Cyberpunk 2077 is an incredible game – if you’re playing on PC.
Boot it up on the last-gen PS4 or Xbox and be prepared for a world plagued with bugs, hazy graphics and performance so bad it’s forced CD Projekt Red to offer refunds.
On PC, though, it’s a different kettle of fish. Bugs, although still apparent, are far less frequent (from my playthrough) while – providing you have the right card, it’s arguably the best-looking game on PC.
Playing on a PC powered by an i9-9900k paired with the ‘thicc’ Gigabyte Aorus 3080 (provided by Nvidia), Night City looks absolutely incredible. Replacing the 2080Ti, the 3080 made exploring Night City silky smooth and stunning even with Ray Tracing turned to Ultra at 4K.
The 2000 Series cards may have their work cut out to achieve the same effect, though, so be warned. A large part of this is down to DLSS – which renders the game at various resolutions and then ‘constructs’ a 4K image which is almost indistinguishable from true 4K. Opt for ‘Quality’ preset and it’s even less apparent that some clever AI reconstruction is going on.
A lot of this is down to the power of the next-generation of graphics cards. Over the years, features such as DLSS and Ray Tracing have evolved – allowing developers to push game design to new limits. Within reason, it’s not about pure power any more (although this still helps), it’s about constant optimisation.
Games such as Cyberpunk rely heavily on both DLSS and Ray Tracing to make it not only playable but an accurate representation of the heavily marketed gameplay footage churned out over the past two years.
For last gen, there has been no such graphical leap. They’re stuck in the past while the gaming world evolves around them. This year, thanks to a combination of COVID-19, marketing, supply chain issues and the lowest-of-the-low scalpers, next-gen (now current-gen) consoles were simply not an option for so many. PCs owners too had it tough – 3080s are only just starting to find their way back into circulation – at a premium.
This meant many of us were stuck playing current-gen games on effectively last-gen hardware… and the results? Mediocre at best, unplayable at worst.
The problem lies in that CDPR tried to placate all console owners – and by spreading themselves too thinly over last-gen, next-gen and a variety of PC hardware (as well as Stadia). There was always going to be something that had to give, and it's clear that was the seven-year-old base PS4 and Xbox One hardware.
So many gamers still use last-gen – so why shouldn’t they play a game that was originally slated for their console? I’d argue that it may have been better to not release the game at all on last-gen (at least in its current form) and instead focus on delivering a true next-gen experience. Instead, the PS5 and Xbox Series X run backwards-compatible versions with a higher performance headroom. This allows for a better framerate or higher resolution, but it remains the same assets and underlying skeleton that's running on consoles that launched in 2013.
It would have been crushing for so many last-gen owners to hear the game is not coming to their consoles, but I’d argue it’s better than playing through a game that’s so heavily hamstrung by their technical limitations. From the glitches that are finding their way on to Reddit, the world is literally falling apart at the seams – and last-gen tech just can’t muster the strength to stop it from caving in.
As CDPR explained in their recent apology, more could have been done to market the last-gen footage – to soften the ‘blow’ of the game not looking close to the PC version.
Cyberpunk 2077 was always going to be a monumental game, but it’s going to be most memorable for showing that sometimes it’s better to leave the past in the past. Last gen has had its day, and it’s time to move on – or else even more gamers will be left disappointed.
Game running just fine for you and looking to customise your character's playstyle? Check out our guide to what V's attributes do.
If you're looking to play a new way, we've also sussed out how to respec your character's perks.