We called Cyberpunk 2077 "the single biggest disappointment of the generation" in our PlayStation 4 review. Harsh words, you might think, but it's easy to forget just how broken the long, long, long awaited role-playing game was at launch back in December 2020. Absolutely plagued with experience-breaking bugs and crippled by a consistent crashing issue, the last-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077 was nothing short of a disaster — a clearly unfinished game.
Here we are over a year later, and to be fair to CD Projekt Red, the developer has stuck to its guns. It's spent the last 14 months or so improving and adding to Cyberpunk 2077 — even delaying the PS5 edition of the game beyond 2021, so that it could ensure its overall quality. It's obviously disappointing that it's taken so long to get here, but we're happy to report that Cyberpunk 2077 finally feels like a finished game on PS5.
Going by our time with 2077 on PS5, the worst technical issues that ruined the title on PS4 have been dealt with — namely the crashes and the game-breaking bugs. The whole thing looks and runs far better than it ever did on Sony's previous console, and while this certainly doesn't excuse the game's initial state on PS4, it does hammer home the fact that 2077 simply wasn't ready for release. At bare minimum, this is the Cyberpunk that PlayStation fans should have been playing in 2020.
As we stressed in the PS4 review, there was real potential buried beneath all the crap — the skeleton of an engrossing dark future RPG. With the PS5 version, this skeleton has been exhumed — and it's actually got some meat on its bones. Er, what we're trying to say is that everything Cyberpunk does is so much easier to appreciate when it's not crashing every 45 minutes, and your quests aren't breaking at random.
Is this the unparalleled open world RPG that CDPR had pretty much been promising since its full re-reveal in 2018? Not really — and it probably never will be. But when the game actually works and you're cruising around the neon-soaked streets of Night City, listening to radio bangers on the way to your next mission, it can be so easy to lose yourself in Cyberpunk 2077. It's a brilliantly atmospheric and, at times, deeply engaging adventure.
A lot of 2077's strength lies in its unapologetically degenerate setting. Night City is basically hell on earth — a dangerously overcrowded hive of scum and villainy where a stray bullet could end your (likely miserable) life at any time. The game does a fantastic job of making the city feel intimidating at first — like death's always waiting just around the next corner — but this allows for a rewarding character progression curve. With enough completed contracts under your belt, and subsequent access to all kinds of weapons and abilities, you go from prey to predator in this urban jungle.
There's a definite power fantasy at the heart of Cyberpunk. Your customisable main character, V, can be built in loads of different ways. You can specialise in guns, stealth, hacking, katanas — and getting to grips specific skills means that you can start wasting goons for looking at you funny. Every time you level up it feels like you're taking another meaningful step towards becoming an invincible Night City legend — and the game's reworked perk system (as of update 1.5) helps a lot in this regard, offering up a better balance of skills and stat buffs.
Cyberpunk's gameplay — specifically the combat — starts to blossom as you spend more time with it. Initially, V's unsteady aim with revolvers might be a source of some frustration, but keep using your favourite hand cannon and your proficiency will soon increase — and that same rule applies to every skill in the game. It's not a unique progression system, but it is a very enjoyable one, and again, it feels like you're growing more and more powerful.
It also helps that enemies seem to be smarter, non-playable character AI having been noticeably improved with the 1.5 update. Generally speaking, opponents stick to cover a lot more often, bringing a much needed touch of strategy to most encounters.
But it's Night City itself that benefits the most from having NPCs upgraded with baseline open world intelligence. Citizens actually run from danger — some even stand and fight! — and you can cause absolute chaos by unloading a few bullets on a busy street. The metropolis no longer feels like a lifeless illusion on PS5, with NPCs and traffic spawning at a greatly increased rate, and — gasp! — reacting to one another. Basic stuff, but it's these little details that make open worlds feel alive — like they would continue to exist even if you weren't around.
V's existence is all-important to Cyberpunk's story, however. A heist that goes horribly wrong leaves the smart-talking merc with an experimental chip lodged in his or her head. Said chip houses the digital ghost of Johnny Silverhand — a revolutionary from 50 years ago who made an (ultimately quite futile) stand against one of the world's most tyrannical tech corporations.
Many of Cyberpunk's best moments are part of its main narrative — and you can tell that this is where a healthy chunk of the budget went (and not just because Keanu Reeves plays Silverhand). Its core missions are easily some of the most varied and polished escapades in the game, boasting great pacing, carefully designed combat scenarios, and an excellent cast of characters.
The main plot's a thrill ride, even if it's a little difficult to follow at points. Cyberpunk's writing is generally sharp and engaging, but it's heavily reliant on in-universe terms and phrases that take some getting used to. While embedding words like 'choom' and 'preem' in just about every conversation does add yet more weight to the game's already amazing world building, sometimes it can feel like you need a glossary to get the gist of what's going down.
Fortunately, you're always able to take a breather from the central story missions and roam Night City as you see fit. Optional quests make up for much of Cyberpunk's runtime, and they're usually worth checking out. Alongside full-fat side missions that have their own, typically insane stories to tell, standard 'gigs' have you taking out wanted criminals and retrieving certain items for clients.
It's tempting to call them busywork, but a lot of these objectives add to the game's flavour. Some of Cyberpunk's most thought-provoking content is hidden behind these seemingly straightforward contracts, and by engaging with them, you do end up getting a better sense of what Night City is all about. And, of course, it helps that you're always on the downright addictive hunt for loot and precious experience points.
Oh, and the open world's pacing is vastly improved as well (thanks again, update 1.5). In the original release, quest givers — known as fixers — would constantly call you up about their latest contracts, to the point where your map would become bloated with mission icons. That's no longer the case on PS5, where fixers roll out gigs one by one. The change makes mercenary life in Night City seem way more organic and manageable.
Moving on, we should at least mention the game's DualSense functionality, which is actually surprisingly good. Haptic feedback is utilised well, providing distinct rumbles whether you're driving down a bumpy badlands road or spraying and praying with your favourite machine gun. Likewise, the controller's adaptive triggers tighten to simulate braking and acceleration when you're behind the wheel — although the level of resistance can feel a bit too rigid sometimes.
So, Cyberpunk is a much improved experience on PS5, basically across the board — but if you were left feeling short-changed on PS4, beyond the technical issues and cardboard open world, then you should note that this is still the same game. The main story still seems a bit stunted at times, and the role-playing options at your disposal can feel disappointingly limited. It's still best to view Cyberpunk 2077 as an open world Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, or a futuristic (and, to be fair, much more in-depth) Far Cry. With the right expectations, Night City is one heck of a holiday destination.
Cyberpunk 2077 on PS5 is the game that PlayStation fans should have been playing in 2020. While it still falls short when measured against the immense expectations that surrounded its release, everything that Cyberpunk gets right is so much easier to enjoy when the game isn't crippled by technical issues. The main story's a thrill ride, the combat's a blast, and Night City is an incredible open world setting. And the best part is that CD Projekt Red finally has a stable foundation to build upon. It took 14 months to get here, but the future of Cyberpunk 2077 actually holds a lot of promise.