The Friday Inbox has mixed thoughts about the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, as one reader worries about Animal Crossing preservation.
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The recent reviews of Cyberpunk 2077 have highlighted a problem for reviewers that has become increasingly prevalent – how much do you let bugs affect a review score? In the old days it was simple, a buggy game got a bad score as it remained in that state forevermore. Nowadays though many observers will handwave away most bugs and glitches with the expectation that if they are not patched on day one, they will be fairly shortly afterwards and therefore should not be a particular consideration when determining the final score. So how much weight should bugs and glitches have in scoring these days?
After all, you do not want to be the one outlet to slam a game for technical issues that are immediately fixed so that none of your audience ever actually experiences them. On the other hand, your audience need to know if the game they are putting down hard-earned cash for actually works properly. So how much consideration do you give to bugs GC, knowing that in a year’s time the game may run completely differently, but your score against it will always remain the same?
GC: It is a serious problem. Our general policy is to mention the issues in the text of the review but not to let it affect the score, unless there’s reason to suspect it won’t be fixed. As we mentioned in the Cyberpunk 2077 review, The Witcher 3 was actually quite buggy at launch but nobody remembers that now because it was fixed fairly quickly.
Sink or swim
I’ll respectfully disagree with you on your response to CD Projekt’s handling of the Cyberpunk 2077 launch and its current state. I’ve certainly found their attitude towards not showing how poor it runs on a base Xbox and PlayStation 4 highly distasteful.
The memes have already begun with the terrible performance it’s showing on both those consoles and I’m simply not going to give any sympathy to a company who’s willing to let loose on the world a game that looks hideously unfinished and think that it’s fair to charge £50 for it. However, GC you can rightly disagree with me if you want to.
PS: Just viewed an in-store PlayStation 5 Digital Edition at CeX. On sale at a whopping £815!
GC: We don’t strongly disagree with you. We merely felt some sympathy for the fact that, for financial reasons, they couldn’t delay it beyond Christmas – which is what they almost certainly would’ve done under other circumstances. CD Projekt’s entire financial future is riding on Cyberpunk and you, the customer, will be the arbiter of whether they succeed or not.
After reading the reviews, intrigue got the better of me and I picked up Cyberpunk 2077 for my PS4 Pro. Although the graphical quality and performance is a big drop off from the carefully released pre-release material, running on much more powerful hardware, it’s not too bad so far. It looks good but the jank and bugs did show almost straight away with a game crash in the first 10 minutes, some pop-in, and Jackie’s AI and positioning in the first mission being pretty unhelpful, as seen in the attached clip.
But after the reviews made it pretty clear that the game is not the second coming, but more a really good game mixing genres and themes I really enjoy, I don’t feel the need to give it special treatment and play it on the best possible quality settings I could, i.e. a PlayStation 5 patch. Problems aside I’m really enjoying the game, just immersing myself in the world. I do feel sorry for the peeps struggling with the game on the base consoles though.
It was reported that Cyberpunk 2077 had exceeded 8 million pre-orders. I expect a hefty chunk of those were from people on base consoles and in that light CD Projekt Red’s decision to not show any footage from those machines prior to launch appears very murky. It’s very hard not to come to the conclusion that the blackout was so pre-orders weren’t harmed.
Anybody who follows gaming news and pre-ordered for the base consoles have really only got themselves to blame if they’re unhappy with the game. The gaming industry has always leveraged hyperbole or shown pre-release footage that’s not matched in the final product to sell its wares. We all knew the footage shown prior to release was running on monster PC rigs, they often released the specs of the machines after the reveal footage.
We all knew it would struggle on base consoles, there was numerous reports that the delays were due to base console performance issues. It doesn’t excuse the condition of the game on base consoles but there were enough red flags. But it’s those who don’t follow the news or are unaware of how the gaming industry peddles it wares pre-launch I feel sorry for, as they were probably expecting a much more impressive and functional game than the one they got on base consoles.
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I had a quick go of my Xbox Series X, which is a present for my son and I for Christmas.
I spent a while downloading Halo 3 multiplayer from the Halo collection on Game Pass. Imagine my utter delight when I found that the Halo 3 population was up and running!
Pure nostalgia from 13 years ago. It is a tad clunky but still fun. I was terrible at it and it makes me realise that I was actually pretty good at it. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in again.
I can’t wait for Xmas now – Game Pass is definitely a big selling point. With not being on Xbox for about seven years I have lots of previous games to keep me occupied until the next gen titles start coming out.
Fokwok (gametag and PSN ID) Add me!
After reading the reviews for Cyberpunk and watching them too. I decided to take the plunge and buy the game for Xbox Series X. The bugs are a shame, but I just thought the game sounded incredible. Bear in mind that this will be my first role-playing game since Skyrim. The main reason I bought the game, other than the above, was that reviews seemed to indicate that the game was much more respectful of player’s time with the main campaign being possible to complete in around 20 hours, which to me sounds a lot more appealing than something like The Witcher 3, which from what I heard was a huge time sink.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on just mainlining the story, especially considering that it sounds like a lot of the side stories are really good and worthwhile, but it’s comforting to know that I could finish the game in around 30-35 hours and have had a good all-round experience with it, without the need to play it for months on end. Plus, if I’m enjoying it enough I always have the option to play more for 10s more hours. Looking forward to taking delivery tomorrow.
Now playing: Gears Tactics (Xbox Series X) and Tetris Effect: Connected (Xbox Series X)
GC: That is true, although the side missions are by far the best part of the game.
Thanks for your review of Cyberpunk 2077 but I have a question, would you recommend the PlayStation 5 version of the game over the PC version because of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controllers. Does it make the game better?
I’ve been thinking about this and other multiformat games, do the PlayStation 5 versions trump them all, are the controllers that much of a game changer?
GC: The PC is the lead format for Cyberpunk 2077, if you’ve got a powerful enough rig that should really be the version you go for.
Crossing into the future
After reading the letter complaining about games being released in unfinished states and being fixed with a patch it made me think about game preservation.
At some point in the future the servers that distribute those patches will be shut off and whatever physical copy of a game someone owns will be limited to whatever state the game shipped in.
Of course, this isn’t just limited to Cyberpunk’s bug fixing, Animal Crossing New Horizons is missing many features out of the box and only received them through updates.
If I were to put a SNES cartridge in the console it would be exactly the same game as anyone would have played at the time, but in 30 years’ time someone putting a physical copy of a game from now will likely end up with a worse experience than people playing it now.
I expect some fans and hobbyist will archive patches on the internet and there’ll be workarounds for those who really care, and most people will be on to the next new game, but it just feels like another way in which the games industry neglects its history.
Unless Nintendo have finally sorted out a Netflix style virtual console by then, obviously.
GC: We see your point but the way Animal Crossing works with its seasonal content is part of what gives it its longevity. In 30 years’ time you’ll just be playing Animal Crossing: Life On Mars or something. After all, how many people would want to play Animal Crossing: Wild World today?
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I made a decision a while back to wait for the PlayStation 5 release of Cyberpunk 2077 and will hopefully be able to avoid any major spoilers up until then.
The thing that most intrigues me however is that, in theory, reviewers for the game are not seeing it in its best light. There are the well documented bugs which will hopefully be tackled before I play the game, but reviewers have to take this improvement on faith as there is no guarantee that the bugs will be addressed.
GC appear to have always taken the approach that they will look past presentational bugs such as graphical glitches and sound issues but will sometimes mention crashes and if the performance directly effects gameplay, such as a very inconsistent frame rate. This seems to be a reasonable place to draw the line and by the sound of it Cyberpunk may have a very large number of presentational bugs but it has very few game breaking ones.
With Cyberpunk 2077 this is not the only thing that reviewers (and gamers) need to take on faith though. For me the biggest claim CD Projekt Red have made is that the main story will be altered by the side quests and that the story can play out differently depending on all the missions you partake in, not just the main ones.
Having side quests that change the main story is not new to CD Projekt Red as there is at least one side quest in The Witcher 3 that directly impacts the ending. The suggestion with Cyberpunk 2077 however seemed to be that these links were more frequent and that some side quests could lead to a different path for the main story which could in turn be more interesting. Is this true? Is there any way to even know that at this point without wading through spoilers?
GC’s review seems to suggest that the main story was one of the weakest elements and there was little opportunity to shape it during the main missions. Both this and CD Projekt Red’s claim could easily both be true. For example, if there is a typical drug deal where the protagonist will be double crossed it might be impossible to circumvent this within the mission, however if you have previously befriended a sniper in a side mission it may be possible to arrange for them to watch the deal from afar and retaliate if/when things go badly.
Fully investigating the impact side quests have on the story is clearly not something reviewers can really do due to the time constraints of the review period. So are CD Projekt Red placing themselves in a situation where their game looks worse because reviewers are rushing through the main quest to have a time relevant review? Or is CD Projekt Red just making excuses for an unfulfilling main quest?
It could also be easily possible that there are loads of branching narrative points and that the story is very adaptable but with so many options none of them are that interesting.
GC: Side missions and other factors do impact the main story but most of it is fairly minor stuff, although as you imply it’s often difficult to tell. There are certainly multiple endings though. One of the main problems with writing the review was simply that the game didn’t arrive until much later than is normal for such a large, high-profile title.
A question I hope GC or one of our very knowledge readers may be able to answer: Has there ever been a game in which a 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner has been a fully drivable vehicle on the Xbox family of consoles?
TheSpectre N8 (gamertag)
GC: There’s a Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt in Forza Motorsport 7 but it doesn’t look that similar. There’s probably been games with a 50s theme that have featured an off-brand version though.
I’m writing this on Thursday lunchtime, so here’s hoping by the time you read this a new Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 trailer has been released!
This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks who is your favourite video game protagonist?
Regardless of the quality of the games they’re in, which hero (or anti-hero) do you enjoy playing as the most and why? How much does their visual design and gameplay abilities play into it, compared to their personality and storyline?
How important is it that you like the hero in a video game and have you ever bought one – or avoided one – based purely on the main character? Do games in which there is no pre-made character appeal to you less or does it depend on the game?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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