For the last eight months, my desktop background has been a piece of Cyberpunk 2077 concept art.
It used to serve as a giddy reminder that with each passing day we were slightly closer to launch. Now it stands as a cautionary warning to never get too invested in a piece of media before having had the chance to experience it first hand.
After 55 hours with Cyberpunk 2077, playing through a huge chunk of what the game has to offer in that time, last week I put in a refund request and it was duly granted a few days later.
So, Cyberpunk 2077 hasn’t stolen any of my hard-earned money. But it did ultimately waste something more valuable: my time.
A compromised experience
I knew going in that as I wasn’t playing on the lead development platform, the PC, I would have to make some concessions when it came to performance. But my prone to overheating MacBook would have likely spontaneously combusted if I’d even attempted to boot the game, so my journey through Night City was always going to have to be through the lens of a console.
I was however fortunate enough to be one of the few people who actually managed to secure a PS5 for launch day. So even when early reports started to dribble in that the game was in rough shape on pretty much every platform, I was confident that my uber-powerful next-gen system was up to the task.
My confidence was misplaced. Even with the pre-release warnings, I was not prepared for the level of bugs, glitches and general unpolish that can be found in basically every corner of Night City.
I ran into missions that wouldn’t progress, a few that even a hard reset didn’t fix, to a total number of crashes that entered the double digits before my playtime did. And all that was alongside a layer of jank that permeated the whole experience, meaning the game was, and still is, a hot mess.
Cyberpunk 2077 is the new yardstick by which unfinished games will be measured; move over Fallout New Vegas there’s a new king in town, just give him a few minutes his textures haven’t loaded in yet.
Reaching breaking point
Of course, the obvious question is if the game was so buggy why did it take me 55 hours to reach my breaking point and put in a refund application?
After all, it’s not like Cyberpunk 2077 is the first overhyped game I’ve wasted my time and money on; I have the digital deluxe edition of Marvel’s Avengers to prove it. Why has this specific release got me standing on my soapbox?
I could claim that I was soldiering on through sheer determination. But in truth, I was still playing because underneath all the issues there’s a genuinely great game and I wanted to see my V’s adventure through to the end.
But then CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwinski released a video apology. Far from being placated, anger started to bubble within me after he made questionable claims that the company’s internal testing didn’t pick up many of the issues console players were experiencing. He also expressed satisfaction with the state of the game on PC, which may be in better shape but still far from acceptable.
After the disastrous launch, CDPR made grand claims of two big patches in January and February this year that would go some way towards putting the game on the right path.
Well, the January patch is out and the game is still fundamentally broken. In fact, the latest series of fixes actually introduced new game-breaking bugs into the mix, which have had to be hastily walked back.
It was after this latest blow that I finally lost my patience with Cyberpunk 2077 and decided that I could no longer make excuses for a developer that would release a product in such a sorry state. CDPR’s continued under-delivery when it came to fixing the game was the final straw.
Perhaps in the future, I will return to Night City. If CDPR eventually makes good on its promises and actually fixes the game, alongside releasing a couple of worthwhile DLCs, I’d certainly not be opposed to the idea. But for now, at least, I’ve moved on to other games.
Maybe it’s time to change that desktop wallpaper.