerile open world.

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