Cyberpunk 2077
CD Projekt Red

Cyberpunk 2077: First Impressions on Stadia

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Cyberpunk 2077 has finally launched, and, I’ve got to say: it’s pretty good. Full disclosure: I’m playing the game on Stadia, due to some circumstances that have seen me possessing only a Nintendo Switch and an aging desktop for gaming platforms. I was planning to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X to play it on, but, as you might have noticed, those are a bit hard to find.

As such, when I saw that Google was offering a free Stadia Controller and Chromecast Ultra for pre-ordering Cyberpunk, I was well-positioned to take advantage of the deal. Notably, I’ve got very fast fiber internet at home. I get one gigabyte of speed, on average, making streaming a 4K video game a much more reasonable task.

So far, I’ve been impressed with the performance of the game on Stadia. The game appears to be pretty crisp in terms of resolution. I don’t have the kinds of fancy tools a channel like Digital Foundry does to tell you the exact resolution and framerate I’m hitting, but I’ll say this: it looks far better than my old PS4 or Xbox One ever did. I’ve noticed only scattered framerate dips, even when I have my settings keyed in to target visuals over framerate.

The Good

The game is huge. I’m only a few hours in and I can tell that the densely-packed streets of Night City hold secrets, side-quests, and stories galore. It feels like every decision I make, every gang I decide to double-cross, has knock-on effects down the line with regards to my character’s street cred.

Creating a legend for yourself is the name of the game: you’re trying to become the greatest Edgerunner to ever take the streets of Night City by storm.

via GIPHY

The RPG systems are robust. Your character’s stats are broken down into categories recognizable by veterans of the tabletop RPG the game is based on: Body, Reflex, Tech, Cool, and Intelligence.

Your stat spread affects what you can do in-game, as well as what kinds of dialogue options open up for you. In all, the game is a robust open-world RPG that feels like a cross between Deus Ex, Skyrim, and Grand Theft Auto.

The Bad

The game’s combat leaves something to be desired. Gunplay is serviceable but not terribly engaging. This is not Destiny; guns feel light, floaty, and underwhelming. Melee combat is a bit too much like the aforementioned Skyrim, with swords behaving more like pool noodles that you’re harmlessly slapping your foes with.

Cyberpunk handles RPG systems and storylines very well. However, combat becomes something you want to avoid, even if not due to the difficulty. I’m playing on the recommended “Hard Mode,” which is quite difficult when bullets start flying.

Honestly, I’ve taken to avoiding combat partly just so I don’t have to deal with the underwhelming systems that govern it. Not to mention, there’s something satisfying about defusing a tense situation without having to pull the trigger.

The Ugly

I would be remiss to talk about the game without mentioning the two major controversies that have followed it. The game’s development left a lot to be desired with developer CD Projekt Red drawing criticism for their implementation of “crunch” to sprint through the game’s last month of development, as well as an in-game piece of marketing being called out as appearing transphobic.

Both of these are serious issues that underscore problems the gaming industry continues to walk into.

Healthy studios know that “crunch,” the practice of having employees work ridiculously long hours, doesn’t do anything besides exhaust your developers and show them you don’t care about their well-being. Companies like Supergiant Games, for instance, are lauded for their company culture and institute no form of mandatory overtime.

Of course, Supergiant is a much smaller team than CDPR, but the point remains: it’s possible to make great game without requiring people to work six days per week or pull 10 hour days.

As for trans representation, the game makes an effort to be progressive, at least, in the character creation step. You can make a masculine or feminine looking character without any impact on gender.

However, for whatever reason, CDPR linked the pronouns your character uses with the type of voice you choose. If you choose the masculine voice, your character uses he/him pronouns. Many trans people have noted that this could be “essentializing” a part of themselves they can’t help, making them self-conscious about playing a character that is like them.

Hopefully, CDPR will hear the feedback from trans players and allow for character creation to also have a toggle for what pronouns your character uses. This, in turn, could show that they’re taking steps to be more inclusive after the “Mix it Up” debacle.

Bottom Line

If you happen to be wondering what system to get it on, I can comfortably say I’ve experienced very few performance issues on Stadia and minimal bugs. If you happen to have a very fast internet speed and you’re looking to avoid downloading another massive AAA game, you could do worse than Stadia.

I’ll probably be sinking a ton of hours into Cyberpunk. As I spend more time with the game, I’ll likely find more to love, and likely more frustrating nonsense that I could do without.

However, on the whole, Night City is an immersive, enticing beast that I can’t wait to get back to. A full review will be forthcoming, but for now, know this: the game was worth the hype, and worth the wait.