I also know not everyone will read all of this, so if you have arrived here I want to say that I have complete respect for the team at CD Projekt Red. I imagine it has been an incredibly tough development process, working on such an ambitious, exciting and engrossing game. There is a lot of frustration out there now, and I am sure a lot of that is shared internally too. I believe that the developers aren’t to blame here and a lot of this has come from mismanaged leadership and impatience leading into Christmas and the next generation. And the great news is that the developers are holding their leadership teams responsible (here).
This is quite a tough article to write because I’m still not sure how I feel about this game despite sinking many hours into and staying up to 3am many mornings to continue playing. I love it and I struggle with it and I can honestly say I have never had that in a game before. It is difficult as well because there is a lot out there in the news and on socials about how the game is performing technically, of which I have experienced some but not all of the issues, so it can sometimes be hard to separate the personal feelings from the impartial. I will cover both here because they are intrinsically linked but I will make sure I call out what is my own experience and thought and what is other people’s experience and perspective.
I should love the game, and maybe I do. I have always loved games like this, Fallout, Skyrim etc so ‘scientifically’ this games DNA is something I should love. But from the start I struggled with it and something felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, maybe I was overwhelmed by the ambition of the game; it does a great job of throwing you into a hectic and alien Night City which I imagine is how your character should be feeling in that situation. The map took some getting used to, the combat is good but I kept blowing myself up with grenades and often I just didn’t connect with the game. I will admit, as I have played through this, I have gotten more and more invested and I do find myself wanting to keep playing but initially I couldn’t help but miss Assassins Creed and Destiny which I am also playing. A huge barrier to feeling comfortable with the game is the technical instability that I have experienced in my 40+ hour playthrough so far and although it isn’t stopping me playing, it would have made me put a lesser game down.
As of writing this, I have had about 18 crashes where the screen freezes and then the game closes due to an issue. Thankfully, I am playing this on a PS5 so the boot up and load in is pretty swift and it autosaves enough to make sure I don’t really lose much… but it has happened so much that I am pretty numb to it. I use that time to go to toilet or grab some food… but that isn’t the sign of stable game. A lot of people remark about how Bethesda release broken games and, from experience, I wouldn’t say that they are broken or unstable. They aren’t the picture of refinement sure, but they work and they play. Cyberpunk is on another level. On top of the frequent crashes, the next biggest technical issue I have is the fact I take damage and die when I stub my toe on something on the floor or slightly slip down a small incline. I even died once as I jumped up onto a rock. This adds to the frustration, especially when it comes to navigating Night City. I get that there will be issues with such an ambitious world which; at its best looks great but at its worst looks like Alpha footage, but there needs to be a consistency and standard here. Luckily, I am engrossed in the story now so when it crashes or I die because I kick a small can, I want to go back to continue where I left off and see how the quests unfold but I can also understand why other people are incredibly frustrated.
I feel for those who are playing this on the PS4 and Xbox One because if I am getting frustrated with a game that is running inconsistently but supported by decent hardware, I can only imagine what it is like running on a less powerful console with all the bugs and more. I know that CDPR have come out and apologised for the way the game has been portrayed over the past year or so and how well it was expected to run on both generations and frankly the approach they have taken has lead to mismanagement and misleading portrayals of the game which is in turn incredibly unfair on both the developers and the fans. We shouldn’t have to wait for future fixes and future support because a game should be released in a playable format. Its the same as being given a bowl of soup and being advised that you have most of it, but some of the vegetables are still growing and will be with you in a few days and the spoon will be delivered shortly- you could enjoy it with the tools you have but you know it is an unfinished and incomplete order.
I actually wrote about this whole debacle over on TripleXP’s blog as well because to be honest this game and the stories around it have been dominate in the news since release. And I have had a lot of time to think (I started writing this blog about a week ago and the news changes daily). The have created a great game with a lot of potential but greed and impatience won the day and forced a game to be released when it isn’t ready. This is insulting to the developers, its insulting to the fans and its insulting to a reputation that will now forever be tarnished. As a community we may have been impatient and maybe we could have been more understanding about it, maybe CDPR should have felt more comfortable pursuing another delay, I don’t know. But I feel like this game should have been a PS5 and Xbox Series X release only and it should have released next year. I understand that this could be seen as limiting to those who were yet to upgrade and they would stand to lose the initial quantity shifted, but they would have retained the respect of the industry and brought out a game that they would feel proud to support. Instead, no-one is happy and no-one wins. Sony have pulled the digital version from the store, refunds are flooding in, the developers are holding the leadership responsible and 7 years of hype was crushed in an instant. You can’t even say they are winning financially because the short term profit will likely be stung by the refunds and the long term sales are unlikely to show a strong forecast… No-one wins.
At the end of the day, I find it ironic that a game about corporations unfairly treating workers and the economy while simply pushing a consumerist agenda is undone by corporate greed. It is coming out that the whole process has been marred by development hell, misleading and lying the fans through the very intentional footage that has been shown and simply avoiding addressing the true nature of the game. What makes this worse, in a way, is that up until now I believed that CDPR were being transparent and I supported the delays – I would rather wait to get the experience I am sold rather than be given a clunky shadow of its possibility. Instead, it seems that this was all misdirection and to avoid feeling dramatic, I do feel betrayed. I have always been optimistic towards companies and games like this, wanting to see the best in them and believe that there are companies out there who are working hard for the art and the experience, not the bottom line, but this adds another example to the list where we have to face the fact that money is the driving force behind it all.