We've spent around 12 hours with Cyberpunk 2077, playing it on both PS4 and PS5 (through backwards compatibility). Console performance has been a concern among players since the game's initial gameplay reveal, so we're going to try and break down just how well Cyberpunk runs on Sony's systems.
Please keep in mind, though, that we're not Digital Foundry. We don't have the tools (or the extensive knowledge) for an in-depth technical analysis, but we're confident in our ability to describe Cyberpunk 2077's performance across these three consoles.
Cyberpunk 2077 PS5 Performance (via Backwards Compatibility)
Unsurprisingly, Cyberpunk 2077 runs best on PS5 (via backwards compatibility). This is the smoothest possible performance that you can get on a Sony system, offering 60 frames-per-second at what appears to be a slightly better resolution than 1080p — but it's certainly not 4K or anything close.
It's also worth noting that, at launch, there's no 'quality' graphics option on PS5. You're locked to the game's 60fps performance mode.
The game sticks to what seems to be a solid 60fps without any major drops, although we have noticed that when driving around Night City at high speed, the framerate can dip here and there. Minor drops can also happen during more intense combat scenarios, but it's not really enough to impact the experience.
Cyberpunk 2077 runs nicely on PS5, then, but it's very clearly a PS4 game. Everything has a slight blur to it, and graphically, the title doesn't wow as often as you'd expect. It can look pretty at the right time of day, like at dusk when the neon lights start flickering to life, but overall, Night City looks decidedly last-gen — especially if you don't have HDR enabled.
Well, what about the bugs? Aside from a handful of standout glitches — like characters spawning on top of one another and then floating in mid-air together — it's honestly not that bad. We've had quite a bit of open world jank — dead bodies clipping into the ground, some dodgy animations — but nothing too egregious.
It's disappointing that Night City can sometimes feel so empty, though. When you're walking around, the NPC population is decent. Main streets and marketplaces feel reasonably busy — as do the city's hellish apartment blocks. But hop in a vehicle, and the population appears to drop off a cliff — presumably for performance reasons. There's a distinct lack of traffic when you're behind the wheel as well.
Oh, and load times are very, very short on PS5. Based on our testing, loading up a save takes around 10 to 15 seconds — sometimes less depending on the location. Neat.
Conclusion: PS5 backwards compatibility is easily the best way to play Cyberpunk 2077 on a Sony console. Solid 60fps performance provides a smooth experience, and the bugs, while still noticeable every now and then, aren't too bad. Enable HDR, and it can be a pretty game — just don't expect it to blow your socks off. Hopefully the full PS5 upgrade will get the job done in 2021.
Update: Oh boy... It seems as though Cyberpunk 2077 has a bad habit of crashing on PS5 (we assume that this is also the case on PS4). We ran into a couple of crashes before originally penning this article, but since then, we've had a software-closing crash every hour and a half of play, or thereabouts.
You can read more about this crashing issue in the following article: Hands On: Cyberpunk 2077 Has a Consistent Crashing Issue on PS5 During Long Play Sessions.
Here's hoping that this problem gets fixed as soon as possible.
Cyberpunk 2077 PS4 Pro Performance
If you're worried about playing Cyberpunk 2077 on your PS4 Pro, don't be. The game seems to run quite well on Sony's upgraded last-gen machine, offering a mostly stable framerate. However, said framerate is locked to 30fps on PS4 Pro — despite recent rumours claiming otherwise. There is no 'performance' mode here, unfortunately.
But again, it seems to be a steady 30fps without too many dips. The only annoyance that we came across was when we were driving, as the game would often stick for a second as it loaded in new assets. Still, not really a deal breaker considering the open world nature of the release.
There is quite a lot of pop-in on PS4 Pro, though. As you'd expect, pop-in becomes more prominent when you're driving at high speeds or sprinting around busy areas. It's not terrible, but it does have the potential to tear you out of the moment. We came across a few instances where NPCs would take several seconds properly form, with whole crowds looking like they'd just arrived in Night City from the PS2 era.
As for load times, they're about what we've come to expect of open world games on PS4 (barring the insanely fast Ghost of Tsushima). It took a good 45-60 seconds to load our save from the main menu. Loading vendor menus and other in-game interfaces also causes the game to chug a little — the kind of stuff that's instantaneous on PS5.
Conclusion: Cyberpunk 2077 is far from a bad deal on PS4 Pro. It may be locked at 30fps, but it runs well enough, despite some noticeable pop-in from time to time.
Cyberpunk 2077 PS4 Performance
So here we are, Cyberpunk 2077 on the base PS4. And you know what? It's actually not the complete train wreck that many have been anticipating. That said, this is unsurprisingly the worst way to experience Cyberpunk 2077 on PlayStation.
The game is obviously capped at 30fps here, but there are some definite drops in busy parts of Night City — drops that we didn't notice on PS4 Pro. They're not the kind of dips that make you wonder whether your PS4's about to flatline, but they can still be quite rough on the eyes.
The asset-loading stutters that the game suffers from on PS4 Pro are here as well, but they don't seem to be any more or less prevalent. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the pop-in, which is even more noticeable on base PS4. Even driving at a moderate speed down the highway, street lights, shadows, and other environmental effects pop into existence over and over again.
Cyberpunk 2077 also makes our launch PS4 sound like it's going to explode — but what else did you expect?
Conclusion: Cyberpunk 2077 plays okay on PS4. Hurrah! However, it's got some noticeable graphical and technical inconsistencies. It's undeniably rough around the edges on Sony's last-gen console, with framerate dips and abundant pop-in damaging your sense of immersion. It's not the disaster that we were half expecting it to be — far from it — but it's clear that sacrifices had to made in order to get this thing up and running on PS4.
Update: It's been brought to our attention that some players are having serious issues with the PS4 version of Cyberpunk 2077, so we thought that it would be best to make a note of that here.
While we didn't seem to run into any consistently jarring frame rate drops on base PS4, there are multiple reports stating that it's dipping well below 30fps on a regular basis. Other players are finding the pop-in to be far more egregious than we did as well.
With this information in mind, it may well be best to hold off on the PS4 version for the time being, and waiting to see whether performance is improved over the coming weeks. A massive disappointment.
And so there you have it. Cyberpunk 2077 can be very hit and miss on PlayStation. It's pretty damn good on PS5 thanks to a mostly smooth 60fps, and PS4 Pro gets the job done, but PS4 really struggles at times. Of course, it's likely that CD Projekt Red will improve the game's performance over the coming weeks and months — and then we've got the full PS5 version to look forward to at some point in 2021.
What platform are you playing Cyberpunk 2077 on? Take a drive around Night City in the comments section below.