Welcome! This column is part of a regular series in which we share what members of the Tom's Guide staff are playing and enjoying right now, with an eye toward helping you find great games that you may have missed. Be sure to check out our previous entry, where we talk about Final Fantasy IV.
Discussing Cyberpunk 2077 purely on its merits is difficult given all the controversy surrounding CD Projekt RED’s title. And truthfully, I can’t blame people. After numerous delays, the game was released in a nearly unplayable state on PS4 and Xbox One.
A slew of updates fixed the most glaring technical issues, but despite that and the recently announced Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty expansion, it’s still difficult for this game to shake its rocky launch. Cyberpunk 2077 is likely beyond saving at this point.
With that said, I still believe there is a legitimately good game here underneath the bugs and sometimes questionable mechanics.
Thanks to the Phantom Liberty announcement and the current lack of blockbuster games for PS5 and Xbox Series X, I’ve decided to replay Cyberpunk 2077. I’m doing so on PS5 since I already finished it on PC. I’m also making a Netrunner build and going for the Platinum trophy to give me goals to work toward.
After over ten hours, I’m having an absolute blast with Cyberpunk 2077. It’s perhaps the definition of a flawed masterpiece. Not only am I enjoying it, but I think now is the best time for people to either play it for the first time or start a new playthrough.
A beautifully dystopian world
I played Cyberpunk 2077 for nearly 100 hours on PC because it offered me something no other game could: An authentic cyberpunk world to inhabit. Yes, the game’s spotty AI kills some of the immersion, but when I’m playing, I feel as if I’ve been transported to Akira’s Neo Tokyo, Robocop’s Detroit or Blade Runner’s Los Angeles.
There are plenty of games that evoke the genre’s spirit and visuals, but none do so on the scale of Cyberpunk 2077. Not only is the world directly around you highly detailed, but so is everything above you. Yes, the enormous skyscrapers and lofty railways are little more than window dressing you can’t interact with, but they serve to make you feel as if you’re in the middle of a living (and dangerous) city. I can, and have, spent hours simply driving around Night City taking in the beautiful dystopian nightmare around me.
The cyberpunk genre emerged in the 1980s and that decade’s unique aesthetic and audio qualities permeate Cyberpunk 2077. As a child of the '80s, playing the game gives me a nice shot of nostalgia – even if it’s a bleak, distorted version of reality. The blaring sounds of electronica and heavy metal combined with the litter-covered neon-drenched streets never fail to draw me in. The presentation is utterly captivating.
Leaving my RPG safe zone
Like I said up top, I’m doing a Netrunner build during this playthrough. Instead of completing missions with brute force using powerful firearms, I'm playing as a hacker who can disrupt computer systems, disable cameras and even hack enemies’ cybernetics to neutralize them. If this were a medieval-inspired RPG like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you could say I’m playing as a Mage.
I’m only a few hours in and have yet to fully reap the benefits of my Netrunner build. But even at this early stage, I see its destructive potential. Hacking security cameras to locate enemies and hack into their cybernetics from afar is more satisfying than I imagined. I’ve looked up Netrunner build guides and am working toward unlocking upgrades that let me see and shoot through walls. An ability that spreads computer viruses from one foe to another is another thing I’m aiming to unlock and utilize.
Trying this build is also forcing me to carefully consider which perks and attributes to upgrade. Before, I dumped all my points into whatever would help me survive prolonged gun fights or which made me more effective at using weapons. Now, I have to think two or three steps ahead before committing to an upgrade tree. This is very different than my usual blunt approach to video games, but it’s fun regardless.
Now is the best time to play Cyberpunk 2077
Even in its current state, Cyberpunk 2077 has issues. As I said before, the game’s AI is effectively brain-dead. For example, you can still cause traffic jams by leaving your car in the middle of the road. Seriously, even Saints Row 2 from 2008 had AI that would drive around your car (and potentially shoot you for being a jerk). And don't get me started about how you need to watch the mini-map to navigate instead of keeping your eyes on the road. Why aren’t there holographic overlays on the road to guide you? The entire world is filled with holograms! The fact you get holographic overlays during street races makes this even more infuriating.
But despite its lingering problems, Cyberpunk 2077 is still one of the most enthralling video games I’ve played in recent years. I’m going to continue playing until I’ve obtained the Platinum trophy on PS5. And I’ll surely return to play the Phantom Liberty expansion whenever that releases in 2023. Who knows, maybe I’ll start another playthrough on PC to try an entirely different build. A hacker ninja who uses katanas could be fun. There’s still a lot I can wring from this title.
If you’ve never played Cyberpunk 2077 or are considering revisiting it, now is the time to jump back in. It’s still rough around the edges, but you won’t find another game quite like it.
Next: Sony says PSVR 2 will not play original PSVR games. Here's why we think The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom deserves a more powerful console. And checkout our lowdown on Overwatch 2's battle pass — here's what you need to know.
And speaking of timing, here's why Rory Mellon would cancel Netflix until 2023.