Cyberpunk 2077 is one of those games that everybody knows about, but everyone has differing opinions of it. Partly due to an extremely botched launch, some players wrote off the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk entirely because the state of the game, on release, was enough to warrant Sony giving out refunds to those who had purchased it on platforms like the PlayStation 4. Here now, months later, it’s worth revisiting Cyberpunk 2077 after it’s had a number of performance and balance patches release.
Editor’s Note: Check out our review of Cyberpunk 2077 with the 1.5 patch running on a PlayStation 5.
Cyberpunk 2077 is one of those games that’s been reviewed inside and out by others, so retreading a lot of information about the game’s story or subsystems would be a waste. What, I imagine, most people would be interested in is how the game fares on last generation consoles, as most outlets have basically ignored the Playstation 4 in favor of the newer, shinier version. So, this particular piece is for those of us without PS5s and refuse to pay scalpers in order to acquire one- so how does Cyberpunk 2077 perform on last generation hardware? Let’s find out.
Cyberpunk 2077 received a massive balancing and performance patch in February of 2022, overhauling many of the game’s mechanics and systems, reducing performance load, and attempting to bring all platforms to some general level of playability. With that stated goal, well over a year after release and with another patch or two even after that, I played the game fully expecting something else would break. It simply never happened. Performance was reasonably decent from beginning to end, and no major glitches like broken quests, forever cars, or unkillable NPC tagalongs happened in my playthrough of the updated PS4 version. Whatever they overhauled, they did it right, this time.
The number of things CD Projekt changed in recent patches were multitudinous in nature. There were overhauls in the quest system that make objectives more and prevent entire quest lines from breaking due to no fault of the player, and improvements to the driving system makes using any car more predictable and fun, especially when you brake. Even motorcycles handle and perform better in the updated version of Cyberpunk 2077. Combat AI was improved as well, with far, far fewer instances of hostile AI breaking in the middle of combat, freezing in place and doing nothing at all. Enemies with shotguns no longer try to snipe you with them, that sort of thing. CD Projekt basically overhauled many systems and subsystems in Cyberpunk 2077, a much-needed series of improvements to basically everything the public was sold Cyberpunk as being.
Clothing and armor pieces had a bit of an overhaul as well. Certain mods can now only be attached to specific types of clothing and armor, which causes the player to actually pay attention to what armor they’re using if they want to utilize a specific mod. This introduces a greater challenge in strategy in the game, as you can’t just slap your mods everywhere, though having to use specific types of clothing can make your character look a bit on the clown shoes end of the spectrum.
Of course, for the PS4 version of the game, there are still some issues that are plainly apparent. The city itself seems more like one in the midst of a lockdown due to a global pandemic: There are few NPCs and cars basically anywhere you go. Taking a glance at the PC or PS5 iterations of the game show a city bustling with life- NPCs and vehicles are everywhere. On the PS4 version you can sometimes hop into your car and see maybe one or two vehicles on the road. From one perspective, it’s kind of nice to not have to fight with traffic to get where you’re going, but it can make the city feel distinctly lifeless until you’re in a hub where an event will occur.
Load times can be pretty long too, with initial startup loads taking somewhere between 45-90 seconds, but they seem to be considerably improved from Cyberpunk’s release date version on past gen consoles. The frame rate has also been considerably improved from the PS4 version’s initial release, where dropping to 10-20FPS was common. Outside of minor, specific examples, the PS4 version of Cyberpunk is now able to maintain a reasonably consistent frame rate somewhere between 26 and 30 frames per second. The torturous stuttering and frame drops of the 1.0 release are pretty much nowhere to be seen in the updated PS4 version, thankfully.
The cost of better operating performance certainly came at the cost of visual fidelity. Cyberpunk 2077 is still a beautiful game even on its PS4 version- but NPCs and objects look very blurry and rough around the edges in a ton of places. The more activity that’s happening on-screen, the more the dynamic resolution will drop to compensate, resulting in a much more smudgy image. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends entirely on the person playing the game- I’m a type of player prefers a game with a consistent frame rate any day, and harsh, sudden frame drops bother me more than a vein in an NPC’s arm being indiscernible.
Truth be told, if the version of Cyberpunk 2077 that exists today was the one that released in December of 2020, it’s difficult to understate how different the reaction to this title would have been. Disappearing cars, or cars being stuck in one place forever for the remainder of the player’s save file, are not things players should have had to deal with, especially not for $60+. Now, in 2022, the combat feels more balanced, quest lines function as they should, and performance issues, even on last gen consoles, aren’t so pervasive that they impact the gaming experience.
The current updated version of Cyberpunk 2077 is the version of the game that we all deserved in December of 2020, and I can finally say in full confidence that it’s a game worth playing for anyone with an addiction to open world games. They can finally sit down with a version of this game, whether it be on PC, next gen, or last gen consoles and have a good time. It’s difficult to downplay how much better of a state Cyberpunk is in, now, in 2022 than it was over a year and a half ago. Cyberpunk 2077 has also been on numerous sales lately, and which makes it a pretty easy recommendation for those who enjoy shooters, futuristic games, or first-person games with roleplaying elements.
Developers: CD Projekt RED
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series X