Cyberpunk 2077: First Impressions
The first big release of the next-gen games world came out last night, in case you missed it. While other games have of course already been playable for Xbox Series X and PS5, Cyberpunk was the one most people were eagerly anticipating, myself among them. I’ve played through the intro and the first mission of Cyberpunk 2077, and here are my first impressions of what the future of gaming looks like:
Most impressive. Not too much really jumps out at you initially about the graphic improvements on the next gen console from the Xbox One X, but if you pay attention to the subtle details and level of background activity you will raise an eyebrow or two I am sure. For reference, I am playing on the Xbox Series X console, through a Denon receiver to a Sony Bravia HDR television. All things considered, my experience is probably not top tier, as I do not have a Dolby Atmos capable sound system, and my television is not 120mHz. But, it is 4K and true HDR capable, so it’s not exactly slouching by any means.
What stood out to me graphically about the game mostly was the lighting and the fog effects. Very lifelike. I noticed in games before on the Xbox One X, such as Red Dead Redemption 2, that where there were scenes with much fog, it tended to sometimes bog the game down, and the fog transitions with movement would often hiccup in its rendering. That’s not the case at all in the Series X. The fog appears and behaves very realistically, and doesn’t slow the game down one iota.
The lighting and the rendering are smooth as can be. Little details that heighten the realism of the game and make the world the characters inhabit seem fully realized go a long way to increase the immersion aspect. For instance, when you raise your hands for combat scenarios, you will notice the fabric of your gloves is nuanced enough to show the slight fuzziness of the cotton. That’s an incredible level of detail in my opinion. Even when you enter environments with a lot of background activity and automated characters, the game moves unimpeded. I did notice though, that there were some framerate glitches when several characters appeared on screen at once during combat or interactive moments, and I hope that is not a consistent issue.
Another slight graphical drawback that is worth noting: even though I am playing the game on a 60 inch screen, the text that is presented to you to indicate important notes in-game, such as your next priority, or tutorial guides, is bordering on too small to read. I find myself squinting from my couch to understand things the game is telling me to do, or to try and stay informed about my next goal, and I often am afraid I’m going to miss something important. I did not find an option to increase the font size of this aspect of the game, which would come in handy. Maybe they’ll address it with an update or something.
Character Customization is Next Level
Like most games, you get to customize the character that you play as, very early on. In Cyberpunk 2077, this goes above and beyond the levels most gamers are probably accustomed to. Besides the usual things, such as hair, face, and body mods, this game allows you to adjust finer details such as painting your fingernails, keeping your nails long or short, and the options for eye customizations are pretty awesome. For my character, I chose eyes that have hypnotic swirl lenses. Very neat.
When it comes to these finer details, I’m not joking when I say Cyberpunk 2077 let’s it all hang out. In the character creator screen, you even get the option to customize your avatar’s genitalia. Be it male or female, you get to choose the size and shape of your private parts, and even can dye your pubic hair bright green and have it shaved into the shape of a heart if you want. That’s mind boggling, and makes you wonder why exactly these mods are available in the first place. Will you be wandering around in game in the nude often enough for this to make a difference? Time will tell!
The in-game physics and mechanics are finely tuned. I found the character movements and controls to be very fluid and easy to grasp. The combat and stealth system reminded me a great deal of Metal Gear Solid (minus hiding in a box), and that was a good system, so this familiarity made me fall right into how to handle these situations for this new game. You’d be hard-pressed not to get this impression when during a stealth scenario if you are spotted there is even an alarm beep that seems torn exactly from the audio files of MG, with a slight variation. It’s cool. However, part of me also was wanting something a bit more original here.
The Immersive Soundtrack
Music is a key aspect to a great gaming experience. Luckily, Cyberpunk 2077 realized this and has a soundtrack that works to enhance the immerisiveness of the game to an astounding degree. Since this is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic type game, the soundtrack for the audio score consists primarily of electronic type indstrial-influenced music, which sounds very similar to Nine Inch Nails and the score to the new Doom games. It works very well as a companion to the action of the game.
What makes the music really stand out though, is how the pulse pounding rhythm and volume of the track will swell and speed up to match the action of the scene. When you are in the midst of a tense stealth scenario, or having to participate in combat, the music will quiet down to a bass line thump to match the heartrate of the moment, and then boom when you have to pounce on an opponent. I found this aspect to be quite awesome and extremely engaging.
A Fully Realized World
So far I am really enjoying this game, and I have barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. One great thing I noticed, is that the opening sequence of the story changes to match the type of character you choose to play, which means your choices and customizations really matter to what kind of version of the experience you are going to get. I chose to play as a Nomad, and so my opening sequence and narrative differed vastly from that of my wife, who chose to play as a Corpo character. That’s very cool.
The details of the world are finely crafted. It all feels very lived in and realistic. The characters all have their own unique flavor and the environments are rendered to an extremely convincing level of refinement. I come away from the opening sequences, the tutorials, and the cinematics, very impressed overall.
Final Thoughts on First Impressions
I can already tell this game is going to be fun and addictive as all get out. Coming from a person who is particularly picky about which games I choose to play, it should be a bonus that I am recommending you give this one a shot, if you are on the fence. For reference, my favorite games have been ones like Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, and Doom.
Maybe my impressions will change the further I get into the narrative of this game and its storyline, but out of the gate, it takes no time to get its hooks into you, and this is a world I am eager to revisit. If you were considering checking it out, I say give it a go. I’m willing to bet you’ll consider this worth your time.