Cyberpunk 2077 Wasn’t Ready For Current-Gen Consoles

My first time loading a Cyberpunk 2077 save file, I spawned underneath a staircase. Not crouched, but fully standing. My legs were stretched into the ground below me, and I couldn’t move beyond turning my head.

I thought the game had just freaked out, and would put me back in the right place once I reloaded, but that was in vain. For some reason, my save had corrupted, clipped half of my body into the floor, and moved me several feet. I had to roll back my save in the middle of a dungeon, losing all of the cool loot I’d picked up, and start over.

The thing is, this isn’t even the worst issue I’ve had with the PS4 version of Cyberpunk 2077, which critics and audiences alike are deriding for poor performance, general instability, and underwhelming visuals. Having played this version on the PS5 for the past few days, I can attest to all of this: the console port of this game is a real. Not only that, but it’s a markedly worse experience than the PC version, which is seemingly fine for most people.

Why does the PS4 version (running on PS5) of Cyberpunk look like a third-party Nintendo Switch port…? pic.twitter.com/OFOhoUHUY7

— Joseph Yaden (@JosephYaden) December 11, 2020

Most complaints I’ve seen tend to be focused on the visuals, which are muddy and flat on consoles. Dynamic lighting is all but nonexistent, pop-in is a constant, and some textures just flat out refuse to load. This results in a game that almost looks like an upscaled, late cycle PS3 game at points, which is far from the next-gen revolution many had hoped this game to be.

uhhh pic.twitter.com/kijAEOmiBL

— Bella Lara Blondeau (@vivarockbella) December 10, 2020

But even putting fan expectations to the side, it’s hard to deny that the visuals on the PS4 version of Cyberpunk just aren’t very good. While the character model work is great, the game’s world is a jagged patchwork tapestry of muted, mismatched colors and strange lighting choices. In a year that gave us marquee productions like The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, and Final Fantasy VII Remake, it’s jarring to see a triple-A production that’s in the shape this is.

I feel like all the doofy visual glitches and “fun” bugs I encountered in Cyberpunk pre-release have been replaced with “this mission just broke, guess I gotta reload a save” and “the fast travel system won’t work until you relaunch the game” and other “not fun” bugs.

— Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann) December 13, 2020

That extends to performance, too. Cyberpunk is a buggy game – buggier than many Bethesda games I’ve played at launch, even. Aside from my staircase escapade, I’ve witnessed numerous strange technical issues that have impeded my progress. For example, one completely disabled my ability to figure out when my augments were being hacked, meaning that I would burst into flames and die at seeming random in crucial moments. Other journalists have reported even worse issues, such as the ones mentioned in the tweet above. Dualshockers labeled the release “a damn mess” and that “it’s impossible to recommend picking this game up at launch on PS4 or PS4 Pro.”

Also concerning are little control things that feel absolutely terrible on a controller. Menu navigation is cumbersome and clumsy, and the cursor often drifts out of position when left idling. Shooting doesn’t feel quite right, either, with dodgy sensitivity settings that make me wish I just had a mouse and keyboard. Compounded by other issues, like the inability to remap controls or change text size, the console version of Cyberpunk 2077 feels like a rough proof-of-concept versus a finished game.

This all feels extremely dodgy on CDPR’s part. Console codes weren’t sent out to most members of the press prior to release, which limited who was playing this game to people with powerful PCs. If you check out Metacritic, you’ll see that not enough outlets have reviewed the PS4 version to even make an aggregate score. However, withholding console codes stacks the average towards the PC version, which in turn yields an impressive number that can be slapped on the box and used in marketing. The problem with that, though, is that it’s disingenuous and underhanded. From conversations with Kirk McKeand, who reviewed the PC version, he told me that the game he played looked nothing like the one people were sharing on Twitter.

That’s a huge problem. If outlets are given the best version of something, then specifically not given access to a different version that a lot of other people will pick up, it makes it harder for them to do their jobs with integrity. That’s dicey at best, and dishonest at worst.

Honestly, there was a way this could’ve been avoided, and that was to ditch the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game entirely. Yes, it would be a smack in the face to fans who were promised this game years and years ago, but it would’ve allowed CDPR more time with stronger tech to make a better version for non-PC players. Launching on PC first, then doing an eventual console release down the line would’ve undoubtedly helped matters here. As it stands now, the version they’re shipping is an embarrassment, to the point where even the game’s staunchest defenders are taking to social media to voice their displeasure.

Now, harassing developers over games is a stupid, cruel, and futile thing to do. It makes the industry a worse place, and it makes the community more toxic. However, those staying away from harassment and simply venting their frustrations over being fleeced are justified here. The game they purchased was not only not the one they were promised, but they couldn’t even make an informed decision due to the press being muzzled. It’s a situation that brings to mind Aliens: Colonial Marines, albeit a bit less extreme.

The differences are so vast, in fact, that I’ll be doing an unscored, supplemental review to Kirk’s original one. It’s clear that this game was not ready for these systems, and that being the case, it’s only fair for us to do the honest work of ensuring customers know what they’re buying. You can look forward to my thoughts later this week.

In the meantime… eh, maybe just play it on Stadia?

Next: Cyberpunk 2077 Performance On PS4 And Xbox One Is Definitely Not Great

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Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.

She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.

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