CD Projekt Red released Cyberpunk 2077 on December 10, 2020, after numerous high-profile delays. Eager gamers immediately tore into the open-world title to explore the legendary developer’s newest creation.
For the most part, players and critics alike felt that the game showed promise but felt unfinished. This is ironic for a game that was delayed over half a year from its initial release window, leading some fans to believe that CDPR’s management overpromised on what the team could deliver in a short time.
Now, the game is finally out on next-gen consoles, as is the much-anticipated (and 50GB) 1.5 patch. And, yes, it’s everything players have been asking for. As games journalist Jason Schreier wryly noted on Twitter, the game should have been delayed until February 2022, because the Cyberpunk 2077 update looks like the finished product fans expected.
What’s New in the Cyberpunk 2077 Update?
The most obvious enhancements to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game are its graphical performance. Players can choose a ray-tracing graphics mode that uses the next-gen consoles’ powerful GPUs to present realistic lightning and what effects. Alternatively, performance-minded players could opt for a higher framerate, instead, lending the game buttery-smooth high frames-per-second.
The game’s roads can look slick with rain, the city feels busier, and the textures have been overhauled for next-gen systems. The base game was excoriated on release because Night City felt like a flat, sterile environment with too little to do. The game felt lifeless and rushed, with NPCs barely registering the player’s existence.
CDPR also updated Cyberpunk’s driving physics. Before this patch, driving was an exercise in frustration. It was too easy to lose control of your vehicle and slam into other cars or spin out of control and lose track of where you were going. Now, each vehicle has bespoke handling based on its chassis. Sports cars are nimble and take corners easily, while lumbering armored cars and trucks rumble around turns with the grace of an avalanche.
PlayStation 5 Exclusive Features
The game also sports support for the PlayStation 5’s Dualsense controller haptic feedback. The variable pressure in the triggers allows the PS5 version of the game to give shooting a unique feel based on your loadout. When you aim down the sights of a light pistol, it’s easy to pull the trigger down and there’s little resistance when you squeeze off a shot.
The same isn’t true for heavy machine guns. Aiming a rifle or another large weapon results in a considerable amount of force in the trigger, making the big guns feel appropriately heavy.
The driving updates also benefit from the update–accelerating and braking feel appropriately “heavy” based on how fast you’re going and what kind of car you’re driving. These small touches are welcome next-gen improvements to the game, even if they’re not strictly necessary for gameplay.
“The feeling you end up with is immersive to say the least,” Cyberpunk lead gameplay designer Michał Dobrowolski tells Kotaku. “It lets you feel the game world around you in a completely new way, distinct from how you experience the world through visuals, sounds, and even vibrations. It’s a whole new realm of possibilities design-wise, and from the gamer’s perspective—and I am a gamer myself, too—a really fun way of diving deeper into the experience.”
The NPCs are much more realistic with the latest update installed. Crowds will now react to V’s actions more realistically. If they pull a gun out and start shooting up in the air, civilians will scatter and run for cover. NPCs are also persistent now–they won’t despawn when you stop looking at them for a few seconds.
Vendors are more talkative now, too, shouting out about their wares and hawking their goods to V as they walk by. This is combined with the next-gen graphical overhaul that makes passerby look better than ever. It’s easy to get lost in the game gawking at the impressive body modifications you can find on the denizens of Night City. This makes Cyberpunk more immersive than ever before.
Players have more options than ever before when it comes to modifying their avatars. Robust character modification was one of CDPR’s biggest talking points before Cyberpunk’s release, so its absence in the base game disappointed many fans. The 1.5 patch brings these features to the game, at last, allowing players to modify V’s appearance right from the mirror in their apartment.
While we’re on the topic of personalizing your character, let’s talk about skill points. CDPR overhauled the game’s RPG-like skill progression system with the latest patch, reworking how most of the game’s perk trees work. For example, throwing knives are good now!
If you’ve got an existing Cyberpunk 2077 save, you’ll notice your skill points have all been refunded the next time you log in. This is a great opportunity to refine your build and double down on the combat style you already love. Or, you could take this opportunity to try out a brand-new build while you acquaint yourself with the new activities in Night City.
There are plenty of new things to enjoy in Night City, including a reworked combat system. While the gunplay will feel similar to players who’ve already sunk hours into Cyberpunk, returning players will notice that enemies are now smarter and meaner. Enemy characters will take cover and respond to the player more rapidly, employing more robust strategies to challenge V in combat.
This is a welcome change, as many players noted on release that Cyberpunk’s enemies have a bad habit of standing still while you shoot at them. It’s hard to feel like a killer cyber ninja when your opponents won’t even act like they’re trying to stay alive while you swing your sword at them.
The update also adds two new guns to the game. The first is the Darra Polytechnic Umbra assault rifle, a new high-tech repeating longarm that will help players tackle enemies at medium range. The second, the Budget Arms Guillotine submachine gun, fills a close-range niche.
Looking for Love
CDPR also added more text conversations between the player character and the game’s numerous love interests. V can now continue their relationship with story-central NPCs even after completing the quest lines that bring them closer together. In the 2020 release version of Cyberpunk, characters like River and Panam largely disappeared from the game after V’s initial romance with them. Now, the characters will stay in touch between missions, making the player’s choices feel more important.
The player character will also awake from sleeping in their bed to occasionally find their love interest with them. This suggests to the player that V has an ongoing social life that takes place off-screen, too, giving the game a more vibrant feel. Before this update, V’s relationships could feel hollow once the side-story that initiated the romance ended.
Speaking of apartments, the update addresses some advertised features that missed the launch version of Cyberpunk 2077.
Finding a Place to Stay
V can finally move into a new apartment thanks to the 1.5 patch. CDPR discussed this feature during the pre-release marketing leading up to the game’s launch, but it was conspicuously absent from the final product. Now, players have the option to shop around Night City for a new place to call home.
In the base game, V was stuck in a modest apartment near the heart of Night City. With the latest patch installed, players can move up to a new place in Northside, Japantown, the Glen, and many others. It’s nice to have a few other places for V to call home, as it provides players with more goals to achieve and makes Night City feel more like a real city.
A Brand-New Game?
The massive slew of balance changes and content updates in the 1.5 patch finally helps Cyberpunk 2077 feel like a finished product. This is frustrating for players who purchased the game over a year ago when it initially hit stores. The game was so infamously broken on launch that Sony demanded CDPR remove it from their digital storefront and the company offered full refunds to players who purchased the game in its launch window.
Now, after over a year of continued post-release development, the game is a deeper and more fulfilling experience for new players. The question for returning players is whether these changes are impactful enough to suck them into another playthrough.
With patch 1.5 finally in the wild, players are now eager for news on the game’s inevitable post-launch paid downloadable content. CDPR released a stellar expansion for its previous game, The Witcher 3: 2016’s sizable Blood and Wine DLC. Will the company’s post-launch support for Cyberpunk be enough to turn it into the mind-blowing sci-fi action RPG everyone hoped for?