Games Technology

Cyberpunk 2077’s 2.0 Replace Feels Like A Completely different Recreation


Cyberpunk 2077’s one-and-only enlargement, Phantom Liberty, is popping out on September 26, however the 2.0 replace—which brings some fairly important systemic adjustments to the RPG that has been getting incremental adjustments since its disastrous launch in 2020—is popping out without spending a dime for all gamers on September 21. Is it sufficient to salvage a recreation some assume won’t be salvageable? I sat down with fellow workers author Claire Jackson to speak about it after we’d each spent a number of hours with the brand new adjustments. Our conclusion? It won’t repair everybody’s issues with Cyberpunk 2077, however it’s the mechanical realization of what the sport most likely at all times ought to have been.

Kenneth Shepard: Claire, I’ve one query for you, and it’s only a easy one which isn’t loaded or difficult in any respect. Is Cyberpunk 2077 good now?

Claire Jackson: I’ve at all times beloved this recreation. It holds a particular place for me, so it’s at all times been “good.” Simply with an enormous asterisk. I believe Phantom Liberty actually makes that asterisk onerous to see. The sport is in a really completely different place now.

KS: Truthfully, I went from a begrudging respect/disdain towards it once I performed it at launch to it additionally holding a very special place for me when I replayed it last year. Even then, that was earlier than the two.0 replace, and I believe whereas I actually had my points with the writing, its worldview, and a myriad of different issues, I at all times thought the factor that at all times saved it from being good or nice was quite a lot of its systemic points. As a result of there’s an argument to be made that even essentially the most detestable elements of it Cyberpunk 2077‘s writing had been half of a bigger commentary, and whether or not or not it holds as much as scrutiny is a separate dialogue. However systemically, Cyberpunk 2077 simply felt like essentially the most unremarkable RPG adorned with some fairly neon lights, nice characters, and a few fairly robust thematic broad strokes. I believe I’m on file someplace as saying that in need of massive sweeping adjustments to the way in which the sport operates nothing was going to make Cyberpunk 2077 “good.” However I additionally assume I stated that assuming we’d by no means get one thing like the two.0 replace, and I gotta say, that is precisely what the sport wanted.

CJ: Oh, I’m in complete settlement. I’m at all times completely happy to speak about what I like on this recreation, and the bizarre manner its narrative (and even buggy state) resonates with me. However you’re proper: There are elementary points that transcend simply bugs. These points have been very effectively documented they usually’re completely legitimate. And for a very good chunk of Cyberpunk’s core issues? There’s no fixing them with out making a brand new recreation. The excellent news is that the brand new replace, I believe, is like half a brand new recreation (possibly a bit extra?). The brand new mechanics actually make for a contemporary expertise.

The Intelligence skill tree shows the Finisher: Live Wire perk description.

Screenshot: CD Projekt Pink / Kotaku

KS: The humorous factor was I used to be utilizing my second playthrough, which wasn’t a complete completionist run however I’d executed a majority of the issues to do in that recreation. Booting the sport up and simply instantly having the ability to entry nearly all the things on one of many new talent timber was like being put behind the wheel of a truck after driving automobiles for years. Certainly one of my massive suggestions for folks going into the two.0 replace is to possibly go check out quite a lot of the talents earlier than leaping into Phantom Liberty, as a result of many buttons now not do what they beforehand did.

My V is specced onerous into Cool and stealth, which was fantastic within the unique recreation. I beloved rebooting enemy optics, then sneaking up behind them and taking them out, however that was most of what I did to get by way of fights in that recreation. With 2.0, the Cool/stealth construct has so many new instruments in its package. I used among the replace {hardware} to cloak in fights, and the talent tree has so many neat perks, like slowing down time once you’re seen supplying you with a valuable few seconds to get again into cowl earlier than an enemy aggros. And even then, I can use Reminiscence Wipe or Reboot Optics to benefit from that opening. It actually looks like CDPR simply gutted this recreation and put one thing new as a replacement, as a result of development is now not this actually arbitrary, inconsequential numbers recreation of creating injury go up. Now, every spot on a talent tree provides you one thing tangible to make use of within the recreation, slightly than making my pistol’s bullets hit more durable, one way or the other.

CJ: Oh yeah, there’s a very good case to be made that one could want to begin with a brand new character or take their time with different actions earlier than diving into Phantom Liberty’s story, as a result of I positively had (and am nonetheless combating) a little bit of a clumsy studying stage with the brand new mechanics. Previous habits and go-to methods won’t work for people—and I believe that’s for the higher. A lot as I at all times noticed myself in V narratively, I hardly ever paid important consideration to the RPG mechanics underneath the hood. I couldn’t let you know what my “construct” was. Within the unique recreation, the choices hardly ever felt rewarding (I even have a tough time with RPG mechanics that aren’t in a turn-based recreation, notably when it’s a shooter and my mind simply desires to enter Halo mode). I’d simply get some numbers up after which spam pictures to get to a cool narrative second, as a result of that’s what I used to be there for (and fairly lights), however now? I too have been investing in Cool, and its wild how a lot I really feel like I’m fulfilling a Matrix-y cyberpunk fantasy now. I can zip round, deliver time to a crawl, mantle out of canopy, and slide throughout the ground as time slows. Like this new talent tree feels far more attention-grabbing in the case of crafting a particular construct and residing up the fantasy of this sort of fiction.

KS: Yeah, I’ve been speaking to a couple others who’ve been enjoying 2.0, and it’s been actually shocking seeing how a lot one particular person’s V will be so completely different from one other now. I used to be speaking with Jesse Vitelli at Prima Video games, who has specced into Reflexes, and there’s a perk in there that permits you to decrease stamina use when dashing towards enemies. That man is simply outrunning automobiles, whereas I’m over right here hacking and sneaking round. There’s now actual distinction in character builds that offers you divergent methods. Positive, you can most likely spec into one thing tanky or stealthy, however when it comes to the verbs you had been utilizing, quite a lot of Cyberpunk felt flat. That’s all simply essentially completely different, and it looks like a extremely robust roleplaying choice you’re making, on prime of a mechanical one. Baseline, V is a merc, however now I really feel prefer it’s potential to say one thing about your character of their construct and methods, slightly than quite a lot of us simply falling into the commonest denominator of what’s helpful.

CJ: Yeah the outdated system was simply principally “quantity go up”—and there nonetheless are a ton of stat boosts and share will increase right here, but it surely feels prefer it feeds right into a extra lively playstyle. Now, even reviewing my seize footage, I’m stunned by how typically I’m diving again into the talent timber. I’ll get to an encounter and begin observing methods I might enhance my construct, then go and take a look at what new choices I’ll have out there to me. Like upping my reload pace with pistols in Cool, mixed with the flexibility to dash and reload from Reflexes. I’m actively searching for these cool synergistic moments to construct out an thrilling playstyle. I used to be not doing that in any respect beforehand. And even simply perusing the talent tree you’ll discover cool issues that encourage you to check out new methods and playstyles, like having the ability to use Sandevistan whereas driving—and now lastly having the ability to do drive-by capturing!

Claire's V is shown driving her motorcycle through Night City.

Screenshot: CD Projekt Pink / Kotaku

KS: One of many massive issues within the Cool tree that simply essentially modified my playstyle was Deadeye, which makes headshots essentially the most trivial factor by aimbotting you onto enemy heads, in addition to slowing down time so that you get an actual good, exact pop with pistols and different weapons. In Phantom Liberty, you get a strong silenced pistol, and I attempted to keep away from utilizing weapons as a lot as potential, as a result of I used to be too busy stealthing and taking enemies to the chiropractor. However Deadeye simply made gunplay extra viable for me, and even when I managed to reactivate stealth after issues received loud, I might begin utilizing a silenced pistol to hurry issues alongside, slightly than getting too valuable about my good stealth run. All the things simply feels a lot extra dynamic now, and I’m nonetheless stunned at simply how a lot better issues are. Single-player video games hardly ever get this sort of overhaul.

Talking of drive-by capturing, holy shit, the automobile fight isn’t one thing I essentially love doing, however I used to be simply stunned at how essentially various things had been. Enemies and cops are so aggressive now with the brand new behaviors they’ve added. These motherfuckers try to run me off the street once I’m on a bike. Like, rattling, discuss overkill. However that’s why it’s cool to simply be capable to whip out my revolver and get them off my again. Even when it’s not a mechanic I care to work with a lot, it’s simply good to have extra ways at hand apart from drive away sooner out of your pursuers.

CJ: Like I stated earlier than, I beloved this recreation for the story first, however when the bullets began flying beforehand it simply felt like senseless blam, blam, blam. However simply as you highlighted, now with one thing like Deadeye, there’s extra of a game-to-play™ when the motion begins. And I don’t doubt that people who actually got here to know the outdated system in-and-out weren’t having enjoyable, however issues simply really feel extra readable, comprehensible, with higher management for charting out builds.

And yeahhh, the drive by capturing, leaping out of automobiles, it helps bridge the hole that existed between common run-and-gun stuff after which driving. Beforehand automobiles simply felt like a way of traversing the map to absorb the sights…and that was about it. I’m involved that the bottom recreation gained’t have sufficient eventualities that actually make use of those new driving mechanics—as they had been designed with the outdated limitations in thoughts—however to have them makes the sport really feel extra malleable and dynamic, with out that agency boundary that at all times felt current once you hopped into your automobile. Now your automobile is extra part of the cyberpunk fantasy, and that’s fairly superior.

KS: Finally, all of this simply helps me really feel like I really “exist” in Night time Metropolis, slightly than simply passing by way of. It’s been a reasonably bittersweet feeling going again to it to play Phantom Liberty and feeling like the sport has lastly gotten its shit sorted, simply because it’s releasing its solely enlargement. However that’s a dialog for an additional day (a evaluate, maybe). Proper now, I’m simply sort of amazed at how effectively CD Projekt Pink managed to salvage this recreation in ways in which I might have thought would have required a sequel. I nonetheless need to return and do a full third playthrough with 2.0’s adjustments in place, however proper now, I’m simply actually vibing with how far more V feels just like the stealthy hacker I at all times imagined him to be.

CJ: Bittersweet is actually the phrase that’s been on my thoughts with these adjustments. This replace gained’t repair everybody’s points with the sport, but it surely actually does make for a a lot better expertise. 2077 would’ve been much better off transport nearer to what’s right here than what arrived in 2020. We all know CDPR has extra plans for the way forward for this franchise, however we’re principally 2077’s curtain name with this replace and with Phantom Liberty, and I’m so glad to get to replay this recreation in such a greater type (and new content material with Phantom Liberty). Nevertheless it additionally looks like saying goodbye to the sport in a manner—which like, as a single-player recreation, certain I can play it eternally, however this replace evokes that sentiment.

So I believe that actually raises the query: Provided that it’s such a refresh and potential “closing act” second of 2077, ought to people roll up a model new V and begin from scratch?

Screenshot: CD Projekt Pink / Kotaku

KS: Questions like this are powerful for me, as a result of I’m so connected to my participant characters in RPGs that I don’t are likely to roll new characters in subsequent playthroughs, simply remake them to start out their story over. However I do assume the adjustments are so far-reaching that experiencing Cyberpunk 2077 with them is one of the best ways to play this recreation now. Should you’ve been away for awhile, yeah, I believe beginning the sport over and really constructing out a personality with these new programs is fairly rewarding, and looks like experiencing the sport the way it ought to have at all times been. For me, it was about lastly realizing who my V was and the way he would have made his manner by way of the town, however I believe broadly for anybody who’s seeking to check out Cyberpunk 2077 after all of the updates, that is as near definitive because it’s ever going to be. Warts and all.

CJ: Yeah the sentimental attachment is tough, however as you stated, when you think about how substantial these adjustments are, you additionally need to have a recreation to play them by way of. So, I really feel it wouldn’t be enjoyable to get this complete overhauled system once you’re a handful of missions away from the top anyway, and don’t have as a lot to playthrough (even should you get Phantom Liberty along with this). Additionally, should you’re excessive sufficient degree, the sport goes to ask you to re-spend all of the factors you’ve. That (as was the case for me) will be fairly darn overwhelming when you’ve dozens of factors to allocate. Taking in these new choices step-by-step goes to assist people get essentially the most of it I believe, and then you definately’ll be in pre-em combating type for Phantom Liberty once you attain that time within the marketing campaign.

KS: It positively felt like I wasn’t “rising” into this construct. It was extra like a lateral pivot from the beautiful meh stealth construct I had within the unique recreation into turning into an excellent spy hacker. Which was jarring, however nonetheless actually highly effective at illustrating simply how massive the adjustments are. Finally, no matter route you select to go, I believe that is the definitive approach to expertise this recreation, and whereas I do know some might need legitimate preservation criticisms in regards to the unique recreation basically being unplayable in need of simply not downloading the replace, that is the model of Cyberpunk 2077 CDPR most likely needs they’d launched in 2020. And it’s the one I want all of us might have performed then, as effectively. What an idea, you promote hundreds of thousands of copies of a damaged recreation and also you’re capable of keep afloat when you repair it.

CJ: And this actually is about as “mounted” as 2077’s ever gonna get.

Be looking out for Kotaku’s full evaluate of Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty enlargement on September 20, 11 a.m. Japanese Time.