Revisiting Cyberpunk 2077

I never particularly wrote on this game because frankly, my opinions of the title amounted to “Trash Bin,” and that was after all the updates and patches the game got.

But then I stumbled upon this re-review from Luke Plunkett at Kotaku, and it inspired a couple thoughts.

1: In The Dark Knight, a theme that emerges, to the point that it is outright voiced on at least two occasions, is “You either die a hero, or live long enough to be a villain.” I’d like to offer a rewording, at least for the sake of game development.

“You either sell out a hero, or produce long enough for people to figure out who you really are.”

This sort of rushed launch and frantic patching to eventually produce a finished product was hardly new to Cyberpunk 2077. It may have been its most famous example, but you don’t have to dial the wayback machine too far to discover that The Witcher 3 was a nigh unplayable mess when it first launched. Or that The Witcher 2 didn’t exactly launch in what we would call a “finished state.” Or… The Witcher


I actually struggled to think of any CDProjekt Red title that didn’t need significant patching to bring it to a playable state for a good many gamers. If your CDPR game played great right out of the box, you were in the minority. This sort of thing was not, and is not, new for this developer.

And it’s not like this phenomenon is unique to CDPR. For example, “Bioware Magic” was always fruitless management dithering followed by a frantic burnout stretch that destroyed employees to get their titles up to snuff before their publishers got too angry. EA’s production process was always about getting the most revenue for the least amount of effort possible. These companies didn’t really change their stripes in any meaningful way; the consumer base merely started to see them for who they had always been.

2: Another thing is that we really need development studios and publishers to understand is that games aren’t movies, nor should they try to be. Players really aren’t terribly keen on a four to five hour non-stop adrenaline rush when the controller is in their hands. They want to be able to take a breath, look around the world constructed around them, then dick off for three hours doing something completely irrelevant to the main plot if they so desire.

Any game that doesn’t understand that, and allow for the game to slow down, is probably not going to be received all that well. I suspect that’s a major part of the reason why I so loathed Final Fantasy XIII (a game which is getting renewed interest by a generation of gamers). I spent so much of that game rushing down hallways that it left me thinking, “If you guys wanted to make a movie, you should have just done that rather than give me a controller like anything I do here matters.”

Anyway, that’s my intermittent blather for the month. Have a good day.


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