The Biggest Problem With Cyberpunk 2077 Is People’s Unrealistic Expectations

If you check out the official Cyberpunk 2077 subreddit, the entire place is in meltdown. There’s no chill. You are well within your rights to be mad about bugs or subpar performance on last-gen machines, but there’s also something else behind many of these complaints: unrealistic expectations.

For some reason, people had already played a version of Cyberpunk 2077 in their heads. That imaginary game – a game that transcends games – is something no actual video game could ever live up to: a fully simulated city where you live a real life, go out drinking, and take romantic partners back to your apartment; endless lists of features that “should have been in the game” and would have magically made it become the dream game in their minds.

Here are just some of the suggestions you can see in a ten-minute trawl of the subreddit:

  • Lifepaths should completely change the game
  • You should be able to play the arcade games, karaoke, and other minigames
  • There aren’t enough sex workers to sleep with
  • You should be able to play optional BDs – essentially bespoke cutscenes
  • The entire first six months of the game should be playable instead of being a montage
  • You should be able to form relationships with the gangs
  • Your Street Cred should impact how NPCs talk to you
  • Night City should be fully simulated and NPCs should have schedules
  • A barbershop to change your appearance
  • Car customisation
  • Purchasable apartments
  • You should be able to pay crooked cops off
  • The Trauma Team should revive you in the open world
  • Fully interactive sex scenes
  • You should be able to get tattoos
  • NPCs should comment on your genitals
  • You should be able to call the Delamain taxi service to pick you up
  • You should be able to ride trams like in the CGI trailer

I’ve seen it all over Twitter as well. People are complaining about the world being “artificial”. No shit. It’s a video game. Everything in video games is smoke and mirrors – even the smoke, and even the mirrors.

Creating a video game is a series of choices, much like games themselves. Is this feature in service to the experience we are creating? Will it add much to the game? Can it be cut?

Like others, I was a little disappointed with things like the police response and wanted system. But you know what? I didn’t notice it through my entire first playthrough because I was enjoying being pulled through the brilliant story CD Projekt created, rather than trying to murder NPCs for no reason. I came to terms with the fact this is a linear game with a branching narrative – the world is simply a beautiful backdrop to that story. The developer has been pretty upfront about it not being an emergent sandbox. It’s a rollercoaster, not an entire theme park.

Put simply, Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the best modern RPGs. It’s a genre leader. It’s certainly the best RPG since the studio’s last major game, The Witcher 3. It is not a life simulator or a GTA clone just because it has cars and a city.

The Witcher 3’s world was exactly the same. That blacksmith in White Orchard will still be there, hammering away, when you finish the game. You’ll hear that same line of NPC dialogue over and over. Quest givers stand in place and wait for you to arrive. And you know what? NPCs don’t even exist until you get close enough to see them. It’s all a lie. Games are a lie. We have to accept the lie and meet it halfway.

Outside of the small details, there are interesting, varied characters, there’s slick gunplay, brilliant, multi-approach level design, and one of the most gorgeous cities ever created for a game. There are intricate, one-off locations that are used for tiny side missions most players will miss. There are lengthy, multi-chapter main missions stuffed with bombastic set-pieces. There are heartfelt character moments.

We can’t wax lyrical about crunch culture being a blight that damages the mental health of devs in one breath and then list a hundred extra features the game should have had in the next.

No game is ever truly finished – it just ships. Cuts happen, and sometimes adding in systems isn’t as simple as it might seem from the outside. Some systems completely rely on others to work and can fall apart when meddled with. Video games are held together by spit, sweat, and glue. Some of the conversations around this game are veering dangerously close to “lazy devs” territory, and I think we can all do better. Criticism is about judging something for what it is, not what you want it to be.

Next: Cyberpunk 2077 Complete Guide And Walkthrough

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Kirk is the Editor-in-Chief at The Gamer. He likes Arkane games a little too much.

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