Cyberpunk 2077 review – year after

A note of clarification:

The article below is [not] a complete Cyberpunk 2077 review from A to Z. While it has lots of negative things mentioned – it’s made not to defame the game further, but to make an attempt to revisit the game a year after the disastrous release to see how many of the game issues were fixed, which cut features put back into the game, and how much better compared to the release the game is now.
If you’re one of players who hesitated to buy it, or played a bit and dropped for a long time – it will be useful to see if it’s worth to play Cyberpunk 2077 now. As for the full, utmost detailed review of the game, you can watch it here. Wanna know how to mod this game? Look here.
Now let’s delta from here and start the analysis!

Physics and collision:

That’s a short story. Remember how V could instantly die on almost any kind of sloppy surface or when jumping over a bike? How water basically didn’t have physics, at all? Well, nothing has changed or improved since then.
For the sloppy surfaces deaths, a mod exists to fix that. For the water physics there’s nothing yet – neither from CDPR nor mods.

Implants and cyberware issues:

Most of the armor & weapons mods simply didn’t work. Some others (like Armadillo) were highly disbalanced (you could stack them to almost invincible armor rate).
Few cyberware units were also broken and many others had terrible balance. Some were clearly overpowered, some were useless. Certain descriptions were incorrect leading to a confusion about how the cyberware work. Some of those issues were addressed and fixed, but not much.
But once again thankfully to amazing modding community, nearly all these issues can be fixed. You can even do this in one fell swoop with this incredible mod. Note: it also fixes huge amount of other bugs and design issues in the game, so you’ll see “FGR” note a few times more. Also, if you’ll decide to use it, you can skip the “sloppy fix” mod above as it’s included in FGR.

Perks and abilities issues:

Did you know that almost half of perks (that’s around 60) in Cyberpunk 2077 ether didn’t work at all, or were bugged on a different extent? Some others, like Commando worked fine, but..did you see lots of water missions in the game? Me neither. Another great example is the Dagger Dealer. It also worked as described, but was practically abandoned by anyone who dared to pick it. Simply because knives thrown just..disappeared in this air, and on top of that, you wasn’t able to equip multiple knives in the weapon slot – you had to open inventory and pick a new knife after every throw. Incredibly tedious.
Here, CDPR put some result on the table – but too less to fix the perks as whole. Some useless perks were improved, couple of broken ones – fixed, but that’s all. Dozens of perks in the game are still don’t work at all and some useless ones are all the same useless.
Mod authors though, succeeded much more noticeably. The already mentioned FGR mod fixes nearly every broken perks and balances most of the others greatly. It still leaves out some “shining” examples like Commando or Dagger Dealer – but with it installed, the difference is actually tremendous.

Melee problems:

Melee gameplay was fun at one hand, but at the other hand, incredibly limited and clunky. This mostly came from various cyberware bugs and simply lack of time which resulted in critically needed moments not implemented. Sandevistan was useless for melee characters because for no reason whatsoever, it slowed down player animation speed together with the enemies. Melee finisher animations also stopped its work alltogether. Mantis blades leap targeting just didn’t work in many cases. Its finisher animation was too long – while player didn’t have invincibility frames during it. This could lead to cases when killing an enemy actually got V killed instead. And so on, and so forth.
Close to all (if not just all) these issues are still in the game. And yet again, a mod like Better Melee comes to the rescue where game developers still didn’t. Some of this mod solutions aren’t perfect – but melee is finally and fully playable with it installed.

The scaling problem:

Not a bug technically, it causes lots of them and makes combat, often, just silly and too tedious. To explain it simply: both V and enemies receive free bonus HP and damage for every level. That’s not a bad thing at the first glance, but practically, it’s the game’s biggest gameplay issue.
First of all, sponginess. Enemies (almost) don’t become smarter and more interesting – they just become more beefy and get ridiculous damage. Combined with some other bugs, this leads to high-level V is sometimes invincible while eating lead from 10 enemies – but sometimes dies of a single shot.
For player, this system makes character build in whole practically useless. It bloats your damage to a crazy numbers – 250k headshot crits or 400k sneak crits are not even the highest ones. While no enemy on practice has even 20k HP. Another thing is the major part of those crazy damage numbers comes not from your carefully picked perks, but from the very same damage bonuses per level. Simply put, at level 40, there’s no difference for a V with an unmodded revolver and V with 30 perks and fully modded revolver – because you will one-shot the enemies either way.
Lastly. Remember the infamous explosions problem? Your V is level 40+, in fully modded gear, tons of defensive perks, right? Second after V dies because of a single tiny barrel explosion. Realism? Nah, not much. Just the explosions damage in the game scales automatically with enemies HP. And enemies HP is bloated up to 10k+ units because of the scaling system.
This issue is extremely painful and dulls the overall combat experience greatly. Up to this day, CDPR haven’t seem to revisit this gameplay part. But, it’s once again fixed in FGR.

Various bugs in general:

Probably, I was just lucky enough to sink 200 hours in Cyberpunk 2077, finish it two times and don’t catch any game-breaking bug. Sadly though, they do exist. The amount of smaller, not game-breaking bugs of all possible kind is just crazy though. From stuck quests or dialogues, to characters and vehicles glitching through the world textures. And of course, absolutely shameful stability on consoles. Well, not for me to explain you this.
Here, CDPR actually put a lot of work in bugfixing which deserves a praise. Hundreds of minor bugs are now fixed, and consoles stability (while still being far from perfect) and performance improved vastly. Sony would not just return the game back to the store without a serious progression in this matter. As for the PC players and just bugs in general, players report a much more stable game too.
At the same time, there are still lots of bugs and obivous gameplay design flaws present. For instance, Athletics being almost impossible to levelup without exploits or Stamina being a useless stat. But, you can fix this with Sensible Stamina and Athletics, for instance. FGR also fixes vast amount of minor and major bugs which I didn’t mention specifically, but which you surely experienced a lot.

UI issues (mostly a PC problem):

PC version of the game simply has a console UI version. It lacks everything – from ability to simply WASD in menus, to a hardcoded (and low) amount of hotkeys, map issues and just almost anything will look at. Shortly speaking, the main problem of console UI in PC game is that you waste a fairly noticeable amount of time which you could not waste to begin with – simply because of a bad UI design.
A few minor aspects were actually improved by CDPR, but the problem as whole still persists. From the history though, even Witcher 3 had similar issue – which was later almost fully fixed by CDPR. Time will if they will fix it in Cyberpunk 2077 – but you can already fix many of the problems yourself with mods help. Some of those are Flib’s UI ImprovementsLimited HUD, Custom QuickslotsKeyboard and Mouse Controls Overhaul. Those are not yet enough to turn UI into a proper, user-friendly PC version – but already give an incredible boost to UI being user-friendly, and save you lots of time.

AI issues:

Crowds instantly despawning when they enter the alerted state (aka V shoots). Enemy netrunners using a single quickhack against V during whole game. Non-existing police car chase AI and police spawning from a thin air in combat. Completely broken stealth AI (stealth being utterly overpowered). Enemies that can’t notice you if you’re literally just a centimeter above them in a vertical dimension. Even if you’ll be swinging a bat or reloading an LMG half a foot from them – but while you’re above their heads, they won’t notice a thing. “Must be my imagination” – Cyberpunk 2077 version.
I’d like to say that at least noticeable part of these issues is now fixed – but sadly I can’t. At the same time, there are multiple mods to if not fix them all, but greatly improve to a state this or that gameplay aspect becomes far less problematic. For instance, there’s AI Netrunners Enhanced mod which not only makes enemy netrunners less dumb, but also expands their quickhack arsenal from 1 to 10. Already mentioned FGR overhaul also improves many AI things – make enemies more agressive and smart, allows them to actually heal from time to time, improves bossfights and so on. And on top of that, you can even configure it! This part of gameplay can be improved really impressive with mods help and that’s great.

Cut features, lacking features and underfilled world:

Climbing the walls using your trusty mantis blades? Netrunning based more on daemons rather than on quickhacks spamming? Much more diverse character creation? Cars customization and Constitution as a 6th attribute? Subway and railroads in the sky as a fast travel option? Actual faction relationships (asides from occasional shootings) and truly meaningful gangs, corpos and lifepaths bonuses and traits? Functional police car chases?
To all those – unfortunately still no. Though there’s a hope for the future updates, as the police chase AI, for instance, actually exists in the game code, but it simply inactive.
On this part, mods improve the state of things yet just partially. At the one hand, there’s absolutely incredible Lifepath Bonuses and Gang-Corp Traits mod which adds exactly what we needed for the factions in combat aspect – various strong and weak sides in form of abilities and buffs/debuffs. There are some other mods to restore cut/lacking content, like the police chase mod – but it’s not quite complete and pretty bugged. This is not directly a “fault” of a mod authors, but rather because the mod-making capabilities for Cyberpunk 2077 just started to develop, or a mechanic being buried too deep in the game code, so mod authors simply can’t access it properly. For many of cut features, we can only hope for CDPR to return to them in the future.
Upd: hope is a good word, but at least atm, it seems CDPR don’t quite understand the problem.

Vehicles and driving:

Asides from the inability to actually tune your cars and bikes, a major issue was the driving itself. Almost all cars felt exactly the same when you rode them. Almost or just same gearboxes, responsiveness, maximum speed and so on. There was close no diversity in driving, you felt close to no difference between the 25k and 250k eddies car. And the ability to drift properly? Didn’t exist. 
There are no improvements in that aspect from CDPR yet. But, as you probably guessed, there are improvements thanks to the mods. Cyber Vehicle Overhaul and Cyber Drift – Crowds and Traffic mods allow you to truly feel driving your cars and bikes. Improved steering, uncapped max speeds and improved gearboxes, and some other improvements on top. With the incredible visual aesthetics the game has, driving through the Night City will give an absolutely different level of pleasure.

Final thoughts:

Remember No Man’s Sky disastrous launch – full of bugs and unfulfilled promises? Yet, developers didn’t give up and didn’t abandon the game. Result of their hard work is incredible – just look on the player reviews ratio nowWill Cyberpunk 2077 path be similar in a good meaning? It’s too early to judge right now. At the one hand, already a year passed after release – and game is still full of bugs, obvious design oversights and mechanics which simply don’t work. On the other hand, it’s clear why CDPR focus on more “groundbase” things to fix first – and that’s correct. Game was simply so bugged at launch that it requires a really large amount of time to fix even the more basic bugs – improvements to mechanics, filling the world and restoring cut mechanics come after.
Could CDPR do this faster and focus more on polishing the game rather than Twitter posts? Probably. That’s an 
exaggeration, of course, but what it points on is that the fanbase is not quite unhappy with the speed – and posting a screenshots compilation instead of more detailed post with bugfixing roadmap doesn’t add any more trust credit to the whole situation.

Conclusions. Is it worth it after all?

Is the game worth the $60 price now? The answer depends on your expressions from read above, and:
If you’re a long-time cyberpunk (genre) fan – yes, from this pov, it was even on the release.
You’re new to the genre or/and still hesitating? Then probably you need to wait at least a few months more or grab it on sale.
You don’t mid to install a few mods? Then it’s totally worth it now no matter if you’re a cyberpunk veteran or just discovered the genre yesterday. A huge amount of problems CDPR didn’t fix yet can be fixed few mods – and then, game already will be so different from its vanilla state that you probably won’t believe it.
The main problem of Cyberpunk 2077 is not the bugs themselves and not the cut features. The game has incredible visual aesthetics, fun gameplay core, soul-touching storyline and it’s just one of a kind right now.
Where it drowns down is powerful, but unpolished and underdelivered, rushed gameplay, which has so many problems that the negative feeling from it can screw up the impressions from a truly unique and incredible game. Yet, this gameplay part you can not fully, but majorly improve with the mods – so it’s up to you to decide whether to give it another try now or not.

If you want to mod the game without investing much time, you can watch and follow the video (the first one) below. Still not sure about Cyberpunk 2077 and want to watch a complete, detailed review? Then the second video below is your helper.
More videogame reviews? Lookie here. And finally – want to try a serious modding of Cyberpunk 2077 and push it to the limits? Try this complete modding guide. See you in the Night City, choomba!