The Cyberpunk 2077 launch has been anything but smooth. Poor performance, frequent bugs, low quality AI that’s sometimes absurdly bad: all of these challenges have defined the launch of a game that some predicted would be revolutionary. Defenders will rightly say that these issues are likely to be fixed – indeed, multiple patches have already been released, and more are coming – but this isn’t good enough. Despite hopes that CD Projekt Red will patch-in content that should have been in the game on-launch, and despite the fact that CD Projekt Red promises free DLC as early as 2021, there’s one thing that CD Projekt Red will never be able to fix.
I’m referring, of course, to all of their broken promises.
The First Set of Broken Promises
In 2012, CD Projekt Red advertised the following for Cyberpunk 2077:
In hindsight, CD Projekt Red barely maintained these promises and left some completely unfulfilled. Some players will make the case that the game is not realistic, does not have life and detail, lacks a “gigantic” number of upgrades, and is far from the “new standard.” It is undeniable that CD Projekt Red abandoned promises number three and four.
In June of 2019, the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account changed its description.
Notice how, in the above screenshot, “the role-playing game of the dark future” is entirely replaced with “an open-world, action-adventure story.” If the official twitter account refuses to acknowledge Cyberpunk 2077 as a roleplaying game, why should we? Clearly, the 2012 promise was not upheld.
Promise four claims a “varied selection of different character classes.” A well-educated consumer may expect to see the same classes as those present in the Cyberpunk 2020 roleplaying game (off which Cyberpunk 2077 is based). These include Netrunners, Fixers, Rockerboys, Cops, and more. These classes – in the Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game – provided players with unique career skills and special abilities. Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t provide any such depth: there are three backgrounds, all of which end up playing the same, distinguished almost entirely by their half-hour introductions.
But these are promises made eight years ago, so do they really matter? Some might find such broken promises excusable, given the time frame. Sadly, it does not end there.
Worldbuilding and Immersion Promises
During an official Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal in 2018, the narrator says: “We’ve greatly enhanced our crowd and community systems to create the most believable city in any open-world game to date.” The reality of the game is much less appealing. NPCs overuse the same few animations – the driving AI is so bad (or perhaps so non-existent) that NPCs leave their cars to do the same crouch animation whenever something startling happens. They don’t have many replies. Pedestrians won’t choose to fight back against the player, even if attacked. They don’t attempt to take stolen vehicles back from the player.
CD Projekt Red spokesperson Alvin Liu claimed in a 2019 interview with WCCFTech that NPC’s had daily routines, and “if you followed someone for fifteen hours, you might see the same thing repeated a few times.” The truth of the matter is, many players experience NPCs that brokenly repeat the same task. Or go disappear randomly. Is this really the most believable city in any open-world game to date? No. It’s not.
It doesn’t get any better when looking at the police. The same 2019 WCCFTech interview mentioned police being “up for hire.” These corrupt police officers would have depth and “take bribes from corporations.” A wanted system was promised, with stronger law-bringers hunting the character based on their criminal charges. Alvin Liu goes on to say: “I would compare it to The Witcher 3 where if you chopped off the head of a villager in the middle of nowhere the guards wouldn’t show up out of nowhere.” Seeing as how police literally teleport to the player’s location, this comparison between Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 is misleading at best.
Again from the WCCFTech interview, the game was supposed to have “dynamic weather” with acid rain, and exploring the environmental effects of pollution and global warming and “everything.” Dynamic weather is a bit of a stretch when the game’s day-night cycle only effects whether or not the sun is out. Time doesn’t “progress” in any immersive way when you wait: instead the position of the sun just moves. The same NPCs will be standing around, speaking the same dialogue. The same song on the radio will be playing. The day-night cycle isn’t tied to the time of the world. Rain is purely aesthetic.
Crunch Time and Release Promises
CD Projekt Red also failed to deliver on not having a crunch-time. In a 2019 Kotaku interview, CD Projekt Red Cofounder, Marcin Iwiński said: “…we want to be more humane and treat people with respect. If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested.” Of course, in September of 2020, CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski announced a mandatory crunch-time. The lies didn’t end there, when CD Projekt Red’s Chief Financial Officer, Piotr Nielubowicz, said that the November 19th launch date would not be changed in an interview with Bloomberg. This is, obviously, another broken promise.
The list of lies continues. CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kiciński said in a conference call with investors on November 23rd, 2018 that “We [CD Projekt Red] strive to publish games which are as refined as Red Dead Redemption 2…” This is not at all reflected by the game’s condition on launch. Its launch is much more like Fallout 76 than Red Dead Redemption 2.
Last-Gen Console Performance Promises
Of course, at this point it would be surprising if the list didn’t go on. Without diving into broken promises in regards to gameplay, character customization, and other matters, CD Projekt Red made one extremely important promise multiple times and failed to deliver. This was the promise that it would run on the PS4 and Xbox One consoles smoothly.
In the 2019 WCCFTech interview, Alvin Liu said: “And actually, we’re targeting consoles as first-class platforms and it looks amazing there. So obviously, if you spent, you know, $2,000 building your PC rig, it’s going to look better on that. But the graphics are quite amazing for what you’re going to get from Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles and low-end PCs.” This isn’t a lie if by “consoles” Liu was referring to the then-unreleased PS5 and Xbox Series X – but this was not the case.
In a VGC interview, Liu elaborated: “Yeah, we’re focusing on delivering a really good experience on current-gen [PS4 and Xbox One] consoles. When the next generation happens, we’ll assess and figure out the best way forward. I would say that we are not a greedy company, so fans should expect a very fair offering with whatever we decided to do. Currently we’re expecting to nail our current-gen productions.”
The promise of the game running well on these consoles is another lie. Nearly every media company under the sun has tutorials for how to get your money back, especially when it comes to last-gen consoles. Just be warned that the refund situation is an absolute mess. Currently, there’s a great deal of dissonance between Sony, Microsoft, and CD Projekt Red.
Just Wait For the Patch
Of course, all of the above missing features and performance issues won’t be permanent. I’m confident that, in time, CD Projekt Red will fix the game. Eventually, they will add the plethora of features that should have been in the game in the first place. Despite this, when all the patches are sent, when all the AI is working, when all the bugs and ironed out, and when all the missing and unfinished gameplay features are fleshed out, CD Projekt Red will still be in trouble. You can’t patch-away the plethora of lies told again and again, without correction, to consumers.
I hope that consumers won’t be so eager to forget this fact. They may fix Cyberpunk 2077 eventually, but we cannot let companies lie to us over and over, then instantly forgive them when they say sorry and give puppy-dog eyes. If we let that happen, we’ll be one step closer to the corporate nightmare of Cyberpunk 2077.